Criteria for choosing a psychiatrist?

scent of cedar

New Member
How does one go about determining the skill level / success rate of a psychiatrist? I looked for the "best" and the "top-rated" psychiatrists ~ and all 22 practicing psychiatrists in the city were listed! :O( Grrrr....




Well-Known Member
Staff member
A Psychiatrist will weigh in heavily for medications, so if that is your intention, then go that route. A psychologist or therapist or MFT or Psycho-therapist will be more inclined to be more involved in "talk" therapy. A trans-personal therapist will lean towards a more spiritual and holistic approach. I have had so much therapy (22 years, YIKES!) of all different kinds, it really makes the most sense to determine what exactly you are looking for so you can narrow the search. Perhaps rather then looking for the 'best' or 'top rated' you might look for someone who can give you exactly what it is you want. What works for another,may not work for you, it's a very personal relationship............I have always found wonderful therapists, with great empathy and compassion, humor, warmth and skill............I wanted those qualities because that's what matters to me..............what qualities are important to you? Go after that.

If you are trying to find someone to be supportive of you and give you tools to help you to cope with and accept your daughter's choices, I would start with NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, get in touch with a chapter in your area and ask them for recommendations of therapists who specifically deal with parents of adult children with mental illness. I would be very specific in my search. I would get very clear on what my intention for therapy is, what my goals are, what I hope to get out of it and then, when I determine the answers to those questions, I would go the NAMI route, or go online and find a list of therapist who are well versed in exactly what I am looking for. As in everything, there are good and bad therapists and therapist who excel in certain areas and not others. Getting recommendations from friends will help too.

Do some research, ask friends, if you are involved in a church, or Buddhist or spiritual groups, ask for recommendations within those groups because they will match your values and beliefs as well. Here in Northern Ca. there are so many choices in the area of therapy, it's remarkable. One of the best therapists I had when I lived in Connecticut was a Pastor/therapist and he was extremely helpful because he brought a very interesting point of view to the table. Now I am seeing a woman who runs a HUGE Substance abuse program which has a Co-dependency leg of it which has worked out really, really well for me and I just kind of fell into was more helpful I think at this point with my daughter then' regular' therapy could have been because it concentrated on my enabling and how to detach from that and accept what I cannot change. That emphasis on that particular part of my own 'stuff' was significant at this time in my life with the issues I was facing with my daughter. The present therapist is well trained in all of the tools I needed to have and the various ways enabling really harms people. It isn't something all therapisst agree upon, so I feel fortunate in having found a program that worked so well with exactly what I needed.

I think the bottom line of therapy is to find someone you feel deeply seen and heard with, someone who can BE in the presence of your pain and sorrow and all your deep feelings and whom you trust enough to be vulnerable with. It boils down to being able to tell the truth about your own self to someone who is very present. Interview them, if you don't like them, get out of it. It's a relationship you form with the intention of healing and growing and integrating all the divergent parts of ourselves, so it's necessary to find a good fit.

I believe, if you are clear about what it is you want, what you want the outcome to be and you are essentially willing to do whatever it takes to get the most out of it, you will be guided by your own intentions to the appropriate person.............follow your intuitive hits...........

I hope that helps...............good hunting!

Hound dog

Nana's are Beautiful
Ask around. Usually you'll get as much info on the doctor's personality / treatment methods as you will his/her skill level or level of education.

Not all psychiatrists (psychiatrists) lean heavily toward medications. Most I've met don't......but then I always ask around and that is actually what I'm looking for. I prefer psychiatrists who sit and talk to their clients for the whole hour. Not one who relies on a therapist to do his job for him. Tdocs fill an important role......but I want a psychiatrist who is going to do what they're supposed to do. That is what I'm paying the big bucks for when I go to one. Know what I mean??

The psychiatrist I went to after the accident to deal with the PTSD and anxiety it triggered wasn't one who leaned heavily toward medications. He talked with his clients much the same way a therapist my opinion better than most tdocs I've run into (especially in the last 10 yrs or so) and he gave you his undivided attention for that full hour no matter how many people were waiting in the waiting room. He used medications as the tool they were meant to be, not necessarily the "solution" to the problem. His goal was short term and he made you work toward that goal........and I do mean work. Like he gave me klonopin to help ease the anxiety so I could learn to deal with it.........I was on it a month. Too short a period of time in my opinion but by then he wanted me to put into action many of the things we'd talked about to help face the anxiety and deal with it without medications. I didn't need to go to him overly long either. Of course some dxes would require long term treatment/monitoring so that would apply in such a case.


Well-Known Member
I think it all depends on what you are looking for like others have said. I had a wonderful psychiatrist for many years who was in private practice with an office and he was the only psychiatrist there. He didnt have a therapist there either. He really didnt do therapy but he did talk to you if you needed it but not for as long as Lisa said. He was wonderful but in the past couple of years he had to close his office and move in with a large office that is associated with a hospital. Now I see whichever psychiatrist is making rounds that day. Thankfully they all seem to be nice. It seems like a good place that I would have chosen to start with if I had to start over today. I would never start with county mental health if I could avoid it because they tend to get the lower end of the crop of doctors. I dont know if you have ever heard the old joke but...what do you call the guy who graduated last in his class in medical school? Doctor. I feel like those are the ones who tend to get hired on to work in county mental health clinics. Just my experience.

I would ask people who you see standing around outside of a psychiatrists office. Ask how they like their doctor. Ask if they would recommend them. Most people will tell you. You can also check a doctor's credentials online to see if they have had any actions taken against them.



Well-Known Member
If you can pinpoint a problem area, I would start with checking those who are specialised to that area or list it as their special interest. Psychiatry is large field and like you probably wouldn't choose plastic surgeon to operate your knee even though they are surgeons, you may want to check also psychiatrist's speciality.

With our difficult child, he has met child psychiatrist when he was a kid, addiction psychiatrist with his gambling issues and is now treated by youth psychiatrist. Of course I have to say that addiction psychiatrist didn't catch difficult child's PTSD, but can't really blame him, because difficult child sure wasn't sharing or co-operating much with him. psychiatrists are not mind readers so if patient doesn't tell about their symptoms, diagnosing is difficult. And at that point difficult child really did his best to hide as much of his issues as he could.