Therapy FAQ

A Comprehensive Guide to Finding the Right Psychiatrist

Seeking help for your mental health is a huge step. There’s no shame in seeking support, but the process itself to find a professional who meets your needs can be a daunting one. Here, we’ll help you better understand the role a psychiatrist can play on your mental health journey and the steps to follow […]

Headshot of Bill Synder By William Snyder, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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Seeking help for your mental health is a huge step. There’s no shame in seeking support, but the process itself to find a professional who meets your needs can be a daunting one. Here, we’ll help you better understand the role a psychiatrist can play on your mental health journey and the steps to follow to make your search process easier.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a type of medical doctor who specializes in the mind, specifically in diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. Additionally, they have attained certain training and licensure that makes them qualified to help with your mental health.

According to Grow Therapy provider Deborah Harland, “A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) who specializes in mental health. Psychiatrists have the authority to prescribe medications to address psychiatric conditions, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, or mood stabilizers. They can also provide therapy, but due to high demand, most psychiatrists focus on the medical aspect of mental health, including evaluating physical health factors, monitoring medication effectiveness, and managing potential side effects.”

Training and Licensure Requirements

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has additional specialized training in mental health.

After graduating medical school, they must complete a four year psychiatry residency under the supervision of an experienced psychiatrist. To become a “board certified” psychiatrist, they also have to pass an exam given by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. In order to keep that certification, psychiatrists have to be re-certified every ten years.

Practice Areas and Specializations

Psychiatrists may choose to specialize in a specific area of care or patient population within the field of mental health.

For example, it’s very common for psychiatrists to choose between treating children and adolescents or specializing in adult psychiatry. They may also choose to specialize in treating specific issues, such as addiction and substance use disorders.

Beyond choosing a specialty, a psychiatrist is able to diagnose a wide variety of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder, among others. Because they are medical doctors with extensive medical knowledge and experience, psychiatrists can also prescribe medications.

Steps to Take When Choosing a Psychiatrist

In pursuing mental well-being, seeing a psychiatrist can be a game-changer. Psychiatrists are necessary for diagnosing mental health concerns and setting individualized treatment plans. However, some psychiatrists may be better suited to you than others. Here, we will outline four steps to help find the right psychiatrist for you:

Step 1: Gather Information and Assess Your Needs

The first step in finding a psychiatrist is gathering information and assessing your mental health needs. Take time to research different psychiatric specialties and their associated credentials. In doing so, you’re laying the foundation for finding the right psychiatrist to provide the proper treatment and support for your needs.

Understand Your Mental Health Needs

Before seeking psychiatric treatment, it’s important to try to understand your mental health needs clearly — to the extent that is possible. Reflect on your concerns and identify the specific areas you want to address in therapy. This self-reflection will help you communicate your needs effectively.

Certain conditions can significantly benefit from psychiatric care, such as:

If you believe there’s a cause for concern yet are uncertain about what precisely that concern is, a psychiatrist can provide a diagnosis and refer you to another specialist if need be. 

You can seek therapy with a clearer focus and purpose by gaining a deeper understanding of your mental health concerns. This self-awareness will enable you to communicate your needs effectively to a therapist and embark on your therapeutic journey.

Research Credentials and Expertise

When searching for a psychiatrist, conducting thorough research on potential options is necessary. Look into their qualifications and educational background. Consider factors such as where they completed their medical degree, residency training, and any specialized training they may have pursued.

Some psychiatrists may have specialized training in areas such as addiction psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, or geriatric psychiatry. These additional qualifications can indicate a deeper understanding and expertise in specific populations or areas of focus.

By conducting comprehensive research, you can make sure that you choose a professional who is well-qualified and experienced in addressing your specific concerns.

Considerations for Special Cases

In some cases, individuals may have unique circumstances or specific needs that require special consideration when seeking a psychiatrist. Examples of such cases include cultural considerations or identifying as LGBTQ+.

For individuals with specific cultural considerations, consider seeking a psychiatrist specializing in culturally competent care. These professionals have expertise in understanding and respecting diverse cultural backgrounds, values, and beliefs. They can provide a safe and inclusive environment where cultural nuances are acknowledged and incorporated into the therapeutic process.

Similarly, individuals who identify as LGBTQ+ should seek a psychiatrist with experience and knowledge in LGBTQ+ mental health. These specialists are well-versed in the unique challenges and concerns that LGBTQ+ individuals may face. They can provide understanding, support, and affirming care that is sensitive to the specific needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Insurance and Practical Considerations

Before choosing a psychiatrist, evaluate your insurance coverage and consider practical aspects that can impact your treatment experience. Consider location, availability, and affordability to narrow your choices effectively.

Review your health insurance coverage to understand what mental health services your plan includes. Check if it covers psychiatric care and if there are any requirements or limitations. This information will help you identify psychiatrists who accept your insurance.

If you’ll be paying out of pocket, assess the cost of sessions and determine if it fits within your budget. If you have financial constraints, inquire about any sliding scale fees or payment options that may be available.

Consider the practical aspects of treatment, such as the location of the psychiatrist’s office. Choose a location that is convenient for you, considering factors like travel time and accessibility, or opt for online therapy if it’s more convenient. 

As for availability, evaluate the psychiatrist’s schedule and determine if their availability aligns with your needs. Make sure that you can secure regular appointments and maintain continuity of care.

Step 2: Identify a Qualified Psychiatrist 

It’s important you find the right fit when seeking support for your mental health. While it can be overwhelming choosing a psychiatrist, a great placed to start is by getting recommendations from trusted individuals, or using a platform like Grow Therapy to help you identify the ones who might be best suited to your needs.

Consult Your Primary Care Physician

Your primary care physician is a great resource on this journey. They understand your medical history and can provide valuable insights and guidance in finding a trusted psychiatrist.

Additionally, they can assess your overall health, including any physical conditions or medications relevant to your mental health. Based on this knowledge, they can refer you to psychiatrists who specialize in your specific needs and have a good reputation.

Finding a Provider Through Grow Therapy

Another option is to browse a curated list of qualified psychiatrists through Grow Therapy. Our search filters, including location, insurance, and specialty, will help you narrow down your options so you can evaluate each psychiatrist’s bio and determine who’s the best fit.

Each provider’s profile includes information about their qualifications, areas of expertise, and availability. Grow Therapy also provides user reviews and ratings to help you make an informed decision.

You can further narrow your search by considering specific criteria such as preferred language, therapeutic approach, or concerns you want to address. Once you have selected a provider, you can schedule an appointment directly through the platform and conduct sessions through secure video conferencing or in-person if you prefer.

Step 3: Schedule Initial Consultations

After conducting thorough research and narrowing down your options, the next step is to schedule your first appointment. You can use this time as a consultation to explain your concerns, ask questions, and determine if the psychiatrist a good fit. It’s a crucial step in finding a psychiatrist with whom you feel comfortable and confident in embarking on your mental health journey.

Assess Communication Styles

During your initial consultation, observe the psychiatrist’s communication style. Pay attention to how they engage with you and assess whether their approach aligns with your preferences and needs.

Ask the psychiatrist to explain treatment options and concepts, making sure that you have a solid understanding of your potential treatment plan. Clear communication helps establish realistic expectations and empowers you to actively participate in your own mental health care.

Evaluate Treatment Approaches

Look to understand the psychiatrist’s preferred treatment modalities, such as medication management, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. Inquire about their perspective on therapy’s role in addressing your specific concerns.

Consider whether the psychiatrist’s treatment approach resonates with your beliefs and values. Assess if they prioritize a collaborative and client-centered approach, where your input is valued and incorporated into the treatment process.

Trust Your Instincts

Pay attention to your gut feelings and trust your instincts when deciding. While research and assessments are valuable, your intuition can provide valuable insights into whether a psychiatrist feels like the right fit for you.

Remember that a therapeutic relationship is built on trust and mutual understanding. If you have reservations or doubts about the psychiatrist, it may indicate that they are not the best fit for you. Trusting your instincts guarantees you find a psychiatrist with whom you can establish a strong therapeutic rapport. This strong rapport is proven to increase treatment effectiveness.

Step 4: Build a Therapeutic Relationship

Building a therapeutic relationship is a fundamental aspect of successful treatment. It involves establishing trust, open communication, and collaboration with your psychiatrist. By working together, you can create a personalized treatment plan, regularly review progress, and adjust as needed.

Regular check-ins, ongoing communication, and feedback are important to building this relationship. By actively participating in this process, you can make informed decisions about your treatment and ensure it remains aligned with your goals.

Share your thoughts, concerns, and feedback with your psychiatrist, and actively participate in discussions about potential modifications to the treatment plan. Your input is valuable in shaping the direction and effectiveness of your mental health treatment.

Remember, the therapeutic relationship is a partnership based on trust and mutual respect. Building and nurturing this relationship with your psychiatrist is vital for fostering a supportive and empowering environment throughout your mental health journey.

How to Find a Psychiatrist Near You

By gathering information, seeking recommendations, and scheduling consultations, you lay the foundation for a fruitful therapeutic partnership. Trust your instincts and prioritize genuine connection. Remember, a long-term relationship with your psychiatrist can foster progress and resilience. If you’re ready to embark on this journey, we can help.

Use our therapist search tool to find a psychiatrist in your area who specializes in your area of need and accepts your specific insurance type. 


  • While similar, psychologists are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication. A psychologist is a specific type of mental health professional who has earned a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology. Psychologists undergo extensive training in psychological assessment, research, and therapy.

  • Psychiatric care can help you better understand your mental health diagnoses and develop a well-rounded treatment plan, including medication, psychotherapy, or both.

About the author
Headshot of Bill Synder William Snyder, LPC

William Snyder is a licensed professional counselor who works with adults experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, depressed mood, loss and grief, identity and self-concept difficulties, relationship problems, life-transition difficulties, and traumatic memories.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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