Questions to Ask a Psychiatrist

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For individuals considering seeking the counsel of a psychiatrist, the idea of a first visit can be daunting. After the selection process has been made and an appointment has been set, not knowing what to expect can increase anxiety. Going into the visit with a prepared list of questions can help ease the nerves and set the stage for a successful first session.

Helpful psychiatric appointment questions

What is the treatment philosophy of the practice?

One of the most important aspects of relationship-building between a client and a psychiatry practice is making sure both are on the same page before the treatment begins. If a patient disagrees with the philosophy of the practice significantly, it can affect the treatment plans and lead to less successful recovery or assistance.

What can be expected during each session?

Knowing what can be expected during a session can help ease patient anxiety. Many individuals who find that a routine is helpful in everyday life find that the same holds true for treatment. Walking through a typical appointment can help set up expectations and relieve some of the stress that can be associated with the unknown.

Is the psychiatrist available after hours if needed?

Unfortunately for the individual suffering from a psychiatric condition, symptoms do not always arise during office hours. Some psychiatry practices have a built-in plan for making contact in case of an emergency when symptoms worsen after hours. If the ability to reach the psychiatrist or designee outside of business hours is important, this should be brought up during the initial phases of the consultation and treatment process.

What can be done if no improvement occurs?

Putting in the time to make sure the treatment plan is working toward health improvement is important, but what happens when the plan does not seem to make a difference over time? Different practices have different methods of approaching failed treatment, so asking this question in advance can help the patient determine whether to continue with the practice or try something new.

Will the psychiatrist coordinate care with other providers?

A patient's overall wellbeing is often a delicate balance that depends on a number of providers with different areas of expertise. Ideally, all of the providers should coordinate care to make sure the best interests of the patient are being met. When left up to the patient to interpret and balance multiple sources of care and advice, the treatment process can become overwhelming and anxiety-producing. Providers who are able to communicate can work together to make sure the advice and care plans do not conflict with one another.


Starting psychiatric care can be an intimidating process, so going in with a list of questions can help reduce overall anxiety and stress. By knowing a few tips about questions to ask at an appointment, a patient can make sure the chosen provider is on the same page. Communication between the psychiatrist and patient is key, and being prepared for the appointment is an excellent starting point.

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