Female psychologist holding calendar

A Guide to Your First Visit With a Psychiatrist

How do you know when to visit a psychiatrist? In general, people make their first appointment when they are experiencing difficulties at work, in a relationship or maybe as a consequence of medical conditions.

Besides, they might be undergoing certain symptoms which might include sadness, lack of energy, anxiety or even some mood swings. Some other symptoms might involve problems connected with sleeping, their memory or appetite. In some cases, these symptoms are more severe, and they might include hallucinations or suicidal ideas as well.

It might be relevant to pinpoint that “a psychiatrist is a physician who is specifically trained to diagnose and treat people who are experiencing a wide range of issues, from emotional distress to more severe mental health concerns.”

Female psychologist holding calendar











Before the Psychiatric Appointment

When attending the first visit with the psychiatrist, some people get frozen and, as a result, they do not remember all the issues that have taken them to therapy. That is why, it might be wise to write down all your concerns before the visit.

You should write everything that is bothering you, those things you feel are odd or strange or simple out of place.

First Appointment

The first appointment with a psychiatrist is generally based on an initial evaluation, or intake visit, in which your psychiatrist wants to get to know you and understand those difficulties you are experiencing.

This appointment might vary regarding length, but they are usually between 40-60 minutes. Your psychiatrist may inquire you about the issues that are concerning you, and how they are affecting your life.

The professional might also ask you about your symptoms and how you do to cope with them. He/She might want to know if you have a medical condition or if you used to have one as well as if you have visited any other psychiatrist in the past.

After that, the psychiatrist might ask you about your family’s health history. Due to many medical and psychiatric conditions run in families. Lastly, he/she might ask you about your current medications, both for medical and psychiatric conditions.

After your psychiatrist asked you all the necessary questions, he/she should make a plan with you and may recommend that you see a particular specialist or have some laboratory tests. It will depend on the type of therapy you need.

It is probable that the doctor schedules another appointment in order to discuss how the plan goes and if the symptoms improved.

Do not be afraid and ask as many questions as you need, ask about things you do not understand or the medicine you were prescribed or the type of therapy you are supposed to do. Your psychiatrist will be ready to help you with your inquiries and doubts, so you feel more confident about the whole situation.

Tips for the First Visit:

  • Write down a list of symptoms that you have been having if you feel you may forget to mention them,
  • Bring along any medical or mental health records that you believe are important.
  • It may help to bring a list of your medications,
  • You can ask a friend or family member to come to your appointment if you feel that they can provide a unique perspective and make you feel less anxious,
  • Always feel free to ask questions about the diagnosis and any treatments offered.

Bring a Loved One

For most people, it is really hard to face a strange person and open their heart while revealing things they might want to forget. It may be a good idea to take a loved one on your first visit as support. The person you choose will be by your side and might help you tell the psychiatrist what is going on with you.

What is more, the person can provide a different perspective on your problems and symptoms which can be very helpful to the session.

Be Open and Honest

To be open and honest with your psychiatrist is key to succeed in the therapy. You should provide a complete picture to the professional so the help can be really profound.

On the other hand, you should be able to answer your psychiatrist’s questions with the same honesty as you describe what you are undergoing. In this way, your diagnosis will be more accurate.

Women holding a pen











Write Down Everything the Doctor Says

We said that before going to the first visit you should write down everything you want to tell the psychiatrist, not only you should do this but also write down what he/she tells you. This will help you remember the conversation and, later on, keep a record of your progress.

Ask Questions

Remember that what is important is that you understand the whole situation and how you should proceed. In order to do that, you should ask as many questions as you can, no question is a dumb one, every question is valid when it comes to your mental health and treatment.

Don’t leave the session without an understanding of what is going on and what is happening next. If you took the loved one with you, he/she would be able to help you remembering the information and making the questions.

Your First Should End with a Plan

As it was already mentioned, after the psychiatrist made a lot of questions and you explain in detail what is going on with you, a plan would be explained to you. It will consist of what are the steps that you should follow to get better. Sometimes, it might contain some prescription, but in some other cases, you would have to attend therapy regularly.

Understand Prescriptions

If it is the case and you get a prescription, you need to make sure that you understand correctly what you are going to take, how you are going to do it and why. Ask the psychiatrist about the side effects, so you are prepared for any modifications in your behavior or your body. You should also know if there are any special dosing instruction and if there are any interactions to worry about. You might want to write this information as well.

Overall, do not be afraid of asking all the questions you want, it is important that you feel confident and safe when starting treatment. The first visit to your psychiatrist is essential for him/her to collect all the information about you and come up with a plan that will help you improve and get better.

If you need more information or assessment in connection with this or any other mental problem or therapy contact us. We are more than willing to help you get the right treatment for you.

Clinical Psychologist

Different Types of Mental Health Professionals

Nowadays, it is possible to find a wide variety of mental health professionals because this field has grown considerably in the last century. That is why, when you decide to attend therapy, you should also consider the type of professional you need to consult.

Although all clinical professionals should meet similar clinical requirements for competency, you might find out that each mental health professional different training and specific therapeutic practices or methods.

Here you will find a list of different types of counselors and mental health professional to bear in mind while choosing the best therapy:

Clinical Social Worker (CSW)

Clinical Social Worker












The clinical social workers are social workers who have completed some supplemental requirements to be able to work with clients on a clinical level. They might have more experience than “conventional” social workers because the latest workers do not have the clinical designation (MSW)

What is more, clinical social workers should have completed the required master’s program in counseling, internship hours, and postgraduate supervision hours, as well as, taking the Advanced Clinical Social Worker Exam, which allows them to open private practices for psychotherapy.

Mental Health Counselor (MHC)

As regards mental health counselors, they are counselors whose education is focused on clinical assessment, treatment, and psychotherapy. They are trained in mental illness, psychotherapy, and clinical intervention services.

To be a  mental health counselor, it is required to complete a master’s program, internship, and 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience to get the license. After all these steps, counselors are allowed to work privately and within clinical facilities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

These kinds of therapists work with relationship, marital, and family problems related to mental health. They are consulted about couples, parents, children, siblings issues, etc.

Their area of expertise is connected to the family dynamic, interpersonal problems and relationships. To get a license they are required to have a master’s level education in mental health and clinical supervision hours, and after that take a clinical exam.

Clinical Psychologist (Ph.D. or PsyD)

Clinical Psychologist












In the case of clinical psychologists, they are mental health and counseling professionals who had received a doctoral level of education. Their main objective is in clinical practice, counseling, and research. Clinical psychologists specialize in various types of therapy, including individual, marital, and family therapy with a focus on treatment for symptoms of depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and a variety of other conditions.

They might offer mental health counseling services, and they are also trained in assessment, diagnosis, and therapeutic practices. But they are not trained in prescribing medication because they do not have a medical degree.

Due to their educational level, clinical psychologists are generally in charge of supervision and managerial responsibilities in clinical facilities, and they might be responsible for patients who need more attention and expertise because of complex mental difficulties.

Psychiatrist (MD or DO)

Psychiatrists are mainly concern about the medical treatment of people with some psychiatric disorder. They are allowed to prescribe medication based on each patient, and they are in charge of its management service.

Every month, they meet with their patient to control each treatment. What is more, most of these professionals do not offer psychotherapeutic or counseling services. But they work close to counseling professionals to follow treatments based on medication.

Overall, it is necessary to explain that each of these mental health professionals are allowed to work in mental health facilities as well as individually as private practice. Every mental health certification has its advantages and benefits and its aim to help each patient with the appropriate treatment according to his or her issues. Lastly, when you have to consult a mental health professional who has met all licensing requirements to make sure you will get the correct care and attention.

If you need more information or assessment in connection to this or any other mental problem or therapy contact us. We are more than willing to help you get the right treatment for you.