People Spend More Time Picking Out a Hairstylist than a Doctor?
How Does One Choose a Psychiatrist?
The other day I was searching for a hairstylist. My hair is hard to keep up, very challenging for a stylist and thus, very expensive, so if I leave the salon with anything but exactly what I want, I’m more than a little peeved. I’m the client and I want what I paid for.
And as I was looking at various salons and considering which stylists might do a good job, it occurred to me, I’m spending more time on this than most people spend on finding a psychiatrist.
So how does one choose a psychiatrist anyway?
Choosing a Hairstylist
First, let’s consider how you might choose a hairstylist (stay with me men). In order of usefulness, you might:
- Ask for referrals from friends.
- Research stylists on something like Yelp.com
- Look at salon websites for information
- Pick one due to location or price
Of course, asking friends generally works out best, but some of us just end up picking whoever is around. Likely, the more work you do up front though, the happier you will be with your choice.
Choosing a Psychiatrist
Choosing a psychiatrist is exactly the same, actually.
- Ask for referrals from friends or another doctor – let’s face it, no one knows a psychiatrist like a patient who has been treated by him or her, so this is often the best way to find good doctor. Of course, this isn’t always possible for a variety of reasons, like, for example, you don’t know anyone seeing a psychiatrist (whereas most people have hairstylists). Asking a trusted doctor, like you GP, for example, can also work.
- Researching psychiatrists online – this is something everyone should do. There are many sites out there dedicated to rating doctors and while these ratings should be viewed with caution, they do give a general idea of how patients feel about individual psychiatrists.
- Look up information on the psychiatrist – again, this is something you need to do. You can find out if your psychiatrist is published, their points of view, their specialities and so on. This is important because you don’t want to see someone who has a fundamentally different viewpoint than you and it would be nice to find someone who specializes in your disorder (just like finding a hairstylist who specializes in coloring).
- Picking a psychiatrist due to other factors – of course, sometimes it can’t be avoided that we must pick a psychiatrist based on other factors such as insurance coverage or location. This is OK, but that doesn’t mean the above steps should just be skipped. Even if you have to have a particular doctor due to insurance limitations, doing research on the doctor will still let you know valuable information that can help you in your treatment, such as their treatment perspective.
And as with hairstylists, if you leave the psychiatrist’s office without meeting your goals, you might be peeved. You are the client, you pay the doctor, they work for you, and you deserve to get what you pay for.
Like with hairstylists, you may have a long relationship with your psychiatrist so who you choose really matters. And yes, of course, your health matters a lot more than your hair. Your hair will grow back, your health will not, so I suggest you take your time about picking who is right for you. And if you’re stuck with someone you don’t like, do your research, find someone else and ask for a referral. Not all psychiatrists suit all patients and that’s OK. If you’re me, what matters is that I find someone who can work with red curls, oh, and someone who can work with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder à la Natasha.
About Natasha Tracy
Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.