• Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How to Find a Good Psychologist or Psychiatrist

We are asked a lot for the name of a good psychologist or psychiatrist by people who live outside of our community. While I know people in my profession who have private practices, I don't know one in every major city in the United States. Just this week, I was asked the question again and it occurred to me, that a lot of people would benefit from knowing how to choose. I have a simple strategy that can help you, or someone you care about, avoid wasting time and money on a psychologist or psychiatrist who is not going to be effective. To review the difference, a psychologist provides therapy and a psychiatrist typically evaluates for medication. It is expected that psychologists and psychiatrists consult with each other to give a team approach for treatment. First, I do have a bias. I believe anyone wanting a medication evaluation for depression, AD/HD, anxiety, or other difficulties that interfere with their daily living should see a psychiatrist rather than their family physician for a medication evaluation. I do believe there are family physicians who do seek out specialized training and knowledge to be able to prescribe antidepressants or stimulants but they are few. To be on the safe side, go see a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation, especially for a new diagnosis. He or she is the specialist and you deserve to have a professional with the appropriate specialty do the evaluation for difficulties related to mood and attention. So here is the simple strategy. It is really important to find someone that you trust, whether it is a psychologist (for therapy) or a psychiatrist (for a medication evaluation). One of the best ways is to call a regular MD's office of a person that has a great reputation in his community and just ask the person who answers the phone who their office refers to for psychologists and/or psychiatrists, depending on what you need. Call about 5-6 doctors offices that are respected in your community and ask that question. You don't even have to give your name or say if you are a patient of their office. One psychologist or psychiatrist's name will continue to come up. That is who you should go to. We know about this strategy because that is how a lot of people get to our office. they have told us that they have gotten our name from their family physician, their OB/GYN, possibly their child's school or from a pediatrician. You know the person is good if the “good people” in the community refer to him or her. They wouldn’t want to risk their own reputation so they refer to the person that they consider the best. Click here for my handout on Ways to Find a Psychologist Oustide of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. We hope this helps those of you who know you would benefit from seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist but didn't know where to start. Now you do.