Making the decision to see a psychiatrist can be daunting, and first-timers may not know what to expect. While it’s totally normal to be nervous, it can help to know what’s happens during a session. Whether you’re seeing a local psychiatrist in Dallas or setting up an online appointment, here are a few things psychiatrists want you to know to help you prepare:
1. Psychiatric sessions are different from counselling or talk therapy
If you’re seeing a social worker, psychologist, or other type of therapist, you may be used to longer, conversational sessions that cover a range of issues. This is because therapists typically rely on talk therapy to help patients. On the other hand, psychiatrists are medical doctors. A session with a psychiatrist may involve diagnostic tests, medical tests like MRI scans, medications, and other medical treatments. A psychiatrist may use or recommend talk therapy as part of the treatment, but it may be only one part of a larger treatment plan.
2. The first session will likely be the longest
An intake session with a psychiatrist could take anywhere from one to two hours – though part of this time will be spent filling out paperwork and taking assessments. The psychiatrist will also ask about your mental health history. Subsequent sessions will likely be shorter, roughly 15 to 30 minutes long. Your later sessions may just be the psychiatrist asking questions to assess if the treatment plan is working and evaluating whether changes are needed.
3. Your medications may change
After an initial diagnosis, your psychiatrist may recommend certain medications. However, it’s possible these can change due to a number of reasons, including an evolving diagnosis, dose adjustments, or in response to any adverse side effects.
4. You can plan what you want to talk about
For some first-timers, it may help to make a list of what you want to discuss during the first session. You can reflect on why you’re seeking professional help and what you want your psychiatrist to know about you. It can include any issue you want to cover, as well as questions about the process, and any feelings, symptoms, or expectations you may have.
5. Everything you say remains confidential
For the most part, psychiatrists are obligated to keep the details of your sessions confidential. They may, however, discuss aspects of your life or diagnosis with other healthcare providers, such as your therapist. If a psychiatrist feels that their patient is likely to cause harm to themselves or others, then they are obligated to alert the relevant authorities.
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