Understanding the first step to living a balanced life.
The term psychiatric consultation can be a scary one which can conjure up feelings of tension, stress or uncertainty. Despite it being a term that may make you feel uneasy or worried, it’s quite the opposite. A psychiatric consultation (or evaluation) is a term used to explain the first step in understanding your psychiatric course of care. A proper consultation can put you on the path to wellness and prepare you for a happy and well-balanced life.
Why do I need a consultation?
The practice of psychiatry is definitely not a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness. Each person’s perceptions, experiences, and desired outcomes are different and therefore, each person’s needs will differ as well. Because therapy is an incredibly individualized practice, a therapist needs to better understand you before they suggest a path forward. Because of this, a psychiatric consultation is the first step to implementing a successful treatment plan. Think of a psychiatric consultation much like a first date or a job interview. During this meeting, you and the therapist will learn more about each other and get a general sense of how your working relationship will be moving forward. This time is not only for your therapist better understand your needs and suggest a path to care, it’s also a chance for you to get to know (and begin to feel comfortable) with the therapist. Generally, the most productive therapy sessions are the ones where the patient is comfortable with the therapist and trusts them fully. The process of the psychiatric consultation is an important step to ensure a lasting and productive working relationship.
What to expect during a consultation
While the exact interaction varies, generally, a psychiatric consultation will feel just like an open conversation with some guided questions. Typically, a therapist will ask why you’ve come to meet with them and what exactly is bothering you. They’ll usually ask you about your family history, medical history and about any medications you’re currently taking. They’ll also ask about any symptoms such as anxiety, depression, insomnia, or stress that you’re experiencing. Finally, they’ll ask about your goals for therapy. A consultation usually takes about one hour to complete. A therapist uses this information to help learn more about you to reach a tentative diagnosis and craft a plan of care.
Once you’ve completed your evaluation you have a few options. You can agree to begin care with this therapist and schedule further appointments immediately. You can also take your time with your decision, speaking with family and friends about the possibility of therapy and how to proceed. Finally, you can choose not to work with this therapist and begin looking for additional alternatives or other professionals. Whatever you choose know that it’s your choice to make.
Therapy is a raw and emotional process which is most successful when there is mutual trust and respect between a patient and a caregiver. The psychiatric consultation is the first step to finding this care and respect and ultimately, a defined path towards wellness.
Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell is a Psychiatrist in New York City and offers Psychiatric Consultations in the New York City area.