Your First Visit
What To Expect At Your
Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time can be intimidating, but there is no need to worry. The following list tells you what to expect at a psychiatric appointment.
1. The first visit is the longest.
Your intake appointment can take one to two hours. You’ll fill out paperwork and assessments to help determine a diagnosis. After that, you’ll have a conversation with the psychiatrist, NP, or PA. The provider will get to know you and come to understand why you are seeking treatment. There will be a lot of questions for you to answer. Be sure to discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor; this ensures your prescriptions don’t negatively interact.
2. Bring a friend.
We understand that on your first visit you may want to have a loved one or close friend with you. If you choose to bring someone with you, they should know you well and be able to share about you. You don’t have to bring anyone, but this person may be able to remember critical details you may forget.
3. Write it down.
Before your psychiatry appointment, write down why you are seeking help. Highlight behaviors which cause you concern. This will help you stay on track and lessen the likelihood of you forgetting something. While you’re in your appointment, it’s also a good idea to write down what the provider says so you can remember it after your appointment.
4. A simple physical.
We will take your vitals on your first visit to establish a baseline. We will take your blood pressure and temperature and will also weigh you. If you are having a virtual or telehealth visit, be prepared to share your measurements. For some patients, there is also the possibility of a blood draw. In some cases, your provider may send you for further testing or scans.
5. Get to know your psychiatrist.
You will be working with the doctor, NP, or PA to reach your health goals. It is a good idea to prepare questions so you can understand more about their method of treatment. We encourage you to ask questions during your sessions.
6. Treatment plan.
By the end of your first or second session, you will have a treatment plan. We think of your treatment plan as a map to guide you on your road to wellness. Your provider will provide you with prescriptions and advice on how you will move forward. Your treatment plan might include recurring medication visits and therapy sessions.
7. Shorter sessions.
After the initial intake, future psychiatry appointments will be shorter; on average between 15 and 20 minutes. You’ll discuss how the medicines are working and give a concise overview of how you’re doing. The doctor, NP, or PA will decide whether to adjust your medications or not.
8. Psychiatry is worth it
Dealing with a mental health diagnosis is as important as physical health. It may be new territory, but it is worth it to get you on a healthy path.