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A Therapist's Guide to Preparing for a Psychiatry Visit

Therapy 101, Women's Health, Therapist Guide
4 min read
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As a clinical social worker, a number of my clients work with prescribers. There are many excellent prescribers out there, however, this can be a very stressful process. Many of my clients express feeling overwhelmed, unheard, or confused by their prescriber visits. I work closely with a number of students studying to become psychiatric nurse practitioners as well as having the pleasure of working with very talented psychiatrists. I have begun working with clients to prepare for and reduce anxiety around these visits and hopefully increase positive outcomes. 

 

What to Know Before Your First Psychiatry Visit

 

To prepare: 

  • Write out a bullet pointed list of: 
    1. Current symptoms & diagnoses
    2. Short history of symptoms (I have been feeling down since I gave birth 6 months ago)
    3. Relevant family history (such as if a family member struggled with depression, anxiety, etc)
    4. Current medications
    5. Current medical problems
    6. Any medications that have not worked or have caused a negative side effect
    7. Current substance use and substance use history
  • Have the contact information for any current medical providers & your therapist
  • Identify what you want to change (I don’t want to struggle to concentrate on complex tasks)

In the visit: 

  • Give them a copy of your list and ask for it to be included in your chart
  • Ask for any possible side effects of recommended medications
  • Ask how long a medication may start to work
  • Ask if there is a specific time of day when the medication is best taken
  • Ask what diagnosis they plan assigning

After the visit: 

  • Continue working with your therapist and begin to identify clear ways to determine if the medication is helpful
  • Write down any concerns you notice with the medication
  • Take the medication exactly as prescribed and don’t stop the medication without speaking to a prescriber! 

Many times, your prescriber only has about 15 minutes to speak with you and they go from one patient to another all day. Do not allow yourself to feel rushed, this is your time and you should feel comfortable speaking your mind. You may need to work with the prescriber through several medications to find something that works well, so remember that this is a relationship. Most importantly, you have the right to say no to a medication or ask for an alternative option. If you do not feel comfortable with your prescriber or you do not feel listened to, you always have the right to go elsewhere!  On a final note, make sure you are keeping your therapist informed of every medication you are on, if your doctor worked well with you and if you have any concerns. 

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About the author: Yolanda Robinson has a doctorate in clinical social work and is licensed in Maryland and North Carolina to work with women and LGBTQ+ individuals and couples hoping to increase their contentment, regain their footing in life and increase positive communication. Yolanda helped found and has the pleasure to work with a talented team of therapists and advocates at Abide Inclusive, a not for profit increasing accessibility to quality therapy, psychoeducation, and higher levels of care for LGBTQ+ persons. To learn more about Yolanda or view more of her work, head to her Frame profile.