The purpose of the initial psychiatric visit is to thoroughly assess the presenting condition and then make appropriate treatment recommendations. Here are some of the commonly asked questions about the first visit.
What happens during the initial visit? How is the assessment done?
The initial assessment is problem-focused. The clinician collects and reviews detailed information collected from the patient, and family interview where applicable, and the intake paperwork filled out before the assessment. The information collected includes but not limited to the nature, duration, and severity of the problem, prior treatments, personal and medical history, family history, internal or external factors affecting the presenting condition, etc. Based on the assessment, the clinician will order appropriate testing or evaluations, present treatment options, and discuss prognosis.
Why do I have to fill out all this paperwork? Why can’t I see the doctor and tell him about my problem?
As noted above, to conduct a proper assessment and to develop an appropriate treatment plan, the healthcare provider needs detailed information from various aspects of your life relating to your current problem. The initial paperwork helps you organize this information in a format that is useful for the provider and makes your visit more productive. The provider reviews this information with you and does further assessment.
Some examples of the information you are required to fill out include past and present treatment history, family history, general health history, developmental history, current medications, allergies, brief screening questionnaires, etc.
I have been advised to see a psychiatrist. However, I don’t think I need any medications. Should I still schedule a visit?
Medication is one of the treatment options among many options, such as individual counseling, family counseling, group therapy, stress management, lifestyle changes, exercise, etc. Seeing a psychiatrist doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be prescribed medication automatically.
I have done some research, and I think I know what medicine I need. Will the doctor prescribe me the drug I want?
Treatment planning is a collaborative process where the clinician presents various treatment options, answer questions regarding those options, and listens to the patient for their input. Although the clinician will be open to discuss any treatment suggestions from the patient, he or she will not prescribe any medicine that is not appropriate or safe for the condition.
How early should I arrive for my appointment?
If this is your first visit, please come at least one hour earlier to fill out all the appropriate paperwork. For follow-up appointments, just try to be there on time.