What to Expect When You go to a Psychiatrist

Image: Miranda: The Tempest by John William Waterhouse
The Tempest by John William Waterhouse

Many people are reluctant to visit a psychiatrist because there’s a stigma associated with visiting a mental health specialist. However, these trained professionals can bring about a host of positive changes in your life if only you’re open to the idea of seeking help. It’s natural to be apprehensive about your first visit to a psychiatrist, but there’s nothing to worry about, as you’ll soon discover for yourself. A psychiatrist is just like any other doctor, only one who is responsible for your mental wellbeing. In general, you can expect some or all of the following when you see a psychiatrist:

  • The doctor will try to put you at ease by making you comfortable and asking you simple questions about yourself.
  • He or she will talk to you about random issues that are not related to your problem – this is their way of getting you to relax and feel like you’re at home and sharing a conversation with a friend.
  • They slowly work your problem into the conversation and get you to talk about it.
  • If you’re not too forthcoming, they don’t pressure you; rather, they ask questions that may seem unrelated but which help them understand your issue and your need for help.
  • They don’t get angry or upset if you remain silent and refuse to co-operate; they just wait patiently and keep trying and ask you to come back for your next session when this one is over.
  • They don’t react to what you tell them; they don’t judge your thoughts and actions; and they don’t reprimand you even if you’ve done something wrong. Your psychiatrist is your friend, someone who works with you to help you deal with the emotions and feelings you’re going through and cope with them as best as you can.

Psychiatrists can do you a world of good if only you work in tandem with them and answer their questions honestly and openly. Don’t treat them hostilely and don’t get defensive – they are not your enemy or out to judge you for the way you think or the way you feel or what you’ve done. They are good sounding boards for any emotion you want to vent and any secrets you wish to share; their professional ethics forbid them from revealing what you’ve shared with them, so feel free to spill your guts. Good psychiatrists understand your problem and help you deal with any insecurities and fears that plague you and which you cannot share with anyone else.

So leave your doubts behind and go with an open mind to get the most advantage out of seeing a psychiatrist; you’re not mentally unsound, you’re just taking a very wise decision to seek help from a professional.


This guest post is contributed by Abby Nelson, who writes on the topic of Masters degree in Counseling. She welcomes your comments at her email id: abby.85nelson<@>gmail<.>com.

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  1. I get to go tomorrow..pretty nervous for my first appointment..i need help im tired of living with all these negative feelings. I was adopted at 6 months old and a product of rape..my real mom was mentally ill..then I went thru rape when I was 12..was abused physically and sexually until I tuned away at 16..started using alcohol and drugs..I had my son and stoped, but I cant overcome the past I feel tired of being alive…need help!

  2. Thanks so much for the advice…. I go to my first psych eval tomorrow…
    … Our stories are quite similar! I was 2 when my parents divorced. I stayed with my dad. He remarried when I was 7 to a woman who had 2 children…. Needless to say, I was in the way and she Hated me! Went to live with my mom (an alcoholic)at 15 and learned FAST how to self medicate.
    … I’m now 51 and dealing with the worst anxiety and depression of my life! Wish me luck!!!

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