There are many different types of psychiatrists as well as practices in the mental health field. Oftentimes, a first appointment can be a source of anxiety for new patients. While each practitioner will vary, just like each patient will vary – I like to describe what patients may expect on a first appointment at my office, as well as answer some questions about why a Psychiatrist would review these items in the first place!
Here’s what to expect at your first visit with me:
1. Paperwork: NONE to speak of. There is a single page that patients complete prior to their first appointment. Otherwise, you will most likely not be asked to complete paperwork.
I prefer to take the patient’s history myself. Meaning, instead of having the patient fill out form upon form about their Psychiatric, Medical, and Social history, only for her to wonder if I even read this document? I prefer to get information from the patient in a way that allows us to interact – for you to offer clarifications and extensions, or for me to ask a bit more about items that seem unclear.
Then you’re less likely to feel like I’ve transferred the burden of taking down your history to you, when you know it already, and I’ve got to learn it!
For those who would really like to complete intake forms before they come in, they are available by fax or on my website, but I will review any information with you.
2. Intake Consultation: A first consultation or appointment is typically rather different from follow up appointments, because very important information will need to be gathered so that I can help your treatment in a meaningful way. You should expect to meet a compassionate, Psychiatrist giving you her full attention in a completely non-judgmental environment. There may be more material to review in this session, so it may take a bit longer than some follow up appointments.
3. Questions: During your appointment, I will likely ask you several questions about your mood, thoughts, and behavior, as well as your general health. Here are some of the questions that may arise:
a. So I have your name, but what would you like to be called? (If you answer Katie, though your given name is Kathleen, I will welcome you to call me Amanda, Dr. Amanda, or Dr. Itzkoff, if you think it’s more effective that way). I will address you as you wish to be addressed!
b. What brings you here today? What concerns or symptoms have you been experiencing? How long have you been experiencing these?
c. Have you ever experienced these symptoms in the past?
d. Have you had any mental health treatment in the past? What did it involve? What did you like about your last treatment / provider? What did you find unhelpful or dislike about your past treatment or provider? Is there something you would specifically like in a provider now?
e. Does anything seem to make your symptoms worse?
f. What are your goals? What do you hope to gain from working together?
4. Past Medical History: So why do psychiatrists ask about “medical history”? Is my hyperthyroidism really relevant to my psychiatric symptoms? The answer to that, is YES! There are many medical problems that masquerade as psychiatric problems and these need to be addressed. Additionally, your general health, will have a great relevance to your psychiatric outcomes, as will the converse.
Do you have any allergies to medication?
Are you sexually active? Are you pregnant or planning to become pregnant? Are you nursing.
Who, in your family, if anyone, has a history of mood, anxiety, substance use disorder, eating disorder, or other psychiatric illness? Was this treated and with what approach? (There is evidence to support the fact that patient’s with first degree relatives that responded to a particular treatment, will respond well to that same treatment)
5. Treatment Options: I will discuss your treatment options thoroughly. I take the approach of presenting all treatments that are suited to your concerns, and after answering questions, asking the patient which of the treatments (sometimes one patient would like all available treatments, and another would like only one option discussed). We support you in your choices! I am a trained psycho pharmacologist, but by no means treat all patients with medication! Many patients under my care are involved in talk therapy or wellness coaching alone. Psychiatrists have had extensive training and schooling, so they are well educated as to the many treatment options available to you.
6. Questions: You will be given the opportunity to ask questions about anything discussed during you appointment, or anything that you feel went unaddressed. When you’re satisfied that your questions are successfully answered, you may schedule follow up appointments for a treatment designed for and planned with you!
It’s important to choose a high quality psychiatrist when dealing with your mental health. If you have more questions please feel free to reach out and contact my office.
Phone me at 917- 609- 4990 or email for additional info at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff