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Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Hi there Smiley Happy


My GP's given me a referral to see a psychiatrist and I've booked in an appointment to see one now. I've been seeing either a counsellor or a psychologist for a little over 2 years now and have found that fairly okay to manage. I'm wondering if with seeing a psychiatrist, what usually happens when you see them? Is it kind of like seeing a counsellor/psyschologist or is it something totally (or a little) different?


Additionally is there anything I need to get consent for when seeing a psychiatrist (currently 17 years old), or is it like seeing a GP where I don't need consent from a parent to do that?


Have a good day! Smiley Happy

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

When are you due to see them, I want to make a better reply tomorrow as too tired right now.
Trying to make my misery
just a piece of my history
A little less victim a little more victory
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Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

The appointment is about 5 weeks away, so no rush in replying. Smiley Happy

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Hello Clockwork, 


Seeing a psychiatrist is simialr to seeing a psychologist or counsellor in that the type of therapeutic relationship you establish is a significant predictor of treatment success. The "thereuptic relationship" you will establish relates to how you feel while interacting with your psychiatrist i.e do they validate your feelings, or discount them? Are the empathetic? Do you in general feel comfortable talking to them about your concerns? Do you TRUST them? Do you feel better or worse upon visiting them? As such it is crucial when you have any type of therapst, that you have a good thereuptic relationship. Psychiatrists (are medical doctors with psychological training) as such they can perscribe you medication to help "relieve" symptoms, HOWEVER if you don't get along with them/ have a good theurapetic relationship with them - medication is only so helpful. More on the medication side of things - if you are perscribed medication by them, the dose/s ought to be SLOWLY increased, and reviewed by your psychiatrist to make sure you are doing okay :-) 


In terms of consent - they will explain to you that everything you discuss will be kept private, UNLESS they have reasons to believe that you may harm yourself or others (in which case they may need to involve a third party such as parents or other professionals). Provided your GP has given you a referral to see the Psychiatrist you do not need "permission" from a parent to see them. The Psychiatrist may ask if you would like to have a parent involved in your sessions or informed - but this is not essential. 


Please keep us posted! Smiley Happy

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

@Clockwork in my experience psychologists are more practical (Eg give you worksheets and tactics to try) and psychiatrists are more "talking therapy" and listen to you speak about your problems - however they are more knowledgeable about medical conditions and medications because they have done a medicine degree. However this was just my personal experience and I am sure psychiatrists all have very different techniques. Good luck and remember if you don't feel comfortable with them you can always ask your GP to refer you to someone else Smiley Happy

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Hi @Clockwork this is a very good question. I have seen a few psychiatrists before so I'll break it down a bit. It is similar to a psychologist session in that they ask a lot of mental health like questions and also what you do with your life etc. They will ask what your main cornern for coming in is and they'll explore with you how that effects your life and how you cope. They will offer suggestions as well and do some talk therapy and will probably look at any mrds you might be on and if they are working. They might change or adjust them. They may ask to see you for a follow up it just depends.

I don't see why you'd parental consent or anything. I know in NSW (where I am) that at the age of 16 you are considered able to make your own medical decisions

I wanted to highlight what was said above about the therapeutic relationship. It is important to be able to build that strong relationship. I know from experience with me having meds changed by different psychiatrists and that really messed things up for me. And it wasn't until I met my current GP who had taken it all on for me and is now over seeing my care with psychiatrist input.

I hope this helps 😊

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Hi Clockwork!


Great work taking that step. Walking into the unknown isn't easy. Smiley Happy


When going to see a psychiatrist, there are similarities as well as differences to seeing a counsellor. 


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in psychological illnesses. This enables them to handle the medication side of things, and also work with you to discover exactly what is causing your symptoms. They look at whether there are physical reasons for your psychological symptoms and sometimes ask you to get blood or other tests. In my experience, they do not provide therapy.


However, the same confidentiality rules apply as when you see a counsellor or psychologist (everything is kept private unless they think you may harm yourself or others). It is also essential that you develop a good relationship with your psychiatrist in terms of being able to communicate effectively with them, and feeling like you have a say in your treatment. If you ever feel uncomfortable, there is nothing wrong with seeking treatment elsewhere, just like you would with a counsellor.


So in short, they work out your diagnosis, and handle the meds. Counsellors and psychologists provide therapy and tools to manage your symptoms.




Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Thank you everyone for your replies. Smiley Happy


All of your responses have definintely made me feel more confidient about the appointment. I haven't been going too well in the last few days and almost cancelled the appointment because I wasn't sure if I was going to go through with it.


I know that I want to get better but there's a part of me that's scared about that because I don't know what that'll involve or what it looks like.

Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Good morning @Clockwork


Well done for keeping your appointment. Given you've been having a tough time the past couple of days, holding strong and still intending to see the psychiatrist shows a lot of courage - the "unknown" can be frightening at the best of times!


Psychiatrists in their line of work  see so many diverse people - they do not hold expectations of what a new client "will" be like. Their initial job, above all else is to make you feel at ease in the session. 


By booking in to see a psychiatrist you've taken a postive step towards getting better. Equally, recovery isn't linear - like so many people you have some terrible days, some good days, and some days that are just "meh". This is perfectly okay and normal for lots of people. Having bad or meh days does not necessairily mean you are getting any worse. 


Your psychiatrist will guide you through the process - whether it be talk therapy, some tests, or a medication regime. Because you're new to it all, you may have some questions for them - "if in doubt, shout" (not literally) Smiley LOL

Furthemore, a potential technique you can use - if the thought of talking during the initial session scares you, is to write them a little letter that they can read during the session to get a "glimpse" into your world. 




My name is Clockwork. I am .... years old. I guess I'm here because I feel (insert feeling word i.e anxious, depressed, angry).......It's been going on for about (insert time frame: i.e 3 years and hasn't been gettting any better).....I have seen a psychologist before, but never a psychiatrist. I almost cancelled my appointment because I did not know what to expect - but I want to get better. 

Thank you for reading. 


Re: Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, what to expect?

Hey @Clockwork, first of all well done for booking your appointment! That's great, takes a lot of courage and I can really appreciate how tough it must have been to do it and how hard you've worked already to get to this point. 


Your questions have been answered really well by everyone else on here so there isn't much i really want to add I just want to highlight a few things. It is a scary thing and I have definitely been in the position you described of feeling like cancelling but I really hope that you go ahead with it because it is an opportunity to get more help or a different kind if that's what you need. Think of it like preparing yourself for your future problems or future challenges. It's another mechanism/strategy you might be able to use in the future.


You aren't obliged to disclose anything (the same with your counsellor/psychologist) and you can really direct the session in any way you want. If you wake up that day and follow through and go but get there and aren't feeling that comfortable, that's totally okay! Well done for getting there, it's all a process. 


The big difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist is that a psychiatrist is a medically trained doctor so if you have discussed taking/starting/being on medication with your GP or psych at any point before this - this would be a good opportunity to discuss that and ask any questions you have or find out a bit more. This DOES NOT mean that you have to go on medication but it could be a chance for you to explore that option if it's something you have been wondering about or considering. 


Have you been finding your counselling/psych sessions helpful?