Finding the right Psychiatrist can be difficult, especially when you’re personally involved in the discussion. It’s even more difficult when you’re on the Autism Spectrum and are looking for assistance with your social skills or finding ways to help yourself cope better with everyday life.
Finding The Right Psychiatrist
Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors who treat general mental health disorders. They prescribe medications, if necessary, and offer therapy for a variety of mental health concerns. Some psychiatrists work in a group practice with other psychiatrists and psychologists. Others maintain a private practice working one-on-one with their patients.
In most cases, general practitioners cover the field of psychiatry as well as prescribing medication to help manage stress, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. Unfortunately, many people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome know that their general practitioner doesn’t have the necessary tools to effectively diagnose and treat autism spectrum disorders.
A Pediatric Psychiatrist has specific training in diagnosing developmental disabilities in children and treating them with behavior therapy, medications, counseling, or some combination of these. Pediatric psychiatrists are particularly skilled in diagnosing and treating children with Asperger’s Syndrome or High Functioning Autism, but they often have little experience in treating adults.
People with autism spectrum disorders need to see a psychiatrist who has the most training possible in recognizing autism-related behaviors and challenges, which leads many of them to seek out Psychiatrists with specialties in Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Psychiatrists who have a specialty in ASD are often Medical Doctors who have completed an additional year of study on autism spectrum disorders after graduation from medical school. Other Psychiatrists obtain additional training on the job while continuing to practice general psychiatry with adult patients. Still, others might choose to work specifically with adults on the autism spectrum, but they might not be able to effectively diagnose children. Finding one that truly specializes in ASD can take time and effort but often proves worthwhile.
Finding the right Psychiatrist means interviewing several candidates to find out if you are comfortable with them, both physically and emotionally. The process can be intimidating at first; after all, you are seeking out a therapist to help you deal with your emotions. You need someone that you can trust and feel at ease with when you discuss your feelings and past experiences.
There are several questions that you should ask potential Psychiatrists in order to find the right one for you:
*What training and experience do they have?
*Do they have experience with adults on the spectrum?
*What are their treatment philosophies? Do they lean toward medications or therapy, or both?
*Is your therapist also a Certified Autism Specialist? This certification takes several hundred hours of study time to obtain. It’s not required, but it sure helps when you’re trying to find someone who has sufficient training in autism spectrum disorders.
*Do they take your insurance? (You should always call the potential therapist’s office and ask this question. You wouldn’t believe how often we find people calling their potential therapist, making an appointment, and then getting a huge surprise when they find out that the person doesn’t accept their insurance.)
Choosing a Psychiatrist takes time and can be stressful, but it is an important step toward managing your mental health. A good therapist will help you explore your emotions, recognize your strengths and help you work on strategies for dealing with challenges. Once you find the right Psychiatrist to manage your stress and anxiety (while helping you address related depression, sensory integration issues, or other issues that impact your mental health), you’ll be better equipped to make progress toward achieving your goals.