Do I Need a Referral to See a Psychiatrist?

 Do I Need a Referral to See a Psychiatrist?

The teenage girl sits hopelessly with her head resting on her hand as she listens to advice from the unrecognizable mature adult female counselor.

It’s generally more common to need a referral for a psychiatrist than it is to see other mental health professionals, like a psychologist. This is only one difference between a psychologist vs psychiatrist. Some psychiatrists would prefer to see you only after you have first gone to your primary care doctor to get a referral, but this isn’t always the case. You can also call a psychiatrist and schedule an appointment for yourself or your family (any children under 18) without needing a referral from a primary care physician. It is important to check with your health insurance first to see what’s covered, what your out-of-network providers’ options are for any potential reimbursement, and then you can ask for referrals from your primary care doctor, your insurance, friends, or family.

Can You Self Refer to See a Psychiatrist?

Depending on your insurance, you may be able to see an in-person or private psychiatrist without getting a referral from your primary care provider. Finding out can be as simple as calling your insurance company and asking: do I need a referral to see a psychiatrist? 

How to Get a Referral for a Psychiatrist

If you’re unsure about your psychiatric care needs or if you know for sure that your insurance will require you to get a referral, you can schedule an appointment with your primary doctor or a general practitioner (GP). At that appointment, you can discuss your symptoms and your doctor will help you figure out if your next step should be to seek psychiatric treatment. 

Occasionally, a primary care physician might first prescribe psychiatric medication before giving you a referral. Then, if your mental health condition doesn’t improve, they’ll often be ready to move on to the next step and refer you to a psychiatrist.

How to Get a Referral for a Psychiatrist
If you’re unsure about your psychiatric care needs or if you know for sure that your insurance will require you to get a referral, you can schedule an appointment with your primary doctor or a general practitioner (GP). At that appointment, you can discuss your symptoms and your doctor will help you figure out if your next step should be to seek psychiatric treatment. 
Occasionally, a primary care physician might first prescribe psychiatric medication before giving you a referral. Then, if your mental health condition doesn’t improve, they’ll often be ready to move on to the next step and refer you to a psychiatrist.

Getting an appointment with a psychiatrist

Even if you don’t need a referral for your insurance, you may still want to consider seeing a GP or your primary care provider before you look for a psychiatrist. Your medical doctor may immediately refer you directly to a psychiatrist they know and trust. Or, they may give you information about mental health professionals in your area who can help you get started. Mental health teams can meet with you and better assess your need for mental health treatment. 

You also have the option of contacting a private psychiatrist directly, or you can use an online service to find a doctor.

 If you don’t want to make multiple calls asking whether they accept your insurance or are accepting new patients, Talkspace’s online psychiatry services could be a great option for you because you can get started seeing someone right away.

Finally, if you’re in immediate need of mental health professional help, most major hospitals have psychiatric care. You could go to the emergency room or find a community mental health clinic for mental health services. 

Related post