Ask Doctor Gordon… (archive)

Question: According to recent studies, psychiatrists have the highest suicide rate and divorce rate, and between 40% and 70% do not believe in God or a supreme being. How can consumers do a better job in finding a prospective doctor who will direct them in "good directions?" — Glenn Malloy

Answer:

I know that finding a good doctor or counselor can be very challenging. I know that there are many doctors and counselors whom I would not want to see myself, and would not want a loved one to see. On the other hand, I know that there are many very good, kind, competent and devoted professionals out there. The question for a consumer is how do I find a good one, and how do I know if I have a good one or not? I think the very best way is to find someone who has had a good first-hand experience with the doctor or counselor. This is a more reliable indicator than the person’s degree, where s/he went to school, how long or where they have been practicing etc. Ideally, of course, you want to find someone who feels they got good, effective help. If you do not know anyone like that, reaching out to Peer Specialists, Recovery Learning Centers, NAMI, clergy, or other professionals like your primary care doctor can be a start.

As to the question of how you know whether you have found a good doctor or counselor, my advice is: interview the person before you agree to be in treatment with him or her. Ask him or her questions that are important to you. If the person’s religious orientation is important to you, then you should feel free to ask. You may also want to ask how the person envisions being helpful, and it can be a great exercise for you and your prospective treater to talk about your mutual vision for what you are trying to achieve.

I have not commented on your observation about the suicide and divorce rates among psychiatrists, or about how many psychiatrists do or do not believe in God or a supreme being. I am not familiar with those statistics and don’t feel competent to make any comments one way or the other. I hope this is helpful.

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