Psychiatrist Not Wanting Me To See A Therapist

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I recently moved from New York City to Houston after my husband accepted a job promotion. I have been diagnosed with a mild case of bipolar disorder II and am having trouble adjusting to my new environment. I started seeing a psychiatrist at one of the medical schools and have asked for the names of a good therapist many times. During my last appointment the attending psychiatrist (and Professor) came in and asked me why I felt I needed a therapist. I told him that I was having trouble adjusting to the area and I needed to talk to someone about this. The psychiatrist went on to say I would be better off doing something “social” with people in the area.

I am very confused as I have never had a psychiatrist or any medical professional for that matter tell me I didn’t need a therapist. I feel like this is some sort of control issue. Should I seek out another psychiatrist? I am comfortable with the medication management but worry that my best interest is not the priority.

A. It is difficult to know why your psychiatrist would try to steer you away from seeing a therapist. It is possible that he or she thinks you do not need therapy. Maybe he or she believes that they are doing you a favor and saving you time by making alternative suggestions (i.e. be more social). Perhaps your psychiatrist fears that if you attend counseling you’ll stop medication management. There are many other possibilities but without knowing more information, it is impossible to know with certainty.

It is also important to consider the fact that there was a miscommunication. You should revisit this issue with your psychiatrist. During the discussion, be honest and make the point that you believe therapy would be helpful. Talking about the situation may help to clarify what advice your psychiatrist was giving you and whether it is time to move on to a new doctor.

My general advice is this: if you believe that you are not receiving the best possible care from your psychiatrist (or any other professional), get a second opinion. Most professionals do not mind if their patients seek alternate opinions. In fact, many would encourage it.

Some people are hesitant to seek a second opinion. One reason may be they do not want to feel as though they are betraying their current doctor. Another reason may be the fact that many clients do not like to “start over” with a new doctor. Generally speaking, getting a second opinion is a wise idea. A second opinion could help you gain a better understanding of your issues. It might also expedite your adjustment to a new city and increase the chances of getting the best possible treatment. When it comes to your mental health, two opinions or perhaps three are better than one. I hope this helps. Please take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 15 Aug 2010

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2010). Psychiatrist Not Wanting Me To See A Therapist. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/08/15/psychiatrist-not-wanting-me-to-see-a-therapist/