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How to choose a psychiatrist

Updated: Sep 14, 2020


Graduating from a well-respected college, medical school, or psychiatry residency can be proxies for academic performance. However, keep in mind that anyone who successfully gets through medical school and residency is likely an excellent, hard working student. Furthermore, the mind-share of an institution may have little to do with the quality of the psychiatry training that it provides. Plus, there are plenty of lesser-known programs that provide excellent training. In sum, credentials are helpful but don't tell the whole picture.

Academic affiliation

Psychiatrists who work at academic institutions likely demonstrate commitment to teaching and research. Academic institutions also provide an excellent environment for the psychiatrist to continue learning and growing even after they've completed their residency training. There are, however, many excellent psychiatrists who work outside of academic institutions for plenty of reasons including autonomy, the opportunity to see different types of patients in different settings, etc.

Reputation and referral

Using your social and professional network as a filter can be a great strategy. If a doctor or friend recommends a psychiatrist to you, ask what makes the psychiatrist likable and effective.


Ultimately, finding the right chemistry or "fit" is important. The connection between therapist and client has been shown to make a huge impact on therapy's effectiveness. You and your psychiatrist are a team and it's important to work well together. That doesn't mean that you have to agree with everything your psychiatrist says. Sometimes your psychiatrist or therapist may challenge you to reach outside of your comfort zone or think about things a bit differently in the process of supporting your growth. This doesn't mean they are a bad fit -- in fact, it might mean they're doing a great job.

A psychiatrist is the ideal person with whom you can practice: learning and employing new skills, tolerating uncomfortable feelings and conversations, and considering new ways of thinking. Although listening and communication skills, empathy, and other features go into "fit," ultimately, chemistry is about how you and your psychiatrist interact. In the first visit, your psychiatrist has to ask numerous questions to perform a comprehensive evaluation. That's why I recommend taking a few visits to feel out whether the chemistry is right.

Find these qualities at West Coast Psychiatry

  • Dr. Reiner has excellent credentials, graduating from Johns Hopkins University and training at Washington University in St. Louis

  • Dr. Reiner works part time at UW, where he enjoys teaching residents and medical students

  • Dr. Reiner is known as a diligent clinician who routinely creates excellent doctor-patient interactions

  • Dr. Reiner is an open, flexible communicator and genuinely wants to get to know you and help you whether you seek support with a problem or want to achieve a higher level of functioning.

  • Dr. Reiner has a track record of connecting with patients in good times and bad. He does this by leveraging his clinical training, learnings from patients, and learnings from outside medicine. Clinically, he has treated patients across the entirety of the socioeconomic spectrum, from New York, to St. Louis, to Washington. By previously working as a career coach and as a management consultant in a high-pressure corporate environment, Dr. Reiner also has first-hand experience of the challenges faced by non-medical professionals.

  • Click here to learn more about Dr. Reiner's credentials and background

  • Click here to request an appointment at West Coast Psychiatry

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