Frequently Asked Questions



A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD or DO) who specializes in diagnosing, treating, and preventing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists are qualified to assess both the physical and mental aspects of psychological difficulties. A psychiatrist offers diagnostic evaluations, psychotherapy, and can prescribe medications. After high school, a general adult psychiatrist completes 12 years of training, and a child and adolescent psychiatrist completes 14 years of training. During these years, a psychiatrist is completing undergraduate, medical school, internship and residency training, and optional fellowship training for further specialization. Training takes place in the classroom, office, hospital, community sites, and emergency room settings.

An evaluation with a psychiatrist is beneficial if your emotions, thoughts, or behaviors are impacting your ability to function day to day or resulting in a degree of distress that has diminished your quality of life. Mental health concerns often affect your social, work, educational, or home environments. Even in times of positive functioning, a psychiatrist is also able to help you optimize your performance, relationships, and overall well-being.

A psychiatric evaluation aims to gather comprehensive information to form a clear understanding of your physical and mental health concerns and create a personalized treatment approach. Treatment may include use of psychotropic medication, psychotherapy, lab tests, recommendations on lifestyle changes, or a combination of all.

During a psychiatric evaluation, you can expect the psychiatrist to:

  • Ask about your symptoms: When they started, how they affect your life, and their severity.
  • Medical history: Questions about your past illnesses, treatments, and medications.
  • Psychological history: Questions about your past mental health, family history of mental health issues, and any previous treatments or therapies.
  • Lifestyle and habits: Questions about your lifestyle, daily routines, stressors, sleep patterns, diet, and substance use.
  • Physical examination: In some cases, a basic physical examination may be performed to rule out any physical causes of your symptoms.
  • Discussion of treatment options: After a full psychiatric assessment, potential treatment options will be discussed, which may include use of psychotropic medication, psychotherapy, lab tests, recommendations on lifestyle changes, or a combination of all.
  • Collaborative planning: Working together to develop a treatment plan that suits your specific needs and goals.

The duration of treatment varies widely and depends on several factors:

  • Type and severity of the condition: Some conditions may require short-term interventions, while others might need longer-term and ongoing treatment.
  • Individual progress: Improvement and progress vary from person to person. Some individuals might find relief in a few sessions, while others may benefit from long-term care.
  • Treatment goals: The duration of treatment can be influenced by specific goals set between the individual and provider. Short-term goals might have a different time frame than long-term goals.

Psychiatric medications may have potential side effects. Not everyone experiences side effects and the majority of patients tolerate medications well. In most cases initial side effects diminish over time or are able to be managed by adjusting the dosage or switching to an alternative medication. The specific side effect risks vary depending on the type of medication and other individual factors. We will always discuss potential side effects with you prior to prescribing any medication. Whenever recommending medication use, the potential benefits are always weighed against the potential risks.

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (completed medical school and a minimum of a 4 year psychiatric residency) who can prescribe medications and other medical treatments in addition to psychotherapy.

A psychologist holds an advanced degree in psychology (PhD or PsyD). They do not prescribe medications in the state of Georgia. Psychologists treat mental health disorders with psychotherapy and some specialize in psychological testing and evaluation.

Psychiatrists have the highest level of education and training of all mental health providers. A major difference between PMHNPs and psychiatrists is the amount of time spent in training. PMHNPs spend 6-8 years completing their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, while psychiatrists take 12-14 years to earn their licenses. Psychiatrists are also able to further subspecialize in areas such as Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. In the state of Georgia, PMHNPs are required to practice under the supervision of a psychiatrist and have restrictions on certain types of medications they are able to prescribe. Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they are experts in treating complex mental health issues complicated by other concurrent medical conditions.

Psychiatrists can become “board certified” by meeting the educational and professional standards of one or more exams administered by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN) in the United States. To continue to be recognized as a Diplomate of the ABPN, psychiatrists must complete maintenance of certification requirements every three years (continuing medical education credits/exams, self-assessments, and patient safety and practice improvement activities).

Out-of-network psychiatrists can offer more flexibility with appointments. This may include longer and more frequent sessions, ease of scheduling appointments, and greater access to your provider. This may allow you more time to feel comfortable, less rushed, and able to have all of your questions and concerns more fully addressed. Treatment success is largely based on your psychiatrist’s ability to accurately diagnose which often takes more time when multiple and complex symptoms are present.

No, this is just one of the many benefits of seeing an out-of-network psychiatrist.

We do not work directly with any insurance and would be considered “out-of-network.”  Depending on what type of insurance provider you are currently using, and what your insurance coverage allows, coverage for services will vary.  Many insurance companies reimburse a percentage of the total cost of services, after you have met your deductible. You will have access to your “superbill” through the patient portal to present to your insurance company following your appointment to request reimbursement. Payments are made before your appointment.

Self-care plays a crucial role in maintaining your well-being. It is personal, so we will help you find what works best for you and incorporate it into your routine. Here are some areas of focus:

  • Regular exercise: Physical activity can improve mood and reduce stress. Find an activity you enjoy, whether it’s walking, dancing, yoga, or any other form of exercise.
  • Healthy eating: A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains can positively impact mental wellbeing.
  • Adequate sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Good sleep habits can significantly affect mood and cognitive function.
  • Stress management: Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or mindfulness to manage stress levels effectively.
  • Setting boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary and establish healthy boundaries in relationships to avoid unnecessary stress.
  • Hobbies and activities: Engage in activities you enjoy to relax and unwind, whether it’s reading, painting, gardening, or other activities that bring you joy.
  • Social connections: Foster supportive relationships with friends, family, or support/faith groups. Connection with others can positively influence mental health.
  • Limiting screen time: Set boundaries on screen time, especially with social media and news, to reduce exposure to negative or overwhelming content.

Family and friends can play a significant role in supporting someone with mental health challenges:

  • Emotional support: Providing empathy, understanding, and a non-judgmental presence can have a large impact.
  • Encouragement for treatment: Encourage seeking professional help, attending therapy sessions, or adhering to treatment plans.
  • Education and awareness: Learn about the condition to better understand what our loved one is going through and how to best support them.
  • Assistance with daily tasks: Helping with daily chores or tasks during difficult times can alleviate some stress for the person dealing with mental health challenges.
  • Creating a supportive environment: Foster an environment that promotes open communication, where your loved one feels comfortable discussing their feelings without fear or judgment.
  • Encouraging healthy habits: Support them in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, proper nutrition, and good sleep habits.
  • Be patient and understanding: Mental health recovery can take time. Being patient, supportive, and understanding is crucial throughout the journey.

If you’re experiencing a medical or psychiatric emergency, call emergency services (911) or go to the nearest emergency room. The Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (988) is also available 24/7 by phone call or text message.

We value compassion, collaboration, and quality care.