Questions for the Clinician

A good way to partner in treatment and provide emotional support is to go to appointments periodically with the person who has depression or bipolar disorder. Your loved one may also need your help finding a new provider or beginning treatment for the very firs time. You can keep track of the clinician’s recommendations, discuss changes in symptoms, and review the treatment plan. The following are questions that you can ask the clinician.

Before you see the clinician

  • Are you taking new clients?
  • What is your availability?
  • Do you take insurance? (Be specific with your loved one’s plan)
  • What types of patients and conditions do you currently treat in your practice?
  • What do you do when you are unsure of a patient’s diagnosis or treatment?
  • How do you involve families and friends in treatment?
  • Do you have specific training in_______? (Describe issues particular to your loved one like: grief, trauma, elderly populations, late adolescence, etc.)
  • What is your experience with racial, ethnic, and religious diversity?

Looking for a new therapist or provider? Download and print these screening questions to keep track of the information you gather.

During the visit

  • What is the possible diagnosis at this point?
  • How definite is this diagnosis? If not definite, what are the other possibilities?
  • What your recommended treatment (e.g., medication, psychotherapy)?
  • What are the expected results of treatment?
  • What signs should we look for that indicate the therapy is working?
  • How soon will we see these signs?
  • What will you recommend if this course of therapy does not work?
  • Why have you chosen this particular medication?
  • What are the risks and side effects of the medication?
  • Is this a case that you normally treat and that is within your practice capabilities?
  • What role can we play in helping with treatment?
  • Which days and times are best to reach you?
  • Who can answer our questions as they come up and when you are unavailable?
  • What have your been your experiences with our insurance company and how can we facilitate the reimbursements?
  • Do you recommend that we get a consult with another psychiatric specialist?

If treatment is not working

  • Is there something else we need to be doing?
  • Are there any issues that may contribute to our family member or friend not responding to treatment (e.g., noncompliance with medication)?
  • How can we help in getting treatment to work?
  • Should we get a second opinion?