Finding the right doctor and therapist
A good GP can be one of the most important people in your life and key to your BPD recovery. The best doctors do more than just diagnoses, they work with you and your loved ones to coordinate your complete healthcare, sending you for the right tests and to the right therapist. A positive ongoing relationship with your GP and therapist is priceless, so it’s important to choose the right ones.
The right ‘fit’
If your current doctor or therapist isn’t up to scratch, or you’re relocating, now’s the time to shop around.
To find a new doctor or therapist you can:
- ask your current GP for advice.
- ask family, friends and others with BPD for recommendations.
- ask local health professionals who are familiar with doctors in the area.
Things to keep in mind
You will need some time to find the right person who you can trust and feel comfortable talking about difficult subjects and personal secrets. Here are questions you might want to ask as you go through the process of identifying the health professionals that are best for you.
- Experience matters. Look for a professional who is experienced in treating the problems that you have and has specific training and interest in treating BPD.
- Learn about different kinds of treatment. Many therapists have training in a variety of therapeutic approaches and may blend them in treatment. You would want to know the methods they use to treat BPD symptoms, and why they use that particular method.
- Check qualification. Make sure the therapist holds a current license and sufficient qualification and training for the therapy types they claim to have. Also check for complaints against the therapist. There are agencies (e.g. Australian General Practice Accreditation and General Practice Australia) that independently rate the quality of general practices and award accreditation to practices that meet a benchmark quality standard. Ask the practice if it’s accredited, or look for an accreditation certificate or logo on display.
- Opening hours. Extended hours are an advantage for times BPD symptoms may be intense at odd hours, or if it’s hard to schedule time away from work during business hours. Medical centers tend to open longer hours than traditional practices, but you won’t always see the same doctor or therapist every time without advanced booking. If you do see another doctor, remember to tell your regular doctor about the visit to ensure continuity of care.
- Length of consultation. Longer consultations are usually associated with higher patient satisfaction and increased likelihood of preventative care. There is concern that in practices that mainly bulk-bill, GPs may be under pressure to see more patients to remain viable. However, there’s no published evidence that bulk-billed consultations are shorter than privately-billed consultations.
- Billing and affordability. When you make an appointment ask about what funding is accepted. Is there discount for paying upfront? Are weekend appointments more costly? Does the practice bulk-bill? Are there any resources available to support clients who have financial challenges?
- Trust your gut. Even if the doctor or therapist looks great on paper, if the connection doesn’t feel right (if you don’t trust their judgement or feel like they truly care) then go with another choice. A good doctor or therapist will respect this choice and should never pressure you or try to make you feel guilty.
Questions to consider
- Do you feel that the doctor or therapist truly cares about you and your problems?
- Does the doctor or therapist seem to understand you?
- Does the doctor or therapist accept you for who you are, without judgement?
- Could you be honest and open with this doctor or therapist, discussing your most personal information and secrets, not just things related to your diagnosis of BPD? Do you feel safe with them?
- Is the doctor or therapist a good listener? Does he or she listen without interrupting, criticising, or judging? Pick up on your feelings and what you’re really saying? Make you feel heard?
- Does the doctor or therapist work with your family and friends to help them support your treatment?
Tips to prepare for each appointment
- Write down before your visit any questions you want to ask the doctor or therapist.
- Take a notepad with you to jot down important information the mental health professionals give you.
- You may find it helpful to take someone else with you to remind you of questions to ask and help make notes.
- List any symptoms and side effects that you have experienced since your last appointment. This will help assess whether your current treatment is effective.
- If you are experiencing distressing side effects of feel that the symptoms are not controlled, ask to whether a different treatment would be suitable for you.
For more information on how you can get the right mental health treatment, these resources may be helpful:
Your guide to choosing a good GP in Australia. This site includes information of how you can have your medical records follow you to different practices, finding a GP in the ACT and how you can make a complaint.
Finding a Therapist Who Can Help You Heal. This site covers types of therapies and types of therapists and counsellors, and how to evaluate the quality of therapy you are receiving. The information is US-based so information on finance may not be relevant to you.
How to Find the Right Therapist. This New York Times article is written on the writer’s experience. It is US-based so information on finance may not be relevant to you.