How to Locate a Psychiatrist and Therapist Experienced in Borderline Disorder
After taking the online test, you may believe that you have borderline disorder, or traits of borderline disorder. Your question may then be, “How can I locate a psychiatrist and mental health clinician in my area who are experienced in diagnosing and treating borderline disorder?”
The following referral source is the most likely to be of help to you:
Borderline Personality Disorder Resource Center
If you are still unable to locate suitable help from the BPD Resource Center, you may wish to contact your local district branch of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), or the American Academy of Child and Adoloescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and ask if they can direct you to several psychiatrists or other clinicians in your community who are skilled in the area of borderline disorder. You may do this directly by looking in your telephone directory, or by contacting the national headquarters for the number of your local district branch or state association as follows:
American Psychiatric Association (APA)
For Children and Adolescents: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
3615 Wisconsin Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20016-3007
Guidelines for the Selection of a Psychiatrist and Other Clinicians
Once you have located the names of one or more clinicians, contact them to determine if they provide the services for which you are looking.
The following is a list of issues that are important to clarify in order to determine if you have a good fit given your individual needs:
- Primary Clinician: Ideally, in most cases, you are looking for a psychiatrist with experience in borderline disorder who can serve as your primary clinician, that is, perform your initial clinical evaluation and the other tasks of someone assuming this role in your care. If such a person is not available in your community, you should ask other potential providers of care about their level of experience in the area of borderline disorder.
- Types of Treatment: Determine what forms of treatment they typically use for their patients with borderline disorder, especially medications and psychotherapies. Most psychiatrists and other clinicians usually do not provide the full range of treatments that we now know are useful for treating the disorder. In other words, you may need several people working with you, for example, one to prescribe medications, another to provide therapy, and possibly a third for group therapy work. Therefore, ask how your special needs will be met by each clinician. If you will be seeing just one person, be especially cautious if they recommend only one form of treatment for all patients with borderline disorder, for example either medications or psychotherapy, or one specific type of psychotherapy. As noted elsewhere on this site, borderline disorder affects people in many different ways. Therefore, in most cases, effective treatment plans are more complex than can be accomplished by a single type of treatment.
- Immediate Help: Determine how the provider handles those times when you may need immediate help, for example who will respond to your telephone calls and under what circumstances. Also, should you require brief hospitalization, clarify what hospital will be utilized, and who will direct your care when you are in the hospital.
- Communication: If you will have more than one clinician working with you, it is important to establish the degree to which they will work with you and with your family or partner, and with each other. It is important that the team communicate well. Under most circumstances, it is essential that those people who are very important in your life are included in your treatment. The types and frequency of involvement required are best discussed prior to the onset of treatment.
- Finding the Right Fit: Ultimately, you are looking for clinicians who appear to be “good fits” for you and your special needs. To some degree this is a subjective quality, and cannot be easily defined further, but patients often sense when they have found the right professionals with whom to work.
- Credentials: It is very appropriate to ask about the potential provider’s specific credentials: in what mental health specialty do they have their degree; are they certified properly, for example., for psychiatrists, by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; are they licensed to practice in their specific clinical area; and what degree of training and experience do they have with borderline disorder.
- Payment Information: Finally, you should obtain their fee schedule and method of payment for different services, for example: medication checks; and individual and group psychotherapy sessions. Many clinicians accept insurance with co-payments, while some only accept self-payment.
At the outset of care, remember that your doctor may not be able to determine precisely the most effective treatments for you. Therefore, it seems to me most reasonable to find a psychiatrist, and other clinicians when necessary, who are up to date on borderline disorder, who have open minds regarding different diagnostic possibilities and treatment approaches, and who communicate well with you and your family. Given our current level of knowledge about borderline disorder, it is likely that such professionals will give you the best help available, now and in the future.