If you’re thinking about seeing a psychiatrist for the first time, you probably have plenty of questions. Here are brief answers to some of the ones I’m often asked. If you have a question not answered below please complete our Quick Enquiries form at the bottom of the page.

Psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist? Which one should I see?

These three professional groups aren’t in competition with each other – we complement each other. But if the problem is acute, a psychiatrist is a good choice in the first instance, because they see the whole picture – with their medical training they can determine whether there’s an underlying physical disorder, or if the problem stems from a traumatic episode or series of circumstances. I sometimes work with psychologists to arrive at the right diagnosis and treatment, and I often refer my patients for psychotherapy.

Do I need a referral from my GP?

No. Although I suggest you do, particularly if you are taking medication for your condition. Some insurance providers need to see a referral letter from your GP. I will, with your approval, keep your GP informed.

What happens during the first consultation?

We quickly establish a relationship in which you feel free to talk about the problems you’re having and how they’re affecting your life and the people around you. We’ll discuss treatment options, timescales and achievable outcomes. I may also need to conduct some simple tests, like taking your blood pressure. It’s a friendly, honest and highly productive session.

Will my medical insurance pay for my treatment?

I am recognised by all major UK and international health insurers, but you should contact your provider before you make an appointment to make sure you’re covered and to get an authorisation reference. Some insurers require a referral letter from your GP. And some apply an ‘excess’, which means that the patient has to pay a small proportion of the fee.

Is depression an illness?

Depression means prolonged periods of sadness, lack of energy and motivation – months rather than weeks – and is an illness which needs to be treated, generally with anti-depressants, talking therapy or a combination of both.

Is there a danger of addiction to anti-depressants?

When a patient comes off a course of anti-depressants – say after 3 months – they may experience withdrawal symptoms, but these are much more manageable than withdrawing from addictive drugs. I recommend a gradual reduction in dosage.

I feel safer at home. Do you do home visits?

These can be arranged if you live near my practice but it’s not something I can manage on a regular basis, and never for a first appointment. But we can conduct follow-up sessions over the phone or by Skype if you prefer. This is a popular option for my overseas patients.

How do you deal with emergencies?

Apart from the 4 weeks’ holiday I take a year (when a colleague covers for me), I cover my practice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so I can respond to genuine emergencies outside office hours. For emergency hospitalisation, I have admitting rights at the Nightingale Hospital in Central London, where I am a Visiting Consultant, but I can also arrange admittance to other psychiatric facilities in the UK and around the world.

Do you provide inpatient care?

Most types of inpatient psychiatric care can be delivered at the Nightingale Hospital in Central London, where I am a Visiting Consultant. I have a ward round at the hospital three days a week, when I will see my patients and liaise with the nurses and therapists who care for them.

I’m sure you can help my husband, but he doesn’t see himself as a psychiatric patient.

This is a common problem. I can offer him an exploratory consultation – with no commitment to continue – with you in the room if he’d prefer.

Can I call you between appointments?

If you require a reply to a telephone call, email or a letter regarding treatment and it requires a significant amount of time, you will be charged at the rates below. Please note that these services are not usually covered by insurance providers. You will be invoiced directly.  We will be happy to provide you a receipt of insurance purposes.
15 minutes  £131.25
30 minutes  £262.50

How many appointments am I going to need?

In some cases, a single appointment has been enough to identify the problem and recommend a course of treatment or therapy. At the other extreme, some of my patients have been seeing me regularly for years – for their comfort rather than at my insistence. I will suggest how many sessions we are likely to need at end of our first consultation.