What can I expect during my first appointment?

A patient’s first psychiatric visit can be daunting. Our goal at Potomac Psychiatry is to make you feel comfortable and at ease from the very first appointment.

Our psychiatrists recognize that it takes great courage to book your first appointment—and once you’re face to face with us, we treat you with empathy, compassion, and respect. You see, you’re not just another patient to us—you’re a person with a life story, with unique pains, struggles, and joys. And we tailor our treatment to those unique attributes.

So what does a first appointment look like, exactly, and what can you expect from us?

Your first appointment on Video

First and foremost, we are a fully remote practice. We began operating remotely in the pandemic but quickly found that, among other benefits, there are two very important advantages to remote versus in-person visits:

1) A virtual visit saves you the time, cost, and energy of making your way to our office.

2) A virtual visit gives you a home-field advantage—the screen provides a safety net when in-person proximity might feel overwhelming.

Our video platform is HIPAA-compliant and totally private. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to give us a call prior to your first visit—we are more than happy to give you more details.

What will my first appointment look like?

In your first session with one of our clinicians, we meet you where you are, and in an empathetic fashion begin to take a history of your emotional distress. Our approach is individually tailored to your presenting problems; for example, if you are suffering from an acute crisis, your therapist will provide emotional support and compassion while exploring the immediate underlying causes.

If you are not overwhelmed by an immediate crisis, your therapist will gather history about your important relationships at home, in the workplace, and from childhood with the goal of developing a deeper understanding of how these relationships play a role in your current emotional distress.

At the end of your first session, we will provide our initial understanding of what you are experiencing and recommend a path forward—including any tests we think you may benefit from.

How does Potomac evaluate patients?

Potomac Psychiatry evaluates and treats every patient as a Whole Person, not just a collection of symptoms. We take into consideration your biology, your psychology, and your sociological context, each of which deeply informs the person you are today and what you might respond to in treatment.

As we guide you in the telling of your story in your first appointment, you can expect us to ask questions that fit this approach. We may also use standardized rating scales to better delineate depression, anxiety, trauma, ADHD, and other possible conditions based on what you describe.

At the end of your first session, once we have a better understanding of how we can help, we frequently recommend genetic testing, blood testing, and sometimes gut health testing, all of which can help us treat you faster.

Should I be nervous for my first appointment?

Whether you’ve seen another psychiatrist of you’ve never been in treatment before, our doctors are here to put you and your nerves at ease. We are compassionate listeners and clear communicators, and at your first appointment our greatest goal is simply for you to leave knowing one thing: No matter what, we are on your team. And we will do whatever it takes to help you feel well, recover your health, improve your relationships, and determine your destiny.