How to find a Psychiatrist in the Philippines - 5 Tips from an Expert
Filipino Psychiatrist Dr. Lou Querubin shares her expert advice on how to choose the best psychiatrist for you
Dr Ma. Luz S. Casimiro-Querubín, MD, FPPA is the Past President of the Philippine Psychiatric Association and Co-Founder and Former Associate Dean of the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health. She is also a former Co-Chair of the Committee on Education of the World Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Lou Querubin, is a Psychiatrist with more than 38 years of clinical and academic experience. She completed A.B Psychology (Cum Laude) from the Ateneo de Manila University in 1981, Doctor of Medicine from University of the Philippines (UP) in 1987, and is a Diplomate and Life Fellow of the Philippine Psychiatric Association.
She is an International Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and an Affiliate of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry. She authored “Beyond the Physical: The State of a Nation’s Mental Health the Philippine Report” published by the Center for International Mental Health. She is also the Chief Medical Officer of Mindcare Club.
- Finding a Psychiatrist you can be with for your treatment can be a challenging endeavor. We at Mindcare Club interviewed our Chief Medical Officer and Expert Psychiatrist Dr. Lou Querubin and asked her for advice on how to manage this situation. Here are five of her expert tips.
1. Know as much as you can about your Mental Health needs and concerns
A good way to start your search for a Psychiatrist is to get familiar and to know your Mental Health needs. Try asking yourself these questions:
- Am I looking for Mental Health counseling for myself or someone else?
- Is this for my child, myself, my friends, or an older family member (senior citizens, for example)?
- Am I needing some help because of a recent life change or situation?
- Do I currently have suicidal thoughts? If you do, please immediately contact an ambulance service (Lifeline 16-911) or a hospital’s emergency room unit. (We suggest The Medical City ER +63 (2) 86356789 or the Philippine General Hospital +63 (2) 85235350.)
By asking yourself these questions, you will have more information to work with when looking for possible leads from an online web search. You could also include in your search criteria terms like “child psychology”, “LGBT”, “substance abuse”, “senior citizens”, “mother/fatherhood”, “school stress”, among other terms. Knowing this information should help you narrow down your search for Psychiatrists and Mental Health providers who would have expertise and experience in these fields.
2. Consider your location and your Psychiatrist’s accessibility
These days in Metro Manila and generally throughout the Philippines, people choose their Psychiatrists and Mental Health providers by location and general accessibility – whoever is nearer to them and not an expensive and inconvenient fare-ride away.
But this shouldn’t necessarily be the case.
There are new technologies now on how to make Mental Health service more accessible to people. By minimizing the logistical costs in accessing these services, people should have more options for providers based on their financial situation.
TELE Mental Health is one of those new technologies which makes accessing Mental Health services more affordable. By cutting down on transportation costs and minimizing time away from work (productive time), one can have more funds available for committing to a more efficient and sustainable treatment period, without breaking the bank. Besides maximizing one’s funds, time is spent more wisely since Tele Mental Health requires less efforts for patients to get to be face-to-face with Psychiatrist or Mental Health providers, while essentially delivering the same quality of treatment and service.
3. Check if you can comfortably afford these services and their related costs
Besides calling up the Psychiatrist’s clinic and asking about their rates, there are other factors that should be considered with accessing Mental Health service, as with any kind of medical service. It would be best to consider and factor in the logistical costs in getting to these services.
It is very important to realize that funds saved from logistical costs can be applied to your treatment and program. You don’t have to scrimp on very good Mental Health care.
Here’s a comparison of costs for visiting a Mental Health provider onsite (in their clinic) or online via TELE Mental Health.3. Check if you can comfortably afford these services and their related costs
4. Match your Mental Health needs with the expertise of the Psychiatrist who can specifically address these concerns
A comfortable interaction between the patient and the Psychiatrist is important. Since there are a lot of exchanges between the patient and Psychiatrist, sessions and treatments can be very personal and intimate.
Dr. Lou Querubin puts forward an analogy for this phenomenon. Like an artist, a Psychiatrist will come to work with a blank canvas. And the patient will fill up that canvas as their sessions go. Both the Psychiatrist and the patient end up with an artwork at the end of the program.
Some patients will ask “You might not understand my situation because you don’t know the story, challenges, and limitations of my life.” Or sometimes, patients would say to their Psychiatrist, “You remind me of….” According to Dr. Lou Querubin, situations that start with these lines would have a transference issue, where the patient does not see the Psychiatrist as a professional Mental Health provider, but as their mother, father, sibling, superior at work, among other possibilities.
When patients do this, there is a script in their mind that plays out where the Mental Health Providers take these personas, and not the professional Providers they are. Fortunately, with the Psychiatrist’s expert training, and as this issue comes into the consciousness of the patient with the help of the Psychiatrist, this is when therapy starts to happen.
Once you find a Psychiatrist with whom you are comfortable, it would be easier to create better interactions and conversation – both of these make treatment and result more possible.
5. Make sure you can invest your time and effort in a professional interpersonal relationship between yourself and your chosen Psychiatrist
Even if every Psychiatrist has been trained and educated generally in the wide spectrum of Mental Health treatment, it doesn’t mean that any individual Psychiatrist will have professional treatment experience in every application of Mental Health.
Be sure to get to know the specializations and focus of the Psychiatrist you have contacted. You can do this by reading their profiles online or asking them or their clinic about the typical types of patients who go there.
Unfortunately, in the Philippines, most clinics – from smaller to larger institutions – will not have a system for helping patients navigate through selections. This system is similar to how a coordinator or receiving desk directs new patients and clients to a specific individual provider based on their assessment of those clients and the specializations of the provider. The tendency for a lot of Filipinos is to navigate themselves throughout the system. This usually may not lead to a good-fit when it comes to matching a client with a Psychiatrist as it relies on an inefficient trial-and-error approach.
Search for a provider or Mental Health organization where patients are assisted in matching with providers based on their medical needs and situation. Some will have Front Desk Officers or Triage Officers who can help you in selecting your provider.
BONUS TIP: In searching for a Psychiatrist, try to go and ask beyond your network.
There are only several hundred psychiatrists in the Philippines and most of them are clustered in Metro Manila. Since this is a small sector, the entire field can be seen or felt as reputation driven. But even so, what is important with looking for a good match with a Psychiatrist is to determine which Psychiatrist’s work experience, profile, and coverage best fit your context, situation, and needs. Beyond just asking around family members and friends for referrals, you can go online and search for keywords that would help you find a Psychiatrist. Don’t forget to include keywords that match your context and needs. Here’s an example: “Psychiatrist, depression, work, Philippines”. This search should already help you find Psychiatrists who are experienced with giving therapy to working professionals facing depression. Don’t let distance or the location of the Psychiatrist be a deterrent in choosing a Psychiatrist. Once you’ve chosen a Psychiatrist and you’ve realized that that provider is a distance away, you can ask your Psychiatrist if they can give counseling online via TELE Mental Health technology.
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