Welcome! My name is Peter Forster and I am an expert psychopharmacologist, psychiatrist and the Clinical Director of the Mood Disorders Clinic in Pleasanton. I am honored to have been elected by my fellow psychiatrists as one of the Best Doctors in America. I am a member of the American Society of Clinical Psychopharmacology, a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco. My special focus is on the treatment of people with depression and bipolar.
If you think you might be interested in working with me, please complete a short form (click on the “I want to get started” button located at the bottom of this page) and we will be in touch with you very soon.
Have You Come to the Right Place?
My goal for this website is ambitious: I want to give you as much information as possible before you set up an initial appointment. I hope that everyone who comes to see me feels that they made the right decision. I also hope that those who would benefit from seeing me, decide to call me! Please let me know any questions or concerns that you might have about our clinic.
The Pleasanton location is convenient to San Ramon, Livermore, Dublin, Walnut Creek and Hayward.
Our Philosophy of Care
We founded our clinic to address the specific needs of people with mood disorders, including recurrent depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety.
Our philosophy of care is rooted in four distinct tenets:
1-Optimism and dedication
Stephen Covey says, “Begin with the end in mind.” We believe that the realistic goal of treatment isn’t just improvement, it is recovery. We find that this is true even when people come to see us after years of effective yet incomplete treatment with other psychiatrists. Reaching that goal will probably take time and hard work – both yours and ours – but we are confident that the rewards are worth it.
2-Competence and Professionalism
Our clinicians are trained by the best programs in the nation. To stay up-to-date in the field, we devote tens of thousands of dollars to continuing education and subscribe to all of the leading journals. We also continuously assess and modify our treatment program, and we have regular and on-going consultations with international experts in the field, including Terry Ketter, MD, Matthew MacKay, PhD, and James McCullough, PhD.
3-An integrated and holistic approach
Although some of us are considered “experts” in psychopharmacology and some as “experts” in psychotherapy, we all believe that an integrative approach to treatment works best. Instead of believing that the things we know best are the only things that help, we strive to understand and embrace alternative forms of treatment. We value the collaboration of other health and wellness professionals including nutritionists, physicians, trainers, yoga instructors, and acupuncturists. We maintain a constantly expanding list of local experts and resources.
4-Collaboration with the patient and with other providers
For this kind of comprehensive treatment approach to be effective, it is essential that the care is truly collaborative. That is how we approach our work with patients, and also what we strive for in our work with other providers. We devote a lot of time and energy to ensure that the entire treatment team works together to share perspectives and progress assessments.
The Consultation Process
A comprehensive assessment is essential for effective treatment of mood disorders. Our initial consultation is very thorough and includes a questionnaire followed by two or three visits. We rarely begin a treatment plan until the second visit. The majority of our clients are relieved by our thoroughness, however, if your treatment needs feel more urgent and immediate, we might not be the right place for you. We may also not be right for you if you are fairly satisfied with past work and just want to resume the same treatment with a new clinician.
Insurance and Payment Information
Unfortunately, we can’t accept insurance assignment in place of payment from our patients. In other words, you’ll need to pay us at the time of your visit and then seek reimbursement from your insurance company. This is primarily because we simply can’t keep up with the intricacies of all the different plans and policies. However, we are willing to help you get your costs covered.
Some insurance companies will cover much of the cost, some will cover much less. If you want to receive coverage by your insurance company, you may have to be assertive. Because many companies supply lists of in-network clinicians who aren’t actually available to provide care for new patients, we recommend that you keep track of who you call and then, with the list in hand, call the insurance company. Tell them you are going to call the Department of Managed Care or the Department of Insurance if you don’t get help. If you are persistent, you’ll have a better chance of getting your insurance to cover the cost of our care.
We ask that you pay with a credit card (Visa or MasterCard), and that you sign a form that authorizes us to bill on the date of each session. For the first session, we ask that you pay in advance before we schedule the session. Why is this? Many people find it very difficult to come in for the first consultation appointment with a psychiatrist. Before we had this policy, too many people decided that they wanted to come in and then didn’t show up on the day of that first visit. Our policy helps us support the folks with depression to get the help they need.
What is the Next Step?
We hope that you will check out the rest of our website! We welcome you to learn more about me and the clinicians who work at Gateway; take a look at our blog or our recommended resources that we have found to be helpful for folks with mood disorders. Ask other doctors and people you trust about us. We want you to feel confident that this is the right place for you!
If you think we might be the right place, click here to contact us with your interest in beginning a consultation and ask us any questions. Once we have answered all your questions, we’ll ask you to complete and fax the forms posted below and then we will set up a secure online personal website so that we can start the consultation process.
We have spent a lot of time on this page going over administrative issues. That is not because we are focused on the business side of our work, it is really so that we can stay focused on what is important, providing the people we see with the best, most compassionate, most well informed, care we can.
Peter Forster, MD
Psychiatrist and Clinical Director, Gateway Psychiatric Services
Pleasanton, Mountain View, San Francisco