Psychiatric Consultations

What is a Psychiatric Consultation?

PsychConsult2A psychiatric consultation is a comprehensive evaluation of the psychological, biological, medical and social causes of emotional distress. Together you and Dr. Forster, and other clinicians at Gateway Psychiatric Services Mood Disorders Clinic, will review your current stresses and problems and any past medical or psychiatric conditions. This information, as well as any necessary medical records and laboratory tests, will lead to the formulation of a comprehensive treatment plan.

A psychiatric consultation can help you understand the sources of problems from three points of view: biological (i.e. heredity, hormones, nutrition, physical illness), psychological (i.e. current life stressors, childhood experiences), and social (i.e. cultural differences, family relationships, prejudice). It is this capacity to evaluate the causes of emotional distress from each of these perspectives that makes psychiatry unique. Many people find that a psychiatric consultation gives them a new perspective and hope for the future.

A simple psychiatric consultation takes two to three sessions. In order to make this short period of time as productive as possible, please gather together all of your records and recollections of previous treatments before the first session. Part of this process includes filling out a comprehensive patient survey.

A comprehensive psychiatric consultation takes at least four sessions. It may also involve time speaking with previous care providers or other clinicians at the Gateway Psychiatric Services Mood Disorder Clinic. Generally, there is some staff time to gather medical records. Also, staff may chart this information graphically so that we can identify patterns of response or partial response (in a Life Chart). Gathering and analyzing this information may take many hours.

Generally two thirds of a consultation will be spent reviewing the nature of your problems, their origins, and the course of any previous treatment. The last third of a consultation is devoted to discussing the assessment of your difficulties, and any recommendations Dr. Forster has for treatment.

Many patients are referred for psychiatric consultation by therapists who wonder if psychiatric medications might benefit their patients. A careful evaluation of this question is usually part of psychiatric consultation; however a consultation is much more than just an assessment for medications. Dr. Forster’s commitment as a consultant is to review all the reasonable alternative treatments, their likely benefits and any possible risks associated with these treatments.

A good psychiatric consultation requires expertise. Dr. Forster has been doing consultations for fifteen years. He keeps up on the world psychiatric literature with the help of two research assistants. Dr. Forster gives frequent presentations to regional and national professional organizations on subjects related to stress, anxiety and depression. He received a Doctorate in Medicine from the University of California at San Diego, and is a Board-Certified Psychiatrist. He completed a Residency and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco, and is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at UCSF, where the focus of his work is on mood and anxiety disorders.

Since everyone we see is unique, every consultation is different. Your consultation will be based on your concerns and your needs. A complete list of our fees is here. As an example, we have provided examples of what two very different consultations could include –

A comprehensive consultation is almost always less than $1,500.00 and may include any combination of the following:

  • Three 45 minute sessions with Peter Forster, M.D.
  • One 45 minute session with a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner
  • One one-hour session with a therapist or psychologist
  • Speaking with previous care providers
  • Retrospective mood charting
  • Staff time

A simple consultation is approximately $800.00 and might include:

  • One to two one-hour sessions with Peter Forster, M.D.
  • One to two one-hour sessions with a psychologist or psychiatric nurse practitioner