Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

How to Choose a Health Professional

A Personal Perspective: Demeanor isn't everything.

Hiromen777, Pixabay, Public Domain
Source: Hiromen777, Pixabay, Public Domain

In a perfect world, our doctors, therapists, even repairpersons would be brilliantly competent and have a demeanor like TV doctor, the infinitely patient Marcus Welby, M.D.

Alas, in the real world, very few practitioners are both brilliantly effective and preternaturally nice. Indeed, some of the most effective are downright brusque. And there are good reasons why:

  • Brilliant people can get impatient with just plain folk.
  • They can often come up with the right diagnosis and treatment very quickly and without much explanation from the client or customer, but that can make people feel rushed, not heard: “He barely asked me anything!"
  • The superpro can be motivated to help as many people as possible, and spending what s/he perceives as unnecessary time with a patient keeps another person from getting help.
  • It’s probably taken years, maybe decades, to acquire super-expertise and after a while, many helping professionals feel some burnout.

Think twice before deciding not to see a professional because a friend or the online reviews said s/he's impatient, is a know-it-all, or has an off-putting demeanor.

How should you choose a helping professional?

Sure, get names from a trusted friend or professional, but a single opinion may not reflect your likely experience. Check the reviews: Search the prospective practitioner and the word “reviews.” Yes, the average number of stars matters but, as the commercials say, “Your experience may vary.” Read a few reviews to get a sense of whether the person could be right for you. And again, focus more on effectiveness than demeanor.

If possible, chat with the person before making an appointment. These days, with our overwhelmed health care system, that may be less possible with a doctor than, for example, with a therapist, coach, or repairperson. Describe your situation and ask if the person feels you could be a good match.

Evaluate quickly. Often, you can quickly get a sense of how good a fit the practitioner is. Of course, you could be wrong, but such impressions are often correct. If in doubt, perhaps try one more session or do a trial with another one or even two before making a more permanent decision.

As long as you do your part to participate in your treatment, the right practitioner often can make a big difference. Choose wisely and focus more on effectiveness than on bedside manner. After all, Marcus Welby couldn't cure a ham.

I read this aloud on YouTube.