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How Mental Health Providers Diagnose: 6 Main Factors

doctor photoWhen you are getting a diagnosis from your doctor what typically runs through your mind?

Are you thinking that your doctor couldn’t possibly have come up with the correct answer so fast?

Are you concerned that you are being misdiagnosed?

If so, you can join the millions of Americans who have thought and felt the same way. It can feel like a complete loss of power and control to accept a diagnosis from someone who has only known you for 20 minutes.

In this video, I discuss the process most mental health professionals and mental health specialists use to arrive at your diagnosis.

I think I can safely speak for most mental health professionals when I say that the ultimate goal of a first and second appointment is to get to know the patient, learn about your family structure, and get to know your symptoms and what you are noticing about yourself. The appointment is a time spent focusing on the building of rapport and relationship.


It is important that mental health professionals balance getting to know you with getting to the core of the problem. For me, it takes at least 4 sessions before I feel I fully understand what the issue is. For most patients/clients, it can be easy to discuss symptoms in hopes of getting an answer during the first appointment. You may write things down or commit to taking notes about your symptoms fo a certain period of time. You may also even coordinate with your old provider and new provider by asking that records be released for your appointment. But the reality is that the amount of time it takes to truly identify the issue varies by person. For example, a neurologist may see you for a series of sessions/appointments before settling on a label to describe your symptoms. Mental health professionals may apply a label but then later have to adjust or remove it.


Diagnosis is a very tricky thing. To keep the best interest of the patient/client first and foremost, it is important that mental health professionals take their time, gather details (from the patient/client and collateral information from others such as friends or family), watch behavior during the appointment, etc.


In this video, I discuss the diagnostic process and the 6 main factors often looked at. I also discuss what specialists look for as well:

How Mental Health Providers Diagnose: 6 Main Factors

Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC

Támara Hill, MS, NCC, CCTP, LPC, is a licensed therapist and internationally certified trauma professional, in private practice, who specializes in working with children and adolescents who suffer from mood disorders, trauma, and disruptive behavioral disorders. She also provides international consultations and works with some young and older adults struggling with grief & loss or life transitions. Hill strives to help clients to realize and actualize their strengths in their home environments and in their relationships within the community. She credits her career passion to a “divine calling” and is internationally recognized for corresponding literary works as well as appearances on radio and other media platforms. She is an author, family consultant, Keynote speaker, and founder of Anchored Child & Family Counseling. Visit her at Anchored-In-Knowledge or Twitter and Youtube Youtube If you are interested in scheduling a telehealth family consultation, feel free to let me know.

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APA Reference
Hill, T. (2019). How Mental Health Providers Diagnose: 6 Main Factors. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 16, 2020, from


Last updated: 30 Jan 2019
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