Communicating with the Difficult Psychiatrist

Communicating with the Difficult Psychiatrist

Communicating with the Difficult Psychiatrist

A Community Brainstorming, Sharing of Advice and Suggestions

Trainees in psychiatry and mental health services programs are offered trainings in “managing” difficult patients. This Icarus-NYC community gathering will be dedicated to communicating and managing the difficult psychiatrist. This meeting is open to mental health services users, psychiatric survivors, mental health professionals, and everyone who is critical and skeptical of the “standard of care” in the mental health system.

Individuals pursuing mental health treatment may commonly encounter a number of challenges in interfacing with their clinician. Brief sessions lead to insufficient time to voice one’s concerns, scripted clinical interactions, frequent interruptions by the psychiatrist, disagreement over diagnoses and choices of medications to treat symptoms are common challenges that may be encountered by psychiatric services users. Service users might also encounter inadequate information about potential side effects of the medications, compromising full informed consent in psychiatric treatment.

A lack of diversity in clinical training programs (which are typically compromised of white and affluent trainees) furthers the problem. The lack of diverse experiences and perspectives among clinicians further reinforces existing clinical paternalism, structural racism, sexism, lack of insensitivity to issues faced by LGBTQ communities, which undermine the care that patients ultimately receive. Additionally, psychiatry residency programs often foster coercive and paternalistic mindsets and further serve to entrench the “savior complex” that some clinical trainees may be inclined to have.

A conversation about psychiatric treatment would not be complete without addressing the concerns that psychiatric service users frequently have about the impact of stigmatizing psychiatric labels on the future quality of both their medical and psychiatric care, and the structural sexism inherent in diagnosing Borderline Personality Disorder, where those so labeled are 85% female. Transgender and gender non-conforming individuals also have to interface with mental health professionals as gate-keepers to obtaining gender confirming therapies.

In this meeting, we will have opportunity to vent frustrations individuals have encountered and discuss challenges in communicating with psychiatrists and mental health service providers. This event is a community brain-storming about mutual advice, suggestions, and sharing resources. We will ask what can be done to improve existing psychiatric services, or whether it’s necessary to organize and heal independent of capitalistic systems of care.


General Breakdown:

  • our project introduction

  • shared reading of our Community Agreements

  • group Introductions and Safety Guidelines

  • Group Discussion

  • Movement Activity

  • Sharing of support and resources

  • Closing Activity

  • Check Out

TRANSPARENCY: Though we are committed to collective liberation and are a mixed race collective, our history has traditionally brought in white, middle class people. In order to protect Queer Trans People of Color (QTPOC) from tokenization and psychic harm, we as a collective commit to prioritizing the needs of QTPOC in our public events and promoting QTPOC leadership in our collective. We acknowledge the emotional labor that QTPOC may perform in these spaces, which often go unrecognized. Therefore, we want white cisgender people to independently undo racism, gender binarism / sexism, while remaining accountable to QTPOC. We are currently engaging in an ongoing process of integrating these goals internally within our organization, among our mixed race organizers, and within the structuring of our external events. *

ACCESS ISSUES: The space is accessible for wheelchair users but does not have a bathroom for wheelchair users. We use mics to support people who are hard of hearing.

Bluestockings is wheelchair accessible, with no steps or platforms, and wide aisles between shelves. Our bathroom is not wheelchair accessible. There is a Starbucks two short blocks down the street with an accessible bathroom (at Allen and Delancey). Metered street parking is readily available in the blocks surrounding Bluestockings. Bluestockings is not a scent-free space, but we encourage visitors to please refrain from wearing perfumes, colognes or other scented products (including essential oils) and smoke far away from the entrance to the space.

And then we’ll hang out for a little while and be gone until another month. Make sure to sign-up for the mailing list at the event or email

NYC Icarus FB event

NYC Icarus website

DATE: Nov. 7th, 2018

TIME: 7pm

LOCATION: Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St, Manhattan

Hope to see you there! Mad love, Icarus Project NYC