Perhaps the single most important step in the new-patient relationship is obtaining a full psychiatric history. The psychiatric history contains more than simply a list of your prior psychiatric treatments (although this is - of course - an important component. It should contain elements of your reasons for seeking psychiatric care, as well as key features of your developmental history, educational history, social history, family history, and legal history. It should contain information relating to your religious beliefs, hobbies/interests, a detailed description of your substance abuse history, as well as any information on previous medical illnesses/surgeries, and medication trials. There should also be time devoted to getting a better understanding of your personality (including any personality vulnerabilities). Finally, all good psychiatric histories should include a comprehensive snapshot of the patient's current mental state to be saved and reviewed over time as a measure of progress.
Once all of these pieces are gathered together, a much more faithful and accurate understanding of the patient is gained. There is no substitute. At this point, the conscientious physician will be able to make his comprehensive assessment and plan.