Initial Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorder Evaluation


The first step to improving your mental health, and/or gaining control of addiction, is obtaining a proper diagnosis. This should always come before starting a treatment plan. A comprehensive psychiatric evaluation helps to uncover what diagnosis (or diagnoses) explain the symptoms, struggles and negative consequences you have experienced. Dr. Matthew Goldenberg is a board-certified psychiatrist who helps Santa Monica, CA area patients get the psychiatric and addiction diagnosis and care that they need and deserve.



Initial Psychiatric and Substance Use Disorder Evaluation Q & A

by Matthew Goldenberg, D.O.

What is the First Office Visit Like?

Dr. Goldenberg is a psychiatrist in Santa Monica, CA and the first visit to his office is likely a similar experience to other medical professionals that you may have seen in the past. Dr. Goldenberg begins the psychiatric evaluation by first discussing what brought his patient to the office, in other words, “what we will be working on together”. Next, Dr. Goldenberg asks the patient a series of questions that help him to get up to speed regarding his patient’s mental health, general health and family history etc. The initial appointment lasts between 50 and 60 minutes.

Can You Diagnosis Me in One Appointment?

Every patient is unique and comes with a history of different symptoms, life experiences, treatment failures, treatment successes and treatment options that have not been tried in the past. As an Addiction Psychiatrist, Dr. Goldenberg uses his knowledge of mental health and substance use disorders to help determine an accurate diagnosis or diagnoses. Even if a diagnosis seems obvious, Dr. Goldenberg always rules out other conditions like depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, anxiety, psychosis, addiction and certain medical conditions, as these conditions influence which medications, and/or non-medication treatment options, that would be most suitable for his patient. In most cases, Dr. Goldenberg will have a good working diagnosis by the end of the initial session. Although, it can take several follow up sessions in some cases to further clarify the diagnosis.

How Does My Diagnosis Affect My Treatment Plan?

A patient’s treatment plan is based on many factors, including the severity of the symptoms, how much their condition is impacting their ability to function at work and/or home and their history of previous treatments. Additionally, every patient has preferences about taking medication, what types or medications and other treatments they would prefer and these are used to individualize their treatment plan. Dr. Goldenberg uses a wholistic, biological, psychological and social approach to customize his recommendations to each individual patient and their unique needs and goals.

What if I want to be Diagnosed but I do Not want Medication?

Dr. Goldenberg’s goal as a mental health expert and addiction specialist is to first establish an accurate diagnosis (or diagnoses). Only then, can the patient understand all of their treatment options. Dr. Goldenberg always discusses both the medication and non-mediation treatment options with his patients. If Dr. Goldenberg is unable to provide the recommended treatment, he always provides referrals to highly qualified local colleagues that can. So even if you have no intention of taking medication, Dr. Goldenberg recommends having the initial visit for the opportunity to have a single consultation, to establish a diagnosis and all treatment recommendations.


Articles by Dr. Goldenberg for those considering seeing a psychiatrist for the first time:

  1. How a Psychiatrist Treats Depression: A Peek Behind the Curtain
  2. Another Peek Behind the Curtain: How a Psychiatrist Diagnoses and Treats Bipolar Disorder
  3. Part Two: How a Psychiatrist Diagnoses and Treats ADHD in Adults


Matthew Goldenberg, DO
2708 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90403
Phone: 424-216-9906

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