I’ve been to a few psychologists in my time, and if there is something I’ve learnt it’s that one size doesn’t fit all. As someone who doesn’t necessarily have the best ‘people’ skills, connecting with others can sometimes be difficult, especially when you’re talking about sensitive issues.
When you first get a referral from your GP, or you decide you’d like to seek help from a psychologist, it can be hard to know what to look for. It can also be expensive, as appointments can be pricey – especially when you need to have a few ‘first’ sessions with different psychologists. When you’re new to the experience, it can also be difficult to tell if feeling uncomfortable about your session is due to you, or your psychologist.
So, here are our tips to choose a psychologist that works for you.
Check Them Out Online
Most psychologists will have a profile on a website, a LinkedIn page or a website. You can find out information regarding their credentials, how long they’ve been working and what they specialise in. For example, if you need help with anxiety – you may be able to find someone who specialises in that area or has been working with anxiety disorders for a long period of time. Here, you can also check to make sure that they’re registered, there is a difference between support, counselling, therapy, psychologists, psychiatrists – make sure they are the right type that you’re looking for. You can also check to see how long they’ve been working for. Is seeing someone who is very experienced important to you, or would you be okay seeing someone new in the industry?
Ask Them Questions Before You Go
If you haven’t been able to find the above information out online, you can always ask them questions before you go. If you want to know how long the session goes for, how much it costs, whether you can get a rebate or claim on your health insurance, where they’re located, if they offer Skype sessions – you can ask them those questions too.
Is It Someone You Can Work With
When you arrive at your first appointment, your psychologist will ask a lot of questions of your background, why you’re in, what you want to work towards and what you’ve already tried. When they’re asking you these questions – are they engaged? Do they seem genuinely concerned or interested or are they just ticking boxes on their sheet? Are you okay working with someone if they’re more clinical or would you rather it be a more personal? A psychologist should be non-judgmental. You should never feel judged for something you have experienced, or something you are currently experiencing, that’s why you’re there! While most psychologist have heard it all (literally), if you noticed a little side-eye or raised eyebrow when you say something, you may not be able to work alongside that psychologist as you need someone on your team. You need to make sure that the psychologist is someone whose style works for you and more importantly, they’re someone you can work with.
Are They Emotionally Healthy & Present Themselves
Did you know that psychologists aren’t supposed to talk about themselves or let you into their lives? When you go into your session, make sure that your psychologist is emotionally healthy. Sometimes this can be hard to assess, but keep an eye out for the things that they bring up – do they talk about their own lives or try to relate to yours in a self deprecating way? Is their desk/space clean and tidy and are they organised with their paperwork – or are they a bit messy/cluttered? If the way that they are running their clinic/office seems a little problematic, they might not be the person you want helping you with yours. Also, are they emotionally present? Are they 100% dedicated to you in the session, or do they take time to find papers, look at their phone or the clock? Do they seem distracted by anything? If so, you’re not getting your monies worth.
Do They Seem Like They Want/Are Able To Help You?
I know this may seem silly, but there is a lot of speculation that psychologists will never actually ‘fix’ you because they want you to keep going back. If they do this, then they won’t have any success stories which would then probably lead to a very underwhelming job. When you go in, after the first session, do they start talking strategy with you, or are they still digging for more family stories and wanting to hear about how and why you got into the position you are today? If there isn’t a plan in place, and you’ve said that you want to work towards a goal, then it’s important that you stress to your psychologist that you want a game plan. If they’re hesitant in moving forward, or don’t seem competent in moving forward, trust your gut feeling. Sometimes psychologists just don’t know how to help with certain issues – which is okay – but there is someone out there who can help you out there, and that is where your time is better spent.
They Challenge You
As mentioned above, you obviously want someone on your team, but it’s also important that you find a psychologist that challenges you. You want to find someone who will set goals with you and make you work towards your goals, and if you’ve been unable to do this on your own – it may take a bit of work. You may even find that when you’re speaking of a management technique that you’ve employed in the past that they’ll question it, or ask where you learned to use that strategy and they’ll challenge it. It’s great that they feel comfortable doing this with you, but you also need to know that they’re there to do a job (in helping you), they’re not there to coddle you and enable your current behaviour. This can be a bit difficult, but is ultimately in your best interests in working towards a better future for you.
If your psychologist listens and supports you, and after a few sessions you feel more positive about your work, then you’re on the right track. If you start to question them, or their strategies, you feel a bit weird or something isn’t right – you are able to stop seeing them. You are not obligated to see the same psychologist forever, you can shop around! It may cost a little bit of money to start with, to find someone you are completely comfortable with, however – it’s important that you are getting the best support for your future.