What is Psychology and What do Psychologists do?
Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour. A psychologist explores both conscious and unconscious processes that occur for individuals and within relationships.
A psychologist is a professional who has had many years of training in how people think, behave and interact with others. They must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia to be able to practice. A clinical psychologist has had six to seven years of university training and supervised experience.
Psychologists help individuals overcome problematic behaviours and unhelpful ways of thinking. These behaviours or ways of thinking may be causing them distress or impacting on their life or relationships. The aim of therapy is to try to improve emotional well-being and mental health.
Most psychologists work with a range and complexity of issues that can impact an individual’s mental health across their life span. These include anxiety, depression and trauma.
Psychologists may use a range of approaches including cognitive behavioural therapy, mindfulness, client-centred psychology or psychodynamic psychotherapy.
How to Choose a Psychologist
Research has consistently shown that the strength of the therapeutic relationship is one of the most important factors in determining the success of counselling. Therefore it is important to find someone you feel comfortable with. A psychologist may be a good fit for one person but not another.
Most people find it helpful to have a brief chat with a psychologist before making an appointment to determine if they’re a potential good fit. In the initial phone call, you can ask questions about their fees, how many years of experience they have and whether they’ve worked with the particular issue you’d like to work on. This might help you get a sense of their personality and experience.
Your First Session with a Psychologist
When you meet your psychologist for your initial session they are likely to ask you about your issues. Depending on how they work, they may ask questions about your current situation as well as your personal history. If you are uncomfortable talking about certain aspects of your life, you can simply let them know.
By the end of the session you will be more likely to know if the psychologist you met with is a good fit for you. For example, do you feel that they have a good understanding of your issues? Do you feel comfortable with them? Sometimes it can take several sessions to determine if a psychologist is right for you.
Most people find counselling helpful and can sometimes feel a little better after just one appointment. However, counselling is not often a quick fix solution to one’s problems. Most issues take time to understand, work through and process. Long term and complex issues often require a longer commitment to regular therapy.
Maria Scoda is a clinical psychologist in Sydney CBD. This post is an opinion piece and is for informational purposes only. It does not address people’s individual circumstances or needs and it is not a substitute for professional help. Please see a health care professional if you are struggling. External links have been provided for convenience. They are created and maintained by other organisations and I cannot control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, or completeness of their contents.