What to expect when seeing a psychologist

What to expect when seeing a psychologist

06 March 2020

Seeing a psychologist can be a daunting and confronting experience. Opening up to someone about how you really think, and feel, can be challenging and push you beyond your comfort zone.

However, just like you would treat a physical ailment by going to a GP, physiotherapist or chiropractor, you may also need to treat psychological problems by seeing a psychologist. Research indicates that seeing a professional therapist can help people manage various psychological problems including stress, relationship concerns, parenting issues, lifestyle changes and mental health diagnoses such as post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

Research also indicates that it is not only the type of therapy you undertake with your psychologist that makes a difference to your progress, but also the quality of the relationship you have with them. In other words, if you have a good working relationship with your psychologist, you are more likely to feel connected, understood and listened to, factors which all contribute to better outcomes.

Sometimes a friend may recommend a certain psychologist as they had a positive experience with this psychologist, however it is a personal decision and therefore what works for your friend may not work for you. Just as you might click well with some people and not others in your personal life, you might feel more at ease and connected with a particular psychologist. You may also want to find out what approach or style your psychologist prefers to use when working with people, and chat to your psychologist about what feels most comfortable for you. Depending on the nature of your issue, certain approaches may be more suitable.

For a good therapeutic relationship to develop it is important that you feel listened to in a non-judgemental manner and that your psychologist takes the time to understand your issues and accept you as a person.  Sometimes it may take a few sessions for the relationship to develop. However, if after some time you determine that the relationship isn’t working, then it is absolutely okay to change psychologists. If you are currently seeing a psychologist at Mates4Mates and don’t think that therapy is working out for you, please discuss your concerns with your psychologist. Your psychologist won’t be offended, embarrassed or annoyed. In fact, your psychologist is likely to be very grateful for you to have raised the issue so your needs, and importantly your psychological health, is being treated in the most appropriate manner.

Additionally, it is important for you to remember that seeing a psychologist does require you to prioritise yourself and your psychological health and dedicate time and energy to getting better. Therapy requires active participation and engagement from you. Time will need to be set aside to work on your issues outside of therapy sessions and this can be challenging. Before you engage with a psychologist, carefully consider whether you are ready to make this commitment to yourself, being mindful that there is no easy or quick fix.

Lastly, prepare to be open and honest with your psychologist. Little is achieved in therapy if you hold back, avoid talking about the tough issues and don’t practice the strategies that you are taught in session. Be open to enjoying the process, knowing that by actively and whole heartedly engaging in therapy you are making a significant positive difference to your life and the people that care about you.

Find out more If any content in this article resonates with you and you’d like to speak with someone at Mates4Mates about seeking support, contact us to find out more about our services. All Mates4Mates services are available for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with physical injuries or mental health issues, and their families.
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