FAQs about Psychologists
How can a psychologist help me?
A number of benefits are available from seeing a psychologist. Psychologists can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, body image issues and creative blocks.
Many people also find that psychologists can be a tremendous asset to helping manage personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of daily life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a difficult problem or point the way to a solution. The benefits you obtain from seeing a psychologist will depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communications and listening skills
- Changing old behaviour patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
Do I really need to see a psychologist? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realise they need a helping hand. It involves taking responsibility by accepting where you are in life and making a commitment to change the situation. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
Why do people go to see a psychologist and how do I know if it is right for me?
People have many different motivations for coming to see a psychologist. Some may be going through a major life transition such as unemployment, divorce or starting new job or may be having difficulty handling stressful circumstances. Some people need assistance managing a range of other issues such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, addictions, relationship problems, spiritual conflicts and creative blocks. Therapy can help provide encouragement and help with skills to get them through these periods. Others may be at a point where they are ready to learn more about themselves or want to be more effective with their goals in life. In short, people seeking psychotherapy are ready to meet the challenges in their lives and ready to make changes.
What is therapy like?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, it will be different depending on the individual. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session. Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular sessions with your therapist, usually weekly. For some clients the sessions will end after a number of weekly sessions, for others it may be more helpful to reduce to fortnightly or monthly visits.
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in session back into your life. Therefore, apart from the work you do in therapy sessions, your therapist may suggest things you can do to support your process – such as reading a relevant book, keeping a journal and writing on specific topics, noting particular behaviours or taking action on your goals. People visiting a psychologist are ready to make positive changes in their lives, are open to new perspectives and take responsibility for their lives.
What about medication vs. sessions with a psychologist?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptoms, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behaviour patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you, and in some cases a combination of medication and therapy is the right course of action.
Can I get medicare or private health benefits for seeing a psychologist?
To determine if you have mental health cover through private insurance, the first thing you should do is call. Check your cover carefully and make sure you understand their answers. Some helpful questions you can ask are:
- What are my mental health benefits?
- What is the coverage amount per therapy session/per year?
- How many therapy sessions does my plan cover?
Does what we talk about remain confidential?
Confidentiality is one of the most important elements of the relationship between a client and psychologist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss in session will not be shared with anyone. This is called “Informed Consent”. Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your healthcare team such as your doctor or naturopath. By law, however, your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.Professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders to the authorities, including Child Protection and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threated to harm another person.