Realizing that you need professional help from a psychologist and taking the step to attend therapy are two different things. After all, most people believe that consulting a psychologist for therapy only consists of intimate conversations about life issues and feelings. They wave a dismissive hand, saying that they have friends and family for that. But the reality is that a psychologist isn’t there to discuss your row with your spouse simply. The main job is to determine your emotional, social, and cognitive state through series of observations and experimentation. This allows them to find the root of your problems and decide which therapy strategies will suit your needs.
You can think of a psychologist’s work by comparing it to a doctor’s. A doctor’s job is to find the cause of your sickness and eliminate the disease. You don’t wish the disease away or make do with comfort food and little pep talks. Similarly, a psychologist’s job is to determine your mind’s ailments and help you feel better. A little friendly chat is not similar to the job of a psychologist.
There are many misconceptions about psychologists and what to expect before going to therapy. Therefore, there are some things you should keep in mind before you begin consulting a psychologist. These include:
1. Don’t Simply Rely On Referrals
It is nice to know that a specific doctor helped your friends and family. But going to that same person may not be in the best of your interest. You need someone with an advance in psychology degree or specializations that particularly address your issues. Therefore, take your sweet time in finding a therapist that suits your needs before you make an appointment to begin consulting a psychologist with anyone.
Before making an appointment, do thorough research about the psychologist’s background, area of specialty, qualifications, and fee. Narrow down to a list of 2-3 suitable doctors, and then book your appointment.
2. Ask For A Phone Consultation Before Making An In-Person Appointment
Most mental health professionals offer free consultation on the phone to new clients. These phone consultations give them an idea about the type of client they are going to deal with. On the other hand, a phone consultation allows you to ask important questions such as the method they prefer, their treatment approach, etc. If you feel comfortable enough during the call, you can book an appointment to begin consulting a psychologist .
3. Get To Know What Progress Looks Like
Before you begin consulting a psychologist, you should keep in mind that progress can look differently than you may imagine. Mental health progress is a tricky thing to gauge. You won’t know and see it in your daily routine, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t progressing. For this reason, talk to your psychologist about what your progress may look like and how you will know if you are progressing. Then, note down your observations and consult them with your psychologist from time to time. Never take lack of progress as your inability to progress.
4. Expect To Feel Uncomfortable Sometimes
Just like exercise, therapy can be tricky and challenging sometimes. Sometimes, you will end up with the emotional equivalent of sour muscles, and you will hate every aspect of therapy. But you must remember that it is all a part of the process of consulting with a psychologist. However, you must ensure that anger and discomfort aren’t the only emotions you experience during a session. If that is the case, it is a major red flag that your psychologist is not suitable for your case. A skilled professional understands that not every session has to be emotionally wrecking and deep. The intensity of each session must change to keep the trust and bonding constant.
5. You Don’t Need To Talk About Significant Things Regularly
It is perfectly fine if you believe that you and your therapist have little to talk about. Sometimes, during such sessions, you can have a significant breakthrough that will aid your mental health. Therefore, even when there isn’t anything to discuss, your discussions should remain on track.
A skilled psychologist will always have some questions to ask you. Often, people avoid talking about important things because they don’t consider them too important personally. But your psychologist’s quick and intelligent questions can do the job of extracting the truth out of you in no time.
6. You Have The Choice To Disagree
Remember, when consulting a psychologist, it’s okay to disagree. Therapy sessions are supposed to feel like a long healing hug. It should be a safe and comfortable space where you can open up without having to be defensive. Therefore, if you don’t understand something your therapist says, then you should ask again. If your therapist makes you angry, you have the right to disagree and voice out your anger. Either way, these issues shouldn’t make you hold back information or make you lie.
Final Thoughts on Things to Consider Before Consulting a Psychologist
The crux of the matter is that psychological help can make your life better. While the process will be slow and scrutinizing, there will be eventual progress in your life. One day, you will look back and recognize how far you have come. Any issues you may have related to your psychologist and sessions are solvable with simple solutions. So don’t panic, and get the help you deserve by consulting a psychologist.