We all need a little help sometimes, and every year many thousands of Australians seek the support of a psychologist in getting through tough times. Psychologists help patients deal with stress, anxiety and depression; they address phobias, relationship issues and teach strategies to cope with anger, lack of confidence and a host of life events. Finding a psychologist that meets your needs and fits naturally with your personal style is the key to a healthier you.
But how do you choose the psychologist that's right for you?
Define your style
Psychologists vary, just as all people do, with different communication styles, approaches to treatment and areas of expertise. Before reaching out, consider exactly what you are looking for in a psychologist. Having a clear understanding of your needs will save you time in your search for a suitable professional. You may be looking for a particular type of treatment, for example Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or couples counselling, and a search for a this kind of professional will serve you well. If you've never seen a psychologist before or are unsure about treatment styles, a psychologist adopting a generalist approach to treatment may be best for you.
A personal referral is a valuable tool in choosing from the many psychologists available, so don't be afraid to ask your friends and family for a recommendation. Most people who have had an experience with a psychologist - positive or negative - will be only too glad to tell you about it. Your GP can also be very helpful in recommending a suitable professional, and may be able to arrange a few sessions with reduced rates via Medicare.
Search the database
All Australian psychologists are required to register with the Australian Psychological Society, and a search of their database will help you find a professional in your area. You can search by location and, if you know the speciality you're looking for, you can narrow down your search that way too.
Refine your shortlist
Once you have a few potential therapists on your list, it's time to start asking questions. An experienced professional will be happy to address your questions prior to starting treatment, so call or email your candidates and ask about their availability, areas of expertise, professional experience, fees and whether they accept Medicare rebates.
Now it's time to trust your instincts. The information you've gathered will only take you part of the way. If one therapist feels like a natural fit, they probably are. Give them a try. If you're not happy with your first choice you can always try again.
Whether you're looking for a concrete strategy or just a supportive ear, with the right psychologist you'll gain the most from your sessions, resulting in better mental health, faster. Take your time deciding, and you'll find just what the doctor ordered.