For any talk-therapy to be effective, there needs to be a sense of trust and connection between you and your therapist / coach / mentor.
Changing patterns of thinking and behaviour is hard – if it were easy, we would all be living our best lives! It also takes courage, determination and grit to let go of old expectations and assumptions that are holding you back and to embrace a new perspective and way of addressing your challenges.
What do Psychologists need to do?
Every Registered Psychologist is required to successfully complete a minimum of six years of university training, adhere to strict ethical standards in their practice, and complete mandatory ongoing education every year.
Against that common background, psychologists have a diverse range of skills, expertise and experience. Some of the main areas of specific practice are listed here.
How do you find the right Psychologist?
To find the right fit for you, start by doing your research into potential therapists, noting that under our professional governing requirements, Registered Psychologists are prevented from using many of the strategies you might typically be familiar with as a way of making your selection. For example, generally we are not allowed to use client testimonials, we can’t guarantee results or promise “cures” (all clients respond differently to treatment), and we can’t make comparisons between health outcomes and quality of care, between professions, or the competency, skill or experience of other practitioners and ourselves.
Moreover, it is difficult for us to respond directly to online reviews or feedback, whether it is positive or negative, due to professional obligations around protecting the privacy of our clients. Particularly in clinical psychology work, some of our clients have complex clinical problems which can increase their vulnerability.
It is important that our first principle of professional practice is to do no harm. In engaging with the online community in an open forum, we must be clear about not commenting on individual clinical cases or offering specific advice for individuals. This is because, without a proper assessment to inform our recommendations, we risk missing important pieces relevant to contributing in a helpful way to that person’s unique set of circumstances.
Different therapist and therapy criteria appeal to people for various reasons, so there is no single checklist I can offer to help you decide which might be best for you. As a baseline, however, check their training and qualifications. Registered Psychologists are listed on the AHPRA website. You could also look for a clear statement of what the psychologist does and how they do it, common mental health concerns they offer help with, evidence of a commitment to ethical practice, and a professional background that is likely to inspire confidence in you.
Anticipate committing to attending at least a couple of sessions with your chosen provider before you make your final determination. Often it can take a few sessions before you feel sufficiently comfortable in the therapeutic environment to be in a position to properly evaluate your fit with the therapist.
The best psychologist for you is someone you are willing to actively engage with in pursuit of your goals and who you consider has the necessary professional skills and interpersonal style which is most likely to help you get there.