How do I find the right Psychologist for me?

The decision to seek help in the form of therapy can be daunting. Maybe you’ve tried this path before and have a negative experience, but you may be ready to try again.

Seeking help can be an important first step to better understanding and managing your mental health and improving your well-being and seeing a mental health professional is common practice in Australia. In 2016 – 2017 more than 2.5 million Aussies accessed a Medicare subsidised mental health care plan. These Mental Health Care plans allow you to receive up to 10 subsidised sessions per calendar year.

How do I get a Mental Health Care Plan?
Simply visit you GP to discuss. If you haven’t received a diagnosis for a mental illness before, your GP will need to assess whether you have a diagnosable mental illness. Sometimes a GP will want longer than their usual appointment time to do this or may want you to return to ensure a quality plan is in place to support you well.

How do I find a Psychologist?
Finding a psychologist could consist of simply Googling “psychologists near me”. It’s a great place to start, but this doesn’t tell you much more than their location. So, you might then visit their website and now you can access some information that could actually be helpful.

How I do find the right Psychologist for me?
You would want to know if they have experience treating presentations similar to your own. This would probably be on their website, or you could phone their clinic to ask. Another good question to ask is what intervention or treatment program they would use. Something you might not realise is that psychologist’s code of ethics prevents them from providing testimonials on their website, therefore you won’t (or shouldn’t) see any “reviews” on their websites or socials, so don’t be surprised when you don’t see these. While experience and treatment modalities are important, the vital point that research reveals is that the therapeutic relationship is the greatest predictor of successful outcomes.

What is a Therapeutic Relationship?
The therapeutic relationship or therapeutic alliance refers to the close and consistent association that exists between a health care professional and a person in therapy. It is the means by which a therapist and a client hope to engage with each other, and effect beneficial change in the client. Considering the evidence around this, this is one of the most important points for you to ensure that you have found the right psychologist for you!

How do I know if the practitioner I have chosen will build a great therapeutic alliance with me?
It would be great if this is the sort of thing that you could research, however this can’t really be known until you have attended at least one session with your therapist. You should have the feeling that you are being heard and really listened to. You should feel supported and understood and feeling that this is someone who will be respectful and genuine and that you can have confidence that you can work with them. Don’t give up too quickly, but also trust your instincts!

Am I ready to engage in Psychological therapy?
Therapy can be hard work, talking about hard things and change can also be hard. But if you really want things to be different for you and you are ready to do the work then taking that first daunting step and seeing a psychologist could result in something really wonderful!

Written by:
Cheryl Gale,
Psychologist,
Proactive Health & Movement