Are you considering seeing a psychologist for help with a personal challenge or problem? It’s not as scary as it sounds. In fact, seeing a psychologist is an empowering experience for many people. Here’s what to expect when you see a psychologist for the first time:
Types of psychologists you can see
There are many types of psychologists, each with their own strengths and specialties. Here are a few types you can expect to see, based on your needs:
- Cognitive behavioural therapist (CBT): This type of psychologist focuses on helping people change their thoughts and behaviours to improve their mood and feelings.
- Clinical psychologist: This type of psychologist often treats people with mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders, depression, and eating disorders, with therapy sessions and prescription medications as needed.
- Counselling psychologist: This type of psychologist typically helps people in crisis, such as those dealing with grief or trauma, or who are going through a life change (such as a divorce or job loss).
- Health psychologist: This type of psychologist specialises in health-care settings, such as hospitals or clinics, and focuses on improving the health of patients by reducing stress and improving patients’ self-care skills.
- Neuropsychologist: This type of psychologist specialises in brain-related disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy, and helps people with these conditions adjust to their diagnosis and manage their symptoms.
- School psychologist: This type of psychologist works with children and adolescents in school settings to help them cope with stress and mental health issues.
What to do before your first visit to a psychologist
Get informed: Before your first visit to a psychologist, make sure you’re informed about what a mental health professional can offer and the differences between different types of therapists.
Choose someone who’s right for you: If you have an insurance plan that allows you to choose your psychologist, it’s best to select someone right for you. Inspire Health and Medical are a great option worth considering. Visit websites, read reviews and ask friends for recommendations to find someone who you feel comfortable with.
Prepare for your first visit: Your first visit to a psychologist may feel a bit like an interview. Make sure you prepare for your visit by either writing down your thoughts ahead of time or taking a few minutes to reflect on what you want to get out of the therapy experience.
You’ll talk about what brings you to therapy
One of the first things you’ll do in your therapy session is to talk about what brings you to therapy. You may want to start by mentioning that you’re interested in therapy or that a friend recommended therapy. A good psychologist will ask you various questions to learn more about you and the challenges you’re experiencing. The questions may veer from the specific to the general, but they’ll all be there to help the psychologist assess what kind of treatment you might benefit from.
You’ll talk about your goals for therapy
As you’re discussing what brings you to therapy and the challenges you’re experiencing, you’ll also want to talk about your goals for therapy. This is the time to be as specific as possible about what you want to get out of therapy. A good psychologist will ask you about your goals and help you to clarify them as much as possible. If you’re not sure what your goals are, that’s okay. You can set new goals as you progress through therapy and learn more about what works best for you.
The psychologist will provide advice and recommendations
During the course of your therapy sessions, you’ll likely have a few opportunities to ask your psychologist questions and get clarification on your goals. A good psychologist will also offer advice and recommendations specific to your needs. This may be in the form of exercises you can do at home to help you cope with your challenges, recommendations for other professionals you may benefit from seeing (such as a therapist or a medical doctor) and tips for managing your stress.
After the session
After your therapy sessions are over, make sure you schedule a follow-up appointment with your psychologist. During this visit, you can ask any final questions you have and discuss any tips or recommendations your psychologist has for you. A good psychologist will want to make sure you have all the information and support you need to implement any changes you’re trying to make. You’ll leave your therapy session with a clearer idea of what you need to do next, more insight into yourself and the resources you have available to you.