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Tips for Choosing a Psychologist or Counsellor

Perhaps people keep telling you to talk to someone… or maybe you have been thinking it is time to seek professional help. But who should that person be? What is important for therapy?

It is commonly understood by therapists that the relationship or therapeutic alliance between client and counsellor is the primary predictor of successful outcomes of therapy. The biggest predictor of success has been linked to the relationship between client and practitioner, also known as the therapeutic alliance.

Finding someone who you can relate to and feel comfortable with can be important. However, there is not yet a POF or Tinder App available to help you screen potential candidates (for those of you who don’t know these are popular dating applications).

Much like finding a suitable partner in life, it may be useful to find a counsellor or psychologist with similar values things or is respectful of them. Some therapists use humour, may suggest homework or introduce you to mindful meditation. They may be highly structured or unstructured in their approach.

 

Tips to help you get started

  1. Consider what you want from therapy
    a. A safe place to talk
    b. Help with difficult thoughts, feelings, sensations, urges or memories
    c. Improving your relationship with loved ones
    d. Personal or professional growth
    e. A specific approach such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  2. Research who is offering services in your local area and see who offers services that match what you want from therapy
    a. online websites where you can review profiles of the different psychologist’s in your area include HeathEngine, HealthKit or the APS Find a Psychologist Service
  3. Create a shortlist
  4. Call those who made it onto your shortlist, talk to them and find out
    a. How many years counselling experience they have with your area of concern (i.e. low mood, anxiety, couples counselling etc)
    b. What approach do they typically use?
    c. What qualifications do they have? Are they registered?
    d. What is their view on homework?
  5. The questions above are just conversation starters, consider which therapist you felt most aligned with and trust your gut instinct

Consider talking to a doctor you trust

Often a chat with your general practitioner (GP) can be beneficial. They may also screen you for any physical conditions potentially responsible for your symptoms. They are likely to be able to refer you to a psychologist. Be aware that you do not have to attend with the person that your GP refers you to. It is possible to ask your GP to refer you to your chosen provider.

 

Word of Mouth

Recommendations from trusted family and friends can be useful. This is likely a good place to start. However, a therapist that is a good fit for them may not be a good fit for you. You may find it worthwhile to shop around.

 

Online Reviews

Be wary of online reviews as psychologists are not able to ask for reviews/testimonials from clients. Therefore, many psychologists do not have a high number of “stars” online.

 

When therapy doesn’t work out

If you do not find the right fit for you on the first try or even the fifth try it is our hope that you do not give up your search for the right professional. If a therapeutic relationship doesn’t pan out (as sometimes happens in other relationships i.e. your close friends) at least you have a better idea regarding what you don’t like. This is great information to have at hand.

 

Don’t give up hope – the right help and support may be just around the corner. Read more about how to choose the right psychologist.

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