Reaching out and taking that first step of booking an appointment with a psychologist can be a little daunting for some people. For others it can be quite overwhelming and there is the stigma of seeing a ‘shrink’. The unknown of therapy can often lead people to have preconceived ideas based on what they have seen on television.
I hope this article provides you with a bit more detail about what happens and how you can prepare yourself to the most out of the experience.
Seeing a psychologist should be about empowering you to tackle challenges and make positive changes in your life, while also assisting you to gain a deeper awareness and understanding of your difficulties. It is the job of your psychologist to help put you at ease in your first session and to create a space that is warm, accepting and welcoming.
At your first session your psychologist will greet you in the waiting room and take you into their office. They will discuss with you things like confidentiality and informed consent before starting the session. They will then ask you about the reason for attending and get you to tell your story. Your psychologist will guide you through this process and ask questions they need to know to best assist you. Finally the psychologist will speak with you about your goals for treatment and in conjunction with you develop a treatment plan.
During this time the psychologist will be determining throughout the appointment if they have the skills and expertise to assist you. It is also important to take the time that you need to decide whether this psychologist is the right match for you. The relationship between a psychologist and their client is essential in getting good outcomes in treatment. Therefore, it is important that you feel safe, supported, and that your psychologist in non-judgemental, and takes time and effort to understand your concerns.
It is OKAY to change your psychologist and work with someone else at any time if you do not feel that that person is the right fit for you. You may need to see one or two psychologists in order to decide, or you may wish to see your psychologist for a few sessions before deciding.
Listed below are my top 5 tips for attending your first session with a psychologist:
- Be prepared. Take a little time before the appointment to think about why you are attending and what you want to achieve. Refresh your memory of your childhood and your life’s history in generally. A lot of times, a psychologist will ask how your childhood was and the years after.
- Arrive a little early. You may already be feeling nervous and stressed about attending. Allow yourself the extra time to find the clinic so you are not rushed. When you arrive, you will be provided with consent forms and questionnaires to complete.
- Don’t over commit. If you can, allow some time after the appointment just in case you need it to unwind and process your session. Talking about difficulties in your life can be tough, so allowing yourself some time to either have a cup of tea or coffee after the appointment may be helpful.
- Be open and honest. This understandably may be a difficult process, however a psychologist’s office is one of the few place in the world where you can say what you need to say without fear of being judged. If you think what you want to say is weird or odd, chances are we have heard it before.
- Remember this is your time and space. You will get out of therapy what you put into it. By being open and honest with your psychologist they can help develop the best treatment plan for you so you get the most out of your experience.
Hopefully this article has given you some insight into not only what your appointment with a psychologist will look like, but some tips on how you can get the most out of your time in therapy. If you have been thinking about making an appointment, now is the time do it. Please give Qualia Psychology a call to book an appointment and discuss how we can help you.