A story I’ve heard a lot
You ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist, maybe as part of getting your mental health treatment plan. The doctor doesn’t know the psychologist all that well, and you just don’t click with them.
So you search Google for psychologists near you who work with the issue you’ve got, and check out their websites. You go with one who sounds good, but what they’re like in person is different to what they wrote on their site.
Finally you ask a few of your good friends if they’ve ever seen a psychologist. It turns out they have, they just don’t talk about it, and you get a recommendation. This psychologist was helpful for your friend, and they end up being helpful for you.
Can you relate to any of that? Or maybe you’re at the start of your search and feeling a bit lost and worried.
I don’t want to tell my friends
I hear you. Mental health can be some of the most private stuff in your life, and it can be scary to discuss even with close friends. So we’ll look at why friend recommendations seem to work well, and how you can get the same good result without having to reveal things you’re not ready to.
Friend recommendations have a few things going for them.
For a start, you’ve got proof that the psychologist has been helpful to someone else. It’s like when you’re choosing a hotel. Reading reviews on TripAdvisor tells you more than just reading the hotel’s website. You can get some independent information on what your friend’s psychologist was like.
Plus your friends are probably similar to you in some ways — maybe their personality, their values, and where they’re at with their lives. That’s why you’re friends! If the psychologist is good for people like you, they’re probably good for you.
So first, you’ll need to work out what you really want from a psychologist.
You already know what you want, sort of
If you trust your intuition and let yourself be honest, you’ll find that you can answer some basic questions about who your right psychologist will be.
- What gender?
- How old?
- Married? Divorced?
- What religion, or none?
- Sexual orientation?
- Personality and style?
It’s ok to say “it doesn’t matter” to some of the questions. Just don’t say “it shouldn’t matter” if your intuition is telling you that it does. For example, if you feel you need to see a older female psychologist who’s been through a divorce, there’s no point seeing a young male psychologist who’s never been married. If you know in advance that someone won’t fit what you need, just don’t do it.
How to find out what you don’t know
There’s more to it than the basic things above. You need a therapy style that works for you, and a treatment mode that suits your issues and goals. But you probably don’t know about therapy styles and treatments. How can you find out?
First, think about what you’re after:
- Do you want to change your thoughts and the way you talk to yourself?
- Do you want to deal with the here and now, rather than your past?
- Do you want to work through things that happened when you were young?
- Do you want to work through family stuff?
- Do you want to look at the unconscious parts of your mind?
Second, do some reading. Here’s a good article on the different types of therapy. So many! Two that you need to know about are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are very widely used and lots of people get good results from them.
Third, we have a quick online quiz that helps you think about how you want a psychologist to help you. It gives you a result you can use when choosing psychologists, and take with you so you have better sessions. Get a MindFit account and then take the Ways of Being Helped quiz. If you’re already signed up just follow the link from your Member Home page.
Getting help with getting help
If you’ve worked through the tips in this post then you’ve got some more clarity on what you need. Now, how do you find psychologists who match? What do you say on the phone to check that they’re right for you? How do you know they’ve got a good track record with people like you?
You don’t have to do it all yourself! We know over 2000 psychologists in Australia and we’re happy to do some searching for you. Send us a quick message and we’ll get started.