Seeing a psychologist is a big step in the right direction when it comes to prioritising your mental health, which is why it’s so important to make sure that each session suits your needs perfectly. But how do you go about assuring that your expectations are met? While some aspects of a psychologist cannot be changed – such as the therapies they are trained to deliver or the issues they are most experienced with – the truth is that much of your therapy sessions are flexible. After all, your psychologist wants to provide you with the best session for your individual needs, but they can only do that if you share those expectations with them. To help you through the process, we have outlined three fundamental areas that will allow you to communicate what you want from your psychologist…
Think about what you want
As your first session with your psychologist gets closer and closer, chances are that you will already have an idea of how you hope it will go. Perhaps you’re imagining a situation where you’re sitting in their office simply talking about recent hardships that have gotten you down. Or maybe you’re hoping that your psychologist will spend equal amounts of time listening to how you’re feeling and coaching you through some useful mental health management techniques. Whatever you imagine your ideal session to be, it’s a good idea to think about the factors that would contribute to it. It can be helpful to ask yourself questions such as; do I want them to use plain language or psychology terms?; is there anything that previous psychologists have done that has rubbed me the wrong way?; would I prefer if they kept their sense of humour to themselves? Just these few questions can say a lot about the type of session you’re after, so once you have given it a bit of thought you should be able to better articulate what your expectations are.
Communicate in a way that works for you
The first step towards being on the same page as your psychologist is to share your expectations with them. This might seem obvious – after all, how can they know what you want from the session if you don’t tell them? – but when the situation finally arises, it’s easy to get overwhelmed or intimidated and forget to communicate altogether! It’s important to know that there are no set rules for how you do this. If you’re comfortable addressing your expectations on the phone or in person during your first session, that’s great! If the thought of doing that makes you uncomfortable, that’s okay too. In this case, it can be a good idea to write down your expectations on a piece of paper before your first session. That way, if you find it too difficult to bring up the topic yourself, you can simply hand your psychologist the paper to read. They will understand that it can be difficult to open up about these things, so whichever way you feel most comfortable sharing this information is perfectly fine. Remember, the most important thing is that you communicate these feelings to begin with!
Be open to discussing your expectations with them
Once you have expressed your expectations to your psychologist, they may want to speak to you about them in more detail. This is an important part of the process as it allows your psychologist to clarify your wants and needs and ensure that you both have the same expectations. A good example of this might be if you tell your psychologist that you want them to act more like a ‘friend’ than someone who is coaching you through your mental health problems. In this case, they will want to clarify with you that, as your psychologist, ‘friend’ isn’t an appropriate expectation as you cannot do typical ‘friendly’ activities together, such as get coffee or go to the movies. This might lead you to explain that when you used the word ‘friend’, you meant that you want them to be warm, understanding and listen to your problems – all of which are perfectly reasonable things to want from a psychologist. It’s situations like these where being open to discussing your expectations is important, as it will ensure that you are on the same page and can receive the type of help that will benefit you most.
If you need help finding a psychologist that is right for you, Mindfit can help. Click here to start the process today.