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Therapy is a unique relationship between two people. One of the primary factors for successful therapy is the feeling of safety and trust within the therapy space. For this reason, it is important that you feel comfortable with the person you choose as your psychologist. Like other relationships in your life, there are some people you click with and others you don’t. If you feel that you are not ‘clicking’ with your therapist, asked to be referred to someone else.
Steps to Choosing a Psychologist
Decide Why You Want to Start Therapy
The first step is understanding why you want to see a psychologist. You may want to learn skills to communicate, or you may be looking for a greater meaning in life, or maybe you are suffering from a mental illness and need support. Are you looking for therapy for yourself, your relationship or for your child? Are you looking for long term or short term therapy? Different psychologists specialise in different disorders, age groups and life issues. By understanding your own goals it will be easier to narrow the search.
Do you want to see a psychologist of a specific age, race, gender, culture or sexual orientation? You have the right to choose someone that you feel will understand you. Bare in mind that sometimes it can be the most unlikely person who you may feel safe with. Consider if any of these factors are deal breakers for you.
Do Your Research
Once you have a fair idea as to why you want to attend therapy and who you might want to see, start researching. Thanks to google we have many options at our finger tips. Most psychologists will include a summary about themselves and the way they practice. They may have written blogs, articles or may be on social media. This information can help you find ‘a good fit.’
The length of therapy varies depending on your specific needs and circumstances. Some people may attend therapy for 2 or 3 sessions and others for an extended period of time. For this reason, find out the hourly rate charged by the therapist so that you can work out affordability. Most psychologists are contracted in with various medical aids and may be able to make claims for you. This is an important aspect to consider when doing your research.
Don’t be afraid to ask friends and family, they might have a good referral for you based on their experience.
Make sure the psychologist you choose is a registered practitioner. While researching you may come across people who advertise themselves as counsellors or coaches. These people are not necessarily qualified and may not have the right skills to assist you. Look out for the practitioners HPCSA practice number which means they are licensed to practice.
Make The Appointment
Once you have decided on a psychologist– make the appointment! It can be anxiety provoking to imagine speaking to a therapist about your most personal thoughts and feelings – but remember it is normal to have anxiety when meeting someone for the first time. The psychologist you see is trained to deal with your feelings and will guide you through your session with ease.
If you have found more than one psychologist you like – make appointments with both and decide after your sessions with them.
Keep in mind that this in your journey and the psychologist you meet is your guide through this process. Therapy is a life changing experience – deciding to reach out is the most important step. Make this process work for you!