So you’re contemplating booking in to speak to a psychologist…

So you’ve been thinking about speaking to a psychologist but feeling a bit unsure. Questions that may arise:

  • Do I really need to?
  • What will they think of me?
  • What if there’s something really wrong with me that no one can fix?
  • What if it’s a waste of time?
  • And so on…

You may have been recommended to go by your doctor, friends, family members, your work or school or perhaps you decided on your own. So what now? 
In order to minimize your chances of a misfit it’s worthwhile taking the following points into consideration:

What is the reason for your referral?
Is it for anxiety or depression or relationship difficulties? You might find it useful finding a psychologist with a special interest in this area as they are more likely to have attended further training meaning they may offer more techniques in various modalities as opposed to just one.

How close or far are you willing to go for appointments?  
Do you want to see someone close to home or closer to work or are you willing to travel for the right fit? Look at various practices’ opening hours and if you are keen to see someone in particular then check that their hours match yours. It is not effective therapy if you find a good psychologist but then struggle to get appointments in with them. Bear in mind that when you first start you’re likely to need weekly or fortnight sessions and later on it gets spaced out so you need to be able to get to sessions.

What can you afford?

Unfortunately most psychologists do not offer bulk billing. There are sometimes reduced fees for pensioners, health care card holders or those who are unemployed but you will not know until you ask. Bear in mind as well that the psychologist who offers bulk billing may or may not meet the criterion in your mind so you will need to be open to compromise potentially. University psychology clinics are a good place to go if cost is an issue and they are not bound by the Medicare session limits (although you will have transfer of care when the masters student moves on from that placement).

Do you have specifics in mind? 

Do you have preference for someone from a certain culture, gender or area of expertise? This may require some research unless you have received specific recommendations. The APS has a useful search tool and other than that there’s always Google.

In the next post I’ll talk about questions to ask to find the right fit followed by a post on what to expect (from our practice).