So you’ve decided to see a psychologist


Trust in handsYou’ve made your decision to be or not to be in therapy. Now you may have some other ideas to consider. Would you like to talk with a man or woman? What experience does the therapist have? What does s/he charge? What does a typical meeting look like? What about confidentiality?

Women versus men: It may make no difference to you whether you meet with a woman or a man. I’ve met many male and female therapists who are caring, skilled, and effective. It may be though, that you know you would feel more comfortable meeting with one over the other. Perhaps as a woman, you think a woman would understand some of the troubles you want to talk about better. The same could be true if you’re a man. Maybe as a man you may think only a man could really get how you feel.  An important consideration is–

Who would you feel safer with?

Would it make a difference to you? It’s worth considering, briefly anyways.

Therapist experience:Is the therapist well trained? In both Canada and the U.S., psychologists have a stringent licensing process. After we complete our schooling and have our credentials approved, we have to work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist for a specified period of time depending on the provincial or state regulatory body that governs our practice. We also have to write an exam that the American Psychological Association provides, and have to complete an oral exam with a panel of psychologists. It takes awhile and we’re certainly NOT guaranteed to pass! You can be reasonably assured, however, that someone who has gone through this process successfully has some skills and experience. It’s worth your while to find out the background of the therapist you want to work with.

Money: I know money is an issue for most of us in this economy. Self-care can seem like a luxury. But taking the time to deal with stress, to make decisions that serve you, to  handle whatever comes your way in a way that you prefer is important!!

Psychologists and other therapists charge varying amounts.

It’s worth knowing up front what s/he charges so you can make an informed decision.

What will you do in a meeting with a counsellor? It may seem strange but what meetings are like varies depending on the therapist and her or his orientation. I can tell you what the experience will be like with a solution-focused brief therapist. We want to know how we can be helpful and spend some time figuring out with you how you want things to be, what you’ve tried, and what’s working–even a little bit. We build on change from there. There’s more to it than that, but you get the idea.

Confidentiality: Another thing that people often worry about is confidentiality. Psychologists have a code of ethics that we have to follow as part of our practice. Part of this code deals with confidentialtiy and the limits to it. At the beginning of counselling, a psychologist will (or should!) talk to you about it. This is especially important if you’re meeting with a partner, a family member, if you’re a parent and you child is attending therapy, of if you’re in counselling through an Employee Assistance Program or a Managed Care Organization. Know where you stand so you can make good decisions. For more information, see privacy and confidentiality.

I’d appreciate hearing from you!! What would you suggest people think about when they see a therapist? Please send in your comments.

Has what you’ve read given you some good food for thought? Is this information that would be helpful for someone you know? Please feel free to share this!!