Kim Cullen – Body+SoulPsychologist
A psychologist’s tips on how to find your ‘best fit’ therapist
So you’ve decided it’s time to see a psychologist… but now you’ve made the decision, how do you find the right one? A psychologist shares her tips.
It takes enormous courage to reach out and deciding you want to is an important first step. But how do you find the psychologist that’s the ‘best fit’ for you?
Most people starting their psychology journey with their GP, they’ll talk it through with you, while assessing your eligibility for a Mental Health Plan (MHP), and the Medicare rebate, which can reduce the expense. Your GP will also be able to provide you with a list of recommended registered psychologists to contact.
A registered psychologist is a qualified one, and this should be your minimum requirement. Once you’ve determined their qualifications, the next step is to find the right fit for you. This can vary from one person to the next and is about personal choice. Finding your ‘best fit’ psychologist can feel a little daunting, so here’s a few things to consider in your search.
Location, accessibility and cost are all relevant. For face-to-face sessions, consider distance, ease of access and parking. Some psychologists offer virtual sessions, and if this is your preference, consider privacy, internet reliability, and the best time of day to fully engage. It’s important to remember that visits to your psychologist shouldn’t feel like a burden or an additional pressure.
Think about what you want help with. Are you looking for someone who specialises in relationships, anxiety, workplace stress, trauma, gender-related issues, or something else? Consider what you want to talk about and what you want to change, then narrow the search to those who specialise in that area.
Would you feel more comfortable talking to a female or male psychologist? Yes, you can factor in gender, age, culture, and religion when choosing a psychologist, this is not discrimination. Similar backgrounds and experiences support understanding and relatability, which will assist in the therapeutic relationship. Decide on the demographics that are important to you and go with your preference where possible.
Psychologists often have different delivery styles. Some are structured, planning three months in advance, while others take a session-by-session approach depending on the clients’ progress, wants and needs. Communication styles also vary, this includes language, mannerisms, tone. Go with the style you’re most comfortable engaging with, as this will support open conversations.
Give it a go
Once you’ve narrowed your search down, where possible try a few out. We test-drive cars before buying one, so you should do the same when you’re looking for a psychologist. Some psychologists offer an initial phone call prior to booking the first session, it doesn’t hurt to ask if this is an option.
After your first session
Successful counselling requires openness, honesty, and a willingness to be vulnerable, so it’s essential that you feel at ease with your psychologist. After you meet with them ask yourself:
- Do I feel heard?
- Do I feel understood?
- Do I feel hopeful that positive change can occur?
- Do I like them?
Sometimes it’s necessary to meet a couple of times to see if you’re a good match. But if after two or three sessions you’re not connecting, talk to your psychologist about it or move on. Trust your instincts and tune in to how you feel after a session, your mood will reveal a lot.
Please don’t be discouraged if you don’t find your ‘best fit’ psychologist straight away, this isn’t uncommon. If your sessions aren’t benefitting you, give up the psychologist, not the process.
And remember that just like everything else in life, finding the right psychologist is a process… and when you do find your ‘best fit’, you won’t look back.
Kim Cullen is a Clinical Psychologist at Cullen Psychology she specialises in relationships, trauma, anxiety, depression and organisational and workplace psychology.