So you’ve decided to make an appointment to see a psychologist – good for you! Maybe you got a referral from your GP because they thought it would be helpful or maybe you saw some marketing through Facebook or some other media and thought you’d give it a go. Whatever the reason, hopefully this is the first step towards making changes in your life for the better.
But some people report seeing a psychologist for the first time can be a bit daunting. So I thought this blog might help if people knew what to expect when they see a psychologist at Broulee Psychology for the first time.
The first step is calling reception to find out about making an appointment. Sometimes there is a wait to see someone. Unfortunately, this happens at times due to demand, particularly in a small town like ours where there are limited services available. While on the waitlist, you may be offered cancellation appointments and if you are flexible, you are likely to get an appointment sooner rather than later.
Once you have an appointment, you will either be emailed some paperwork or asked to attend your appointment 10-15 minutes early to complete the paperwork. This paperwork is similar to what any health professional, including your GP would ask you to fill out. If you are unsure about any of the paperwork or need help with anything, you can bring it in with you to your session. If you have one, you should also bring in your referral from your doctor as you may be able to claim Medicare rebates, if eligible. This is usually explained prior to your appointment with reception or during your appointment with the psychologist.
Your initial appointment with the psychologist is different to other appointments with the psychologist. During this initial appointment, the psychologist will introduce you to the service and make sure you understand some basic housekeeping, such as confidentiality, fees and rebates, cancellation policy, etc. You will be given opportunity to ask questions if you have any.
After this, the psychologist will want to know the reason you have come to get help. From there, psychologists often collect a lot of information about you in order to get a really good picture of what has been going on for you. This will help with making goals for work together and setting treatment plans for ongoing work together.
This appointment is slightly different for child clients. For children, your psychologist will want to speak to parents on their own first. This is because children should not be present when parents are talking about “problems” and young children can be distracting when they are not involved in the session. This provides parents an opportunity to talk freely about what has been happening.
But back to adult clients – Often times clients may get emotional when talking about what has been happening for them. This is very normal and clients should not feel embarrassed if they cry. Therapy is a safe space where clients can express emotions and cry. There are always tissues available!
Clients sometimes report feeling drained and tired after their first therapy sessions. This is because you may have discussed lots of information, much of which is not usually the topic of conversation with friends and family. It is important to be aware that sessions usually get easier and if they do not, this can be discussed with the psychologist. After the first session, it might be nice for clients to have the rest of the day off and do something nice, such as going for a walk, a swim at the beach or walk the dog.
It is important that you are open and honest with the psychologist. If you are concerned about something or feel uncomfortable in any way at any time during a session, it is best to share this information so that together you and the psychologist can make things more comfortable for you.
The session after the first session, often called a subsequent consultation, is often different to the first session. After initial history collection is finished (and sometimes this can take more than one appointment), goals are discussed and treatment planning is complete, it is time to get started in therapy. This usually involved a short catch up at the start of the session then beginning to engage in therapy goals.
It is also important to be aware that therapy is an active process. It is not something that is done to you rather it is done with you. Your psychologist acts as a guide to assist you to implement strategies to make changes in your life. This can sometimes be difficult but you can feel confident in having someone helping you along the way.
If you are ready to make some changes in your life in order to live a more fulfilling and rewarding life then working with a psychologist might be helpful. You can contact Broulee Psychology on 0490 210 034 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.