We at The Three Seas Psychology Group rely on evidence-based practice to help people improve their health and well-being. We have three locations that cover broad geographical areas across Melbourne – City (CBD), Inner Eastern (Richmond) and South Eastern (Knox).
Our psychology clinics are not in GP clinics. They are purpose built for client comfort, confidentiality and easy to find. Our client connect team is warm and always ready to help you in the search for the right psychologists for therapy.
How to Find the Right Psychologist?
If you’re like most people searching for counselling services in Melbourne, you’ve probably read countless mental health articles touting the benefits of therapy. Right treatment does have the power to change lives, but not all providers are the same. With dozens of private psychologists to choose from, you deserve to get the very best possible care.
It might be tempting to pick the first person you find or to go with a friend’s recommendation. Psychological care, though, is not cheap. If you choose the wrong person, you could sink hundreds or even thousands of dollars into care that doesn’t work. It can leave you feeling demoralised, perhaps even reducing your willingness to continue your search for someone else. The right therapist can help you choose the ideal treatment plan for your needs. They can draw upon lots of experience with people who have dealt with challenges similar to yours. If you’re ready to begin the hunt for the perfect therapist, look no further than these tips. And remember, all good psychologists welcome feedback and are pleased to answer questions. Questioning them can help you learn a lot about how well you can work with them.
The Right Referral Source Can Help Find A Clinical Therapist
If you’re like many people, you first get a referral from your general practitioner. If you trust your doctor, he/she can be an excellent source for details about mental health services and treatment. You might also consider getting a recommendation from a loved one or friends, but not all recommendations are equal. Before accepting a proposal from a loved one, ask yourself the following questions:
- Does this person have sound mental health? Don’t pick someone who was unable to help them, although he/she went to a therapist before.
- Do this person, and I share values about mental health? If you don’t agree with taking medication, and they do, then person he/she refers you to might not be a good match for you.
- Has what my friend told me about his/her therapist been something I would like to experience? If your friend’s therapist sounds great, then jump in. But if you keep hearing about an ineffectual therapist who makes little progress, try someone else.
Remember, you don’t have to go to the person your GP refers you to, and you can even ask your GP to refer you to a particular provider. If you prefer, you can find the right service or you can speak to them. Your GP can recommend a psychologist who will have an interest in your mental health and help you with a referral.
Psychology Registration boards, search engines, and even online ads can also be good sources of referrals. Just make sure you do plenty of research before you make that all-important first call.
Ask About Credentials and Registration
It’s equally important that your psychologist is registered with a registration board. Unregistered ones may have been disciplined or lost their right to practice. Some may even be fakes, pretending to be professional when they have no formal training at all. Some questions you may want to consider asking about credentials include:
- Are you registered to practice? How long have you been registered to practice?
- Where did you attend school, and when did you graduate?
- Have you ever been disciplined for professional misconduct?
Choose a Highly Experienced Therapist
It doesn’t matter how impressive a therapist is if he/she is not equipped to help you. The field of mental health is a complex one, with hundreds of conditions and dozens of possible treatment options. It’s of paramount importance, then, that you choose someone who has experience dealing with your particular set of challenges. Likewise, it’s best to opt for someone who uses evidence-based treatments. Consider researching your condition to see what the preferred treatment protocols are. For example, eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing therapy (EMDR), exposure therapy and interpersonal therapy can all be highly effective at treating PTSD, so it’s wise to choose a therapist familiar with these approaches.
Some therapeutic approaches have been discredited, and a few, such as primal scream therapy, are downright dangerous. Take a few moments to Google any specific treatment protocols the therapist mentions. It allows you to assess how well you and your therapist will work together, in addition to affording you the opportunity to ensure that the treatment your therapist wants to use is efficient and safe.
Some important questions you need to ask a prospective therapist about his/her experience with your unique set of circumstances include:
- What is your speciality?
- Have you published any books or studies about my condition?
- How many clients with challenges similar to mine have you treated in the past?
- Did you complete any university level coursework specific to my mental health difficulties?
- What is the most efficient way to treat my condition?
- What do you do to stay up-to-date in your field?
- What kind of results do your clients get? How long does it take to get these results?
- For how many years have you seen clients with symptoms similar to mine?
Talk About Values When Doing Therapy
Therapy is an intensely personal undertaking during which you may discuss your innermost thoughts, your political beliefs, your religious ideals, and your goals for your life. Your therapist does not have to share all of your values, but he/she should respect them. And many people find that a clinical therapist with values similar to their own is a better fit. A devout Christian, for example, may thrive under the care of a therapist who specialises in Christian counselling; using such an approach with an atheist, though, would be damaging and potentially unethical.
If any particular values are especially important to you, be sure to mention these upfront. If you identify as a feminist, you might ask how this will affect therapy and whether your therapist is sympathetic to the challenges of dealing with sexism. LGBTQ therapy clients should ensure that their therapist is comfortable treating them, while people with nontraditional lifestyles – swingers, people in polyamorous relationships, people with sexual fetishes, and those with non-traditional jobs, for example – may wish to choose a therapist who specialises in treating people who have a similar lifestyle like yours. Some questions you might want to consider asking include:
- Does religion play a role in treatment?
- What is your political orientation? Are you comfortable with mine?
- Can you treat someone who does not share your values without forcing your values upon them?
- What will you do if we have a disagreement?
Ask Psychologists About Treatment Options
Clinical psychologists work to develop a coherent treatment plan, then regularly amend that plan based on the results they get. Ethical therapy is a collaborative undertaking. You can share your thoughts on the treatment process, object to treatments you’re not comfortable with, and offer input on what is and is not working.
As in every other area of life, accepting criticism is not easy. Listening openly to feedback, though, is a hallmark of a good therapist. To explore your therapist’s treatment orientation, try asking some of these questions:
- What treatment modality or modalities do you use? If you use multiple approaches, such as combining cognitive behavioural therapy and psychodynamic therapy, how do you combine them to be effective?
- Which approach do you think will be best for me?
- How will I know if therapy isn’t working?
- What will you do if I don’t make progress?
- Can I offer feedback on the treatment plan?
- Will we regularly revisit my treatment plan?
- What if I need medication?
You can also look at our couples counselling services for couples or marriage related counselling services.
Continue the Discussion After Therapy Begins
The “interview” is never over. The purpose of therapy, after all, is to help you feel better about yourself and your life, not to inflate the ego of the therapist you’ve chosen. Therapy can be a challenging and even painful process, but it shouldn’t leave you feeling deflated or worthless. Use your feelings about therapy to judge how therapy is going. If you’re eager to talk to your therapist, it’s a good sign. But if you leave therapy each week angry or frustrated, there could be a problem.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t like something. Good psychologists are open-minded and are perfectly adept at changing their approach when the first one they try doesn’t work. As you sit through your first few sessions, consider the following:
- Is your psychologist usually on time?
- Do you feel comfortable in his/her office? Are the staff friendly and helpful?
- Is there sufficient privacy?
- Are billing and financial policies clear and easy to understand?
- Does he/she follow up on his/her promises? For example, if he/her plans to discuss your relationship with your mother, does he/she get around to it?
- Is your therapist adept at refocusing your attention when you get off topic?
- Is he/she a good listener?
Always Trust Your Gut To Choose A Therapist
The great thing about the world of psychology is that you’re not obligated to stick with anyone you don’t like – even if you can’t come up with a clear reason for your discomfort. The very best way to choose a therapist is to trust your gut. You may unconsciously pick up on things that you can’t consciously articulate. If someone makes you uncomfortable, just move on. There’s no need to apologise, nor to stick with therapy that makes you feel bad. No matter how you feel about treatment, keep the following facts in mind:
- A good therapist will never initiate sexual contact with you or engage in a romantic relationship with you.
- He/she should aim to help you, not try to get his/her needs met through you. You should not feel like you have to reassure or soothe the therapist you choose.
- Sessions should be completely confidential. Your therapist cannot even discuss therapy with your family without your permission.
- Billing policies should be clear and upfront. Steer clear of those who are evasive about costs.
- The treatment your therapist uses should be clear and precise. Good therapy isn’t about just sitting and talking about your problems; it’s directive, progressive, and sticks to a plan. It should also, however, be flexible. If your therapist refuses to discuss something you need to talk about, move on.
- Good therapists solicit and accept both positive and negative feedback.
- He/she will offer lifestyle suggestions that can help you feel better.
- Right therapist will refer you to someone else if they’re not equipped to treat you. For example, if your condition is sufficiently severe to warrant medication, the therapist should offer you a referral to a medical doctor while continuing your therapy.
- He/she does not try to force his/her values on you by proselytising to you or initiating political arguments.
- A good therapist will never insult you or attempt to diminish your values.
- Your therapist should gently hold you accountable, question your behaviours and offer alternative thoughts and attitudes.
- The search for a skilled, quality therapist requires a bit of work, but the result can be a rewarding therapy experience, an enriched life, and a deepened sense of perspective. You’re worth it. Take the time to do your research.
What is Psychological Therapy?
Therapists use the bio-psycho-social model to assess and assist people with their problems and improve their emotional well-being. They are trained to talk to people about their challenges and concerns. They are experts at making people feel supported and heard. They also help people to understand better what they are experiencing and how to move forward when they are ready.
Psychologists differ from psychiatrists because they don’t prescribe medication. They use a process that is mostly talking therapy that involves conversations with individuals, couples, families or other groups. Mostly therapists focus on people’s concerns. They help people develop skills and understanding. Typical personal concerns include family relationship difficulties including abusive relationships, grief and loss, trying life circumstances, anxiety and dealing with depression, stress, and health.
Seeing a psychologist is becoming a regular thing for many people trying to work through their problems. Sometimes people require a longer process like psychotherapy.
Therapy with a therapist can include conversations about a person’s past including their childhood and adolescent years. Often it involves memories of others including parents, teachers, peers or friendships.
At The Three Seas Psychology, we also provide psychological services such as assessment and diagnosis, treatment, therapy, conflict and mediation, goal setting, communication skills training, problem-solving skills development and much more.
If you have a concern and would like to speak with a private psychologist in Melbourne, call us today, and our Client Connect Team can answer any questions you might have. You can also Meet our Psychologists via the link to find out more about the right therapist for you.