Consulting with a Psychologist and How to Pick a Good One
At least 30 million Americans are struggling with overwhelming thoughts and emotions, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Problems, from stress to joblessness to divorce and more, can indeed feel crippling. But these are common issues human beings face, you may say. Do you actually have to consult with a psychologist?
Here are signs you should think about getting psychological treatment from a professional:
> You have a strong and prolonged feeling of sadness and helplessness that never gets better despite your or your friends’ and family’s efforts to make you feel better.
> Day to day tasks seem to difficult to handle – for example, you can barely concentrate on work and your job performance inevitably suffers.
> You have unreasonable fears and are constantly tense or nervous.
> You develop harmful habits, like excessive drinking, substance abuse, etc.
Choosing a Psychologist
Part of this training is completion of a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or any similar setting, plus a minimum of one year of post-doctoral supervised experience. After passing all these steps, they can start their independent practice in a health care arena of their choice. This mix of doctoral training and clinical internship is exactly what makes psychologists unique from other mental health carers.
Psychologists also need a license issued by the state or jurisdiction where they practice.
In most states, license renewals are possible for psychologists who constantly demonstrate competence and take up continuing education. American Psychological Association (APA) members additionally must follow a strict code of ethics.
It’s easy to think that any well-credentialed psychologist is good for you. Not always. You have to know a lot more, and to do that, you have to ask questions. So set up a meeting your prospective psychologist, and don’t hesitate to ask the following:
> How old is your practice?
> How much experience do you have with people who have problems similar to mine?
> What do you specialize in?
> What treatments do you usually use, and is there proof that they work on the type of issue or problem I’m dealing with?
> What are your fees (these are usually based on 45 to 50-minute sessions)? What are you payment policies? What insurance types do you work with?
Finally, make it a point to choose a psychologist you are happy to work with. Once everything has checked out – credentials, competence, and the rest – it can only come down to the psychologist’s personality and how it matches your own. It’s hard, if not impossible, to have a productive relationship with someone you don’t even like having around.