Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Trauma, Parenting Issues, Relationship Concerns, and Anger are common issues that people of all ages experience. Many of us are all living frantic lives and trying to fit more and more into our schedules, each day. Even teens and children are living busy lives, going to school and attending sports and/or other activities throughout the week. As our stress increases, we are often in need of a mental health check-up. It is important to stay on top of this particularly if we are facing transitions in a job, relationships, living arrangements, moving to a new location, etc. It is no different than when we would go to a medical doctor once a year for a check-up. Simply put, because of the mind-body connection, we are prone to all kinds of mental and physical problems when we are stressed (such as anxiety, depression, anger, heart disease, migraines/headaches, digestive track issues, lowered immunity, increased proneness to become sick, etc.).
We know that coming to a therapy session can be scary and anxiety-producing for most people, which is why we want to give you some tips about how to select the right psychologist to help you. First off, we cannot emphasize enough how important it is to establish a supportive and trusting relationship with your psychologist. When you work with a psychologist who listens to you with an open mind and encourages and supports you, people often find that they are able to learn and grow. Not all psychologists carry the right qualifications or experience to create optimal results for the particular issue that you may be facing. Here are a few things to consider when selecting a psychologist.
- Ensure that the psychologist has the appropriate knowledge and experience to help you.
Select an experienced psychologist who has been in the profession for at least 3-4 years. The psychologist is likely to have his/her own area of expertise such as specializing in working with depression, addiction, trauma, anger, relationships, eating disorders, anxiety, stress, etc. The psychologist’s level of experience can impact the number of sessions that you have and could impact your attainment of the best treatment outcomes for your particular situation. Psychologists have areas of specialization just like all doctors or lawyers have an area of specialization. So, it is best to pick the professional who has the credentials and specializes in the area appropriate for your care. All psychologists are generalists to some degree, meaning that aside from our areas of specialization, we also have broad knowledge about other psychological and mental issues. This is because people are complex and often face multiple issues at the same time. But overall, ensure that you are selecting a psychologist that specializes in your particular issue(s).
- Know about the therapeutic approach that is best suited for your issue.
It is important that the psychologist gives you the best treatment and therapy plan, but it is also necessary that the psychologist explains the type of treatment model that you will be using in therapy. In today’s world, you can easily obtain accurate information about any treatment. Look for peer-reviewed studies and for empirically validated treatments regarding your particular issue(s). This is because researched approaches will have scientific evidence showing its efficacy and effectiveness for that given issue(s). Read about therapeutic approaches from reputable sources. One such source is to go to HopeWell Psychological website and select the issue that you are experiencing to read about the treatment options available for that particular issue.
- Try to get a “feel” for your psychologist by emailing or calling them.
If possible, see if you can speak to the psychologist that you are considering working with – this can help you become more comfortable with the psychologist and the treatment process, which often aids in therapeutic success and goal attainment. HopeWell Psychological FREE webinars are a way to connect with a psychologist for an hour where you can learn about your issue and ask questions. To sign up for a FREE webinar, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go to the HopeWell Psychological website for a list of upcoming events. You can also email and ask to speak to a psychologist directly by contacting email@example.com.
- Learn about your mental health issue from reputable sources.
It is best to take charge of your mental health and to be informed. Search for reputable websites with referenced sources that you can look up, if needed, to ensure content accuracy. HopeWell Psychological’s website (www.myhopewell.com) offers research-based material that is backed up by reputable sources and peer-reviewed journal articles, systematic reviews, and meta-analysis. Check out the information on www.myhopewell.com for a topic that interests you. We also offer “Ask a Therapist” forum where individuals can ask questions. Alternatively, you can sign up for the HopeWell Psychological newsletter by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We provide various information such as what is new at HopeWell, educational info, tips on managing mental health, etc.
- Inquire about a referral to a Psychologist from known sources.
Ask your friends, relatives, family physician, lawyer, etc about psychologists that they would recommend. It is advisable to ask questions about the therapeutic experience, the clinician’s level of experience and expertise, and about how the person knew that his/her goals were met. Google reviews of services may not necessarily be accurate or assist you to make the best decision for your particular issue.
- If you do not want to ask others about referrals, use Google search.
It’s ok if you do not want to ask others for a referral. A lot of people choose to keep this private. In this case, do not use Google to search for the psychologist based on a location that is closest to your home or work. Although convenient, this may not be the best way to find the psychologist that is experienced and would best suit your needs. Search using terms that relate to your issue and the treatment modality that is shown to be the best approach for the issue at hand.
- Be aware that the price of the service may reflect the quality of the service.
Although the Psychologists Association of Alberta sets recommendations regarding hourly rates, psychologists who are in private practice can set their rate at whatever they want. Oftentimes, the hourly rate for the sessions can vary, based on the level of experience and level of education of the psychologist. Oftentimes, psychologists who have put considerable time and effort to enhance their skills through continuing education typically charge at a higher rate. Greater knowledge and experience typically means that clients may have more effective sessions and thus can have fewer sessions overall than if they were working with a novice psychologist. It is important to note that some psychologists have a sliding scale and offer this to clients who can show that they have economic limitations. This may be on a case by case basis but it may be useful to inquire about this. What is important to note is that sometimes when you see a psychologist who charges a lower fee, you may not know that you may, in fact, be working with a psychologist trainee (Provisional Psychologist) or a master’s level student. Although the service is cheaper, these clinicians are also learning so consider both the pros and cons of this choice.
If you take the time to select your psychologist based on the above advice, you are likely to find a great match and be equipped to embark on the therapeutic experience with less fear and anxiety. You may also save time and money by doing some preliminary research about your issue(s) and the gold standard therapeutic treatment that is best for your particular issue(s). Psychological treatment is easily accessible because clients do not need a referral to see a psychologist. So, take your health into your own hands and don’t wait for things to accumulate before you seek help.