Getting therapy or mental health support can be very exciting, but can also be quite nerve-wrecking. You can’t wait to finally breakthrough and make some significant progress in your personal and professional life, but you likely have concerns about whether therapy is right for you, or whether your therapist/psychologist would be a good fit.
A good therapist/psychologist will go above and beyond to ensure that you are well-informed about their education, therapeutic approach, their practice philosophy, and they will ask the right questions to get to know you as a person to determine whether you are a good fit. Read to find out the top 3 questions you need to ask your therapist/psychologist at your consultation.
The first step is to do your homework on google and linkedIn before the session. Prior to your consultation, check out their website or social media, and pay close attention to the education details and experience they have on their profile. For example, the quality of a psychologist who’s done a full degree in Harvard, might be very different from someone who’s done a diploma or short course in the same university.
1. Where and who are they registered with?
In the UK, the British Psychological Society (BPS) is the most reputable and well-established governing organisation for psychologist; while the equivalent for psychotherapist is United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP). If your mental health practitioner is registered with these two organisations, they have met stringent industry requirements, which means that they have accredited education, and will be more likely to provide top quality care to their clients. In the US, it is a lot of more complicated as there are various difference between licensures across states, and most of the time licensure aren’t transferrable across states, so for example even if a psychologist is very reputable in Massachusetts, they might not be legally allowed to practice in California at all. For details - refer to American Psychological Association (APA)’s website.
2. What is their professional philosophy?
Professional Philosophy refers to the practitioner’s core beliefs and values concerning their potential role in assisting their clients toward their goals. There are a few of them but here are the most common five:
Psychodynamic approach focuses on early life experience and inner conflicts that affect behaviours, clients’ behaviour is changed by analysing defence mechanism to deal with past conflicts.
Behaviourist approach emphasise that behaviour is a learned response from the environment, so clients’ behaviour is changed by altering the stimulus-response relationship.
Cognitive Approach believes that behaviour is caused by our thoughts and perceptions, therefore clients’ behaviour is changed by altering our thought patterns and beliefs about the world.
Cognitive-Behavioural Approach considers behaviour is caused by the interaction between environment and our thought processes, so behaviour is changed by targeting both the environmental factor and thought process.
Humanistic Approach assumes that behaviour is caused by a drive to self-actualisation, created in an individual’s unique reality; it’s also client-centred approach, where behaviour is changed by non-directive methods focusing on the client-therapist relationship and holistic personal development.
Another thing to be curious about is their therapeutic style - the traditional approach is more practitioner-led, meaning that the therapist/psychologist will lead the sessions, this might be more suitable for people who are looking to improve their quality of life but have no idea what they lack or where to start; the modern approach is more client-centred, where the therapist/psychologist believe that clients know themselves the best, and their role as a practitioner is to assist clients to connect the dots so they can unveil their potential and move forward in life. A great therapist/psychologist should be able to switch between both, depending on client’s individual needs, but it’s definitely a good question to ask to see if they have a preferred approach.
In other words, if your therapist/psychologist couldn’t give you a certain answer on their philosophy a practice approach, it might be a red flag.
3. How Many Clients Do You See In One Day?
You’ll want to ask your therapist/psychologist (in fact, any service provider, including a personal trainer, a coach, a language teacher etc.) how many sessions do they do in a day to get an idea of what your level of care and support will be. Seeing someone who charge at a lower price-point but slams in 10 sessions a day versus seeing someone who only see 5 clients a day to give their clients undivided attention could make a prominent difference in therapeutic result. If you’ve ever hired a personal trainer, you know that being the first client or the last client of a trainer’s day, the energy level, and attention that you receive could be tremendously different.
If you are looking for mindset coaching or performance enhancement, Abigail Siu is a trainee sport and exercise psychologist registered with the British Psychological Society who can help you achieve your full potential and feel like the best version of yourself.
Abigail specialises in a wide range of services, including fitness coaching, dating coaching, mindset coaching, sport psychology coaching for athletes, and performance workshops for corporate. She goes above and beyond to make sure that her clients are well-informed and comfortable throughout every part of their physical and mental health journey.
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