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How to pick a psychologist

by Amanda Collins

So you’ve decided that you want to get help. Congratulations, that’s a huge step and one that you will never regret!

But now you’re probably thinking ‘Okay, that’s great, but how do I actually find help?’

Good question! And one we’ll help you solve here.

find a psychologist that suits you

Different styles, different people

Psychologists are not all the same. They have different approaches to treatment, different styles and different specialities.

You shouldn’t just pick the first one that pops up in your Google search, you need to pick one that’s right for you.

Choosing the right psychologist will make the world of difference to your experience, you will get so much more out of your sessions and ultimately, you will get a better mental health result.

Starting the search

The first step is to narrow down what it actually is that you are seeking therapy for? Is it depression? Anxiety? Social phobia? Relationship problems? Self-confidence issues? Stress? Anger? Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Or something else?

Getting clear on why you want help will help you to find a therapist that specialises in that area. For instance, some psychologists spend their careers working with anxiety, whilst others may focus on relationship issues.

Knowing the methods

Each therapist will use a type of therapy to help you overcome your struggles. It’s important that you feel their style would suit you, so in addition to picking a therapist that specialises in your area of concern, you need to find one that works with a method of therapy that best suits you.

Below you’ll find a brief description of the most common therapy methods.

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This therapy looks at how you think and how this affects the way you behave. It teaches you to challenge and change the way you think and act.
  • Interpersonal Therapy. Focuses on improving relationships and communication skills to help people gain control of their moods and relate to other people better.
  • Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Helps people to accept what is out of their control and work towards actions that will improve their lives.
  • Mindful Cognitive Therapy. This is a combination of CBT and mindfulness, and is designed to help you live in the moment, not stuck in the past or worrying about the future.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy. Deals with the unconscious mind, the reasons that you act and think the way you do, and how to change.
  • Family and couples therapy. This deals with families and couples and looks at the way people interact and relate, and how to find better ways to coexist.

There are many more approaches that aren’t covered here, so if none of these appeal to you, have a Google for therapy methods and read up on what’s out there.

find a psychologist now

Friends and family

Now that you know what you are seeking help for and what type of therapy you are interested in doing, you can start to search for a psychologist that fits.

Ask your family and friends who have been in therapy who they would recommend, or get them to ask their therapist for recommendations for you.

Australian Psychological Society

The Australian Psychological Society has a fantastic service where you can either call them (1800 333 497) or go to their website to find a psychologist that suits your requirements.

What’s great about this search service is that you can search by issue (depression, anxiety, etc.), as well as location and opening hours.

You will get a number of recommendations, then you can search the APS website for the psychologist profiles which will tell you what methods they use and what their specialties are.

An added bonus of this service is that all the psychologists registered with the APS have to abide by a code of ethics and meet the yearly professional development requirements.

Now you’ve got some names

By now you should have the names and contact details of a few psychologists, so it’s time to call or email them.

When you contact them, ask them the following questions:

  • What are your fees?
  • Do you do rebates for Medicare Care Plans?
  • What are your office hours?
  • What therapy methods do you use?
  • What is your specialty?
  • What is your experience?
  • What can I expect from therapy?

Make an appointment with the psychologist that you feel most comfortable talking to. If you can’t decide, make a few appointments and after you have met with each of them, decide who you feel will help you the most.

Your local GP

When considering therapy, a visit to your GP is vital.

At your GP appointment, tell them why you are seeking therapy, ask about the possibility of getting a Medicare Care Plan (for reduced rates), and if you have a recommendation from a friend or family member, or have picked a therapist through the APS, ask for a referral to that specific psychologist.

If you don’t have anyone in mind, ask your GP for a referral to a psychologist that fits what you want treatment for and the therapy method that you want to try.

Your first steps

Taking active steps to get help for your mental health concerns is an amazing achievement. You should be proud of yourself. Therapy isn’t always going to be easy. You will be challenged and you will have to work, but with an empathetic, understanding psychologist on your side, and a willingness on your part to do the work, you will feel the difference.

This is the beginning of a whole new healthy chapter in your life!

Want to get more mental health skills?

A Diploma of Counselling trains you to recognise mental health problems in others, and equips you with skills to help them work through their issues.

13 Responses

  1. You are leading to the path of making a difference to yourself, so when searching for a psychologist, enough time to do the task is important and some factors to follow to meet your requirements in other aspects of contemplation as well.

  2. That’s a great tip you gave about asking friends or family for their recommendations for a therapist if they’ve seen one. I’ve heard, too, that looking the therapist up on Google and reading the 3-star reviews can be very beneficial because of the lack of bias. I’ll have to keep these great tips in mind as I do my best to choose a great psychologist to help me overcome some challenges.

  3. A friend of mine was telling me that he wants some help with a few problems, and I was curious about how you would choose the right psychologist for him. I really like that you say to find out how much experience they have dealing in this field. It would be nice to know that they have helped a lot of people in the past.

  4. Kyle Winters says:

    I’m glad that you take some time in the article to go over the different types of therapy in the article. After all, it is important to know what you need before you go and start looking for a psychologist. It just makes the process so much easier since you’ll already know what to expect from the psychologist.

  5. John Mahoney says:

    Thank you for talking about the importance of making sure you know what you suffer from before you start the search for a psychologist. I can see that taking the time to do this can help you narrow down your lists and make sure you get the help you actually need. It is important to remember that consulting with your insurance and with the BBB can help you find someone that is qualified to treat you.

  6. Marcus Coons says:

    Thank you so much for talking about how assessing your situation can help you find a therapist that works in that area. It makes sense that taking the time to evaluate yourself can not only help you decide the type of help you need but also find out how to help yourself.As I see it, taking the time to consult with the BBB can help you get a list of possible therapists in your area that can work with your insurance and whom you can compare before choosing one.

  7. Yep, you are right, Psychologists are not all the same. Nice blog post. The post is very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jenna Hunter says:

    I thought your advice on what kind of therapist you want and what you want therapy for was very good. Knowing what kind of therapy you want and not just choosing the first one that appears on Google is important for getting the help that you need. Another piece of advice might be to check with the Better Business Bureau to help pick the best option for you.

  9. Gary Puntman says:

    I agree that you should first determine why you want to get a therapist. This will help you narrow down your options a lot. It can help you find therapists who specialize in certain issues, like you said. I’ll have to do that when I help my sister find a therapist for her depression.

  10. Madina says:

    Excellent blog. Thanks for sharing great info with us!

  11. Sarah Smith says:

    It seems like my husband has been distancing himself from me for the past 6 months, to the point where it is now hard to talk with him. I would really like to find a relationship therapist who can help us with couples therapy. Your advice to talk to friends and family who have been through couples therapy to see if they have recommendations is really helpful.

  12. Absolutely right. You do not have to pick the first result on Google. Choose the psychologist who can understand your problem in a better way. Great blog, I must say.

  13. My nephew deals with a lot of anxiety and my sister wants to find a good psychologist that he can start seeing. I appreciate you saying that it is a good idea to ask friends and family who have experience with therapy for recommendations of a good psychologist. I will have my sister talk to the people she trusts and get referrals to a great professional for her son.

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