Finding the right therapist is a familiar challenge for many people living with mental illness.
It’s a process that’s often compared to dating. For some it’s straightforward, while for others it can be a struggle to find someone they trust with their deepest thoughts.
To help you on the journey SANE's Facebook community offered their tips for finding the right therapist, psychologist, or counsellor.
Start with your GP
Start by having a solid, reliable GP who knows you and your history. Preferably with knowledge of psychology. This medical advice makes it easier to find a therapist or to access appropriate treatment.
Ensure you have a solid base
It gets back to the initial assessment. If it’s not thorough and conducted by a skilled clinician then the treatment plan may go awry. Many GP's are good at this, and the designated beyondblue GP's seem to have good feedback. Book your initial GP consultation as a long session.
Give it time
The first few sessions are uncomfortable as the psychologist needs to get background information and it can feel like an interview.
But once that’s done you should feel more comfortable as it shifts to conversation.
Therapy isn't always going to be a comfortable journey. You will question and challenge your way of thinking and feeling. That can be confronting. But, a good therapist will support you through that process.
You can be too impatient with therapy. Therapy takes time, and results are hard to see at the beginning. It's like building a house, brick-by-brick.
It can get tough
It’s a helpful, but difficult journey.
It should be a challenge, otherwise complacency sets in.
Real therapy is painful, churning, angering at times, and hard work. But it works.
Psychologists go through six years of study including placements, research and testing before they’re registered. They must have two year’s supervision to become a clinical psychologist. Are there some bad ones? Yes. But trust the process. It’s rigorous.
Both client and psychologist should own the strategy
Client and psychologist should refine the strategy together. You don't want to be sitting there waiting for someone to tell you what to do. That's their plan, not your own!
Research ... Research ... Research
Ask your GP, health professionals, friends, or others living with your symptoms for recommendations. Alternatively, use online services such as the Australian Psychological Society's Find a Psychologist.
Once you've built a shortlist search for reviews of these professionals on Google. You'll see reviews from other clients and a short bio about the kind of therapy offered and the professional's experience. Try to find a therapist who has experience with your symptoms.
It's a lot of hard work and just like any job or education you must be prepared to put in the effort to achieve a positive outcome.
Trust your gut
Stick with it through the first few sessions, as they can be difficult. But never be afraid to change if your gut says they're not right for you.
Laughter is the best medicine
Humour helps. I do love a therapist or psych with a good sense of humour!
What’s your experience of finding a psychologist, therapist, counsellor or psychiatrist? You can add your advice in the Facebook post.
For support and information contact the SANE Help Centre on 1800 18 7263.