Thinking of seeing a psychologist?


Tim Carey, one of Flinders‘ own has a good article over at the Conversation  on how to find a psychologist and what types of therapy might fit best for you.

Tim’s article opens with the common premise for seeing a psychologist, which is for the treatment of mental ill health. This is probably the most common context in which I hear about people seeking help from a psychologist – to help them manage anxiety or depression.

The best pathway to see a psychologist in Australia for mental ill health problems is via a Mental Health Care Plan from your General Practitioner. The Australian Psychological Society has a comprehensive Q&A on this process – Seeing a psychologist via this avenue is the cheaper option as Medicare pays some of the cost of appointments.

For Flinders students, this might involve making an appointment with one of our GP’s and asking them about a Mental Health Care Plan.

Tim makes a number of good points in his article that are worth emphasising:

  1. Find a psychologist that you ‘click’ with. Inconvenience aside, it is OK if you don’t gel with the first person that you see. You are entrusting this person with some of your more private experiences, thoughts and feelings so it is valid for you to want someone you trust. Don’t mistake this however for therapy feeling ‘easy’. The reality is that therapy is often uncomfortable, but what you want is someone you trust to sit with you and help you through that discomfort.
  2. There are different models of therapy, some of which will resonate with you, some which won’t. This relates to point 1 above. When you see a psychologist you are well within your rights to ask what approach they use and why they think it will help. In this regard, the research doesn’t tend to support one approach above another. Instead it is about finding an approach that resonates with you.
  3. Face-to-face psychological therapies aren’t the only pathway to good mental health. There are medications (e.g. anti-depressants), lifestyle interventions (e.g. exercise, diet), social interventions (e.g. peer social networks), and self-help (e.g. online therapy). Whilst it is frustrating to hit a dead-end in terms of treatment, keep searching.

I think it is also worth considering seeing a psychologist for purposes other than mental ill health. For example, I see a psychologist as part of ongoing efforts for self-improvement.

There are a couple of reasons why psychologists can play a powerful role in your life, outside of mental ill health

  1. Psychologists are fundamentally experts in human behaviour – why we think, feel and act the way we do. This expertise doesn’t just need to apply to mental ill health. It can apply to performance, work, relationships, physical health and finding meaning and purpose.
  2. Some problems are very difficult to solve in our own heads, without bouncing them off another person. When we are struggling, we tend to get caught in thinking traps and go around in mental circles. It can take input from an outside source to break through these traps. This doesn’t need to be a psychologist – it could be a trusted friend, family member, colleague. But psychologists are a good choice because of their knowledge of common thinking traps.

Keep in mind though, that you might not be able claim Medicare or private health insurance for psychologist appointments related to other issues.

Want to learn more about the field of Psychology? –

PS – I am totally biased on this topic cause I am a psychologist 🙂

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External health and mental health services Mental Health Recommended Reading Treatment Options

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