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Article

Finding the right psychologist is kind of like dating

Sabina Read
14 Apr. 2020

Sometimes it can feel like we’re the only one who’s grappling with this thing called life. We convince ourselves that no-one else lies awake at night wondering how we got it so wrong when others seem to effortlessly get it so right. As a psychologist, I have had the privilege of hearing thousands of stories from people just like you and I, which has confirmed to me that regardless of age, gender, socio-economic status, profession, education, or even smoking hot good looks, no-one has all the answers, and we all feel rudderless sometimes.

Talking to a third-party professional can help us glean new insights, garner support, gain a fresh perspective, learn new strategies, and ultimately help move us towards desired change. Even when we are blessed with a full and supportive social network, a professional perspective can shed new light.

Whether you’re seeking help for the very universal struggles and challenges associated with relationships, parenting, career, mental health, separation, infidelity, family estrangement, job loss or change, or general feelings of stuck-ness, take heed that there’s a good match out there for you.

But just like dating, there may be some false starts before finding a therapist that feels like a good fit.

A 2014 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 54 per cent of people with mental illness do not access any treatment; and couples wait an average of 6 unhappy years before seeking relationship help.a 2014 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 54 per cent of people with mental illness do not access any treatment; and couples wait an average of 6 unhappy years before seeking relationship help. Sabina Read

Let’s start with the easy stuff. It’s important to minimise barriers to therapy so when the going gets tough the tough can keep going. Location, fee structure including Medicare or private health rebates, and availability/after-hours options are all worth considering. In 2016/2017, more than 2.4 million Aussies used a Mental Health Care Plan to subsidise at least some of their therapy sessions.

However, a 2014 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that 54 per cent of people with mental illness do not access any treatment; and couples wait an average of 6 unhappy years before seeking relationship help.

Not all psychologists are trained in the same areas of expertise or therapeutic modalities so it’s necessary to ensure not only do they hold appropriate registration and qualifications, but also that they have current knowledge in the issues you are seeking help for.

Your GP and the Australian Psychological Society’s Find a Psychologist service are both excellent places to start your search.

Don’t hesitate to contact therapists of interest and request a quick phone call before attending your first appointment.

This is a useful step for both parties to address any concerns or questions, ensuring increased odds of a good match being made. Clients can help refine the process by clarifying what they hope the outcome of therapy will be. In addition to discussing the issue at hand, I often ask new clients “what would different look like” and with regards to seeking therapy, “why now?”
Once you’ve found a potential professional that feels like a good partnership, don’t expect rainbows and unicorns, or even someone who agrees with everything you’re saying. Therapy can be uncomfortable and challenging at times, but should always feel respectful, non-judgmental, supportive, and collaborative.

Sabina Read is a Melbourne psychologist who works with organisations, groups, individuals, couples and families on relationships, well-being, stress, mental health, career development, leadership, change, life transitions, job loss, and parenting. She is passionate about normalising the universality of the human experience, believing that we all have more in common than we often realise.

Sabina is also available for virtual programs via webinar & live stream. To engage Sabina for your next event get in touch.

This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 23 August, 2019.

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