Seeing a psychologist
Updated: Jun 10, 2022
Taking the first step to see a psychologist can be a daunting and confronting process. Most people see a psychologist when they’re in pain, and it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive about delving into that. But your suffering is real, and it shouldn’t be supressed or ignored. Sharing your burden with a psychologist can be the start of growing around your pain and moving towards the life you want to live.
The process of therapy is different for everyone. It changes depending on the therapists’ style, the treatment modality, and your unique difficulties and goals. As an integrative psychologist, here’s a look at what the early stages of therapy can look like with me.
The first session is unique and won’t be like any of the other sessions. I’ll take the time to develop a deep understanding of you as a diverse, unique person, and ask you a range of questions about different domains of your life. I’ll ask about your current concerns and symptoms, physical health, upbringing and family, social connections, and your work life. The first session is really a chance for me to get to know you, and for this reason, there are generally no active interventions during the first session. Together, we’ll then develop what we call a formulation – a summary of you. Formulations can be incredibly helpful in understanding why things are the way they are and identifying points at which we can intervene. From here, I’ll provide a few different treatment options and we’ll decide on a plan together.
Going to therapy is a collaborative process, so please ask questions, voice your needs, and take notes during session. I will ask you what you would like to get out of therapy, so it may be helpful to think about this before the first session. With this information in mind, I can tailor a treatment plan to get you where you want to go. I use this treatment plan as a guide for subsequent sessions – it’s not a strict recipe, but a general road map. I approach each session as it is in the moment, focusing on what you bring to the room on that given day. We may spend some time understanding a different problem, learning a new skill, or doing some experiential work (such as imagery or chair work). If you prefer a structured, skills-based approach, or a flexible, relational approach, let me know. I can tailor your sessions accordingly.
At the beginning of treatment, I usually recommend booking at least 3 weekly appointments, after which you can move to fortnightly or even monthly sessions. Building momentum in the early stages is important to give you a sense of achievement, increase motivation, and make sure you have enough support. Later in therapy we may allow some time between sessions, so you can reflect on the content of the previous session and implement changes where appropriate.
After a therapy session you may feel drained. This is completely normal – you may have just spent the last 50-minutes speaking about very difficult, very personal topics. It’s important that you take care of yourself. If you can, take the rest of the day off, spend some time in a park or at a café, with friends or loved ones, whatever feels replenishing and safe.
If there is anything you need to feel more at ease, let me know. I want this process to feel as comfortable as possible. If you’d like to make an appointment, or ask me any questions, please reach out.