As a young man I went to see a psychologist to deal with insecurities coming out of a genetic skin condition I was born with; latterly, I saw a counsellor as part of my doctoral training. The experience of therapy – of having to talk about myself in ways that were utterly foreign and incredibly uncomfortable, – taught me how hard psychotherapy can be. This lesson has stayed with me, and is why in my own work, I know that my primary responsibility is to make people comfortable; the rest flows from this.
What is therapy?
The psychologists responsibility is to try and help the other to see their way through a problem or difficult feelings, or understand relational discord in their lives. This may simply be by giving a space to talk and emote; it may be by helping see alternative perspectives; it may be by the use of mental exercises to strengthen or change certain aspects of thinking.
How is this different to a good friend? 4 things: confidentiality, anonymity, knowledge and motivation.
- Confidentiality: everything you say to me is confidential, I don’t sit within your friendship group, or other relationships, so cannot “spread rumors” or pass information on.
- Anonymity: because you will know very little about me, there should be less of the social pressure we all feel to edit or censor ourselves in front of others; this often dependent on what we know about them.
- Knowledge: most people don’t have training in a variety of psychological models.
- Motivation: all humans have motivation – agenda – and like it or not, some of that will have a focus other than you; psychology sessions are all about you. An important adjunct to this, is the fact that psychology is not motivated by judgement. The psychologist is an advocate of their clients’ truth, not someone seeking to judge their clients.
How does it work?
The process looks like this: we begin with an assessment – approximately 90 minutes of questions that help us understand exactly why you’ve decided to come to therapy. After this, we continue weekly with 50 minute sessions until there is room for coping or a resolution.
Each of these weekly session is a guided and focused conversation where one party (client/patient/human) talks to another (psychologist/human). The psychologist will ask questions that are designed to generate understanding of what is happening in the others mind to make them feel the need for therapy. This understanding will then allow the psychologist to suggest exercises, or perspectives, that might begin to unpack and understand what is going on.
Where will I see a psychologist?
Face to face in a therapy room, or via Zoom or Skype in your own home.
Why see a psychologist?
Why a psychologist, why not counsellor, or life coach? Simply put: the rigour of the training. Psychologists train in at least three different treatment models, they must have applied these models in a variety of settings, and be tested on both: application and knowledge.
A psychological treatment model is theory, put into practice; it’s a method of helping people change. The problem is that some theories and their methods suit one person better than another; help one person more than another. Thus, the more models a person knows, the more techniques they can apply, the more likely they are to get results.
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