How to choose a psychologist to work with?

by | Feb 3, 2020

On the Sunshine Coast we are spoilt for choice with some amazing psychologists. As a clinician, I think it is awesome that we live in an area where we have access to good mental health care. So how do choose who is the right person for you?

I guess the first thing to note is that you will often be provided a referral to a psychologist in your local area by your general practitioner. Many GPs already have existing relationships with therapists on the Sunshine Coast, and whilst this is useful the recommended person may or may not be the right fit for your clinical presentation and your personality. Your GP will be referring you to this person likely because they have had other patients who have seen them or they’ve had positive experiences or heard good things about them. If you’re happy to, you can go with the recommendation from your GP.

If you receive a referral for a psychologist go check out their website, facebook page or Instagram. Many allied health businesses are now keeping up to date with websites and social media, and will often have videos or information about the different psychologists within the practice. Take a look to see if you can get a feel for that person based on the content.

If for whatever reason your GP refers you and you aren’t quite sure this is the right person for you or you find another psychologist on the Sunshine Coast who you think will be a better fit, chat with your GP about this. If you’re being referred under a mental health care plan, eating disorder treatment plan or chronic conditions management plan then you are able to choose who you wish to see even if the referrals made out to another person. We’d highly encourage you to chat with your GP about this, but just know that all you need is a copy of the current referral or plan.

If you’re wanting to locate your own psychologist rather than relying on your GP you could also do the following things:

  • If you know that a family member or friend sees a psychologist they can recommend, ask who they see and if there are other clinicians within the clinic that might have availability (a side note to this is that psychologists often won’t see close friends or members of the same family to ensure there isn’t any ‘bias’ in therapy).
  • Do a google search and go beyond the first page! Take a look at the wording on the websites and look for the things that resonate with you. Lots of psychologists will talk about different therapies but if you don’t have a therapy in mind, don’t worry, that’s your psychologist’s job to guide you with.
  • Do the same with social media. See if you can find any posts or videos that might make your decision easier.
  • Call and speak with the receptionist and ask all the questions you need to. They are often the best people to tell you who they think is a good fit once you give them a little bit of information about your needs and what you’re looking for. The first phone call is often the hardest, so if you get chatting with a warm and friendly receptionist it may help to make that first visit a little bit easier.

The last thing I’d like to say is something I say to all of my clients at the first session, finding a psychologist is often like finding a good hairdresser. You may be lucky enough to find one that is perfect straight off the bat, but if you don’t then keep shopping around. Your mental health, much like your hair is going to need looking after so don’t let one or two sessions put you off. Try again until you find someone you feel that ‘fit’ or ‘click’ with. In the field of eating disorders, we sometimes have to be careful with this because eating disorders LOVE to sabotage recovery, but if deep down you know it isn’t going to work for you then try a different psychologist. The research tells us that the therapeutic relationship is THE MOST important thing in therapy so it has to feel right.

All the best in your search and your journey.

Natasha Jivan
Principal Psychologist