Wondering how to talk to your psychologist or mental health professional?
Talking about your problems to a psychologist can be nerve-racking. Before you go to your first appointment, it’s good to think about what you're concerned about and what you want to achieve from therapy.
Preparing for the appointment
1. Think about how you would describe ‘what’s wrong’
- ‘I feel down/stressed/anxious/overwhelmed/lonely’
- I cannot concentrate / my mind is going blank
- I am having trouble sleeping / I lost appetite
- I lost interest in my hobbies (e.g., seeing friends)
- I am missing days of school/work
2. Any events or occurrences that have happened recently
- Losing a loved one, break-ups or relationship issues
3. Reasons why you are seeking help
4. Think about what you want to achieve emotionally but also practically
- For example, I want to reduce the time i spend in bed
Going to the appointment
On the day, try to be yourself and do what makes you feel comfortable. You can dress in comfortable clothes, talk as much or as little as you would like. It's important to remember that there are no right or wrong answers or questions in therapy - this is your safe space to talk about anything you want.
It's also okay to show emotions - cry if you need (therapists have tissues for a reason)! On the other hand, don't worry if you feel a bit closed off, it's not easy to talk to strangers about your feelings and your psychologist will definitely understand that.
During your first session, the psychologist will try to get to know you and ask what has brought you to therapy. Be prepared to answer some questions and explain how you've been feeling. These may include your past history (family, school and relationship experiences), big life changes, your hobbies and interests and discussing your current feelings and symptoms. This could include talking about how long you've been feeling this way and how your feelings are affecting your daily life. The psychologist should also explain some housekeeping rules, such as their availability and how often you will have sessions with them, and also explain what type of therapy they offer.
While it can be important to be honest and open with your psychologist, remember that you are in the driver’s seat. This means you can take the time to check in and see whether they are a good-fit with you. Make sure to discuss goals and therapy options and ask questions! Here are some questions you might want to ask your psychologist or therapist to see if they are a good-fit:
- What is your training and certification?
- Are you registered?
- What are your therapeutic approaches and are they right for my issues?
- What would be your suggested plan for me?
- What are your experiences working with others with similar issues to me?
- Do you offer telehealth as well as in-person therapies?
- What are your policies around cancellation?
- Do you have after-hours availability for crises?
if the first psychologist you reach out to don’t feel quite right - that is totally okay and very normal. Don’t be afraid to keep trying until you find what is best for you.