Everything You Wanted to Know About Psychologists (But Were Too Afraid to Ask)
Any kind of medical practice is analyzed and put under scrutiny by its patients. Psychology is no exception. Psychologists should “confront” any questions that their patients have about them, especially because there are still many taboos and preconceptions about their profession.
We have compiled a series of questions, some that are quite amusing, that are often asked on a daily basis during a consultation. You don’t want to miss these!
Here are the most frequent questions heard in the therapist’s office:
- What do should I call you? Doctor? Mr./Mrs.? By your name? This is a common question on the first visit. People don’t quite know what to call a person they are sitting across from, who is asking them about their infancy, their fears, or their marital problems. The situation may be embarrassing, given that not all psychologists are doctors (because they haven’t completed a doctorate). Normally, using their name is often the most common.
- Is a psychologist the same as a psychoanalyst? Maybe some people feel more comfortable using the terms analyst or therapist, so they don’t feel that they are seen as a “lunatic.” However, there are differences between these professions. A psychologist is licensed in psychology and a psychoanalyst is specialized in a specific area. For example, the most well-known psychoanalyst in history, Sigmund Freud, was not a psychologist, but actually a neurologist.
- Why isn’t there a sofa like in the movies? It is not a “requirement” that psychologists have a sofa for their patients to comfortably lie on, like what is often seen on television shows or in movies. This is a preconception that is cleared up after the first consultation, and many people have even left when they realize there’s no couch!
- Do I have to do what the psychologist tells me to do? In reality, a therapist doesn’t “tell” patients what they need to do, but rather shows them the path towards the solution to their problem, or problems. Maybe they will give advice, but that does not mean the patient should follow it word for word. Everyone has the power to do what they think is best. A therapist is also not a judge, nor policeman, for that matter. It will be okay if the patient does not do what the therapist says.
- Can a psychologist hypnotize me? No, unless you want to be hypnotized, and the professional is prepared and trained to do it. Some psychologists do have hypnosis clinics, but don’t worry, they don’t use a pendulum and make you walk like a chicken, or make you tell all your secrets. In order to be able to be hypnotized, it is necessary to know all the information beforehand to prepare for it correctly.
- Could my therapist trick me? If he or she wanted to, of course they could. But that would not be very productive. It would be the same as cheating on an exam. The person hurt is actually you, not the professor. Going to a consultation with an analyst includes a kind of “honor code” between both parties. It is assumed that the patient is there to resolve one or more problems, and that the job of the profession is to identify those problems and help the patient. Therefore, lying during a consultation only slows down the treatment.
- Why doesn’t the psychologist talk to me about his or her personal life? In some cases, it may be appropriate for psychologists to share certain personal things, but it is not something typical. Everything depends on the strictness of the therapist, especially because their objective is to focus on the patient’s problems, and not on their own. In turn, psychologists often go to therapy themselves, but with other therapists. So, don’t feel bad if you are the only one talking throughout the whole session; that is what you are there to do.
- Can I be friends (or lovers) with my psychologist? This may be a fantasy of some people who go to therapy. However, within the duties and obligations of psychologists, they are not allowed to maintain any type of relationship (commercial, friendship, or romantic) with their patients. This does not mean that they cannot get along well and “connect” or “have good chemistry.” It is simply protecting the patient by forming guidelines to help them in their treatment.
- Finally, do psychologists ever have problems? Of course they do! They are not robots, but rather real flesh and blood people, just like you.
Some people believe that therapists are some type of alien, but they are just humans like all of us. They experience adversity and difficult moments in their lives, too, even if they don’t show it in front of their patients.
What questions do you ask yourself about psychologists and therapy sessions?