Q&A: Going to a Psychologist
While therapy is a methodology that has been developed for decades in many countries, there are still taboos linked to it. Many people have questions before their first appointment with a psychologist. Here are some of the most common questions and doubts people have before going to therapy.
Why go to a psychologist?
Therapy isn’t just for crazy people?
There still seems to be this collective idea that those who go to see a psychologist have mental problems. While mental illness is one of the branches of this science, it isn’t the only one.
Doing therapy can help you resolve problems from your childhood, with your partner, your parents, or yourself … and you do not have to be crazy to do it. Anyone who wants to improve their lives can attend therapy.
Leave aside your preconceptions and don’t worry about what your loved ones will think when you tell them you’re seeing a therapist.
Does the psychologist have to know everything about me?
You’re not obligated to say anything you do not wish to share, but remember that this is a professional who wants to help. It is not the police, the FBI, the CIA or a priest. They will not use the information against you.
In therapy, you can tell the therapist whatever you feel like sharing. The therapist has no extrasensory power that allows him to know what your problems are just by looking at you nor does he have a crystal ball to determine the future. The psychologist will use the techniques he’s learned to understand your reality, based on what you say. That’s why its not good for you to lie; it’s counterproductive for you, not for him.
Can I fool the psychologist?
Just as mentioned before, it’s not worth hiding things or lying to your therapist.
The doctor-patient relationship must always be based on honesty from both sides, so if you spend your therapy session deceiving your therapist, you won’t be able to improve anything. What’s the point of therapy if you go into it prepared to lie?
What if I feel funny talking about something?
This is understandable because you’re a human being with different emotions and feelings. No need to delve into too much detail, describe the smallest aspect of a situation or talk about intimate matters.
Shame or embarrassment will fade as the sessions go on and you build trust with your therapist. You will hopefully unlock a way to express all kinds of feelings, such as pain, fear, sadness, joy, elation, anger, etc.
For how long will I need therapy?
Remember when you read a few lines ago that psychologists don’t have a crystal ball? Well, that also applies to the number of sessions it will take to treat a patient.
Some patients decide for themselves when to stop going, or sometimes the therapist might discharge a patient. There is no exact formula for determining the amount of time you go to the psychologist. There are people who attend sessions for a few months, two years and there are those who go for life.
Everything will depend on several factors, including your goals for going to therapy. Remember that the therapist is not a magician, nor does he perform miracles.
Don’t think that in two sessions all of the problems you’ve been carrying since birth or issues from your 20 years of marriage will be solved. Everything takes time.
What type of therapy do I choose?
Another aspect that determines the number of sessions of psychological treatment is the type of therapy chosen or offered by the professional.
Some options are psychoanalytic therapy (working on the patient’s past and unconscious mental processes), behavioral therapy (based behavior and learning habits), cognitive behavioral therapy (discusses the present and emphasizes how to change), strategic brief therapy (when you work on a specific issue) and humanistic therapy (working with someone’s feelings in order for that person to get to know themselves).
Hopefully these tips shed a little light on what it’s like to see a psychologist.