|Choosing a Psychologist|
How to Choose a Psychologist
(Source: The American Psychological Association)
At some time in our lives, each of us may feel overwhelmed and may need help dealing with our problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 30 million Americans need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control — problems with a marriage or relationship, a family situation or dealing with losing a job, the death of a loved one, depression, stress, burnout or substance abuse. Those losses and stresses of daily living can at times be significantly debilitating. Sometimes we need outside help from a trained, licensed professional in order to work through these problems. Through therapy, psychologists help millions of Americans of all ages live healthier, more productive lives.
Consider therapy if...
What is a psychologist and what is psychotherapy?
Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in the areas of human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change. Psychologists work with patients to change their feelings and attitudes and help them develop healthier, more effective patterns of behavior.
Psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people change their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between an individual and a psychologist. It provides a supportive environment to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings. Psychologists consider maintaining your confidentiality extremely important and will answer your questions regarding those rare circumstances when confidential information must be shared.
How do I find a psychologist?
To find a psychologist, ask your physician or another health professional. Consult a local university or college department of psychology. Ask family and friends. Contact your area community mental health center. Inquire at your church or synagogue. Or, use the WSPA Find a Psychologist referral service.
What to consider when making the choice
Psychologists and clients work together. The right match is important. Most psychologists agree that an important factor in determining whether or not to work with a particular psychologist, once that psychologist's credentials and competence are established, is your level of personal comfort with that psychologist. A good rapport with your psychologist is critical. Choose one with whom you feel comfortable and at ease.
Questions to ask
Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you
been practicing psychology? I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed,
etc.) and I'm having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping,
etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?
What are your areas of expertise — for example, working with children and
families? What kinds of treatments do you use, and have they been proven
effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue? What are your fees?
(Fees are usually based on a 45-minute to 50-minute session.) Do you have a
sliding-scale fee policy? What types of insurance do you accept? Will you
accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company? Are you
affiliated with any managed care organizations? Do you accept Medicare or