You may have already considered making an appointment with a psychotherapist, but you may not know what to expect and this may cause you to postpone or to be uncertain about the appointment. In this article, I have tried to answer some questions and to offer some key information about the process of psychotherapy.
What is a psychologist? A psychologist is a person like any other who has studied psychology and attended a rigorous training course where he/she learned some techniques and mechanisms to help people in certain situations. The psychologist is not a special person with certain „magical” powers, but simply a person who invested several years of rigorous studies to treat certain mental health problems.
What does the psychologist do? The psychologist is responsible to listen to the counselee and understand the problems as best as possible. Thus, the first part of counselling consists of an investigation and even data collection so that the psychologist can give to the counselee a clear and rigorous idea of the problems. That is why it is often necessary to apply questionnaires and clinical interviews for an accurate evaluation.
Compared to a psychiatrist, the psychologist spends more with the patient. The psychologist knows that personal life is closely linked to mental problems and the counselee must be open and honest about what is going on in her/his life. Even if the psychologist encourages the patient to talk about their problems, he/she will never press anyone to open before they gain confidence.
In the first session, the aim is usually to create an overview of the problems. The psychologist is usually asking about the person’s history (e.g. family history, whether he/she has undergone psychiatric or psychological treatment before, etc.). The evaluation of the problems can continue for one or two sessions (depending on the case and the severity of the problem). After the evaluation process, the psychologist can give the counselee a clear idea about the problems and together with the counselee, they can establish a list of specific goals for counselling.
How do changes occur? It is important to understand that a process of psychotherapy involves a change in the behavior of the counselee. The counselee is guided by the psychologist in this process and is important to understand that just by going to the psychologist the changes will not be substantial, it is necessary for the counselee to implement certain changes and to perform certain tasks during the counselling sessions in order to gain a significant effect. Several research studies show that psychotherapy is not effective unless the counselee does his homework and implementing changes outside the therapy sessions.
How much can you rely on the therapist in the process of therapy? the therapist is responsible to offer the best techniques and tools, to teach and offer support for the counselee to implement the changes. It is also important for the counselee to trust the psychologist and to understand the psychotherapy plan and the techniques suggested by him for solving problems.
It is normal to feel a little stressed before the first therapy session, but it is important to understand that the psychologist takes this into account and tries to create a more secure framework for the process to be as easy as possible.
Diana Căzănescu – Psychotherapist