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Consulting with a Psychologist and How to Pick a Good One

At least 30 million Americans are struggling with overwhelming thoughts and emotions, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Problems, from stress to joblessness to divorce and more, can indeed feel crippling. But such are rather common issues people often face, you might say. Is seeing a psychologist really necessary?

Here are signs you should think about getting psychological treatment from a professional:

> You have a strong and prolonged feeling of sadness and helplessness that never gets better despite your or your friends’ and family’s efforts to make you feel better.

> Doing routinary tasks seems almost impossible – for instance, it’s hard for you to concentrate on your job, causing your performance to suffer.

> You have unreasonable fears and are constantly tense or nervous.

> You develop harmful habits, like excessive drinking, substance abuse, etc.

How to Choose a Psychologist

Part of this training is completion of a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or any similar setting, plus a minimum of one year of post-doctoral supervised experience. After passing all these steps, they can start their independent practice in a health care arena of their choice. This very combination of clinical internship and doctoral training is what makes psychologists different from other providers of mental health care.

Psychologists also need a license issued by the state or jurisdiction where they practice.
In most cases, psychologists need to demonstrate consistent competence and take continuing education courses in order to renew their licenses. In addition, members of the American Psychological Association (APA) must adhere to a strict code of ethics.

Asking Questions

It’s easy to assume that if a psychologist is well-credentialed, he or she is automatically good for you. Not necessarily. There’s more you have to know, and to know these things, you need to ask questions. So set up a meeting your prospective psychologist, and don’t hesitate to ask the following:

> How long have you been practicing as a psychologist?

> How much experience do you have with people who have problems similar to mine?

> What do you specialize in?

> What types of treatments do you normally use, and are they proven effective for the type of issues or problems I have?

> What are your fees (these are usually based on 45 to 50-minute sessions)? What are you payment policies? What kinds of insurance will you take?

Personal Chemistry

Finally, make it a point to choose a psychologist you are happy to work with. After everything else checks out – competence, credentials, etc. – it should boil down to the psychologist’s personality and how it jives with yours. It is challenging, if not downright impossible, to work with someone you don’t even like.

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