Choosing the psychologist who is going to offer us his sessions may seem like a simple task in an age when the internet allows us to quickly locate the nearest consultation.
If we live in a small town, we may only need to find out which mental health professionals practice in our area, and if we are in a large urban area we will still have many tools to inform us about all the consultations nearby. However, things get complicated when we introduce the variable “quality” into the equation.
Choosing a good psychologist is not always an easy task, since there are many factors to take into account and some of them depend on the type of concrete service we are looking for .
Tips for choosing a good psychologist
Of course, each case deserves to be studied and it is impossible to give specific clues to select the best of all professionals without knowing the characteristics of the patient and the psychologists available in the area. However, you can follow some general indications that will help you choose a good psychologist.
Here are ten of these keys .
1. Make sure she is a psychologist
The first point in choosing a good psychologist is… make sure he or she is a psychologist . This seems to be a very obvious point, but it is worth considering. In the labour market there are many labels and denominations that make us think that whoever uses them to define himself or herself is a psychologist. However, this is not true: nowadays it is possible to present oneself as a “psychotherapist” or “therapist” without having studied psychology at university. Cases of work intrusion have been reported.
Someone who claims to be a psychotherapist does not have to be a psychologist, although a psychologist can be a psychotherapist. To be sure that the person offering you the sessions has university training in psychology, you can check if they have a college number and official university degree.
2. Check that you have a specialization in what you are looking for
There are many types of psychologists, and not all of them need to be suitable for what you are looking for . To begin with, you should find out if the professional who will be treating you is specifically trained in clinical psychology, as there are also psychologists whose specialization is focused on marketing, laboratory research or human resources. Bear in mind that, depending on the country in which you live, to be a clinical psychologist, a university degree may be enough or you may also have to take at least one post-graduate master’s degree.
Once you have made sure that you are choosing among people qualified in clinical or health psychology, find out which of these are specialized in the problems you want to treat .
3. Find out about the type of psychotherapeutic approach offered
A psychologist can offer psychotherapeutic approaches that at the moment have no solid evidence about their effectiveness, such as past life therapy and other alternative therapies. This is not a reason to rule out their services, but it is worth taking into account that certain practices are not supported by science .
Alternative therapies can be more or less useful depending on each case, since the usefulness or not is determined by the patient through his or her own subjectivity, but a good psychologist will not put one of these practices through ways of intervening with empirically proven effectiveness.
Before choosing a psychologist, you should bear in mind that the form of psychological treatment that has the greatest scientific backing is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy , although there are treatments that have been shown to be effective in tackling specific disorders. That is why the best thing you can do is ask for information about the degree of scientifically proven effectiveness of the treatments offered and, from that point on, decide in one direction or another.
4. Make sure that confidentiality is guaranteed
It never hurts to remember that during sessions the confidentiality of everything you say or do must be guaranteed . As a general rule, your personal data cannot be divulged by any psychology professional or by any company constituted by psychologists. If this confidentiality is violated in any way, that fact may be grounds for complaint.
5. You must sign an informed consent document
Before starting therapy, you should be given a dossier with information about the services available and, specifically, the type of therapy you are opting for . Attached to this type of dossier should be the informed consent document, in which you sign as you are aware of what will be done during the sessions.
6. Do you offer evaluation and diagnosis?
At the beginning of the visits, a psychologist should explore the patient’s problem through an evaluation stage that should not go beyond the first 4 or 5 sessions . This will allow him/her to establish a diagnosis of your problems, and this diagnosis should be explained to you in plain words, so that you understand it.
If you notice that the person giving you therapy is prolonging the evaluation phase indefinitely, mixing this phase with the treatment phase, or you notice that their explanation of the diagnosis is deliberately confusing and esoteric, consider stopping the sessions.
7. Is your proposal for intervention clear?
Choosing a good psychologist is also opting for a professional who knows how to communicate well with his patients and who does not hold back information about his plan to intervene through therapy . That is why he should be able to clearly explain to you the number of sessions planned and what will happen during those sessions.
Similarly, you must also be able to offer clear answers to all the questions about therapy that you may have.
8. The psychologist should not judge you
Psychology professionals should never judge their patients, since their role is oriented towards offering solutions and directing efforts towards clear objectives . They are not concerned with being guardians of morality. It is imperative that a psychologist knows how to promote a good rapport, that is, an atmosphere of trust that allows you to express yourself without being tied down.
In part, this is what makes it possible for patients to behave honestly during sessions.
9. How does the therapeutic relationship work?
Clinical psychologists work to help find solutions, not to offer friendship to their patients or to become romantically involved with them . Establishing personal relationships with patients is against the psychologists’ code of ethics.
If you notice that the person offering you treatment is behaving like a friend or lets you know that they are looking for continuity in your relationship during the hours when they are not attending you as a professional, you should leave the therapy immediately.
10. Do you find it useful to go to his office?
Ultimately, you should be the person who evaluates the usefulness of going to the psychologist . So, psychologists cannot pressure you to continue with the treatments, nor should they tell you that you don’t realize how useful your services are.
The progress you may be making is of no use if in the final stages of therapy you are not the person who notices it.
With these keys in mind, you should already be able to make an informed decision when choosing a good psychologist.Keep in mind, however, that the list you have just read could be endless and that there are infinite issues to consider when choosing one professional or another, so it is worthwhile for you to be the judge of what you are looking for and to what extent you can be offered it.
If you have any questions about the role of the psychologist and the therapist-patient relationship, just leave your question in the comments (below the post) and we will be happy to answer you.