Today psychology has become so diversified that it can be difficult to choose between these kinds of professionals. However, if we have the possibility to know if a psychologist is good or not , this choice will be easier and much more beneficial for us.
Now… what criteria should we use to assess the quality of a psychologist?
Criteria for knowing if a psychologist is good
If you are thinking of going to a psychologist or if you are already in therapy and want to know if you have made the right choice with the professional, you will be interested in knowing these 6 aspects to take into account:
1. Training criteria
We start from an obvious minimum: the psychologist must have a degree (current degree) in Psychology . There are some professionals who promote themselves as therapists, counselors, etc., who do not have to have a degree in psychology.
In addition, additional training is very important. The degree in psychology offers a few subjects dedicated to the clinical field, but the rest are related to other specialties, so it is desirable for the therapist to have postgraduate training specialized in the clinical field (master’s or expert type) , which includes practice in which the theoretical knowledge can be applied.
2. Legal criteria
The practice of our profession has a compulsory membership requirement (which may be visible on the professional’s website, on his invoice or in any other advertising). In this case, it is only a legal matter that involves paying a fee to the corresponding association without this implying any further experience or professionalism.
Having the title of clinical psychologist or general psychologist is also important . In Spain, the only legal formula for dealing with patients is either to have passed the PIR system (a competition that includes several years of clinical practice in rotation) that accredits you as a clinical psychologist, or to obtain the title of general health psychologist, which is currently obtained through a master’s degree.
As an exception, professionals who already practiced before the regulations have been able to prove that they had professional experience, postgraduate training and professional activity in an approved centre.
3. Years of experience
Years of experience in the profession bring a plus to the therapist. Although this criterion is not always a guarantee of quality, it is true that the greater the experience, the higher the level of competence. As a reference, for any skill it is considered that excellence is achieved after 10 years of practice in a subject.
- You may be interested in: “Psychologists: what they do and how they help people”
4. Opinions and references
The vast majority of psychologists are registered in search engines such as Google Maps, where patients can put their opinions about us, which can be a guide to how we do our work. And of course, the direct testimony of another patient who has been through his or her psychotherapy, is tremendously valuable information, although there are always exceptions because of individual differences and what works for one person may not work for another.
5. Internet search
If you search on the internet for a psychologist and Google “psychologists” followed by your city, what you should take into account are not those results that appear on the green sign. This advantageous positioning (the first ones to appear) is the product of an economic investment in Google , but it does not speak of the relevance of its content.
Although the operation of internet search robots is tremendously complex, what makes a page appear (the psychologist’s website, his blog, or his publications) if it is not paid in advance, is among other things, that many people visit it, and that can be a quality orientation .
Take some time to compare several professionals by visiting the information you find about them: their professional background, the type of therapy they do, how long they have been practicing, and whether it suits your needs. For example, if you have an anxiety problem, a sexologist may not be the most appropriate for your case, even though he or she may meet the other requirements (experience, master’s degree, good opinions, etc.)
The criteria to be considered in the therapy itself
Other aspects to consider that are part of the psychotherapy sessions themselves are the following:
That the questions you ask have a therapeutic purpose
Therapy is far from being a colloquial conversation with a friend , and therefore a therapist should not ask a question out of mere curiosity, but because it is necessary to clarify some aspect of the person.
Questions about your profession, the why of a decision, questions from the people around you, give clues about the internal and relational dynamics that underlie your life. However, there are other unnecessary questions (for example, if you go to spinning class and tell it as a hobby, having the therapist ask you which gym you go to, it doesn’t make any therapeutic sense).
The therapist talks about himself
To make a patient understand a problem or a solution, it is not necessary for the therapist to set an example. The protagonist should never be the therapist, but the patient .
It is true that there are some useful revelations, (such as: when you talk about this subject, I feel your aggressiveness or your sadness) because they are a way to make the patient understand their emotions and what they can generate in others. But this revelation should not become an outlet for the professional.
For example, in a case of couples’ therapy the professional reveals that he also has conflicts with his wife, or in an anxiety treatment that is used as an example of when he suffered it and tells you his story.
A therapist should not tell you what to do but help you to find out which option is best for you. Counseling is a reflection of what one believes is best for another. The therapist cannot know what is best for you according to him, but must discover with you what is best for you according to you.
Therapist uses external information and brings it into session
Let’s say that your therapist happens to know someone in your environment and knows something about you that you haven’t told him or her. Under no circumstances is he or she allowed to reveal that information and share it with you.
When a patient consents to be tested in therapy, that relationship is only allowed within the walls of the practice . Outside of that, the therapist is no longer your therapist and does not have “permission” to analyze you. No matter how much you are in another context (in a class, or in the supermarket), he cannot practice as such or use the information he perceives from the street in therapy.
Although over time the therapist-patient relationship may become closer or there may be more trust between the two, the rule of neutrality must always be respected. The only way for therapy to work is for the patient to have a therapist, not a friend. So being out of the practice crosses the line from cordiality to companionship that distorts the professional relationship.