What is a Clinical Psychologist?
Clinical Psychologists have at least six years university training (including a postgraduate Master) in conditions such as depression, anxiety and trauma. They learn to work across the lifespan, and use treatments that are found to be effective in clinical research, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. They have completed a research thesis and extensive practical experience. You are eligible for a higher Medicare rebate under your mental health care plan when you see a Clinical Psychologist.
What happens in the first session?
I like to see the first session as a ‘structured chat’. You will be guided by questions, so I really get a sense of who you are and what concerns you are facing. I am always sure to tell you a bit of a plan at the end of the session, so you know how we will get you to where you want to be. We will develop a rapport and I aim to make you feel ok with the whole idea of therapy.
Is couples therapy for me?
I’d say couples therapy is for everyone, even if things are ok. I’d rather assist you now, before you get stuck anymore, or before conflict causes you more hurt. I work with lots of warmth, humour, and empathy; I will also jump in there as needed to keep you on track and deescalate conflict. Couples therapy does take time and work; 12-20 sessions for less complex things, and sometimes longer (e.g. if clients have backgrounds of trauma and mental health issues). I’ll give you feedback as we go.
What is Emotionally-Focused Therapy for couples?
Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) is a highly effective form of Couples Therapy. It is grounded in attachment and bonding science, and empathy. In the early stages of therapy, the therapist will get a picture of your cycle of conflict, and help you understand what triggers it. I will talk about the ‘dance’ that you do and catching it in action.
In terms of helping you both feel more connected and safe with each other, I try and help you understand what’s going on beneath the conflict and anger (hurt, sadness, and fear). When we see our partner’s vulnerabilities, we are more likely to want to support and soothe, and get close.
Do all psychologists do relationship counselling?
No, they don’t. If you are going to engage in Relationship Therapy or counselling there are a few things to consider. Of primary importance is how you feel in the room with the therapist. Did both parties feel heard and validated, and feel supported by the therapist? Therapeutic rapport is a significant predictor of therapy outcomes.
Then consider the psychologist’s training. Few psychologists get training in family and couples therapy in their study (that’s why I felt I needed to go out and get more). Mostly, psychologists learn to work with an individual, and without specific training can lack an understanding (in my opinion) about the dynamics of couples’ relationships, and how one person impacts the other in a cyclical way. This is a fundamental underpinning of effective couples therapy.
Look for a psychologist who has training in systemic (family) therapy, and uses evidence-based practice, such as Emotionally Focused Therapy, Gottman Therapy, and Imago Therapy.
Still have questions?
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