Very simply psychology is a science. It is the study of human behaviour: cognition, emotion, our social preferences, and mental wellness and illness. A psychologist will aid in the treatment of mental illness (anxiety, depression, trauma) or stress in order to bring a person back to a level of wellness. The treatment that psychologists use comes from scientific studies, and we use treatments that are found to be efficacious in research. That is, there is significant evidence for the treatment that we use. However, in saying that psychology is a science, I also see it as an art. Whilst psychology is based on rigorous scientific study, methods, the rational and logical, that is simplified. A good psychologist is often creative, expressive, emotive, flexible and warm. They will move you to feel things, to self-reflect and to overcome suppression or avoidance of feelings. A good psychologist will come to know you authentically, and connect with you.
So, if that’s what psychology is…how does therapy ‘look’?
In Australia, you will find that a lot of psychologists are primarily trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Essentially this therapy is all about the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Simplistically, one train of thought can contribute to a low mood or anxiety, so in therapy, we would explore the helpfulness of a thought, as well as how realistic it is, and look at developing more helpful and accurate thoughts. CBT can also include more behavioural strategies such as changing sleeping patterns, and getting exercise (so helpful for depression and anxiety). We can help you understand the barriers that keep you stuck.
Sometimes psychologists will draw upon strategies from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This therapy, as the name suggests, is more about allowing all feelings to be present (as they are part of the human experience), yet not getting ‘bogged down’ in them; there is a big focus on meaning and purpose, and taking action that is guided by your values (what really matters to you).
And then there’s so much more! Ultimately, you want to feel heard and that your psychologist just ‘gets’ you. I hope that clears things up a little, and feel free to contact me with any other questions about psychology, love, life, relationships or more.