By Stacey Lamble (Administrative Assistant, lakeside Psychology)
When you think of what it might be like to see a psychologist, what comes to mind? Does it involve a big expensive office, with a comfortable lounge to lie on? That’s what all the movies would have you believe. But how accurate are these ideas and what can you really expect from a psychology practice? There are many negative stereotypes associated with seeing a psychologist that are far from the reality. Here are some of the many misconceptions people have (but don’t worry, we do have the comfortable lounge).
Misconception 1: Seeking help is weak
Unfortunately, it is still all too common, particularly with men, to think that seeking psychological support is only for the weak-minded. This couldn’t be more untrue. In fact here at Lakeside Psychology we are very fortunate to have a relatively high percentage of males attending (39%). Far from being weak, seeking help, whether it be from a friend, family member or psychologist, shows great strength and courage. All of the team at Lakeside Psychology is very aware of how difficult it can be to attend a psychologist and we work hard to make the process of reaching out for help as easy as possible.
Misconception 2: Psychologists are too expensive and only for the rich and famous.
All clinics have different set prices, and some are bulk-billed, but seeing a psychologist won’t cost you thousands. At Lakeside Psychology aim to make our services as accessible as possible but also to provide high quality service. Most people attend with a Mental Health Plan (MHP) which can be obtained from your GP. Getting a MHP means that you can receive a Medicare rebate for 10 session each calendrer year, so this significantly reduces the cost of seeing a psychologist.
There are also many other funding programs which you may be entitled to such as EACH, NDIS, VoCAT, TAC or WorkCover which can also cover the majority, if not all, of the fees. Lakeside Psychology’s administration staff are very knowledgeable about all these programs and can discuss these with you at any time. We also offer private appointments where you can use your private health insurance to receive a rebate on your sessions.
When you’re looking at seeing psychologist, it’s important to ask some important questions before making a decision, such as fees, psychologist availability, specialities and treatment approach to make sure the psychologist is a good fit for you. At Lakeside Psychology, we make sure all of these details are explained to you, as well as whether you may be eligible to other funding programs. Our psychologists also like to phone new clients before their first appointment, and this gives you a great opportunity to get a “feel” for the psychologist and ask any questions.
Misconception three: Only “crazy people” see psychologists
Psychological support can be beneficial to almost everybody for a large variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons for why people attend our clinic is to deal with stress – that’s right – stress! Nothing abnormal or “crazy” about that. Most people attend just to learn practical things like stress management, time management, and problem solving. Seeing a psychologist is not exclusive to individuals with severe mental health problems, but is for everyone from the simple stress problems, to the severe psychological difficulties.
Some common reasons people seek psychological support include:
- Adjusting to major life changes
- Anxiety, fear or worry
- Depression or low mood
- Working on self-esteem, body image or eating
- Behavioural problems, poor concentration or hyperactivity
- Insomnia or sleeping problems
- Stress management
- Communication skills
- Conflict resolution
- Learning difficulties and educational assessments
- Problems related to alcohol use, drug use, gambling or other addictive behaviours
- Processing anger
- Improving relationships
- Obsessional thinking or behaviours
- Suicidal thinking or thoughts about hurting others
Misconception four: Psychology is all about talking about feelings.
Psychological therapy involves talking about all sorts of things, including emotions. While we understand that talking about feelings makes some people uncomfortable, there are ways that you can still find relief without having to talk only about feelings. Our psychologists use a wide range of methods, techniques and strategies, and it is not just about talking about your feelings or childhood.
All of our psychologists have a thorough understanding of the broad expanse of mental health issues. This allows them to identify the best treatment model for each client’s individual needs. Some examples of techniques and strategies include: psychoeducation (learning about any problems, and conditions), setting goals, problem solving, relaxation skills training, communication skills training, identifying and changing unhelpful thinking, learning about values, and scheduling enjoyable activities. Most clients will find that treatment involves a lot more than just talking about feelings.
Our team of psychologists will help you understand your mental health condition, symptom management and practical advice/ support, all the while using safe, effective and evidence-based treatments.
Psychologists can’t prescribe medication. Medication can only be prescribed by a GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician in the case of children. However, our psychologist have done training in psychopharmacology meaning that they have knowledge about medications for different conditions, how they work, what possible side-effects to expect.
Misconception Five: I’ve tried before it doesn’t work for me, they’re all the same
Unfortunately some people do have disappointing experiences with psychologists. Sometimes this is simply due to the client not connecting with the psychologist; you may feel the particular psychologist just isn’t the right fit for you – this is normal and completely ok.
As all people are different, so too are psychologists and naturally certain styles and personalities will suit certain people more so than others. Each of our psychologists at Lakeside Psychology are unique in personalities, interests, methods, treating age ranges, and qualifications. If the fit with one psychologist does not work, we are happy to discuss with you a transfer to a more suited psychologist.
We encourage anyone who may have had a previous negative experience with a psychologist to try again and don’t be discouraged from getting treatment.
If you have any concerns or questions please speak with our friendly administrative staff, we would be happy to discuss which psychologist that best fits you and ensure you receive the support you need.
At Lakeside Psychology we take the view of our clients very seriously. In fact, most clients will have their psychologist ask at the end of each session to rate how they think the session went: Did you feel heard/understood? Did we talk about relevant things? Did we use the right method/style? This is called Feedback-Informed Treatment or FIT, and we use this approach because is gives the client the best chance of optimal outcomes.
So as you can see, the reality of a psychology clinic can sometimes be very different to our misconceptions. With a better understanding of what happens in the clinic, and who tends to get help and how, we hope that many more people can feel comfortable to take the courage to seek help.