There are lots of psychologists out there, each with his own style. The most important thing when choosing to see someone is to feel comfortable with him. Specifically:
- Is this psychologist competent in the areas that I need him to be (e.g., adult ADHD, school difficulties, sex therapy, etc.)?
- Does this psychologist’s style work for me?
- Do the logistical matters work out well (e.g., office location, ease of scheduling, etc.)?
- Does this psychologist seem to really care about his clients?
Some people may be hesitant to see a psychologist. They may feel that their life is pretty good, so there is no reason for them to be feeling badly, that they just need to snap out of it or try harder to do well. Unfortunately, sometimes we aren’t fully aware of what it is that’s getting in the way of our happiness. Without this knowledge, it can be difficult or impossible to do anything about it. It may be that speaking with a psychologist can help clarify what is interfering with enjoying the good things in life or reaching your goals. Once those obstacles have been identified, we have more power to do something about them.
Other people may have a good idea of what it is that’s making them unhappy or interfering with their progress, but don’t know how to change it. Or they may be pessimistic about the likelihood of success, since things haven’t gotten better before. Sometimes it’s a matter of gaining a new perspective and seeing solutions that were less obvious before. Sometimes it’s a matter of accepting the unchangeable and seeking happiness in other ways. In either case, a psychologist can be helpful in this process.
Finally, some people still hold onto the view that seeing a psychologist is a sign of weakness. If only they were stronger or worked harder, things would be better. Telling someone else that they are having difficulties then feels like admitting that they aren’t smart enough or disciplined enough to figure it out on their own and do what needs to be done. Not only does this leave them to suffer longer than necessary, it also doesn’t fit the rest of their lives. In these complex times, we all depend on other people–we rely on tech support to solve our computer problems; we count on our physicians to make the right diagnosis when we’re sick; and we expect our mechanics to keep our cars running smoothly. Could we do some of these things on our own? Probably. But are we supposed to put the rest of our lives on hold while we tinker around and try to figure it all out? Is it worth it?
There are many reasons why people seek the assistance of a psychologist. Each individual needs to decide if this is something that will add value to his or her life. This is a very personal decision and ultimately each individual must decide on his or her own. Speaking with friends or family who have seen a therapist may be helpful in getting some basic information about what it is like and how it can be beneficial, but keep in mind that your experience may be different. Therapy is like anything else–the more you put in, the more you get out.
Therapy and Medication
As a psychologist, my first preference is to help people overcome their difficulties by talking them out, by trying new solutions to old problems. However, there are times when medication can provide a boost and better enable some people to do what they need to do. If this is something that we feel would be beneficial in your case, I am more than happy to refer you to one of the physicians who I trust and respect. By working together, the three of us can dramatically improve the odds of your success.
I’m also more than happy to collaborate with others who you may be working with, from clinicians to school personnel. I’m more than happy to benefit from others’ wisdom if it helps us better understand your situation or get the job done quicker. I don’t need to figure everything out myself the hard way, if we can find a short cut instead.