(Disclaimer: this is not clinical mental health advice, merely thoughts, hypothesis and experience from Terry Cornick and Carl Nelms of Blokes Psychology - https://blokespsychology.com.au)
Since founding Mr. Perfect, this has been one of the most common comments or questions we / I get. It usually comes in the form of “How do I find a good Psychologist?” and I quickly correct them that good is subjective and in fact, it should be “How do I find the right Psychologist for me?” (and keep them!).
Normally after I tell my story, and the fact that I found someone that works for me now, there can be that expectation that in a sea of professionals, because I found “it”, that it should be easy for everyone (forgetting the fact I should have seen a professional 30 years ago, instead of a couple of years ago).
Bearing in mind despite working in healthcare and seeing a “good” GP originally (I now see a different one that fits me better), the education I had around the process was zero. So there are some gaps that men need to fill in.
The truth is, there is no “TripAdvisor” for Psychologists. There is no step-by-step process that will increase your chances of striking gold. And if we all succeeded on our first try and were “cured” (a myth), then there would be no need for them in society.
The good news is there are some things Carl and I have brainstormed that may increase your chances of success:
The standard referral pathway is through your regular GP (with emphasis on the regular). Therefore there is a good chance that if your GP is worth their salt, they will know who to refer you to first.
Despite technology firmly entrenching itself in the mental health world at an accelerating rate (telehealth / online directories), you may find that a traditional approach of word of mouth works for you.
Ask friends, family, network, whoever you know that you may trust, to see if they know of someone local. You can then take that Psychologist’s name to your GP and ask to be referred. Also keep in mind that you can get a mental health care plan from your GP and take it to any psychologist – it doesn’t have to be addressed to them individually.
There is something to be aware of also, that in some practices a GP may be encouraged to refer in house if they have resources there, or to a local agency where they may have an agreement of sorts in place.
Work At It
It can often be the case that men do not find the right Psychologist for them after three attempts with each one, sometimes six attempts. I have even heard double-figures (please give it more than just one session when you do go). Because once you find one that you click with, it can be an incredible experience – one that can literally change your life.
And if it does not, a Psychologist that is respectful will tell you early on if they feel it is not working for them too, and suggest another.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to pay the gap to see a “private” Psychologist, then it is money well spent. I used to somehow rationalise it was “too expensive” yet I would gladly spend triple the amount of money on a night out to essentially do damage to my mental health at times. See this as an investment in your health and your future, not an expense.
If you are genuinely unable to pay the gap fee, many clinics have a concession rate that they may not advertise, so please ask. There will still be a gap but in most cases, it is much less.
And if that is still out of reach, there are some bulk-billing clinics but also community health centres, that provide free or low-cost counselling. They may have long wait lists however.
Once you find a recommended Psychologist and book in, spend 10-15 minutes planning what you are looking for in a Psychologist, what role you are hoping they can provide you, what you are wanting to change about how you feel or your life and what expectations or goals you have for sessions.
If you are not sure, that is okay too. They can help you establish some goals and direction for the sessions. It is common for guys to attend that first session and not be able to articulate what exactly they are wanting to get out of it, but they know that something needs to change in their life, as it is not currently working for them.
One Size Does Not Fit All
For one individual their sessions may primarily be a space where they can share what has been going on in a certain part of their life and their Psychologist can be a sounding board for new ideas and perspectives and even challenge them on different things.
For other people, sessions may involve working through past traumas, unresolved loss or childhood difficulties.
One of the hundreds of notes on my future ideas list, is to create a directory of sorts for male-friendly, men’s mental health experts that have been “vetted” to some degree (but repeating above, we men need to put the work in too).
Until that day, which is some day off with current life commitments, you need to know your mental health is deserving of a patient, gentle, yet thoughtful approach to finding the right Psychologist for you.
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Cheers John – massive help from Carl Nelms @ Blokes Psychology too!
Great stuff ,clear and simple advice .
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