How to Determine the Best Psychologist for Your Needs

Sometimes, you might think that your problem is more than just a case of the blues. Or maybe you are dealing with a difficult problem in your life and need help overcoming your situation. Whatever your reason for needing professional assistance, you'll need to find a psychologist who meets your needs. As with any professional in your life, you'll want to do some searching around first to find an individual who you feel comfortable working with and who has experience treating your problem. Other factors, such as fees and insurance coverage, are other things you'll want to take into consideration.

When to Contact a Therapist

Research shows that each year, millions of individuals seek professional psychological assistance for issues that they are struggling with. While some of these problems are passing and last only temporarily, there are times when it makes sense to get professional assistance. These are situations when you should consider looking into getting therapy:

  • You feel sad or helpless, and words of advice and support from others don't improve your mood
  • You're having trouble dealing with tasks and assignments at school or work, and your performance is deteriorating as a result
  • You worry more than others, you're constantly on edge, or you always anticipate the worst in a situation
  • Either you or others around you are hurt by your actions, such as substance abuse, verbal aggression, or excessive drinking

Ask for Recommendations

If you're looking for a psychologist, starting with personal recommendations and references is a good way to begin. Your friends, coworkers, or family members might be able to chime in on who they think is the best in Toowoomba based on their own experiences. If you know someone who likes their psychologist, find out what exactly they like about that person and see what area the psychologist specializes in. While it might be easier to visit a therapist near you just for the sake of convenience, it's always better to make sure you end up with a person who's a good fit.

In case you don't know anyone who sees a therapist or who can give a good recommendation, another option is to contact a clinic where there are psychologists on staff. There is usually a director at the clinic who is happy to provide ideas and references for a psychologist. Schools and places of worship may also be able to suggest a psychologist. You can also check out professional associations like the American Psychological Association for a directory listing of psychologists in your area:

Search Online

Another way to find a psychologist in your area is by searching online. This is a quick and easy way to find specialists who have experience practicing in your area. You can also look at customer reviews to see what people had to say about therapists you're interested in. Ideally, a psychologist should not have a salesy attitude and seem to only want to attract as many patients as possible. He or she should have a professional biography on a website that outlines their credentials, the type of work they do, and their philosophy when it comes to working with patients.

Questions to Ask a Psychologist

When you have chosen a therapist or have a list of candidates narrowed down, the next step is asking them a series of questions to determine if they are a good fit. This should include:

  • Are you professionally licensed and certified?
  • How many years have you been in practice?
  • What is your experience in treating (your specific problem)?
  • What are your main areas of expertise? Do you work with families, children, or adolescents?
  • What are your typical treatment methods? Have you found them to be successful?
  • How does your billing policy work?
  • What insurance plans do you accept, if any?

While these questions might seem like an interrogation, they are actually important for helping you collect sufficient detail about the person who you are “interviewing.” After all, remember that you will be spending a lot of time with this individual and sharing confidential information. You'll want to make sure you're talking to someone who understands your concerns and can offer help in a way that works for you. To save the time and hassle of trying to meet with each doctor in person for a consultation, you can always call them with your questions, as suggested by one author at Psychology Today.

Understand His or Her Payment Structure

When you find a practitioner who you think you might benefit from seeing, you'll want to ask about their financial structure before you start. Many insurance companies (but not all) offer some sort of payment for mental health services. Before visiting a psychologist, you should check with your insurance company to see what kind of coverage they offer for mental health services. If you do not have insurance, or if your insurance policy does not cover the services you're looking for, you may choose to pay for the services yourself. If you choose to do so, ask your doctor if he or she uses a sliding scale. This means that the amount of money that you are charged for each visit is determined based on your current income. Some older citizens might also be eligible for government-subsidized coverage. Special insurance coverage plans might also be available for other segments of the population, such as military personnel and government employees.

If you find that your chosen healthcare provider is too expensive to see, or at least continue seeing on a regular basis, you might also consider looking for a local health center in your community that offers mental health services for a lower rate.

Whoever you choose, it's important to make sure that he or she is the right fit for you. A doctor should check the marks on key issues, such as whether or not he or she is someone you feel confident confiding in and has experience in your problem area. You can always call a doctor ahead of time to ask some key questions, including his or her credentials and typical treatment plan. If you need help finding a psychologist, getting personal recommendations or searching the web is a good place to start.