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You’ve finally decided to take the first steps in taking control of your life and mental wellness – congratulations! For some, the decision to seek professional help in the form of a psychologist is an easy one. However, for others, it’s a decision that takes time and that may cause nervousness and apprehension.

First of all, understand that it’s completely normal to feel that way – especially if you’ve never seen a psychologist before. It’s a big (but positive) step to take and the thought of sharing your deepest emotions and struggles with someone and becoming vulnerable can be incredibly daunting. Try not to be put off your nerves – putting your emotional growth and balance first is a really positive thing, and your clinician will quickly help you realise that.

Why see a psychologist, anyway?

While we can look to a family member, friend, or partner for support in our mental health journey, there are some distinct benefits that only come from seeing a psychologist.

Experience – while of course your friends and family want the best for you, their knowledge only extends so far, and their advice is usually somewhat limited to opinion. Psychologists are experts in their fields, toting thorough understandings of evidence-based therapies that they can help you put into practice to better achieve your goals. This also means that they are trained to deal with a wide range of mental health issues – from depression and anxiety to eating disorders, bullying, and relationship troubles.

The ability to remain impartial – because of their personal and close relationship with you, it can be very difficult for friends and family to be objective about your situation. Even if they have the best of intentions, they’re emotionally invested too, after all! A psychologist can provide a third party perspective and may help you consider points of view you were previously blind to.

It’s their job – meaning you are not burdening them in any way by confiding in them. While they have a great deal of care for their clients, speaking to a psychologist is a very different experience from speaking to someone who is close to you. Their sole purpose in your life is to support and educate you with the knowledge to create change to your mental health and wellness and hold your hand through the process.

What happens at my first appointment?

Whether you’re visiting Mind Matters or another clinic, generally the purpose of the first appointment is simply to better understand what you’re struggling with. You can think of it as a “get to know you” session, where your clinician will gently prompt you with questions. The end goal of this session is to set up some objectives and intentions and put a plan in place to achieve mental stability and wellness. You will leave feeling empowered and you and your psychologist will have a shared understanding of the changes you’d like to make.

While it’s essential to have a really thorough session to start off, it can be a lot! It’s important that, following your session, you don’t rush back into your daily tasks to give yourself time to absorb and process. Go for a walk, have a cup of tea, or simply have some alone time if you need. It’s also likely that your family and/or loved ones will want to know how you went, but try to remember that it’s OK to let them know that you need some time to process. The safe space your psychologist creates in the therapy room is allowed to continue once you leave!

If you are thinking of seeing a psychologist and aren’t sure if it’s the right step for you, chat to your GP or reach out to us, and remember, no issue is too big or too small.

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