You are paying for a service and you are entitled to get the full benefit from that service. Your psychologist works for you.
Through my experiences with clients there appears to be a large discrepancy between a psychologists approach to counselling and a client’s expectations to counselling. Many psychologists are trained as facilitators in the sense that they will help you navigate problems in your life in a way that empowers you to problem solve and come up with creative solutions. Furthermore, many psychologists are taught or trained never to give direct advice. However, many clients are not aware of this and are trying counselling to get any sort of advice and/or direction in their life, as they are likely feeling overwhelmed, indecisive and debilitated by their mental health symptoms. For those of you dealing with depression and anxiety you can understand the difficulty that comes with making any decision yet alone those related to lifestyle changes.
It is really important to express to your psychologist what you are looking for from them. I always ask my clients about past experiences with therapy and what has or has not been beneficial for them. The answer is always different as expected, since counselling is such a personal experience. Clients are always going to fall on a spectrum between having a psychologist as a sounding board who does not speak much versus a psychologist who talks a lot by educating, explaining, planning and implementing strategies with their client. In other cases clients may be looking for exercises to do between sessions and that needs to be expressed.
It is also acceptable to manage your psychologist’s expectations of you. At times there is anxiety that comes with follow up sessions if you have not completed homework or made any progress towards your mental health. This can result in not attending sessions, lying about progress, and feelings of shame or guilt. This should not be the case and is detrimental to the therapeutic process. If you feel like you are not making progress or you did not want to do something then go ahead and let your psychologist know. It is their responsibility to find exercises/activities that will motivate you.
Many people are fearful of starting over with a new psychologist and retelling their history. It is worth taking the time to find a psychologist that you can relate to and understands your needs. The benefits of finding a psychologist that fits are exponential and your healing will be that much better.
I think many people don’t recognize that their psychologists work for them. You are the boss and you are the one in charge of your therapeutic process, so go ahead – ask for what you want. If you were paying for a garden service and they were not doing things how you wanted it done, you would either tell them or change service providers. The same is true for your psychologist. Find a psychologist that is going to hear what you are looking for and then deliver on that.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.