Frequently Asked Questions on Psychological and Counselling Services
What is the difference between a psychiatrist, a clinical psychologist and a counsellor?
Psychiatrists are trained physicians in the field of mental health. They can also prescribe medication and although they can offer some therapy, much of their focus of treatment with patients are based on medical management. Clinical Psychologists are specially trained in the focus of diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioral, emotional disorders and challenges via a whole range of different psychotherapeutic approaches and interventions. Both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are highly trained to work with individuals with severe mental illness. However, individuals without a mental illness may at times also prefer to seek help from a clinical psychologist as they may prefer a professional with a clinical background. There are many other psychologists that also work in a variety of settings such as educational and forensic psychologists. Counsellors can also take on the role of case managers in various settings. They tend to work more closely with individuals that have fewer serious mental health issues, focusing on more social and emotional factors related to typical work, family, life or daily stresses. Hence their work emphasizes more on wellness rather pathology. However, it is not uncommon for counsellors to also address certain mental health issues.
More information can be found at the ABC News Health and Well-Being Australia & Psychology Matters web pages:
How long does each psychotherapy / counseling session last?
Each individual session is approximately 50 minutes. A single couples’ session is 60 minutes. Family sessions go for 90 minutes. Upon request, both individuals and couples can opt for a 90 minute session or a double session at 120 minutes. Families can also request for additional time.
What should I expect in my first session?
It is very normal to feel a bit uncertain, awkward or a little lost in your first session especially if you have never experienced psychotherapy before; therefore it is always good to be as open and transparent as possible, and ask as many questions as needed. In your first session, it is an ordinary procedure for your practitioner to gain a brief understanding of your background and present situation, the reasons why your came to therapy and what your goals and objectives might be, what your existing symptoms are and what your current priorities are in therapy.
How do my sessions with my psychologist actually work?
After the initial first session, a treatment / management plan is discussed and worked out between you and your practitioner. Throughout the process, do not be afraid to ask questions and be open during the discussion. There are various treatment options and psychotherapeutic approaches that are accessible for your sessions which can be catered to your comfort and needs. Throughout your sessions, it is also beneficial to discuss your development and growth, and revisit your aims and objectives as these can continue to evolve and change as you make progress and improvement. The most essential thing is for you to develop an encouraging, respectful, trustful and confident therapeutic alliance with your practitioner.
How long does treatment take?
The number of sessions vary from each individual as there are different factors to consider. These factors depend on the presenting condition, the pace of therapy at which the individual prefers, time that individuals are able to allocate to therapy, the approach of psychotherapy and the goals that were being set (although goals can change throughout therapy). Although it is possible for individuals to achieve a successful treatment outcome in a single session, other individuals may require weekly to fortnightly sessions and these can range for between weeks to months for sustainable progress.
If I choose to seek any sort of help associated with mental health, does that mean that I have a mental illness?
No, coming forward and seeking help does not mean that any individual is crazy. Psychotherapy is renowned for its problem-solving strategies and sustainable approaches for combating depression, anxiety and other emotional challenges. It can help you to manage and change behavioral and emotional patterns that contribute to problems and symptoms. However, therapy is not confined to life altering or traumatic events alone, and can help with improving general well-being in life. You don’t need to have a severe illness but just by getting some professional help through the difficult situations in life will enable you to become stronger and more resilient. The role of mental health practitioners are not to fix a crazy person but to be an advocate of your motivation to do better.
In other words, anyone can benefit from psychotherapy. By processing your thoughts with a professional enables you to better understand your perceptions of yourself and others. It also assists you in getting psychological feedback on your emotions and thought processes; and how these maybe affecting your daily actions and life.
Is my information private and confidential?
Your information will remain private and confidential, and will not be shared with anyone unless if there is a risk of severe harm to yourself and / or to others. We are bound by an ethical code of conduct to report the case to the relevant authorities for the best protection and safety of yourself and others.