How to choose the psychologist?

The last appointment with my psychiatrist was a month and a half ago. Which means it was a month and a half ago that I was given the phone numbers of two potential clinical psychologists. Whether I’ve made any progress from potential to current psychologist? Well… Does Googling their names count?

It would be somewhat easier if my psychiatrist just gave me the number of one psychologist and said, “Here, this is the person I want you to see.” Basically what she did last time. But no. This time she gave me two numbers. How on earth am I supposed to choose? By which name sounds better? By where they’re located? As mentioned, I’ve attempted to Google both. One has a website; the services she provides, her specializations, even a mugshot of herself. From the description she provides, I’m unsure as to whether she’d be the right person to me. Glancing at her photo, well…I’d prefer someone a little closer to my age. On the other hand, the other potential clinical psychologist does not provide a website. So do I take a chance?

I’ve thought about giving each of them a call, having a quick chat and deciding from there. The dilemma with this method is, how do I go about doing so? What do I ask of them? I imagine the conclusion of that conversation would be a little bit awkward, “Thanks, so I’ll err…call you back if you’re the uh…better person….”

Then there’s the matter of picking up my phone, punching in the numbers and physically making the call. One aspect of my social anxiety is a fear of telephone conversations. Just thinking about picking up the phone and calling; my heart beats faster, my throat constricts, and it gets a little harder to breathe. And that’s not even at the dialling stage yet, that’s just thinking about dialling.

I’ve put this off now for a month and a half, I probably shouldn’t delay any longer. Especially given my next appointment with my psychiatrist is less than two weeks away, I need to tell Dr T who I’m seeing so that she can send off the referral to enable me to receive Medicare rebates for clinical psychology sessions.

Someone want to save me the trouble, choose a psychologist, and make an appointment for me?

11 thoughts on “How to choose the psychologist?

    • Sorry! I got distracted and all click happy before I’d finished what I was trying to say.

      I hear what you’re saying about having issues with phones. I’m not keen on those pesky telephonic communication devices either. The thing is, you recognise that you want help. Please may I kindly and gently prod you into getting the ball rolling?

      Have you thought about writing yourself a script to read from? Try rehearsing it before you pick up the phone. Have one for if you have to speak to a voicemail and another if you have to speak to a human being.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with meeting or contacting your two people and saying that you’ll be in touch. Please walk away or slam the phone down if anyone tries to pressure you into making further appointments. Tell them that you need time to reflect and/or consult with your pet goldfish before making any decisions.

      Have you thought about the kinds of questions you’re going to ask the psychologists? A favourite question is mine is to ascertain their thoughts on diagnosis. Gold stars get awarded to anyone who says they’d rather work with the person rather than the label.

      You can do this; there’s a whole host of people rooting for you 🙂

  1. Pick one out a hat? Do a piking rhyme like at school? Seriously though it probably would be better to meet both of them face to face, at least then you’ll have an idea which you can face spending time with.

  2. I’ve never faced this problem since I’ve always been referred to a specific psychologist, or there was just one psychologist available in the team I was referred to, or something. However, I second what the others have said: call and make an appointment to see both in person once, unless one of them totally pisses you off at the phone call already. I want to wish you good luck.

  3. You’ve had good advice here – I agree that there’s nothing wrong with seeing both and then making a decision. I would actually see them, but writing down what you want to say is a very good idea before any important conversation. It’s easy to forget things or get sidetracked, otherwise, with anxiety, depression or really any MH issue. Good luck.

  4. I agree with the above suggestions about trying both. You can be honest and say you received two referrals from Dr. X and would like to meet with both before making a decision. At the end of each session, you can simply say “I’ll be in touch.”

    I know from experience that the longer you stew about it, the harder it is. Put both phone numbers in front of you and just dial without thinking. “Hi. I’ve been referred by Dr. X and would like to schedule an appointment.”

    Good luck!

  5. I can relate to the fear of phone calls. I hate them! I so much prefer text messaging, gchatting, or emailing.

    Addressing what you would say if you were to interview both– you can always schedule an appointment and then cancel later if you’ve decided you like the other psychologist better. And canceling can be done by leaving a message on a machine.

    Good luck!

    Wishing you well,

  6. I agree with everything LittleFeet suggests. When I was doing this, I called the person and simply asked for an assessment appointment. Then had the assessment appointment, where he assessed me and I assessed him, told him I’d take some time to decide and left. When I made up my mind I called him/his secretary to make a further appointment.

    Face to face is good.

  7. As a Counselor, the first session I do (which is the intake), I make sure to let them know they are free to ask me any questions or share any concerns with me-I want to make sure they are open and comfortable, and this is a good fit for them. If a counselor refuses to do a session where you can interview them, this might be concerning. However, you shouldn’t feel bad for going and asking questions.
    Maybe some potential questions:
    -give them a quick rundown of your current struggles, and ask what they do in situations like this
    -Ask them what sort of theory they come from, and how they view the counseling process
    -Explain how you work in therapy, and see if they are ok with that

    Questions like that…make sure you write them down so you don’t forget! Good luck with finding one that works for you!

  8. So you are a seeing a psychologist? Well, I am not sure why psychologists even exist. I am with a psychoanalyst and that is exactly what I need. I had psychologists before and all they care about is look at your behaviour [not feelings] and give you a label. Then you go to the psychiatrist and get the suitable meds] Waste of time of you ask me and def not something that will work in the long term. It would be much better if you went to a ‘proper’ therapist. A psychodynamic/psychoanalytic therapist.

    The questions that were important to me and any therapist worth their salt would answer are:

    How long have you been a therapist for?
    Have you experience in treating people with ____?
    Have you been in personal therapy and for how long? This is a very important question which my therapist did not mind answering. I didnt ask her WHY she was in therapy but for how long, the longer the better!
    How many holidays a year do you take?
    How do you deal with contact between session?

    Remember: You are the employer. So shop around. You are in charge.

    • Its great to hear that your psychoanalyst suits you so well and is very helpful, but to suggest that psychoanalysts are the only “proper” therapists is misleading! I am sorry you have had bad experiences with psychologists, because here in Australia a thorough assessment of thoughts and feelings and physical concerns and broader social environment are needed in addition to just behaviour.

      BtF is choosing between two clinical psychologists, which are a different qualification to psychologists. Clinical psychologists in Australia are more highly trained than psychologists, and can work from a range of perspectives (including psychoanalytic techniques) depending on client needs and preferences, and their own personal preferences. Which is why, if you have the option, speaking to several clinical psychologists to see who is a better fit is such great advice (everyone is spot on here!). In Australia, clinical psychs are the top trained therapists for dealing with more serious psychological issues, but counselling psychologists, counsellors, psychologists, and psychoanalysts are also helpful.

      Psychoanalysts work from a particular perspective and often involve therapy over many many years, which may not suit a lot of people’s issues, situation or style. The Australian Psychoanalytic Society ( even says you need to see whether you are the right fit for this approach: “whatever the problem a thorough evaluation is required to determine if psychoanalysis is properly indicated”. Psychoanalysts in Australia can also be “medical practitioners, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers or other health professionals who have have had intensive clinical experience” and psychoanalytic training. They may not have the same training or experience to deal with certain issues (like self harm). Psychoanalysts engage in the therapy most often shown in movies (which is a stereotype of course!), and Freud is one of many behind this approach. I am not saying any of this to invalidate Unmothered Child’s experiences, only to explain the difference to others who read this. Unmothered Child has given a fantastic compliment and voice of support (see her webpage for her experiences) to a therapeutic approach many may benefit from who aren’t aware of it.

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