Going to see a psychologist is hard. Picking up the phone to make the appointment is tough, getting yourself to the appointment is even harder, and then actually opening up and talking once you’re there can be a huge challenge. When my clients talk to me about how tough it was for them to make that first appointment, one of the reasons they often cite is that they have been afraid of what I might be thinking about them. Below are some fears and truths about what psychologists really think about their patients.
- They’ll laugh at me because my situation is so embarrassing. For women, remember the first time you went to the gynecologist and you were so nervous, and some older, wiser person told you not to worry because the doctor had seen it all – and worse – before you? Well, the same holds true for psychologists. We’ve heard a lot, probably more than you could ever imagine. Chances are that your story, while embarrassing to you, won’t freak us out. It’s our job to hear all sorts of different things and deal with it in professional, helpful and nonjudgmental ways. It’s one of the key skills we learn over time.
- They’ll blab my problems all over town. One of the best things about psychologists is that, with a few exceptions, what you tell them is confidential. It’s between you and them – no one else. Not even your boyfriend, mom, best friend, spouse can call up and pry the goods out of the tight-lipped psychologist.
- They’ll think I am a terrible person. We all make mistakes, make poor decisions and do things we regret. Most psychologists don’t waste their time judging their clients. They’re too busy listening to what you have to say, thinking of insightful (and hopefully helpful) things to say back and managing the rhythm and pace of the session.
- They’ll think I’m crazy and will have me locked up. This might be one of the most frequent things I hear in my office. And while I have seen many people with many different mental illnesses, I have never diagnosed someone as “crazy,” and I do not have a straightjacket in my closet. The only time I participate in a client being “locked up” is when they are a true danger to themselves or someone else. Not because they have broken up and gotten back together with the same woman seven times, hate their mother, or want to quit their job so they can watch the Twilight Saga movies all day.
The long and short of it is that psychologists are there to listen and help. You should feel confident and safe in their office. And if you don’t, it’s time to talk to them about it, or move on to a different provider.
Photo by: RudeCactus