Frequently Asked Questions
How long is each session?
With the exception of the first session, all sessions will run for 50 minutes. The first session will be 1 hour 10 minutes long, to allow for extra time for introductions, questions, and going through the therapy agreement form.
What can I expect at the first session?
Therapy begins with the assessment and intake process, which may take place over more than 1 session. The aims of the first session are three-fold:
Introduction to therapy- this involves explaining how therapy works, and answering any questions you may have about therapy or your psychologist (where appropriate), and agreeing on therapy goals
Understanding your presenting issues and you as a person- this typically involves asking you questions about the problems you are seeking help for, and a bit more about your background and history
Rapport building- it takes time to get comfortable with someone new and trust them with issues and feelings close to your heart. Hence, another aim of the first session is to ease you into therapy by providing a safe space where you can feel heard and validated.
It is also important to note that you may not get all the answers you seek in the first session. Often times, people looking for a quick “cure” or answers to big questions will be disappointed after the first session. Sometimes, you may also leave feeling like you have not shared your entire “life story” or given a full picture of the extent of your problems. This is normal, given the constraints of time and the number of things to get through. Don’t worry about this and don’t quit on the process; often times, we need to get through a few sessions for your psychologist to get a better understanding of you and the patterns in your life, before you might begin to experience some breakthroughs.
How can I prepare for my first session?
It may help for you to prepare a list of things you might want to say or cover in the first session. This list might include:
Your reason(s) for seeking therapy – what are your main struggles?
What you hope to get out of your sessions – how do you hope therapy can help you?
Any questions you would like to ask your psychologist
Any other things you feel is pertinent for your psychologist to know in the first session
What happens at subsequent sessions?
This would depend on the issues you are seeking help for and your therapy goals. Typically, sessions begin with a quick check-in on how you were between sessions- this is also usually where people might bring up an issue that happened between sessions that bothered them and that they wanted to discuss. If you were given homework in your previous session, your psychologist might also review your homework. You and your psychologist will then agree on the focus of the session. Regardless of the focus of the session, where possible, your psychologist will try to link it to the overarching goal that you are working on, the issue you have been discussing, or the skill you have been learning, in order to ensure continuity between sessions.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor, whereas a psychologist is not. While both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists have received training in understanding and diagnosing mental, emotional, and behavioural disorders, they differ in their main mode of treatment.
Psychiatrists treat mental health problems by using pharmacological methods (i.e., prescribing medications), whereas psychologists cannot prescribe medications. Instead, psychologists work closely with clients in psychotherapy (or talk therapy in laymen’s terms) to identify and work through issues contributing to their problems, develop a better understanding of unhealthy patterns in their lives, and develop healthier ways to cope with emotions and problems.
Do I need to see a psychiatrist before I see a psychologist?
At Still Waters Psychology, it is not a requirement or prerequisite to see a psychiatrist before you see your psychologist. However, if during your first session or at any point during the course of your therapy your psychologist will let you know if she deems it advisable or necessary for you to be reviewed by a psychiatrist.
How many sessions will I need?
This varies according to individuals and the nature and severity of issues that they present with. Most people who present with difficulties adjusting to a recent event but have coped well previously may find that their issues have been adequately addressed after 5-10 sessions. Others who have struggled with more longstanding problems and whose issues originate from a difficult childhood may find that they need longer-term therapy. Your psychologist will check in with you from time to time on how you feel you are progressing in therapy. It is also important that you communicate your needs to your psychologist if help ensure therapy is moving in the direction of your goals.
How frequent will sessions be?
This is something that you will discuss with your psychologist at your first session. It is advisable to have sessions at least weekly or fortnightly to ensure continuity between sessions. Regular attendance to your psychotherapy sessions is also essential in ensuring your progress. That said, this frequency may be extended to monthly booster sessions towards the tail end of therapy, prior to discharge or termination.
Can my family member or friend come with me?
Psychotherapy sessions at Still Waters Psychology are typically conducted individually. If a family member wishes to find out more about therapy or provide some input into your history or problems, they may do so at the first or second session after your psychologist speaks to you first. Do inform your psychologist beforehand so that they can allocate time during the session for this. Your psychologist will not speak to anyone about you without your prior permission (except in cases where confidentiality has to be breached due to safety or legal issues).
Will sessions be recorded? What happens to my information?
Sessions will not be recorded. In the event that any recording needs to take place, your permission will be sought and you have the right to decline. Nevertheless, your psychologist will make notes during and after every session, to help them keep track of the sessions and document their impression and assessment of your issues. These notes will be deidentified and stored securely. Your information will not be disclosed without your permission (except in cases where confidentiality has to be breached due to safety or legal issues).
Have further questions? Contact me for more information.