In writing this article, I aim to give you a map or guide to what a psychologist can do for you if you attend therapy. To be objective, I have to situate myself on this map and state that I am a counselling psychologist, just one of the many professions that make up the helping profession. I love the expression; the world of therapy is a coat of many colours (1). Each profession will bring its training, colour or taint, if you like, to how they can benefit you should you start therapy. Ultimately, we aim to help you feel better than when you started!
How this article will help you.
I think most people think meeting with a psychologist is for mental health conditions, and we do help people with complex and enduring conditions, but we also help people, maybe like you, that need to understand themselves more or find out what holds them back in important areas of their life. This article is to help you decide is working with a psychologist is something that might benefit you.
What is psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, emotions, and behaviours. Psychologists like myself seek to understand how people think, feel, and behave. We use evidence-based practices to assess, diagnose, and then help the person recover by choosing a model of therapy that is effective in treating the person’s particular diagnosis.
What are the benefits of seeing a psychologist?
- Helping to reduce anxiety by recognizing the signs of stress and managing it.
- Recognizing the symptoms of depression and helping to manage it.
- Learning to control anger and aggressive behaviour and finding better methods to react to situations.
- Developing strategies to reduce and cope with drug, alcohol and gambling addiction.
- Improving relationships by recognizing problems and developing solutions.
- Learning self-care techniques and strategies to deal with challenging situations.
- Identifying and handling emotions and stressors more healthily.
- Understanding personal strengths and weaknesses and building self-esteem.
- Gaining confidence and hope and learning to accept and love oneself.
Better mental health and improved sense of well-being.
Seeing a psychologist can help increase mental health and well-being in various ways. One of the most significant benefits is improved communication skills, which can help people better express themselves and interact with others. In addition, therapy can also help improve sleep, increase happiness and life satisfaction, and provide a feeling of empowerment. Therapy can help people learn strategies for dealing with stress and complex life events, helping to build resilience. Finally, therapy can help people work on relationship challenges, helping to foster healthier relationships. All of these benefits can help to improve mental health and overall well-being.
Improved mood and emotional stability.
Seeing a psychologist can have a profound effect on mood and emotional stability. Therapy helps reduce stress levels and improve sleep, which affects physical health. It can also help to increase happiness and productivity, as the positive emotions brought on by therapy flood the brain with dopamine and serotonin, which make us feel good and give us a mental edge. Therapy can also help to discover and remove obstacles to productivity, and therapy can teach us time-management skills, leading to better work performance, a greater sense of self-efficacy, and improved relationships.
Improved relationships and social life.
Seeing a psychologist can help improve relationships and social life in several ways. Through therapy, individuals can gain perspective on any current or potential relationship problems and learn how to proactively and positively open communication lines with others. Therapists can also provide support and guidance to help individuals learn to be assertive with their loved ones.
Improved self-awareness and self-confidence.
Seeing a psychologist can help improve self-awareness and self-confidence by helping you identify and address self-defeating thoughts, assumptions, and unhelpful thinking patterns.
The psychologist helps you to understand your strengths and weaknesses and provides you with the skills to build healthy boundaries, develop inner resilience, and master effective coping strategies. Furthermore, it can help you control challenging and impulsive behaviours, manage stress more effectively, and improve communication.
Help with anxiety and panic attacks.
Working with a psychologist can help you increase your ability to handle anxiety and panic attacks by gaining insight into the root causes of the attacks. Therapy can provide a safe environment to explore these causes and develop coping strategies for managing them. Therapy can also help to reduce stress levels, which can be a significant trigger for panic and anxiety attacks. Additionally, the psychologist can provide education on the symptoms and triggers of panic attacks and anxiety, and help you to form strategies for dealing with those situations in the future. Finally, therapy can help increase self-confidence by helping you understand your emotions and reactions.
Improved focus and productivity.
Therapy can help identify and address obstacles that may be blocking you from performing at your best. For example, a psychologist can help work through perfectionism or overthinking that can hamper productivity. They can discuss time-management skills and whether changing negative long-term habits, such as poor prioritization or inaccurate assessments, can help with focus and productivity.
These changes can lead to long-term benefits, such as improved work performance, greater self-efficacy, and improved relationships. Finally, therapy can help individuals to identify and address self-defeating thoughts and unhelpful thinking patterns, understand and check unhelpful assumptions, build healthy boundaries, develop inner resilience, and improve communication with others, all of which can lead to increased focus and productivity.
What type of therapy can a psychologist provide?
Psychologists can provide a range of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural, interpersonal, humanistic, psychodynamic, or a combination of a few therapy styles. Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) focuses on changing unhelpful behaviours and thoughts. In contrast, interpersonal therapy focuses on helping people better interact and communicate with others. Humanistic therapy tries to help individuals discover their true selves and find meaning and purpose in life. Finally, psychodynamic therapy is a more in-depth therapy that looks to uncover and address underlying issues that may contribute to an individual’s mental health.
Getting help from a psychologist is not just for those with severe mental health issues. Working with a psychologist can help you in many ways, in that you benefit not only from their in-depth training but also their knowledge and experience of human behaviour.
- Woolfe, R. (2011) ‘Training routes for counsellors, counselling psychologists and psycho-therapists’, in R. Bor and M. Watts (eds), The Trainee Handbook. London: Sage. pp. 17–32.