1. We will never judge you
If you grew up in a home where you felt judged or criticized, it can be easy to assume that your psychologist may judge you too. Some of us have been raised in homes where we were made to worry about what others will think or been warned not to share personal information with ‘outsiders’.
The truth is that nothing shocks us. As psychologists we hear about and deal with various issues. We aim to help you understand yourself and the circumstances that have shaped you, while working towards achieving the outcomes that are important to you
2. Our lives are not perfect
Psychologists are human too and are not immune to human struggles, such as grief, trauma, relationship difficulties, etc. I’ve often been told that my life looks so perfect. The reality is that many psychologists chose their professions because they were wounded too, and the choice of career is often one that brings personal meaning.
3. We also go to therapy
My favourite form of self-care is my own therapy. Regardless of how much we may know as professionals, we also value having our safe space. It helps us both professionally and personally.
Because we can hear about many distressing events in therapy, which we have to keep confidential, our own therapy is an important space for us. I personally believe that we are more effective therapists when we are sometimes the patient too.
4. We value your feedback
While we might be experts in our field, you are the expert in your life. In order for therapy to be valuable, we value your feedback. We would love to know when something is not working. You do not have to do as your psychologist says because they are the expert! Therapy is a respectful, collaborative process. Not everything works for everyone. We will never judge you if you are struggling to implement something or if you went off-track. Your feedback helps the therapeutic process, so you can get more value from it. Effective psychologists are culture-sensitive and mindful of how culture impacts on our personalities and relationships.
5. Your friend cannot be your psychologist and your psychologist cannot be your friend
There’s a quote that often does the rounds on social media which says ‘I don’t need therapy; I have a best friend.”. While your best friend can offer you support, its not the same as therapy. Firstly, your best friend cannot be objective. They might give your advice based on their own experience. They are more likely to give you advice than facilitate an understanding of yourself. They also have some degree of emotional involvement in your life. They do not understand evidence-based methods of addressing certain issues. Even if a friend has had a similar issue or even been to therapy for it, all experiences are different. E.g. not everyone grieves in the same way.
There are many factors that influence how we cope with even the same situation. Also, having gone through something may help someone empathize, but it does not make them an expert on that topic, as they only understand it from their experience.
On the other hand, as much as your psychologist will have unconditional positive regard for you, we are not allowed to have dual relationships. So we cannot also be your friend, go to coffee with you or attend your wedding. We will also not accept requests on our private social media pages – though you are always welcome to follow our public pages
*This article is written by practicing psychologist Rakhi Beekrum