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What is a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical Psychologists are Psychologists who specialize in the assessment and treatment of psychological and emotional problems, behavioral issues, and mental illness. They combine science, theory, and clinical knowledge to understand the human mind and behavior and prevent or relieve distress. Clinical Psychologists have a minimum of six years full time training, and provide evidence-based therapies to treat a wide range of problems.

What are the benefits of seeing a Clinical Psychologist?

Clinical Psychologists apply their expertise using reliable and scientifically supported methods, so you can be confident that you are getting up to date and evidence-based treatment. A Clinical Psychologist will help you understand what is causing a problem, what might be maintaining it, and with regular sessions, ways to overcome problems and prevent the problem from re-occurring. Clinical Psychologists can teach you new ways of thinking about yourself and others, teach techniques to handle negative thoughts and feelings more skillfully, teach practical problem solving strategies, and help you improve your overall quality of life. Clinical Psychologists can help you work through a discrete problem, such as a work-place stressor, or overcome more longstanding issues, such as childhood trauma.

What is the difference between a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist?

Psychologists and Psychiatrists both specialize in mental health, and often work together. However, there are differences in the qualifications and the methods used to help people. First, Psychiatrists are doctors who hold a medical degree and then go on to specialize in mental health. Psychologists do not hold medical degrees, but hold post-graduate qualifications in psychology and usually hold a Masters Degree or a Doctorate in Psychology also. Second, Psychiatrists main method of treatment is using medications, although some do provide psychotherapy also. Psychologists do not prescribe medications, but treat people using psychological therapy and counseling aimed at helping people develop the skills needed to function better and to prevent ongoing problems.

Is seeing a Clinical Psychologist confidential?

Yes. All sessions with a psychologist are private and confidential. The information that you share during a session is used for assessment, diagnosis, and planning treatment, so that optimal care is given. As set out in the New Zealand Psychologists Board Code of Ethics, limitations to this confidentiality apply if there is an immediate or specified risk of harm to an identifiable persons safety, or if a client’s file is subpoenaed by law.

How many sessions will I need?

This varies considerably depending on the type of problem and what the specific goals of the person seeking help. Some problems can be worked through in just a few sessions, while others may need several months or even longer before meaningful change is made. We will always aim to make therapy brief as it needs to be, however, sometimes longer term treatment is required, particularly if the problem has been present for a long time, or is particularly severe.

What can I expect at the first session?

The first session is dedicated to finding out about what has prompted you to seek help and considering what strategies and methods will best suit you in working towards your desired outcome. This will involve finding out about of all the issues, as well as finding out about what it important to you, including your values, strengths, and sources of meaning in your life. Your Psychologist will then come up with an individualised treatment plan, which you will then begin working through together.