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How to Find the Best Psychologist in Sydney

When you need to find a psychologist in Sydney or elsewhere in Australia, you’ll quickly discover that there are a lot of options.

Sorting through qualified people to find a psychologist or counsellor who’s the best fit for you can be challenging.

We’re here to help.

Associated Counsellors & Psychologists provides a personalised matching service. We help you choose from pre-vetted, qualified and experienced psychologists and counsellors near your suburb, or online. We’ve put together this brief guide to finding the best professional for your needs.

The best psychologist is the right psychologist for you

Before we get stuck into the criteria that will help you find the right professional, remember that the best psychologist is the right one for you.

Instead of looking for “the best” psychologist, consider this a search to find the psychologist who best meets your needs. This is the person who:

  • Makes you feel comfortable sharing your feelings and experiences (even the uncomfortable ones)
  • Makes you feel that you can be open and honest
  • Has experience helping people with the issues like yours, or can relate their experience to your issues
  • Can verify their qualifications
  • Can explain how they can help in a way that makes sense to you
Referrals and Review are Important

You may want to start your search with recommendations for psychologists from people you know. If people you trust and value have found meetings with these psychologists helpful, it may ease your mind about speaking with someone new about intensely personal experiences and feelings.

However, it’s important to remember that just because a friend had a good experience with a therapist does guarantee you will as well. And that’s okay. Everyone comes from a different place, with backgrounds and experiences that can change how your interactions go and whether or not you feel your meetings are productive or helpful.

Consider your unique needs

One way you can start to narrow the field is by taking a close look at your needs:

  • Do you think you’ll be more comfortable speaking with a man or a woman?
  • Are you looking for someone who has significant experience in dealing with longstanding issues or are you looking to address a current issue or concern
  • Do you want someone who’s invested in LGBTQIA concerns and issues?
  • Do you need to find a psychologist for yourself or for a family or for you and your partner?
  • Are there any particular topics you’d like them to be well versed in, say trauma, or addiction, or depression?
  • Do they need to be available at specific times or a given location?

Once you have your list worked out, identify the three most important criteria. If you know you only want to commute 15 minutes, will only see a woman psychologist, and you need someone who specialises in grief, the list of potential psychologists has probably become much more manageable.

If more than one person will be seeing the psychologist, it’s important that they’re all included in this part of the process. Have each person create their own list and use them all together to help identify the psychologist that best fits everyone’s needs.

If anyone fitting those requirements also happens to be on that list of recommended psychologists from your friends, reach out and make an appointment. If not, it’s time to do some searching of your own and have a few sessions to see which psychologist is right for you.

A word of caution, though. This isn’t the time to pick out a name that sounds good to you or choose an option based on a headshot. Don’t be afraid to meet more than one psychologist before you make your final choice. And, if you meet someone who isn’t right for you, don’t feel obligated to continue meeting with them.

Do you want to find an online or in-person counsellor?

Increased access to online counselling has been amazing for mental health, especially during a worldwide pandemic with stay at home restrictions and lockdowns that never seemed to end.

And now that we’re moving into a post-Covid era, plenty of people are choosing online therapy over in-person sessions for the convenience factor.

It’s not the best choice for everyone though, consider whether you’d prefer to work with your psychologist online or face to face. If you’re not sure, and if online is more convenient, give it a try to see if it suits you.

Criteria to consider when choosing a psychologist

Knowing who’s a good fit for your personality and who can help you identify and achieve your goals is a great place to start. If you think you have a pool of potential psychologists who fit the bill, there are a few other things you may want to consider before moving forward with one over the others.

It goes without saying that you want to make sure you’re working with a licensed care provider. Any psychologist in Sydney or anywhere in Australia will need to be registered with the Australian Psychological Society (APS) or the Australian Clinical Psychology Association (ACPA).

Any non-psychologist counsellor should be a member of the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA).

These groups host databases that can make it easier to find your new psychologist. Or to make it easier, get in touch with us and we’ll help you make a booking with a fully licensed and vetted professional.

You may be hoping to find a psychologist that has significant experience in a certain area. In fact, if you’ve followed that initial step to outlining your needs, you’ve probably identified an area you’d like your psychologist to specialise in.

Unfortunately, you won’t find psychologists in Sydney identified by specialisation. This is due to the advertising guidelines that have been put in place by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

These guidelines have been designed to keep patients safe, but the result is that you won’t be able to search for “specialists.” Instead, look for other indicators about the type of concerns a practitioner or a practice focuses on.

For example, you may see psychologists with a “focus on self-worth and acceptance,” or a practice “experienced with treatment plans for patients with anxiety.” Little snippets like this can give you information about the psychologist and their practice to help you identify their strengths and focuses. Then, you can see how well they align with your needs.

After all, there’s little sense in choosing a psychologist who is a good fit for you otherwise but can’t meet your actual therapy needs.

Take some time when Choosing a Psychologist

It might sound funny, but in some ways, trying to find the best psychologist is a bit like dating.

Chemistry matters! That means it’s not just how you feel about the psychologist, but also that they give you confidence that they can help.

After all, the most in-demand psychologists aren’t accepting every client who comes to their door. They want to bring on patients they feel they have the expertise and drive to help heal.

A psychologist and patient relationship should be built on mutually agreed goals. The right psychologist for you will never make you feel like you’re one of many patients or like your needs aren’t important. They will show a close and careful interest in understanding the issues close to your heart.

One other way dating and trying to find the right psychologist might be similar? Don’t be surprised if meetings with your psychologist aren’t always perfect, or exactly like how you’d wished they’d gone.

Even the best psychologists are still people, and you’re still navigating a relationship with them. This means there can be miscommunications and even hurt feelings. This can be especially true when you’re working with complex feelings and issues.

Choosing A Pyschologist who is The Best Fit for You might take some time

As you begin to search for your new psychologist in Sydney, try to keep in mind that it may take some time to find the right psychologist for you. That’s okay and it’s to be expected. Be patient and try to keep in mind that it’s part of your journey, which may well be about making a lifelong change. After you’ve identified a pool of psychologists you think might work for you, you’ll need to start meeting with them.

You may not know after your first appointment if this is where the search ends. Instead, commit to a few appointments, and allow yourselves time to get comfortable with each other. After a few sessions, take a thorough look at your experience up to that point and see if you think continuing to meet with that psychologist will be valuable to you.

You may choose to check out more than one potential psychologist at a time to help you understand if you have a preference. It’s valid to tell a new clinician that you are still learning about the different styles and approaches and that you’d like to have an initial meeting to see if you are a good match together. An experienced clinician will be comfortable with your questions and with you taking your time to find a good fit.

Of course, seeing more than one psychologist has the potential to cloud or confuse your feelings in the process. It’s important to get a good feel for your own needs and how you want your search to go before committing to an approach. Once you decide on who to work with, it is good to stick to one psychologist at a time for treatment. Different approaches can contradict or be out of sync with each other and can make the journey less effective.

Final tips to find the best psychologist in Sydney

A 2014 study from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that more than 50 per cent of people who have mental health issues or illnesses do not seek help.

Deciding it’s time to find a psychologist is a step in the right direction as you’re taking control of your mental and emotional well-being.

To best manage the process of finding a psychologist, break it down into bite-size, manageable steps:

  • Make a list of qualities and experience the psychologist you are seeking should possess
  • Identify if there are any specific therapy approaches you think might be best for you
  • Make appointments to meet and get to know your potential psychologist(s)
  • Assess if this is the person you want to continue seeing for treatment

Yes, thinking about finding the best psychologist can be daunting in itself. But the actual process doesn’t need to be. With a little bit of forethought and planning, you may be one of those people giving a psychologist referral to a friend in no time at all.

Need assistance finding a psychologist?

Associated Counsellors & Psychologists can help. Please get in touch with a member of our friendly team and we’ll help you find the psychologist or counsellor for your unique needs.

Whether you’re located in Sydney or elsewhere in Australia, our network of professional clinicians has you covered.

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