Frequently Asked Questions

What should I bring to my first meeting?

You needn’t bring anything in particular. If you’re on a Mental Health Care Plan, bring that; but otherwise, just bring yourself! I’d urge you to think about what it is you’d like to work on.

Should I take notes, or record sessions?

Some individuals like to take notes, or record sessions, which I’m happy to accommodate. But it’s totally up to you!

Will there be ‘work’ between sessions?

Sometimes I prescribe tasks or experiments for you to undertake between sessions. For example, keeping a journal; confronting fears; reading or researching; writing or reflecting on a theme; setting goals; tracking certain behaviours or feelings; or any number of things… It’s all negotiable of course! But as a rule, therapy has been shown to have greatest impact when a client completes a maximum of work between sessions.

How often shall we meet, and how long will therapy go for?

It depends, clearly, on what you need, how regularly you can come, how well you engage with treatment, and so on. But as a rule, I’ve found most of my clients require about 10-15 sessions over the course of at least a few months. Generally, treatment begins on a weekly basis, and then phases out as you begin to improve.

What is a ‘clinical psychologist’, as distinct from a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist or counsellor…?

Psychiatrists are medical doctors trained to treat mental illness mostly by prescribing medication. Be wary of the titles, ‘psychotherapist’, ‘counsellor’, ‘therapist’, ‘life coach’, and ‘hypnotherapist’, as they have no legal or formal status, in Australia at least, and do not presuppose any specific qualifications or accreditation. Psychologists are trained in evidence-based therapy: A ‘psychologist’ is four-year trained; a ‘clinical psychologist’ is six-year trained (at a minimum). The added title of ‘doctor’ is conferred when a psychologist has completed a PhD, which takes an additional 3-4 years

Will you medicate me?

No. Clinical Psychologists cannot prescribe drugs. But if I think drugs could be helpful, I’ll advise you to consult a psychiatrist, or perhaps a GP.

Can I call you in a crisis?

I’ll always try to see you as soon as possible in case of crisis, but ultimately I do not provide emergency or after-hour services.

What is our first meeting like?

It’s basically an assessment. My aim is to arrive at a relatively clear idea of where your issues lie, a diagnosis (if appropriate), and the first draft of a plan of action moving forward. I want you to leave our first session(s) feeling clearer about where your problems lie, and more hopeful that there is a solution. I’m in no rush, however, to reduce the nuance and complexity of your situation to a diagnostic label. Labels are not always helpful, even when they are accurate.

Are you going to judge me?

The short answer is no. That is precisely NOT the role of a psychologist. Of course, who are we kidding, if I never judged, even for a split second, I would scarcely be human. But ultimately I believe we are all irrational, and all suffer in our own ways. You didn’t choose your childhood, nor the conditions of your birth, nor the billion and one influences that shaped your biography. You certainly didn’t choose your biology. None of your behaviours will shock or embarrass me. Trust me, I’ve heard it all!

Is the personal information I share confidential?

Yes. Therapy is confidential. I cannot divulge anything you tell me in session—not even the fact that you are seeing me at all. However, if you have been referred by a doctor, then I will be communicating with him or her; and there are limitations to confidentiality, of course, such as if notes are subpoenaed or if you pose a serious risk to yourself or others.