Psychologists are professionals trained to help you talk about how you’re feeling. They can help you work out and change the things that cause you distress.
How can a psychologist help?
Psychologists are trained to support people with mental health problems. They can help to equip you with coping skills and effective problem solving skills.
Different psychologists can use many different styles of therapy from talk therapies, or approaches such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).
Sometimes a psychologist will use a combination of different therapies to help you. A psychologist is different to a psychiatrist because they’re not medical doctors and therefore can’t prescribe medicine.
Some psychologists, especially those who work in the public service and deal with young people, work as part of teams with other professionals such as psychiatrists, nurses or occupational therapists.
Types of psychologist
Counselling psychologists work with people suffering from everyday problems, like stress, relationship and family difficulties or feeling down.
Educational psychologists work in primary and secondary school settings. They can help with all kinds of issues especially problems relating to your school or studies. They can also help you explain what you’re going through to teachers or parents so they can help you too.
Video: What is a psychologist?
Certifications and accreditation
While it is not currently required to be licensed or accredited in Ireland, you may want to ask about your psychologist’s qualifications. Most often, psychologists are registered with the Psychological Society of Ireland. They may also be members of other bodies depending on the type of therapy they use.
Generally, psychologists have a doctorate, or sometimes a master’s degree in psychology, have completed an approved internship, and a minimum of two years of professional experience to be a fully registered psychologist.
Finding a psychologist
The Psychological Society of Ireland offers an online directory where you can find qualified psychologists in your area. You can also ask your local GP to recommend a psychologist who can help you.
You don’t actually need a referral to see a psychologist, you can make your own appointment. www.counsellingdirectory.ie is another good directory for counsellors and psychologists in your area.
Like any other health professional you visit, the first person you talk to might not always feel like the right fit. If you don’t think your psychologist is listening to you, or you just don’t feel comfortable with the person, it’s OK to see someone else.
Try not to give up. It may take time to find the right person to work with you, but it will be worth it!
Making an appointment
You don’t need a referral to see a psychologist, you can make your own appointment, but you may want to discuss this with your GP, if you’re thinking about making an appointment. Psychologists work in both agency or hospital settings as well as private practice.
Regardless of the setting, you will most likely have to make an appointment. If they’re busy, you may have to wait a while before your first appointment.
If you need help now
If you are feeling really distressed, tell them it’s urgent and they may be able to fit you in. If you want to talk to someone now, particularly if you feel you are in crisis or have thoughts of suicide, you can call the Samaritans on 116 123.
You have the same entitlements to public health services for a mental health problem as for any other health problem.
It is free to see a psychologist who works for the Health Service Executive in a hospital, health or community center or school.
Other psychologists work privately and so each appointment needs to be paid for. When you make an appointment ask how much it will cost.
Private health insurance might pay for part of the costs so it’s a good idea to check your policy and bring your health insurance card with you. If you don’t have insurance, you might have to pay for your treatment out-of-pocket, which can be costly.
In some cases, psychologists provide a sliding scale for payment which means that they base their payment on the person’s ability to pay. It’s a good idea to ask your psychologist if they offer a sliding scale when you book your appointment.
Asking about your privacy
You may wish to talk to your psychologist about confidentiality. This is generally something your psychologist will bring up in your first session, but if they don’t, it is OK for you to ask. Read up and know your rights about confidentiality.