What kind of problems do people bring to a psychologist?
people usually find themselves feeling badly in some way....anxious, depressed, confused, angry and so forth...but have difficulty either knowing where the bad feeling is coming from or knowing what to do about it. The assessment period in the beginning with a psychologist is for trying to ascertain the answer to those questions and plan for an appropriate course of action to address those questions in the context of a person's unique life and history.
Are there formal tests i'll need to take in the beginning?
Formal testing is not a routine part of the assessment period unless a specific issue comes up which seems to make that possibility desirable. For example, complaints about changes in one's ability to perceive, understand, or learn might make formal testing useful. Likewise, some problems might need to be explored medically for possible biological origins. Most formal testing would be done by referral to a specialist in the question that has arisen.
How does psychotherapy work?
psychotherapy is a conversation. talking. A therapist is simply an expert at talking about things that most people don't talk about very much, personal things. A therapist is also useful to help a person talk about and understand those things, starting with the reasons those things are sometimes hard to talk about. Most therapists start with the assumption that you are the one who knows most about your life, therefore they will seldom be telling you what to do or even giving you direct advice or direction. Instead you make your own decisions about how to live your life based on your better understanding of yourself.
Is everything you say to a psychologist confidential?
Within certain limits yes. Ordinarily, everything you talk about with a therapist can never be repeated to anyone without your signature on what is called a "release of Information", a legal document in which you give the psychologist permission to talk about certain things of your choosing to a specific person (or specified people) for a specified period of time and purpose. The exception to this rule is the rare case when the psychologist believes that either you or someone else is in danger or at risk of imminent harm (e.g. suicide or violence). In those instances, the law states that a psychologist (or any therapist, really) must take action to protect the person at risk or in danger. Click the button below for a more complete discussion of confidentiality.