What to Expect from Therapy
“The therapy relationship is unique in several respects. First, its sole purpose is to promote recovery of the patient. In the furtherance of this goal, the therapist becomes the patient’s ally, placing all the resources of her knowledge, skill, and experience at the patient’s disposal.” Judith Herman, in ‘Trauma and Recovery’.
Sessions typically last for 50 minutes. The initial appointment involves assessing the difficulty that you are struggling with and seeking to understand you and your life more broadly, which allows your psychologist to develop a tailored plan to help you address the difficulty and achieve your goals. The first appointment is also your opportunity to determine whether you have the right ‘fit’ with your psychologist, i.e., whether you feel comfortable talking with them and working together as a team. Your psychologist will discuss and reach an agreement with you regarding the treatment plan, and provide an estimate regarding the number of sessions needed to achieve this.
The Australian Psychological Society has released a Charter for Clients on what you can reasonably expect from your psychologist. Please see:
Your attendance, personal information, and content discussed during sessions are confidential. It is important to note however that there are several exceptions to confidentiality, as follows:
- If there is a legal requirement to provide information (for example, files are subpoenaed by a court)
- If there is an immediate, distinct risk of harm to a person that can only be prevented by the psychologist disclosing information
- If you agree to information release to another party
- For young people (under 18 years of age), it may be necessary at times to release information to caregivers or other professionals
Please note that when a third party funds sessions, there may be an obligation to share some information with this funding body.
Dr. Emma Black is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society’s College of Clinical Psychologists. Clinical psychology involves assessing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness and psychological difficulties with evidence-based treatments. To become a Clinical Psychologist, a psychologist must complete postgraduate qualifications involving practical placements (a Masters or Doctorate), followed by a period of supervised practice. For a description of the skills and competencies a clinical psychologist possesses, please see: