I truly believe that all individuals who struggle with their mental health deserve good quality care and treatment. As a Clinical Psychologist, I believe in a structured approach to helping individuals. Below is a rough guideline of the structured approach I use:
An assessment is basically a fancy way of saying that I would like to get to know you as a person and how the difficulties you face came to be. I may ask you questions like “When did it all start?”, “What happened in your life at the time you felt this way?”, and “How did you and others around you respond to the difficult situations?”. I would ask you in details of your thoughts, your emotions, and your behaviours in response to the difficult experiences in your life. I would like to ask you how you coped you’re your difficulties. Additionally, I would like to get to know you. Your interests and hobbies, your close relationships, and basically anything you are willing to share.
Another fancy word! Formulation means a process of figuring out why and how the difficulties started, and why does it keep coming back. It is a process because it is usually done together or collaboratively (between me, the therapist, and you, the client). I may have certain thoughts or ideas as to why the difficulties are there, but I may not have the full picture or may not understand everything about the difficulties. As such, an extended discussion is to be had so we can figure out the difficulties together.
Once the formulation is done, we can come up with a plan for intervention. Some types of interventions work best for specific difficulties. For example, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy has been shown to be most helpful in treating depression. If you would like to learn to become more compassionate with yourself, then we may want to use more Compassion-Focused Therapy principles. If you would like to reconnect with your values in life, perhaps you would be more suited for the Acceptance and Commitment Therapy approach. The type of therapy used and rationale for it is a discussion that will be had, so you are aware of what you are receiving and what to expect. In most cases, the intervention would have homework or tasks set out to be completed before each session. Homework is there to help you develop skills to deal with your difficulties more effectively. However, just like the formulation phase, homework is discussed and decided upon collaboratively – which means that in many cases, you would come up with a general homework or task and we will have a conversation on how to make it doable for the week.
I typically ask how things are doing, and how you are finding therapy in the beginning of our sessions together. I may ask you to answer questionnaires from time to time. This is so we get an idea together the progress you have made, and have an understanding as to where our focus should go to within the sessions.
How many sessions?
The number of therapy sessions vary from person to person. I would usually have regular review sessions, where we discuss about all the progress made and the number of sessions needed moving forward.
Everything that is mentioned in sessions are confidential – that means that I would not be discussing your case to anyone else. However, there are certain exceptions to this confidentiality agreement. For example, if you had plans to hurt yourself or end your life, or if you plan to hurt someone else or someone else is planning to hurt you, then in that moment I would need to breach confidentiality to ensure your safety. Usually that would mean phoning your emergency contact or involving relevant authorities, such as the police, to explain the situation to them. However, before any breach of confidentiality, I would typically have a conversation with you regarding it so that you are aware of the reasons behind it.