The Importance of Finding a Good Psychologist

For about 3 and a half years I saw the same psychologist on and off.  There were only about 2 or 3 times I quit seeing him and up to a few months or so at a time.  Mostly, the appointments were consistent.  Since the second year I brought up the possibility of borderline personality disorder.  I know one should not self-diagnose.  My only knowledge of it at the time was from a sheet of symptoms.  I questioned him about it and was told that he was not a proponent of personality disorders; he felt they did not exist and were overly narrowed categories of more general disorders.  Within the time seeing him my condition worsened, I developed a severe anxiety issue, and overall hurt my social and school life.  Even if he disagrees with the credibility of the disorder, the symptoms I pointed out should have received attention.  However, he never gave it much thought nor help resolve them.  I want to emphasize the importance of finding a professional who will truly listen to what you have to say.  If you say something is a problem for you then it should be acknowledged--not disregarded as an unfounded assumption made by an ignorant patient.  Now, I have been seeing a different therapist for the past several months.  After my experience with her and studying psychology (my major), I see how unprofessional of a doctor he is.  If your situation is worsening when seeing a doctor please consider finding another one.  I never thought to address his therapy as problematic because, in my mind, he was the professional and knew what he was doing.  Simply because some has a degree does not mean they are adequately equipped to treat a patient.
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  • I'm in the UK where we have people known as "nurse practitioners". These are experienced psychiatric nurses who have undergone extra training in order to be able to prescribe medications.

    I would choose to see a nurse practitioner any day. They have spent so much time on the psychiatric wards, interacting with the patients, so they see the symptoms of illness and the side-effects of medications first hand. In my opinion, they are much more knowledgeable that the shrinks.  
  • We have nurse practitioners here in the US as well.  I also see a nurse practitioner aside from seeing a therapist.  She is extremely nice and helpful.  I can tell she actually listens to any suggestions or discomfort I may have with medication.  However, she is not necessarily there to talk with me like a therapist or psychologist.  That is why I see the therapist as well. 
  • Unfortunately I think in every profession there are people that are either on a power trip or are insecure about their position.  

    If they are on a power trip then they just won't let you contribute, they want to be seen as the one with all the answers. 

    If they are insecure, they don't want to acknowledge that another person might have some knowledge too, and they want to just be given respect because of their degree, not their performance. 
  • I understand what you are saying, Diane.  I think a lot of it had to do with my age at the time, and that is sensible.  Still, he should have taken note of the symptoms I described.  Even if he did not think the disorder existed, the issues did.  Focusing on them would have been the correct way to handle the situation.
  • One should not self-diagnose, it is troublesome for doctors and psys and can sometimes trigger a nocebo effect -- however, if one does or voices concern, then no good psychologist should just dismiss the concerns of his patients! Breaks the relation of trust and is no way to conduct an helping relationship.

    Whenever you feel like your health specialist, physical or mental, is not dealing with your case in a way that makes you feel trusting and reassured, getting a second opinion is never a bad idea, no matter how long you've been seeing your specialist!
  • My regular physician gave me a really great piece of advice at our visit together a few days ago: "Finding a therapist is like finding a boyfriend; you guys have to connect and you have to be able to trust them and feel comfortable with them. If you just pick any random therapist to see then you're not going to succeed, just like if you pick any random guy off the street you're just going to end up hurt by him! Take the time to find a good one. Find your keeper."
  • Bellejoe, I agree.  One should not self-diagnose.  I was patient about it and dismissed it for the next year or more.  As you said, though, he should not have dismissed my concerns.  Even if it was not an actual disorder, those were problems that bothered me and should have been addressed accordingly.  Luckily, I have found a new therapist and nurse practitioner.  They have helped me make progress.

    Hellownamesdana, that is an unusual analogy.  I would be careful about it, though.  The difference between those two is that the one relationship is professional while the other is romantic.  At some point, treatment will have to be discontinued.  This is not an uncommon issue with patients.  It is important for the doctor to inform the patient from the start, and with reminders occasionally, that the appointments will eventually end.  My therapist has done this.  I think it is a very appropriate way to handle the matter. 
  • I have always been curious to see a psychologist, I really can't say if they can help or not, but at the same time they study our mind, so they ought to have some knowledge... I am not a huge fan though, I believe in friendship.  
  • Alcat, they can help.  It depends on the individual, though.  They have studied to utilize conversational skills, body language, various therapeutic exercises, and are supposed to provide educated advice in order to resolve the patient's problems.  I so happened to have a poorly skilled psychologist.  Now, I have been seeing a therapist and nurse practitioner for the past several months.  There is a huge difference and have actually experienced progress.
  • I saw a therapist for five months who was so terrible that she actually made me feel worse after every session.  I would leave her office and feel as if my entire week had been worthless, even if I'd had great breakthroughs or made significant progress.  We just didn't fit.  Then I found another therapist who was perfect for me.  Together we explored my childhood traumas, my addictions, my depression and anxiety.   I've often taken a long hiatus from him when things are going well, but if something happens I can immediately begin sessions again and he works with me to help me center again.  I agree that treatment should have an "end" but I also think you should find someone who you can return to when issues resurface, or when new challenges arise.  
  • It is so important to find the right therapist since you will be working closely with them for an extended period of time. I do not see one personally but both of my children do. I am fortunate to have found the ones that they see as they both have found someone they trust and can relate to. My daughter loves her therapist and the therapist really likes her as well. This has been so beneficial to my daughter's therapy and has helped her tremendously. To have someone that you trust can go a long way in your therapy and learning the problems that you are dealing with and how to live with them or help get rid of them.
  • Well said. I think it's just like any other job wherein you find a lot of people who are just there for the money or they don't really love it enough to consider it their craft and instead they let their ego and bias take over. It's best to find someone who respects their craft so much that they are prepared to sacrifice their pride and ego for it if it means it will get the job done.
  • I went to three therapists before I found one I "clicked" with. Never assume that the first therapist you see will be "the one." You have to find one you can relate to and feel comfortable with. That makes all the difference in the world.
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