Taking the first step to talk to a psychologist

Written by: Dr Catherine Sykes
Published: | Updated: 21/09/2023
Edited by: Laura Burgess

If you’ve booked your first appointment with a new psychologist, you may be a little nervous, which, understandably, is a common feeling. It is important not to let your nerves get in the way as you take the necessary steps in getting the help and treatment that you deserve for your mental wellbeing. Thankfully, consultant psychologist Dr Catherine Sykes is here to put your mind at rest with her professional advice on how to manage your jitters before your first therapy session.

I'm nervous, how do I approach a psychologist for the first time?

It’s normal to be nervous. A good psychologist will help put you at ease. When looking for a psychologist, pay attention to any sense of connection as you read their profile or articles. If you get even just a little sense of connection, trust it, reach out and make an enquiry.  

What will happen at the first appointment?

At the first appointment, any questions you may have about the process will be answered. You will be guided through explaining what is going on for you and how it is impacting on you and your life. Your psychologist should be able to help you articulate your goals within the first couple of sessions.

How do I manage my anxiety before the session?

Know that it is normal to experience some anxiety before your first session. Remember that your psychologist is a professional whose job it is to put you at ease. A psychologist is trained to help make the first session as comfortable as possible.

A psychologist knows that gaining trust is a process, they will help you with that process. Remember a professional psychologist is not there to judge you but help you. A session with a psychologist is a non-judgemental space to share intimate details about your life.

Do I need to prepare for the first session?

It may be helpful to write down a few bullet points to help you structure your thoughts. There is no need to over-prepare. Remember it’s the psychologist’s job to help you to express and understand what is going on for you.

How will I know if this psychologist is right for me?

Trust how you feel in the session. Do you sense that the psychologist understands you? Are you being sensitively challenged at the right pace? Do you feel comfortable to express yourself?

What should my relationship with a psychologist be like?

Your relationship with your psychologist is professional and collaborative. It is one in which you feel at ease and understood and empowered to collaborate in the process of understanding and making changes. Ideally, it is like, a meeting of two expert minds.

You are an expert on the experience of you and your psychologist is an expert on psychological frameworks and techniques to help you change the experience of being you that is causing problems.

If you would like to work with Dr Sykes, you can book an appointment via her Top Doctor’s profile here. She is available for both face-to-face consultation or a video call thanks to our e-Consultation tool.

By Dr Catherine Sykes

Dr Catherine Sykes is a highly-regarded chartered psychologist based in central London. Specialising in the psychology of high achievers, Dr Sykes offers therapy and coaching for professionals in high pressurised careers. She provides in-person appointments but also sees clients across the globe via e-Consultation. Dr Sykes developed a solid reputation in the law and finance sectors due to her thorough understanding of how a demanding career comes with its own unique challenges to mental health, physical health, relationships, and performance.

When guiding her patients, she individually assesses each case and uses a range of approaches such as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), hypnosis, neuropsychology and somatic psychology to provide patients with optimal therapy solutions. With these strategies, Dr Sykes helps patients discover the core reasons for their issues and provides the necessary psychological tools to overcome them. Dr Sykes prides herself on her ability to help clients make positive changes so they can be happy, healthy and enjoy and maintain their success. She uses an online brain health assessment service developed by Cambridge Brain Sciences that accurately measure core elements of cognitive function and mood, including memory, attention, focus, reasoning and verbal abilities. This brain health assessment helps to monitor and manage core areas of brain function that are key to mental health and wellness.

Much of her training was at the King's College Hospital. She has sat on NHS boards, worked as a trustee for the charity Pregnancy Sickness Support and lectured at City University, London for 11 years. She is a member of the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) register and she's an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society (BPS). She is a recognised provider with WPA, Cigna, Aviva and Healix.

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