Find answers to some of the more frequently asked questions on the Forums.

Forums guidelines

Our guidelines keep the Forums a safe place for people to share and learn information.

Psychologists - Expectation vs Reality

Community Member

HI, I have been seeing a Psychologist now for 6 visits on my MHCP and i feel like its just not hitting home like I expected. After my 2nd suicide attempt it was time to take all this seriously and get the help but I'm not sure I'm getting it and I'm wondering if my expectations are not in line with reality. he focuses on Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) but it really feels like a life coach session. we haven't spoken about or dealt with why I may turn to self harm or any other "Hard" subject. I mean I kind of expected the cliché questions about my relationship with my parents, or anything about my childhood but nothing even close to that has come up. it all seems really high level and almost a cookie cutter textbook approach. I have mentioned things to him but there hasn't been a course correction at all.


so with my limited experience with Psychologists are my expectations of what a session or the process should be out of touch with reality? or is this just standard?  

14 Replies 14

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Nate_Late,


Thanks for your question. It's such a valuable one to ask because I think a lot of people have similar issues where they don't feel like they are getting what they want or need from a psychologist, but also don't know if they should be expecting more.


I think a good rule of thumb is to remember that, even though each psychologist has their own particular skill sets and ways of working with us, the psychologist is there for your needs. While there are times when we actually don't know what we need in terms of treatment/therapy, I think the minimum we should expect is that the psychologist should be able to explain why they are doing something.


It sounds like you've already started to challenge the therapy so far but not seen any changes - I think it's well within expectation that you can continue to challenge that directly if you don't think this is helping. Your psychologist might change it up as a result, or give some explanation as to why they think this is best. It'll then be your choice as to whether you want to continue with this person, or see someone else.


I stopped seeing my first psychologist because I didn't like the approach, and never felt confident that they were going to be able to serve my needs. It's possible the approach would've helped eventually, but they never convinced me, so I left and don't regret it. 


I hope that gives a little more context for you to consider your own path with this psychologist. Happy to chat more if I've missed the point a bit, or if you have any other questions.



Community Member

Thank you for sharing and I am hoping I can provide some prompting questions that help. I know how you are feeling and out of the 4 psychologists I have seen, only 2 were actually beneficial and 'clicked' with me. Seeing a new psychologist is scary and to me it almost felt like starting all over again. It was not a fun process...but for me, it paid off. Hoping some of this will help: 

- Do you feel like they are missing some important things, that seem significant to you, but is this actually part of a bigger strategy on their part and what they are focussing on/recommending is more beneficial at this point in time? 

- Do you feel like what they are going over and the strategies they are giving you are helping to any extent at all? 

- Do you feel like they are understanding you? Do you feel like they understand what is important to you? 

- Do you click on a moral/beliefs/personality/relatability level? 

- Have you given them a fair go? (This is personal, some people may know if they have clicked with someone after 2 sessions and others take 10 sessions to get to a level that actually begins helping them). 

Do not be afraid to go to another psychologist but also consider the reasons why you feel like your current psychologist is not helping. Can this be rectified? Can you bring it up with them and give them a chance to take a different approach? Will a different psychologist suit you better? Only you can weigh up these things. I know it is scary and confusing and horrible, but you know your situation best. Always here if you have anything you'd like to add or any further questions about my therapy/psychologist/psychiatrist journey! But on an end note, I would not be the person I am today without therapy and I am so glad I took the plunge and stuck with it!

Community Member

Having a similar issue, seen a psychologist 4 times and taken anti depressants but don’t feel it’s the right direction. Been in the auto trade all my life and I can tell when a machine is broken and can fix, I know I’m broken but no idea how/what/where to turn….

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi there,


I am sorry this is happening and you feel like you aren't getting the most out of therapy, that must be disappointing! You are very strong, I admire you for that.


Part of our healthcare (and a sad realization) is that we often have to advocate for ourselves. Have you tried asking your psychologist why he has not addressed these issues? Or asking if you can dive a bit deeper into them? His job is to help you discuss the concerns in your life, and get to the bottom of the issue. If you think more information about your history will help, make sure you share this. 


However, as James said, sometimes a health professional might not provide you with the best outcome, and that's okay. Different psychologists have different approaches, so it might be worth trying another one and getting a second opinion to see if there is a better treatment approach better for your needs 🙂


Maybe you can go back to your GP and see if they amend your next MHCP to reflect this?


I hope things improve soon,

Jaz xx

Community Member

Hi, Thanks for the reply, i have challenged but not definitely not pushed the point and where I'm at i don't think i currently have it in me. his approach seems fine and i think over time it will probably make me a better man and a well rounded contributing member of society but the timeline seems exhausting right now.  after 2 attempts in less than 6 months i don't need a quick fix (it would be nice though) though i think i need at very least support/guidance/tools at a tactical level rather then a long term strategic plan for my well being. 

damn you for the Prompting questions. thanks for the reply those questions are really thought provoking. i did kind of answer some of this to James but overall the Strategy he applies I'm sure is beneficial and if i was well and looking to better myself I'm sure it would be an uplifting journey. i have discovered some things about myself as we did personality tests etc and has helped me to understand a bit about "me" overall the things he says are great but after essentially 6 sessions i really cant think of any takeaways. 

I have a backstory just like so many others, I'm sure maybe there is something in there that contributes to or is the source of some issues, i have no idea. i guess my original expectations were that a Psychologist would help me get that better understanding.

Community Member

Hey, i have raised it however (because this is anonymous) i am bit scared to push the matter any further. i guess my expectation is, as you mentioned to discuss concerns in my life. he doesn't usually ask how i have been in the previous week normally just jumps into what we covered last session and if i did any homework he gave me. That's fine i guess but we are then at 10-15 minutes of sitting there before i get a chance to talk about me and whether or not i tried to check out again this week, bit dramatic i know, but that's just kind of what i think.

i have been back to see my GP and she thinks i should see someone else based on the report she got back from him. she is on holidays so I'm just looking around and ill see someone else off the MHCP until she is back and update it

Community Member

Hi Lumpi, i get it i feel exactly the same. give me something broken or tangible and i can sort it out

Community Member

Hi All, i have just re-read some of my responses, apologies for the negative approach i am having a bit of a "down" time at the moment and not in the best headspace. it is getting harder to keep my happy mask on, i do appreciate the responses and i am overwhelmed with how detailed and helpful they have been so far.