Frequent Asked Questions

How can you tell who a good psychologist is?

I personally believe in the importance of training and personal honesty. Even if it is important to be empathetic, to be a good psychologist you need to master the various working tools that you have. In my opinion, being humble, respectful and knowing your limits are fundamental to work well with a client. Psychology is a cognitive process that develops in a collaborative psychologist-client relationship and needs work and time since we are all complex and not ‘understandable’ at first sight.

There are conditions and disorders that, despite all the sessions and therapies, can not be nursed (overcome)? If so, which ones? Therefore, in these cases, it is unuseful to consult a psychologist? Why yes and why not?

There are very complex conditions of life and serious mental disorders that are typically adressed through team-work. Nowadays, in the face of critical situations, the widespread idea is that the winning key is to cooperate and collaborate among multiple health professionals. There may be the need for the intervention of a doctor, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, for example, or in other cases (more on social matters) collaborations between psychologists and associations or organizations that deal with a specific problem.
As a psychologist I believe in the quality and potential of my work to bring wellbeing and clarity which will enable an individual to step back and analyze their life, and allow themselves new direction and possibilities. It is always useful to seek professional assistance even if it is just a psychologist to direct a client to another specialist.

How can you choose a particular psychologist?

There are several factors that can direct us toward a particular psychologist. There are people who choose a psychologist based on the orientation of their studies (for example those who want a psychologist oriented psychoanalytic rather than behavioral), experience in certain areas (for example: development, eating disorders, e.t.c.), and gender (there are those who prefer to interact with a male psychologist, who with a woman). Age and reputation are other factors too.

I believe that everyone has the right to choose a psychologist specific to their needs. It can also happen that once you make the choice, you are not happy with it. This is no problem: you can discuss it in the meeting with the same psychologist to figure out why, if it is possible to fix or if it necessary to seek, even with the same psychologist, a colleague who can be more suitable to you. A psychologist must always have the interest of the well-being of their client first and foremost.

Are there general psychologists and those specialized in specific disorders?

There are not as rigid distinctions for psychologists compared with doctors and their specializations, but psychologists do also have guidelines regarding areas of knowledge and experience.

Some have deepened Organizational Psychology knowledge, some Developmental Psychology, others Clinical Psychology, Psychobiology, and many other areas. All these psychologists may have done work experience and internships in several specific areas. In other words, as in other professions, there are those who follow a particular area, and some other areas. For interest and experience, some prefer to specialize in working with people with eating disorders, or those with adolescents, or in other areas. Then, there are psychologists who pursue their studies and specialize to become psychotherapists (In Italy there are 4 years of university, followed by enrollment in the List of Psychotherapy and Psychotherapists).

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

The fundamental difference is that the former has studied psychology, the second medicine. The psychiatrist is in fact a doctor with a specialty in psychiatry. As a doctor a psychiatrist can prescribe medications and therapies, which a psychologist cannot do.

It is true that the mother has all the faults?

Although this question can be inserted in the part of FALSE MYTHS of psychoanalysis and the Freudian theory, I personally do not think everything is the fault of the mother!

Certainly, a mother does not only give us birth, but she takes care of us in the initial period of our lives by establishing the foundation for our affection. The mother-child relationship is the matrix upon which our emotional security is based. Nonetheless, it is excessive to attribute to her all the difficulties and frustrations in life. In fact around her and her support, there are many other people with whom we as infants, children and adolescents, establish many significant relationships that will affect the construction of our personality.

It is true that the psychologist “label” you?

To work well, in my opinion, a psychologist must have a open mind and labels do not help with this. Especially since the help given to the client consists of a dynamic process of knowledge which excludes labels.

Is not enough to have a confidant or confessor instead of going to a psychologist?

To answer to this question I recommend to read the small chapter “Why pay someone when I can tell my problems to a friend for free?” in ‘Prejudices and Myths about Psychologists’.

Is it true that going to a psychologist is addictive and/or you fall in love with him / her?

During treatment, it may happen that some clients feel they are ‘falling in love’ with their psychologist, as well as possibly feeling hate towards them. However, these feelings are connected to projections of aspects of your own personal history that you need to review during the psychological treatment.

The dependence that can occur is just temporary and is related with the need for help. It is the responsibilty of the psychologist to help the person manage their emotions and to overcome any ‘addiction’ to them and build autonomy .