This blog post is part of a series detailing my therapy journey. For other blog posts in the series look here.
As part of my therapy referral I was required to take part in a psychology awareness programme before I would be offered an assessment for therapy. This programme took the form of three, one hour sessions over three weeks. Each week focussed on something different. Below I will look at what each week entailed.
Week 1 was called “An Introduction to Psychology”. We started off by looking at our expectations of psychology and what we knew about psychology. We then moved on to what a clinical or counselling psychologist is and how they differ from a psychiatrist. The main thing we learnt here is that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who prescribed medication, while a psychologist is a psychology graduate who offers talking therapy. We learnt how a psychologist fits into the team of professionals looking after us.
The next thing we learnt about was what the assessment process involves and what we can expect from it. This included details of who does the assessment and what happens during it. We also learnt what happens after the assessment, including what happens if we are not offered therapy.
We also learnt about what therapy would be like and the role of ourselves and the psychologist. Therapy is about working together as a team to make improvements. The final thing we looked at was confidentiality and when this may be broken.
Week 2, the focus was on self care and different forms it can take, as well as useful tips. We started by looking at physical health, and the impact it can have on our mental health, and how we can look after our physical health. This led on to us looking at eating well and exercise. We discussed the benefits of exercise as well as how to overcome barriers to exercise. We also looked at how recreational drugs can have an effect on both our physical and mental health.
We then moved on to look at sleep and relaxation. We looked at good sleep hygiene and how routine can help. With relaxation we discussed why it is important and different ways to relax. This included looking at a breathing exercise. At the end of this week we were given a pack full of useful resources to help with self care. This included more information on sleep hygiene and useful organisations.
Week 3 was all about motivation and goal setting. We started off by looking at the cycle of change which has 6 stages: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance and relapse. We talked about where we might be in the cycle of change. We then moved on to look at the pros and cons of starting therapy versus the pros and cons of starting the same.
After this we started to look at goal setting and how to make SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, meaningful, achieveable, realistic and timely. We looked at the importance of these areas and had a go at making a SMART goal.We then filled out some questionnaires before being offered a date for an assessment.
Overall the psychology awareness programme was informative and I can see how useful it would be if you have never had any form of therapy before. It also offered a chance to have any questions about therapy answered. I think it was a positive experience and would recommend it to anyone who is offered a chance to attend one before starting therapy.