Choosing a psychologist that you can trust and who helps you feel at ease can be a challenge. Some people may need to go through several therapists first before finally finding “the one.” But doing some research first up can really help.
To assist you in your search, here are five helpful steps to follow:
Step 1: Check out the clinical psychologists in your area.
It is important to limit your search to your city because it is important for the act of attending therapy sessions to be as convenient for you as possible. Initially, go online to conduct your search. This can lead you to a list of qualified professionals as well as ratings for their work and other useful information. Check out the “Find a Psychologist” service on the Australian Psychological Society’s website. This provides a useful general guide as a first step.
It would also help if you gather recommendations from family and friends who go to therapy as well. In addition, your local doctor may be able to recommend professional psychology services providers that you could consider. GPs are in a good position to offer you a few options.
Step 2: Narrow down your options to the therapists specializing in your particular condition.
Establish what you are dealing with. Is it anxiety? Perhaps a traumatic experience from your childhood? Maybe a relentless inner critic?
Find a psychologist in Bondi Junction who is a real expert on your case. This information is typically available in the “About” section of a therapist’s or therapy centre’s website. Alternatively, you can simply call the different clinics or centres to inquire about it.
Step 3: Consider your budget.
Do the math and set a budget for therapy sessions. Naturally, you want to be able to go to therapy over the long term for the most positive results because progress takes time. Therefore, you need to find a psychologist whose rates you can afford.
Also, include factors that could potentially lower the estimated costs. Ask your healthfund about rebates and ask your GP about a Mental Health Care Plan and your eligibility.
Step 4: Give therapy a test run.
There’s no better way to determine whether a clinical psychologist is a good match for you or not than to meet them in person and engage in a session or two. Do not overthink the experience and allow your words and expressions to flow so you can evaluate the therapist and the session.
Each therapist or psychologist will have a different style of conducting sessions. At the same time, different therapists will have different personalities. Some are friendly and empathetic, while others may have a business-like demeanor but can communicate clearly with you.
If you feel ill at ease with a therapist for any reason, you can continue to look for a therapist who can truly help you.
Essential you want to feel comfortable and at ease with your therapist and you want to feel heard and validated. These are all reasonable things to expect.
Step 5: Find out how flexible a therapist can be.
If you experience sudden spells of anxiety or debilitating symptoms, it is best to find a highly accessible therapist. It would be most beneficial for you if a therapist can be reached for assistance during the times you need them the most, including odd hours.
You need to feel that you can rely on your therapist in order to develop trust that will motivate you to keep on moving forward. Choose someone who you feel is non-judgemental and who makes a real effort to understand and appreciate your inner world.
Our Therapists at Good Mood Clinic Can Help
If you live in Sydney, Australia and you are looking for a therapist to assist you on your journey to psychological recovery, consider one of our warm and helpful psychologists.
We are a team of highly experienced and trained therapists with specialisations in a variety of psychological concerns. The Good Mood Clinic is the leading provider of Schema Therapy in Sydney, and we continuously undergo training to cater more effectively to the unique needs and goals of our clients.
We are ready to help you find the best professional to work with. Book an appointment with our psychologist in Bondi Junction today.
The Demanding, Punitive & Guilt-inducing ‘Parent’ Modes
These parent (or ‘inner critic’) modes are learned thoughts and beliefs (about yourself and others) which are negative in nature. They might sound like this: “I’m ugly, I’ll never get anywhere in life; I’m worthless, I’m not as good as others; no one could love me; I’m useless if I make mistakes; I’m boring, I’m going to stuff it up again, I’m just not good enough, If I don’t put other’s first I’m a selfish person, I’m responsible for other people’s happiness” and all sorts of other harsh and negative or unrealistic words. These are the messages from your inner critics or dysfunctional ‘parent’ modes. It is your voice speaking, your inner dialogue, the words or phrases you say to yourself in a tone and manner that is judgemental, demanding or nasty. But you weren’t born with these thoughts, they were all learned, directly or indirectly from your earlier experiences. These parent modes come from messages you received from parents and other early life events like bullying or other forms of social learning.
We all, depending on our natural temperament, internalised or introjected these ‘messages’ during our formative years and they became woven into the fabric of our evolving personality. That’s why we don’t tend to question them – because by adulthood, they are a fundamental part of our identify.
In schema therapy we divide the inner critic into three types: one is a fear-based part (we call this the “demanding parent” or critic), another is a nasty, mean part (we call this the “punitive parent”) and the third is a ‘guilt-tripping’ part – the guilt inducing parent mode or critic. This distinction is important because in therapy we target these parts in different ways and they can affect a person’s mental health to different degrees.
The Demanding Parent Voice – your inner perfectionist!
The demanding parent mode is fear-driven because it tells you that if you don’t do something or be something, then everything will fall apart. This part is unrelenting in its effort to get you to be better in some way. “Don’t stop studying because if you do you’ll fall behind and then you’ll fail and then you will be unemployable and have no money…….” “You have to look perfect all the time because if you don’t you’ll never meet anyone and you’ll be alone forever!” “Whatever you do don’t make a mistake because if you do others will see that you are an imposter and that you don’t have what it takes!” Basically, if you don’t follow the ‘advice’ of your demanding parent then you are doomed to failure or loneliness or some other sort of misery. People who are very perfectionistic have a strong demanding parent mode. They have huge amounts of anxiety which they manage by attempting to control every outcome with all sorts of coping behaviours (eg, being a ‘workaholic’; a ‘control-freak’; doing all the work and not delegating anything; checking their work excessively and countless more). If you’re a perfectionist you may have already realised that your inner critic never shuts up and you’re always listening in for its updates.
The Punitive Parent Voice – the nasty side!
The punitive parent mode is not fear-driven and it’s not trying to frighten you into doing something because it believes (albeit flawed) you need it. Punitive parent is a nasty voice that is demeaning and tells you that you are worthless, useless or defective in some way. This voice is often formed from direct and blatant verbal/psychological abuse from care-givers or others who hurt you in some way. It can also be formed because you did not receive positive messages about being valued, ‘seen’, respected & loved. It can often come about from a combination of early experiences where the child felt unseen and worthless because their emotional needs were not met. It’s important to remember that we are not born into the world with a sense of self-worth (psychologically speaking). We develop this sense of worth only if we are cared for in a way that makes us feel emotionally understood and validated. We need to be seen as a separate person with our own needs – physical, emotional and social.
Someone with a strong punitive parent mode may believe deep down that they don’t deserve good things, that they are worthless and unworthy of love. The person may feel as though they deserve punishment and they display signs of self-loathing such as self-mutilation and suicidal fantasises. Sometimes the punitive parent voice can be extremely strong and can cause people to hurt themselves or try to take their own lives.
Generally speaking, the louder this voice, the more at risk a person is of suffering from recurrent or persistent depression. It is the presence and strength of the punitive parent voice which often predicts how people cope over time and how much they struggle with persistent low mood. People with chronic or recurrent depression often have a strong punitive parent mode.
The Guilt-Inducing Parent Voice – the, if I win, then you will lose dilemma!
There is also another type of inner critic voice which we call the ‘guilt-inducing’ critic or parent mode. It sounds something like this: “If I ever put myself first, others will suffer”; “If I can’t always help others, then I’m lazy and selfish”; “If I say no to a request, then I’m just being self-centred”; “I am the one that has to help, it has to be me!”; “Disappointing others is unbearable for me, I feel so guilty” and so on, you get the picture!
Basically, this style of inner dialogue usually develops when a child grows up being somehow responsible for one or more of their care-takers or another ‘vulnerable’ person within the family unit. There is usually some type of pattern whereby the parent or parents gave the child a message that they must somehow take care of or protect the parent. These messages can be either direct in nature (eg, direct requests or directions from parents that the child must be responsible or take care of them), or indirect (eg, more subtle messages where the child learns that a parent needs to be taken care of or protected). In this regard one or more parents are very likely to be dependant on the child, either emotionally or physically. The parent does not have to directly make the child feel guilty explicitly, as the guilt is often more gradually and subtly acquired by the child. The ‘guilt-inducing’ voice can also come from experiences where a parent did try and manipulate the child’s emotions and actually make them feel guilty to a greater or lesser degree. This can be a more robust or toxic form of the guilt-inducing parent mode. For example, whenever the child or adolescent attempted to be independent of separate from the parent, the parent may have responded with messages which implied that the child would ‘hurt’ them, it they were to ‘separate’ and attend to their own needs (eg: “I don’t know what I’d do without you, I’d never survive without your help”; “go out with your friends if you like, I’ll just sit at home feeling lonely all night”; “It’s OK you have your own life to live, I’ll manage somehow I suppose”). As you can see, the development of the ‘guilt-inducing’ parent mode can be quite complex and can develop gradually over the years without any apparent parent-child conflict or trauma. If you have a strong ‘guilt-inducing’ parent mode, then you will generally have a lot of trouble setting healthy limits with others and even agonize over letting others down or saying no, even when you have to. Guilt is a very familiar emotion for you!
Your own demanding, punitive or guilt-inducing parent mode can come out and be directed towards other people, like your partner and your own children. If this is happening you need to gain insight into when it happens because ultimately it will destroy relationships. A child who grows up with a demanding or punitive parent will harbour a lot of resentment towards their parent and will have a strong angry child mode that they will have to work on.
In relationships, critic or parent modes can play out with negative consequences. For example, you may feel yourself flip into punitive parent mode if you feel the need to harshly berate your spouse if they have not done something to your standard, or you may say harsh, critical things to your child when you feel they are not listening to you. Afterwards, when you calm down, you might see that you have been excessively harsh or unreasonable and you may regret your words.
Fortunately, we can do something about all these types of inner critics! The goal of working on the demanding parents is to tame it, to dilute it down to an acceptable level where it helps you instead of hindering you. Because the punitive parent voice does not help you in any way, the goal is to override it in therapy with proven strategies. In schema therapy we can use all sorts of creative ways to destabilize the punitive parent, so that it’s ‘presence’ is either fully eradicated or reduced significantly. One of the key antidotes for all forms of inner critics is of course self-compassion. In Schema Therapy we refer to this as the ‘Healthy Adult’ mode. In schema therapy we want to heal the childhood vulnerabilities that believe the negative critical voices and also bolster the self-compassionate part of the person – their ‘Healthy Adult’ mode.
In schema therapy, the therapist can use different experiential methods including chair-work to externalise the inner critics to see how they play out in a client’s life and also how they might hinder progress in therapy. Being able to identify your inner critics and the types of message they express is an important first step towards healing in schema therapy.
Vulnerable Child Modes
Child modes are parts of self (or representations of the self) which came into being in childhood in response to the parenting you received and other experiences you encounted. Think about the concept of the ‘inner child’ that many therapists have written about. The term Vulnerable child (VC) is a general one used to described a part of the self which harbours all the emotional pain belonging to childhood. All the emotions, beliefs and behaviours which came about due to negative childhood experiences and relationships belong to the VC mode. The pain associated with physical, emotional and sexual abuse; abandonments and losses; and dismissive or neglectful parenting styles, are all stored here – within the VC mode.
There may be many different, more specific types of the VC modes, such as the ‘abused child’, the ‘abandoned child’, the ‘lonely child’, the ‘grieving child’ and so on. The VC is where all the unmet needs of the child reside. It very much depends upon your own personal childhood experiences, as to how you identify your VC part or parts. An essential part of therapy is to reconnect with and heal the VC mode, with the guidance of a skilled therapist experienced in the art of imagery re-scripting. With the help of your therapist, you will be able to meet and reconnect with these parts which you have previously cut off or disavowed in order to cope and get on with life.
It is very normal for people to want to ‘forget’ or dismiss aspects of their past in an attempt to get on with life and avoid feeling hurtful and uncomfortable emotions. However, when we do this we leave behind parts of us which continue to feel rejected and outcast and they can unconsciously influence the way we feel, the partners we choose and all manner of decisions we make.
There may be many ‘child’ representations of the self within all of us. That is, a person may have many painful or vulnerable inner children – so to speak. The thing to understand is that these ‘child parts of self’ often tend to get stuck in a time warp – as though they are stuck or trapped in the past (with only an awareness of what happen back then). Finding, reconnecting with and healing vulnerable child parts is an essential part of good schema therapy. It is only when we do this, that a person is able to truly accept and love themselves in a way that promotes long-term healing and real-life changes.
Angry Child Mode
This mode comes about as a natural response to not getting your childhood needs met or having them violated through mistreatment. It is the (child) part of self that feels the injustice of the unmet needs and gets angry because the needs were not met. During childhood, the anger was understandable. After all, if someone mistreats you, or stops you from doing something you really want to do, the normal human emotional response is anger. So the angry child mode is the part of self that develops out of wanting to defend or protect the child who was being mistreated, abandoned, invalidated or unloved. The underlying intention of the angry child is understandable, but it tends to be a disorganised and unhelpful mode when activated in the adult person.
You can usually tell if someone is in angry child mode because their anger outburst is excessive and appears to be disproportionate to the triggering event. Angry child mode often surfaces quickly after the person feels hurt, anxious or fearful. Angry responses come in to ‘over-compensate’ for an emotional need not being met.
The angry child wants to get a need met (they want understanding and connection) but they go about it in an unhelpful or primitive way (ie, it may look like a tantrum). For example, you could feel very hurt by a friend not returning your call and then flip into an angry mode. This anger usually feels very hot, intense, impulsive and out of control. In relationships, the angry child mode is triggered a lot. A person may feel abandoned by their partner and then pick a fight with them and get very angry, instead of expressing their true feelings of hurt. The angry child mode can be a destructive force in relationships and won’t win you any friends at work either. When the angry child mode is extreme and escalates into acts of impulsive (verbal or physical) aggression then a person may be in ‘enraged child’ mode. It is scary to be on the receiving end of the enraged child mode. The ‘trigger’ for the angry or enraged child modes is always some type of threat, criticism, abandonment, rejection or mistreatment – either real or imagined. The angry child mode is not an effective, healthy adult way of getting one’s needs met or resolving relationship disputes. If left unchecked it will most likely destroy relationships and leave you feeling very isolated and lonely.
Impulsive or Undisciplined Child Mode
A similar child mode is the undisciplined child mode. This part of self has developed either from a lack of discipline during childhood (ie, giving in to the child and poor limit setting) or the opposite whereby the childhood environment was very stern, rigid and strict with harsh discipline. So therefore, as a child – you either heard the word “no” too infrequently or not at all, or you heard it way too much. This is the “I want what I want, when I want it” mode and is usually quite strong in people struggling with addiction and other impulsive behaviours. Whenever we say to ourselves “I deserve this, I know I shouldn’t but I’m having it anyway” – we are usually in some degree of undisciplined child mode. Again, a person in this mode is usually trying to get some need met, but is probably going about it in an unhelpful way. One of the long-term negative consequences of having a strong undisciplined child mode is that it affects your ability to regulate yourself and your emotions in a healthy adult way. It is also linked with a sense of poor autonomy and a dependent personality style.
Happy / Contented / Authentic Child Mode
There is a mostly positive, ‘feel good’ child mode – referred to as the happy child mode. Can you think of times from your childhood when you felt free to express yourself, felt joyous and silly while also feeling safe and nurtured. Do you have times when you feel like that now? This might be your happy child mode – a part of you to be fostered and further developed. Sadly, some people don’t have any recollection of ever feeling this way in childhood because their early years were too marked by experiences of neglect, abuse or hardship. Therapy can help these people create a more positive, free, compassionate and joyful side of themselves. Intentionally, we can also help a VC part evolve into a happy or contented child mode.