What does the bloke do?
The thought of professional help often makes a man squirm like an earthworm on a rainy day. But it shouldn't. Health professionals can work with you on personal issues, thinking through tough decisions and bettering yourself and your life.
And don't forget, these guys are like girlfriends – you click with some of them and others, well, they just don't 'get you'. If you find after a session or two that your Health Professional just isn't 'doing it for you', then maybe you need to do a bit more research and find one that matches your needs.
For most blokes a trip to the doctor is seen as a last resort, like when that dose of the Flu you've had for a week just won't go away or the injury you got playing football on Saturday is still hurting like hell the next week. Well that's not all they are there for. They're also there to talk to you about how you're feeling as well – like if you are anxious or depressed.
If you haven't seen a doctor since the mighty Lions last won the Premiership, you might want to ask your mates if they are happy with their doctors and go with a recommendation.
Unfortunately, doctors are usually flat chat at the times of the day that are most convenient – like lunchtime or straight after work – so check your schedule to see if there's a time you can make. And before you go, make some notes about what you want to talk about. If you've taken my Mind Quiz make sure you've emailed that to yourself and take a copy with you.
Probably the first question your doctor will ask you will be a direct 'So what can I do for you?'
The most important thing a doctor can do is listen, so talk about the symptoms you've been experiencing, whether it be what's happening at home or work, how much you're sleeping, how much you're drinking/smoking and the events that have led to you feeling the way you are. Remember, like a good investigator, this is all part of collecting the evidence base the doctor needs to give you the best advice.
And don't forget, if you are regularly seeing a doctor, you should also chat to them about the following stuff, depending on your age and other personal situations:
|20s, 30s & 40s
||50 and over
|Your family medical History
||All of those... plus
|Chat about how you are feeling
||Blood tests – blood sugar and cholesterol
||Prostate cancer testing
|Skin cancer check
||Bowel cancer screening
|Weight and physical activity
Counsellors and Psychologists
Unlike that one mate who can’t keep his mouths shut, conversations between you and your psychologist or counsellor are confidential.
For the record, a psychologist is a health professional with a specific range of qualifications – but they are not a doctor. A counsellor might work in a range of places, but are generally less qualified as psychologists. Anybody can call themselves a counsellor, but the good ones have proper qualifications, and are registered with a professional society – ask them before you book.
No matter whether you are seeing a psychologist or a qualified counsellor, it’s best to come to the session with a specific issue of concern and a goal in mind. You may be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire before your appointment. Appointments usually last an hour.
Therapy works best if you participate actively. Don’t be shy. You’re paying the therapist to listen, so tell him/her whatever is on your mind, and make the most of every visit.
Your therapist may give you homework between appointments. Since this isn’t high school, I recommend you actually do it.
Contrary to popular belief and all those Hollywood movies, psychiatrists don't wear white coats, sport pointy grey beards and have a leather couch in their office for you to lie on. Similar to a psychologist they are there to help lift some of that weight from your shoulders.
For the record, the key differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that a psychiatrist has a medical degree which means they can combine medication with other forms of treatment.
Medications for depression and anxiety usually make people feel better, and they won't change your personality or make you feel happy all the time – they will make you yourself. Of course, like any medication, some people will have some side effects, but as long as you are talking openly with your psychiatrist these side effects can be minimised.