What does a clinical psychologist do?

Clinical psychologists have usually studied psychology at a master’s level and are experts in the science behind human emotions, behaviour, and mental processes.

They use evidence-based strategies to manage mental health illnesses and disorders non-medicinally over the long-term.

They may also perform assessments and analyse the results, as well as diagnose psychological or behavioural conditions.

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What does a counsellor, or counselling psychologist, do?

TYHO’s professional counsellors and counselling psychologists all have at least a master’s degree in the domain. (Please note that outside of TYHO, counsellors may only have a post-graduate diploma instead.)

Counsellors and counselling psychologists are highly skilled in applying integrative therapies to assist people in working through their personal and emotional issues. They tend to adopt a more person-centred approach that focuses on the overall wellbeing of clients when helping them address specific problems.

If you would like to talk about a specific issue (eg adjustment to a new job, coping with loss, problems at school), then a counsellor or counselling psychologist may be appropriate to approach.

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How do I know if my sessions are working for me?

When we have been attending sessions for a while, it can feel almost like “I’m here, what’s next?”

While it is normal to expect results fast, the simple fact is that progress takes time. To gauge if therapy is working for you, look out for these signs that suggest you are on the right track:

> You begin to notice small changes in both your physical and mental health (eg better sleep, uplifted moods). Do keep in mind that therapy is not always linear and that sometimes you will have bad days or weeks.

> You don’t dread sessions. You may even start looking forward to them! Opening up to a stranger can be uncomfortable initially, but over time you’ll realise that it is a dedicated time for you to be in touch with your inner world.

> You feel respected and validated. A hallmark of therapy is being in a safe environment where your needs are heard.

> You feel better equipped to manage bad days. After several sessions, you have developed a repertoire of coping skills to help you weather the storms. This can be an improvement in dealing with conflicts or even simply learning to prioritise yourself.

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How often should I have therapy sessions?

For a start, individuals can consider going for therapy once a week. Research suggests that weekly sessions allow regularity which is highly beneficial to clients, particularly at the beginning of the therapeutic journey.

Having regular weekly sessions develops one’s emotional safety (Cameron, 2018) and enables one to build trust and rapport with one’s therapist (Hall, 2020).

This allows one to progress at a steady pace and ensures that during sessions, more time can be dedicated to working through one’s issues, rather than filling the therapist in about the time that has elapsed. Moreover, weekly check-ins reduce the possibility of slipping into bad habits or becoming overwhelmed by unwanted thoughts and feelings.

In addition, research indicates that after attending an average of 8 sessions, individuals report the greatest decrease in psychological distress and are most likely to experience positive changes in their lives (Foundation Psychology; Saxon et al., 2016).

It may also be helpful to note that individuals who decide to withdraw within or just after 3 sessions are less likely to experience positive outcomes as things often start taking a turn for the better after the third session (Crago & Gardner, 2012).

Nonetheless, committing to therapy is an investment of both one’s time and financial resources. You may want to speak with your therapist and come up with a plan or schedule that works best for you.

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Under what circumstances will my confidential information be disclosed?

Your Therapist has strict ethical and professional responsibilities to keep the content of your sessions confidential.

Nonetheless, there are a few exceptions to this rule where your Therapist may be obliged to disclose information about your sessions to meet their legal, or ethical duty.

For instance, these include:
> circumstances where you are assessed to be at risk of harm to self or others; or
> where there is any legal obligation requiring disclosure.

In such cases, external parties (eg family, court, police, or crisis service providers) may be informed of the situation.

Do note that, typically, the TYHO platform defers to your Therapist regarding disclosure of any information (eg session notes or messages to Therapist). Numerous jurisdictions have stringent regulations around Therapist-client relationships and the confidentiality obligations accompanying it. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your Therapist’s confidentiality obligations, you may wish to discuss this with them during your session.

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What is online counselling?

There are ups and downs in everyone’s life. One effective way to deal with a difficult personal situation is by talking to someone trained in helping you work through issues and find suitable solutions. Online counselling refers to accessing such services remotely through your computer or personal device, be it a laptop, tablet, or smart phone.

At Talk Your Heart Out (TYHO), this can be done via video or audio functions facilitated by the TYHO platform, whatever your preference may be.

Several studies have shown that online sessions can be as effective as traditional face-to face counselling, with the added advantages of flexibility, relative anonymity, affordability and convenience.

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What are the benefits of online counselling?

Talk therapy has been shown to have numerous benefits to one’s overall wellbeing, including improving self-awareness, enhancing interpersonal interactions, and managing certain physical illnesses (eg chronic pain and IBS).

Above all, it allows one to not just deal with their immediate concerns but also cultivate healthy habits that improve their overall quality of life. These practices can then be imparted to loved ones as well.

If you are thinking about going for counselling, you may want to consider the various advantages of doing it online, including:

> Easier access to counselling, particularly for those who are otherwise busy with work or other commitments, have carer responsibilities, or reduced mobility.

> Up to 50 percent more affordable as compared to traditional in-person sessions.

> Greater time efficiency as travelling is not required, and scheduling is made simpler.

> Reduced inertia and fear of judgement as you will be attending sessions from a private space.

> The option to express yourself through writing, if you prefer.

At the very least, conversing with a Therapist on our platform lightens your mental load and gives you another perspective to approach your issues.

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How are online sessions different from in-person sessions?

The primary difference between online sessions and in-person sessions is where and how counselling takes place.

1. Location

> With online sessions, you can select a private setting that suits your preferences, such as your residence, workplace, or any other relaxing environment to attend your session from. This option also allows you to switch Therapists via our platform effortlessly. 

> With in-person sessions, you would have to visit a specified location, typically the Therapist’s office, for your session.

2. Communication

> With online sessions, you can opt for your preferred mode of interaction (eg an audio call), depending on your comfort level.

> With in-person sessions, you are involved in direct, face-to-face conversations with your Therapist.

Ultimately, finding the medium for therapy that works best for you is most important.

Note: Currently, in-person sessions on TYHO are only available in Singapore.

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Can I remain anonymous during an online session?

Not entirely. Your safety is important to us, and hence, your Therapist must be able to contact you or an individual you trust in case of an emergency.

Otherwise, we collect minimal information (eg your name, email address, and mobile number) during the sign-up process and do not require you to share any other personal details, such as your date of birth or identification number, that can identify you.

If you wish to remain relatively anonymous, you can opt for an audio call with your Therapist. That way, you will not be required to turn on your video.

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