Psychologists: Your Guide to Maximising Patient Care

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As the door on 2020 closes, there is an unprecedented number of people around the world keen to see the back of what was a very difficult year.

For Australian psychologists, demand has jumped significantly as people have grappled with COVID lockdowns, ailing businesses and the stress of watching a global pandemic take hold.

Between mid-March and the start of September, Australians accessed 5,774,696 mental health services funded by Medicare, leaving psychologists struggling to keep up and booked well into 2021.

It’s not only the demands on psychologist’s time that have increased, but also the stresses being faced by their patients, leaving many psychologists struggling to help carry the load.

For many in the profession, it’s been a time to reassess their relationships with patients and how they can build better relationships to support their clients through the darkest hours of the COVID pandemic.

We’ve put together this list of ways psychologists can ensure they’re providing the best possible service to their clients well beyond 2020.

Building better client relationships

It’s never been more important for psychologists to focus on building good relationships with their patients.

Research by the American Psychological Association shows that the best psychologists share the following traits:

  • Good interpersonal communication skills

  • Trustworthiness

  • Willingness to establish an alliance with the client

  • Provides accurate and up to date case formulation

  • Has a consistent and acceptable treatment plan

  • Believes in the treatment method they are using

  • Regularly checking client progress

  • Adapts to client characteristics

  • Inspires hope and optimism in the client

  • Sensitivity to different cultural backgrounds

  • Self-awareness

  • Uses evidence-based practice

  • Is continually involved in regular professional development

If you’re looking to assess your own performance as a psychologist, it may be time to assess your performance against these criteria and work to develop skills in any areas you think you may lack.

Ensuring you tick as many boxes on the list will mean you’re building the best possible relationships to support your clients.

Providing service to regional and remote areas

If there’s one thing 2020 has had in its favour, it’s the acceptance and take-up of digital technology across the broad population. People who may have never considered attending a consultation on Skype or Zoom suddenly had no other choice, forcing wide-spread technological adaptation and adoption.

This new technological takeup effectively allowed psychologists to treat patients they wouldn’t have been able to before.

For psychologists looking to provide the best support to their patients beyond 2020, it’ll be important to ensure patients in regional and remote areas continue to utilise these services once the pandemic is a distant memory.

The advances made in technological access in 2020 should be harnessed and built on by the psychological profession, ensuring all Australians requiring psychological support can access it at times that suit them.

Ensure you’re up to speed with tools like Skype and Zoom and have a plan in place to incorporate these tools into your work to make sure people in regional and remote communities can benefit from your services.

 

Keep working with clients who have moved away

Moving can be challenging enough at the best of times, but having to walk away from a relationship with a trusted psychologist has traditionally added significantly to stress levels.

The technological leaps made this year mean that no longer has to be the case. Psychologists can look to provide ongoing support to clients online, ensuring no gap in the patient’s care.

Psychologists looking to provide this are encouraged to work with their clients to formulate a plan, using the technology that best suits the client’s needs and skill levels (for example, Skype or Zoom).

Keep working with clients who can’t make it to you

This year has meant many people’s work and living situations have changed. People have had to accept jobs or shifts they may not have before, or have had to move in with parents.

This has meant that the traditional arrangements they had in place for accessing psychological care may no longer suit.

To ensure you can still meet the needs of these clients, make sure you incorporate flexibility into your work. This may mean being available for consultations at times you wouldn’t have considered before.

Ensuring you provide the best care to your clients is challenging and the rapidly changing environment can be stressful for psychologists to adapt to.

If you’re looking for support to offer your patients the care they require, Therago can help you. 

 

 


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