Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
We often get asked this question! Psychologists in Singapore have a master’s or doctoral degree in psychology, and carry out specialized assessments and treatment in the area of problematic thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Psychiatrists on the other hand, are medical doctors who specialize in mental health disorders and can prescribe medication as part of their treatment. Psychiatrists and psychologists typically work together such that the medical treatment (by a psychiatrist) is complemented with psychotherapy (by a psychologist) for best outcomes. For more information about psychologists, please visit the Singapore Psychological Society.
2. What is a forensic psychologist? Do you talk to the dead?
Many people are naturally skeptical when they hear the word “forensic”, as it conjures images of CSI-type of investigations in their minds. This cannot be further from the truth. Forensic psychology is simply one of many areas of specialization in psychology undertaken at the post-graduate level. It involves working at the intersection of legal and psychological matters, for instance, when someone with a mental disorder commits a crime, or when a child needs to be evaluated in the context of a custody dispute. Unlike other clinicians, we have expertise in conducting mental health evaluations in the legal context, on top of our generalist clinical skills-set.
3. How long does therapy last?
It depends on the nature and severity of the problem at hand. Most people begin to experience improvements after at least 5 sessions, although the average length of treatment varies between 8 to 15 sessions. Sessions are 1 hour in length, and generally take place once a week. The frequency and pace of treatment will be discussed with you before actual treatment begins. We also regularly review your treatment goals with you and ensure that we stay on track. You have complete control over the whole process and have the right to discontinue treatment at any time.
4. What are your rates?
In line with our vision to provide quality and affordable mental health care, we offer our services on a flexible, sliding scale fee basis, ranging between $180 - $250 per hour. We determine this based on a number of factors such as the complexity of your presenting issue, your unique personal circumstances, timing and location of sessions. We understand that price point can often be a barrier to treatment and work hard to hard to accommodate an economically diverse client population.
5. Will everything I say be kept confidential?
Yes, but with some exceptions. Your therapist will discuss the limits to confidentiality during your first appointment. All records will be kept confidential, but under the following circumstances, we are obliged by law to notify someone to keep you or others safe:
if you tell us that you plan to seriously harm yourself
if you tell us that you have plans to seriously harm someone else
if we feel that someone is at risk of abuse
The only other instance in which we may have to disclose information about you is if we are ordered to do so by a court of law, for instance, if you request for a forensic assessment. In almost all of the above instances, this would be made known to you and all clients are required to sign an informed consent at the start of our engagement with you.
6. I’m not seeking help for myself, but for someone I know. Can I make an appointment on his/her behalf?
We understand that it can be very difficult to take that first step in making an appointment While you might be a very concerned family member or a friend, we would recommend that you discuss with the prospective client about seeking help before making the appointment, or perhaps encourage them to give us a no-obligations call themselves to determine if our services would be a good fit for them.
There are many reasons why people find it difficult to see a psychologist. Some may not know that their situation is problematic. Even if they do, they could feel ashamed, scared or simply too vulnerable to do anything about it. Working through these motivational issues and helping clients gain insight into their problems is also part of the therapeutic process.
For children and young persons under the age of 18 years, they would need to be accompanied by their parents or guardians for at least the first intake session. Parents/guardians are also likely to be involved in the therapy as many strategies imparted during therapy would require family and school support to achieve lasting change.
7. What if I have an emergency situation?
In the event of a life-threatening crisis or emergency (e.g., if you or someone you know is about to end their lives), please dial 999 (police), 995 (ambulance) or 1800-221-4444 (Samaritans of Singapore; SOS) immediately as Couch Psychology does not provide crisis outreach services.