Three Ways to Fit More into Your Therapy Appointments: a Guide for Psychologists

As a psychologist, you may struggle with the idea that your work is never done. No matter how much progress you make during an appointment, your patient still has so much to work on! While you will never fix anyone's problems in a single appointment, there are ways to fit more into each appointment. Here are a few strategies to consider implementing to speed up progress and fit more into each session:

Have your patients use a few online assessment tools before the appointment.

If you feel like you spend the majority of your meetings assessing your patients, perhaps there is a way to get some of this done before your patients arrive. There are plenty of online tools for psychologists. You can have your patients use them prior to the appointment, so you have the results to analyze before they even show up in your office.

Make sure you tell your patients specifically what tests to take. For instance, if you have a patient who you suspect is dealing with bipolar depression, have them take a test to assess the likelihood that they actually suffer from this ailment. Then, when you have your appointment, you can start discussing the results rather than spending the first half of the meeting trying to decide whether the patient actually has the condition.

Have an outline prepared.

If you begin each appointment with the idea that you'll just "see how it goes," you may not accomplish what you'd hoped. One conversation can easily derail the whole appointment, and before you know it, you've forgotten to address that very important point you've been meaning to mention for weeks. Before each appointment, sit down and make a brief outline of items you must cover and discuss. Look back at this outline a few times throughout the appointment to make sure you're staying on track.

Be prepared to steer your patient back towards more relevant topics.

Sometimes, patients get talking and you can tell that what they're discussing is not overly relevant to the reason they're in your office. If you just let them keep heading off track, this is a waste of both of your time. So, have some strategies in mind to steer the conversation back in a better direction. For example, you can wait for a lull in the conversation and politely say, "This is all very interesting, but I question its relevance to your treatment. If we could discuss ____ , that would be more productive."