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Psychology and health care

A lot of people associate psychology with a psychotherapist. They think of a psychologist who asks the client to lay down on a sofa and tell him everything that comes into mind. The psychotherapist will not say a word as long as the client is talking and nods every now and then to stimulate the client to keep on talking. Other techniques are saying 'And what do you feel when that happens?' or 'Mmmmm'. Because we are aware of this association a lot of people have with the word psychology we will first try to correct two common misunderstandings.

In the first place, a psychologist is not always someone who helps you with your problems. Psychology is the science that studies human behavior and thinking. Examples of other work done by psychologists: - play a role in the design of the cockpit of an airplane to make sure the instruments work intuitively and safe, - assessing memory problems in the elderly to see if they might suffer from some form of dementia, - judging eye witness testimonies on their reliability.

Second, in the field of psychotherapy, the type of therapy described above is not common practice anymore. The most widely practiced types of psychotherapy resemble a normal conversation with an equal who has heard a lot of problems and tries to use this experience to show clients a ways to deal with their problems.

Below you can find information about where you can find help for mental problems. The institutions named below are dutch. In the future we will also add organizations that are active outside the Netherlands.

When should you get help?

First of all, remember that everyone has problems and that they are a natural part of life. Problems only become intolerable when they disrupt your normal life or cause intense mental suffering. It might be hard to determine when mental suffering becomes 'intense'. Or when 'normal' life is 'disrupted'? For these terms, 'intense', 'normal', 'disrupted', are subjective. Only you can make this judgment.

Where?

For most people, the general practitioner is the first person they come to when they need help for a psychological problem. He can sometimes make several appointments with you to talk about your problems. When he agrees with you that you might profit from further care, he can reassign you to a specialized institution.

Is your problem practical or psychosocial? (for example problems related to finding a house, or financial problems) then you can go to the Algemeen Maatschappelijk Werk (AMW). For problems related to an addiction you can go to a Consultatiebureau voor Alcohol en Drugs. You can find these institutions in the telephone book.

If you suffer from mental problems in such a way, that your normal life is negatively influenced, the general practitioner can give you the address of a Regionale Instelling voor Ambulante Geestelijk Gezondheidszorg (RIAGG), a psychiatric hospital, or to an individual psychologist or psychotherapist.

If you want free advice over the telephone, you can call the stichting Korrelatie (0900-1450, 10 eurocent per minute), between 9.00 u. and 22.00 u. Written information is available at the Nationaal Fonds Geestelijke Volksgezondheid (NFGV): postbus 5103, 3502 JC Utrecht, telephone number (030)2971197.

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