Therapy will begin with your psychologist finding out information from you to better understand your presenting problems. This involves questions about your background and past experiences, as well as current situation. Goals for therapy and a tentative treatment plan will then be discussed and agreed.
You will find therapy most helpful if you maintain an open mind to learn new approaches. It is also helpful if you have open communication with your psychologist. This includes letting your psychologist know when there are changes in your life events or therapy goals, or when you are in doubt about strategies taught.
It is also important for you to find time outside therapy to regularly apply the skills learnt, and put in place strategies or plans discussed in session. This will enable you to benefit most from therapy.
The number of therapy sessions required vary from person to person. This depends on your presenting problems, as well as your goals for therapy. More often than not, more than one session is required, especially when the problem has been present for a period of time. Usually, the first session will be focused on developing a joint understanding of the presenting problem, and a number of sessions will be required over weeks/months. Your psychologist will discuss this further with you during the first session.
The main difference is that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medication for psychological problems, while a psychologist supports and guides an individual to better handle the psychological problems faced, e.g. through new coping strategies. As psychologists, we cannot prescribe medication.