Over the years I have found that people are asking similar types of questions so to help you answer any questions or curiosities that you may have, I have listed some of the most common questions.
Please feel free to contact me directly if your question is not answered below.
Do I need a GP referral to see a psychologist?
No. A GP referral is not required to see a psychologist. You may be able to claim a portion of your session fee through your private health insurance however. Iif you would like to claim a Medicare rebate, you will need to visit your GP and ask for a Mental Health Care Plan.
What is a Mental Health Care Plan?
A Mental Health Care Plan is part of a Medicare scheme that allows better access to psychological services through an approved Medicare provider. A GP is able to issue a Mental Health Care Plan to individuals who fit the criteria. When you make an appointment with your GP, make sure you advise the reception staff that you will need an extended appointment so that enough time is allocated on the day for your GP to assess you and provide the plan. A Mental Health Care Plan entitles you to a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year.
If you already know which psychologist you would like to see, your GP will address the Mental Health Care Plan to them specifically. Otherwise, your GP may recommend someone they already know, or they can simply address the Mental Health Care Plan to “the Psychologist” leaving you free to choose someone afterwards.
How much is the Medicare rebate?
As at January 2017, the rebate for a General psychologist is $84.80 per session, and $124.50 per session for a Clinical Psychologist. There is often an out-of-pocket expense due depending on the fee charged by the psychologist. You will need to ask about this with the psychologist you engage with.
Some psychology practices are able to process the Medicare rebate immediately when you settle your account, whilst others require you to lodge the claim with Medicare yourself.
For me: I am a Clinical Psychologist so you will be able to claim $124.50 per session within a Mental Health Care Plan.
How much does it cost?
Fees differ widely between therapists. Please call or email me to discuss this further.
Can I claim the fee from my private health insurance?
This depends on which company you hold your private insurance with, and also your level of cover. Some psychology practices are able to process private health insurance on the day, whilst others cannot.
For me: I am unable to process private health insurance, so you will need to lodge this yourself with your insurance provider. If you are going to check with your health insurance provider to see if you are covered for my services, please quote my provider number of 4961964T.
Do I need to prepare anything before I come to my first appointment?
This will depend on the psychologist you are seeing. Some send out paperwork to be completed and bought in to the first session, whilst others provide it on the day.
It’s always a good idea to have a think about (and possibly make some notes) about why you are seeking therapy, and what outcome you would like to achieve.
Your therapist will usually ask you lots of questions in the first session to get an idea about what has bought you into therapy, and also to get some background information about events that may have happened in the past that are relevant to your current circumstances. Therapists realise that the idea of telling a complete stranger lots of personal things may be daunting for some people, so just try to be as open and honest as you can, and don’t be afraid to say “that’s a little hard for me to talk about today” if you need to.
For me: I email out information forms so that you can read them through, complete them and bring to your first session. I do it this way because I don’t want to take up valuable therapy session time filling in forms! Don’t worry though if you do not have access to a printer. Just let me know when you make your appointment. I will still email them to you and have hard copies available for you to complete and sign on the day of your first appointment. You will be asked to arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your appointment so that you can complete them at my office.
How long is each session?
Normally, a session lasts approximately 50 minutes for an individual and approximately 90 minutes for a couple. This can differ between therapists.
For me: individuals are 45-50 minute sessions. Specific trauma treatment takes 75-90 minutes.
How long does therapy take?
Everyone who comes to therapy is a unique and individual person, with unique and individual issues to be addressed. Some people just want to work on one specific problem, while others want long-term therapy to explore and address deep-seated issues. This will normally be discussed with your therapist during the first couple of sessions.
How often will I have to come?
Frequency of visits should be discussed at the first couple of sessions.
For me: My preference is to see someone new weekly for the first couple of weeks so that we can start to get to know each other, then, depending on how treatment is progressing, session frequency will be extended as appropriate. If weekly is not manageable, then we will discuss how we can work in a way that is better suited to you. My approach is a collaborative one, so I am always open to discuss anything that arises.
What about confidentiality?
There are some important things you need to know about confidentiality when seeing a psychologist.
For me: As part of providing a psychological service I will need to collect and record personal information that is relevant to your current situation. This information will be a necessary part of the psychological assessment and treatment that is conducted.
All personal information gathered will remain confidential. However, should you wish me to discuss your situation with another health professional, agency, family member or workplace personnel, I will need your signed consent to do so with clear boundaries agreed upon.
On occasion, I may ask to record one of your therapy sessions to share with my supervisor who is bound by the same confidentiality conditions as me. You have the right to refuse this request without prejudice to future therapy with me.
Confidentiality will only be waived under the following circumstances:
As a psychologist I have a duty of care to notify the police and/or relatives if I consider you to be at risk of harming yourself or others. This includes mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse.
All psychologists are required to undertake clinical supervision with an experienced supervisor where they discuss some of the clients they are working with. This is an important aspect of professional development and aims to ensure that practices used during session are beneficial to you, the client. Strict confidentiality and anonymity are maintained throughout.
On occasion, clinical records may be subpoenaed and psychologists are required by law to provide any information requested.
If you have any questions or concerns about confidentiality between us, please raise them in session as soon as possible.
Is there parking?
Yes, there is free parking on the street as well as a dedicated car park at the rear of the counselling centre. Details and a map are provided in the initial set of documents emailed to you.
Can I bring a support person to my first session?
Some therapists are happy for you to do this, while others as not so happy. If you think this may be an issue for you, please ask the therapist before your first session.
For me: If you feel that bringing another person with you as support to your first session would be helpful, then please feel able to do this. They can wait for you in the waiting room for the entire session, they can join you for the a portion of the session, or they can remain with you for the entire session. Make sure you are confident that you will comfortable disclosing information in front of your support person.