The questions and answers below may help to address queries and concerns you may have about psychological counselling
What can I expect at a first session?
At the first session, you will generally be encouraged to talk about your concerns and what you would like help with. This session (like any others) will usually take between 50 and 60 minutes. To help establish the best way to assist you, your clinical psychologist will take some time getting to know you and your issues/concerns that you want addressed. This is all part of an initial assessment, to ensure that the focus is placed on the most effective and evidence-based approaches to helping you – as part of a treatment plan/approach. You will be provided with support in talking about your concerns and you will be asked some questions to make it easier to talk about some of your emotional difficulties and symptoms, the impacts on areas of your life, and specific areas where you would like to make changes/improvements. You may also be asked to complete brief measures (this is quick and not complicated). The measure(s) aim to get an indication of the current strength/severity of your distress and concerns so that comparison can be made at later sessions of how effective therapy is working in addressing your concerns. You can expect some assistance to help you set any goals from therapy, and to identify what may be contributing to your difficulties. This will include emphasis on areas you can influence in your thinking, activities/behaviours and how you currently manage your difficulties (basically what have you tried before, what helps, what doesn’t). It is a collaborative process with a total focus on you, and you will NOT be forced to talk about anything you do not want to talk about.
What should I bring to the first session?
When you make an appointment, you will be sent some brief information to read and fill out. Please bring the completed form along to the session, along with any referral from your doctor, or other documentation that confirms any associated claim number or coverage for psychological therapy (such as from WorkCover, Transport Accident Commission).
Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a clinical psychologist?
You don’t need a referral from a doctor to have psychological counselling with a clinical psychologist. However, you will need a referral letter from a doctor (a general medical practitioner or a psychiatrist) BEFORE your appointment if you are going to be claiming a rebate from Medicare. You will also need a doctor’s letter BEFORE your appointment if you are attending under funding provided by WorkCover, the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), or the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA).
How much does it cost? / Are rebates available?
Our fee for a standard 50+ to 60 minute session is $190.
A discount off the standard fee applies if you have a current health care card or Australian Government Pension.
The session fee is to be paid in full immediately following the session – after which you can get any rebate that may apply (see below for ‘out-of-pocket’ cost).
Our cost of $190 for a 50+ to 60 minute session is well below the cost recommended by the Australian Psychological Society (the APS recommended fee was $260 for 2019-20).
Your ‘out-of-pocket’ cost for each session depends on whether you are eligible for rebates or have funding for sessions from other sources.
If you have a current referral from a general practitioner with a mental health care plan or from a psychiatrist, you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate of $128.40 per session for a maximum of 10 sessions in a calendar year (temporarily, an additional ten sessions may be available under Federal Government announcements in the context of the coronavirus pandemic). You must have the referral BEFORE the session to receive any rebate.
If eligible, the ‘out-of-pocket’ cost for a 50+ to 60 minute session becomes around $62 (less for health care card and Pension card holders).
If you are eligible for a medicare rebate, we can process the rebate for you after you have made full payment for the session.
For more information on medicare rebates for psychological services click here which will take you to a medicare information page by the Australian Psychological Society. Medicare rebates and requirements are set by the Federal Government.
2. Private health insurance
If you have private health insurance, you can contact your insurer to establish whether you are eligible for a rebate from the insurer for part of the session cost after paying for your session. Private health insurance rebates cannot be obtained for a consultation where Medicare rebates are being claimed. We suggest you contact your Private Health Insurer prior to your first appointment with us, if you intend to make a claim through them. We do not process PHI claims at the practice – and you will need to follow up with them separately after full payment of your session.
3. Workcover, Transport Accident Commission, Department of Veteran’s Affairs
If attending under Workcover, Transport Accident Commission, Department of Veteran’s Affairs, your session cost may be covered in full– please check with the relevant organisation and ensure you provide a letter with details of coverage and claim number prior to the first session commencing.
Do you write free reports?
If you are referred under the Medicare Australia arrangements with a referral from your general practitioner, we provide update letters to the referrer – there is no cost for those letters over the session cost. Any other form of report involves a cost which is dependent on the type of report, the complexity of the report and the time taken. If you require a report, please advise us up front and we will discuss the costing arrangements with you, so that you can make an informed decision whether to proceed with preparation of the report.
We do not write court reports in regard to outstanding traffic and toll fines.
Will I have to take medication?
Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication and are not qualified or registered/licenced to do so– medication is recommended, prescribed and managed by medical doctors such as general practitioners and psychiatrists. Our focus in working with you is on listening, identifying strategies and skills involving where you place your attention, thinking about yourself/others/situations, and shifts in activities and behaviours that you can learn and practice to help you manage your difficulties and achieve your goals.
How many sessions will it take for me to feel better / achieve my goals?
This is a question that cannot be answered accurately prior to assessment – it is dependent on many factors. However, we will discuss with you a basic plan for treatment and review progress with you over time. The aim is to help you to learn skills over time so that you can manage your distress and meet your goals independently.