Can I make an appointment without a referral?
You do not need a referral for any of our services. A referral and mental health care plan is required if you wish to claim a rebate through Medicare. You will also need a confirmation that psychology services have been approved if you would like to claim through TAC or Workcare.
When should people seek individual counselling?
Everyone experiences times in their lives where they feel that they are not managing things as well as they could be. There are also times when your difficulties, emotions or choices feel so overwhelming that they can be hard to cope with on your own. Counselling can be of great benefit during these times. Counselling can guide and support you through difficult decisions and emotions and provide you with skills and strategies that help you establish a deeper understanding of yourself and help you manage your life in a more balanced and effective manner.
Individual Counselling can help you to:
- Explore and increase your understanding of longstanding issues
- Change unhealthy patterns and behaviours
- Deal with grief, loss and trauma
- Overcome feelings of anxiety and fear
- Manage depression
- Manage chronic pain
- Deal with chronic illness and stressful life events
- Resolve stress and conflict at home and work
Individual counselling is not confined to helping you address difficulties in your life. It can also provide opportunities for personal growth by helping you to:
- Increase self esteem and confidence
- Enhance personal relationships
- Bring out your creativity and self-expression
- Learn to assert your own needs
- Renew a sense of purpose in your life
- Feel happier within yourself
- What happens in therapy?
- How many sessions will it take?
What happens in therapy?
Consultations with a psychologist usually last 50 minutes (plus 10 minutes at the end of the session for the psychologist to make notes). Working with a psychologist usually involves a period of assessment followed by a period of treatment. The length of time taken to complete the 'therapy process' is different depending upon the type of problem. This will be discussed with you.
Psychological therapy is a two way process which centres on moving towards specific goals. The first session is about understanding your current difficulties and agreeing on treatment targets with your therapist. For example you may want to overcome feelings of sadness and a lack of enjoyment related to depression. Perhaps you would like to feel in control of your life rather than be consumed by worry. It can be helpful to think about your expectations from therapy and raise any concerns that you have with your therapist.
Research shows that therapy works best when you attend regularly and give some thought to what you want to discuss during each session. You will usually be asked to practice skills and strategies between sessions. People who do this generally get more out of therapy.
How many sessions will it take?
It is very difficult to prescribe the exact number of sessions that someone may require. Some people come for one session to talk through something on their mind, while others continue to see a psychologist for a number of years, preferring to work on their emotional development on a long-term basis. And of course most people fit somewhere in between. For the most common problems (i.e. depression and anxiety) it is usual for most people to attend between 6 and 20 sessions.
When should people seek relationship counselling?
People often seek relationship counselling for one of two reasons, either they want to:
- address complex relationship difficulties or
- enhance a relationship that feels like it has gone stale
All relationships will experience difficulties from time to time; it is part of sharing your life with another person. How you handle your difficulties will determine if you create a relationship that works or one that doesn't. Sometimes the issues feel so complex, or the feelings are so painful or confusing, that you are unable to work through them without support. During these times, relationship counselling can be of great value. It is important to realise that between two people there will be differences in ideas and expectations, there can also be conflict and strong expression of feelings. Being able to handle conflict and deal with differences is important in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships. Relationship counselling can play an active role in this process.
At times you might find that, even though there are no explicit difficulties in your relationship, it is no longer providing you with the feelings of intimacy and togetherness you had when it began. Creating positive, fulfilling relationships requires a conscious acknowledgement of the importance of the relationship and a commitment to making its nurturance and enhancement a priority in your lives. Relationship counselling can guide this process and assist by providing, skills, strategies and communication techniques that enhance understanding and togetherness.
- What should I do if I want to come but my partner is not ready to come to relationship counselling?
- I am worried that my partner will dominate the session?
- I'm coming because my partner wants me to but I'm worried about my partner and the psychologist ganging up on me?
What should I do if I want to come but my partner is not ready to come to relationship counselling?
Sometimes it can be helpful to come on your own first. This shows that you value the relationship and are willing to willing to work on it. Therapy addressing a couple's issue is always better when both partners are able to contribute to the session, however, many people find that while they are waiting for their partner to be ready, their relationship is further deteriorating.
Attending on your own and bringing new skills and approaches to your interactions with your partner can contribute to a shift in dynamics. If your partner does want to attend relationship counselling with you in the future, it is usually advised that they have one or two sessions with the psychologist on their own at first. This allows them to feel heard and understood before the couple's sessions begin. Otherwise you can be referred, as a couple, to a new psychologist.
I am worried that my partner will dominate the session?
In couples therapy is very important that each partner have the same amount of time to share their concerns. Throughout the sessions, attention, reflections and exploration of thoughts and feelings is given to both partners. At times, relationship counselling can become directive. This allows the therapist to create space for one partner if the other one is more dominant. As both of you are equally a part of the relationship whole, both of your points of view are equally important and equally valid.
I'm coming because my partner wants me to but I'm worried about my partner and the psychologist ganging up on me?
Shaming and blaming hinder the therapeutic process. In couples counselling, the relationship, rather than either individual, is the client. The therapist's role is to support the relationship into developing insight into what is working and what is not. Together the therapist and the couple explore many aspects of the relationship from a perspective of curiosity and the facilitation of understanding and change.
How does the Medicare system work?
Under the Medicare system a client must be referred by a GP or Psychiatrist. Your medical practitioner will need to complete and prepare a Mental Health Care Plan before referring you to a psychologist. Eligible clients can claim a partial rebate for the cost of their session from Medicare. This can be claimed up to a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year. After the sixth session, your psychologist will provide a report to your referring medical practitioner.
You must return to your Medical Practitioner for a review after six sessions with your psychologist. Your practitioner will assess whether it is appropriate for you to access further sessions under a Medicare related referral. Without the review any claim made to Medicare will not be processed.
How do I obtain a Mental Health Care Plan?
You need to book an appointment with your GP to discuss your eligibility for a Mental Health Care Plan. Most GP's will require you to book a long consultation to allow adequate time to co-ordinate the Mental Health Care Plan and discuss treatment options. Please speak with your own GP practice as to their booking requirements.
Who is Eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan?
Patients with the following disorders who would benefit from a structured approach to the management of their mental health needs are eligible to receive the Medicare rebates:
- Generalised anxiety
- Mixed anxiety and depression
- Adjustment disorder
- Sleep problems
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Bereavement disorders
- Dissociative (conversion) disorders
- Chronic / Acute Psychotic disorders
- Sexual disorders
- Alcohol use disorders
- Drug use disorders
- Conduct disorders
- Hyperkinetic (attention deficit) disorder
- Enuresis (non medical)
- Unexplained somatic complaints
- Mental disorder, not otherwise specified
- Eating disorders
If I need more than 10 sessions with my psychologist can I claim additional sessions through Medicare?
Medicare rebates are payable up to a maximum of 10 individual sessions per calendar year. If you do require additional sessions with your psychologist, no further Medicare rebates can be claimed. You may be able to make a claim for further psychology sessions if you are a private health fund member. Please check eligibility with your private health fund provider.
I have been seeing another psychologist but would like to change to Relate Psychology. Can I use my existing plan?
Yes, if you still have sessions available for the calendar year. We do request a referral to Relate Psychology from your GP to accompany the existing plan. Please make sure that referral stipulates how many sessions you have had with the other psychologist. You may be asked to consult with your medical practitioner for a review of your existing plan if 6 sessions have already been used.
Can I claim a psychology session through both Medicare and Private Health?
No, you may only claim from either Medicare or a Private health fund for each session. Private Heath will not contribute towards the 'gap' between the Medicare rebate and the consultation fees.
Can I make an appointment without a referral?
You do not need a referral for any of our services. A referral and mental health care plan is required if you wish to claim a rebate through Medicare. You will also need a confirmation that psychology services have been approved if you would like to claim through TAC or Workcover.
What are your confidentiality rules?
Psychologists are bound by confidentiality. What is discussed in all sessions is strictly confidential, without your consent, your information will not be disclosed to anyone. However, under some circumstances, such as in situations where there may be potential harm to yourself or others, or if the law demands it, psychologists have a duty of care to disclose the information. We will discuss any concerns of this nature with you before disclosing to another part.
What's the difference between a psychologist and a psychotherapist or counsellor?
Psychologists have done extensive formal training (at least 6 years) in psychology and have been trained to use scientific measures in their work. This means that they are often focussed on outcomes and using the most effective techniques for change available.
Psychotherapists and counsellors generally have trained from 1-3 years and have a variety of backgrounds. Although in Victoria, at present, anyone can legally call themselves a counsellor or psychotherapist. People who use these terms do not have to be registered with any regulative body or possess any minimum level of qualification.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who have gone on to specialise in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications to treat mental illness.
Psychologists are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication. Psychological treatment typically involves 'talking therapies' designed to help people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, stress and work-related problems, life transitions and also people who have a been diagnosed with a mental illness. Depending upon what the issue is, some people will see both a psychologist and psychiatrist at the same time.
Both psychiatrists and psychologists must possess the required university qualifications and be registered with the Health Professionals Registration Board in their relevant state to be able to call themselves a psychiatrist or psychologist and to be legally able to practice.