Why would seeing a psychologist be useful?
Working with a psychologist can assist you to address obstacles in your life, be it feelings, thoughts, or behaviours, that are preventing you from feeling fulfilled, or living life to its greatest potential. Seeing a psychologist can also greatly assist in addressing painful emotions and mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Therapy does not need to last for a long time, it can be a brief few sessions, or longer if needed, depending on the individuals requirements.
What should I expect when I see a psychologist?
Prior to your first appointment, you will be asked to read an information sheet so that you are informed of therapy guidelines (e.g., confidentiality, fees, etc), and to complete forms regarding your personal details (e.g., contact details).
Following this, the first session will focus on your therapist gaining an understanding of the key issues that have brought you to therapy. You may be asked broad questions such as where you grew up, as well as specific questions around any symptoms or issues.
At the end of the first session, you will be asked what your key goals are for attending, and what you would like to work on in your life (e.g., thoughts, emotions, patterns of behaviours, relationships, etc) that will give you a greater sense of well being.
The first session is also a great opportunity to gain a sense of whether the psychologist is a ‘good fit’ for what you need. This is very important as the therapeutic relationship impacts significantly on peoples’ engagement and benefits from therapy sessions. You will be asked at the end of the first session if you are happy to continue together with therapy, and if you have any concerns or questions.
In the following sessions, your psychologist will continue to gain an understanding of your presenting concerns by exploring with you your thoughts, emotions, behavior, values, strengths, and life experiences. You will likely be given strategies to reduce symptoms, and a place to process and create further awareness of underlying concerns, so that you are able to facilitate change in your life.
What about confidentiality?
Privacy is a very important issue in therapy, as it is important that you feel safe to express and talk about personal issues, in trusted confidence. Psychologists are required to adhere to strict legal requirements of the National Privacy Principles from the Privacy Amendment Act 2000. Your file and personal details are kept in a locked and secure filing cabinet, whereby only the treating psychologist has access too. Any information that is disclosed in sessions also remains confidential, unless the files are subpoenaed by a court, you give written permission to disclose any information to a specific other, or failure to disclose information places yourself or another person at risk.
It is important to be aware also, that if you are referred under a Mental Health Care Plan, that your psychologist is required to provide a report on your progress to your referring GP during and at the conclusion of therapy.
Will I need a referral?
You do not need a referral in order to see a psychologist. However, if you wish to claim the Medicare rebate, you will need to have a consultation with your GP in order to evaluate whether you are eligible to be referred under a mental health care plan.
A copy of the mental health care plan, in addition to a referral letter from your GP, will need to be given to your psychologist in order for it to be valid.
Is psychology covered by private health insurance?
Some private health insurers will cover psychology under their policies. Please check with your Health Cover provider to determine if your policy is inclusive of psychology sessions.
How long are the sessions?
Sessions are of a 50-60 minute duration. It is important that you arrive on time, so that any paper work can be completed, and that you get the most out of your appointment time. Often psychologists spend considerable time before and after appointments preparing for sessions and making notes on progress. This is so that again, the 50-60 minutes are used appropriately and to the greatest benefit for the client.
How many sessions will I need and how often?
This is a difficult question to answer. It’s likened to ‘how long is a piece of string?”! This is due to the very individual nature of peoples presenting concerns, the support that they may or may not have, life obstacles, and other factors, such as whether they have had therapy before, their readiness to change, and insight.
Often, people prefer to have fairly regular appointments to begin with, spaced weekly or fortnightly apart. Once they have reduced their symptoms significantly, they often like to space sessions apart until their benefits from the work they do with their presenting concerns stabilizes and is relieved. Everyone is different and it is important to let your psychologist know what would work best for you.
How do I make the most out of my sessions?
To make the most out of your sessions, the following is recommended:
Please ensure that you attend your scheduled appointments, as cancelling, late rescheduling, or not showing may result in a prolonged wait due to the psychologists appointment times being booked out in advance.
Attending regular appointments, as discussed with your psychologist, will ensure that any early relapse signs or symptoms will be addressed early on, therefore progress is maintained more solidly.
You may wish to take notes, during or after sessions, to record any key points or insights that occurred in the session. A journal may also be helpful.
Read and keep any handouts that your psychologist has given you.
Prepare for each session by thinking about what you have learned from the previous sessions, identifying any changes that have, or have not occurred, and writing down any questions that you might have.
It is also useful to have a list of your goals on hand, to refer too during the process, so that you know you are addressing the key reasons that brought you to therapy initially.
What is the cost of each session?
The Australian Psychological Society recommends that 50-60 minute sessions are charged at $251. However, many psychologists recognize that this would make therapy unattainable for many people. Therefore, the current fees are $220 per 50-minute consultation.
If you have a Mental Health Care Plan, you will receive a rebate of $124.50 for up to 10 sessions.
Should you have private health cover, please refer to your policy for specific rebates under your cover. Please note that you cannot claim both Medicare and Private Health for the same psychological session.
For cancellations, reschedules, and no shows within 48-hours of the scheduled appointment, 100% of the full fee is charged.
Additional fees also apply for any legal or insurance reports, and for letters and documentation for universities and work settings.
How do I pay?
Payment for the session is made at the end of the 50 minute appointment time, on the day.
How do I make an appointment?
To make an appointment, please use the contact page.
What if I need to reschedule or cancel?
Because psychologists are in high demand, it is important that you give plenty of notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment time. This is because other clients may be in need of an appointment and require time to organise attendance and availability to attend. There is also a loss of income for the psychologist if there is a late reschedule or cancellation, and the appointment remains vacant. For this reason, a late cancellation fee is applied. Please read carefully; for cancellations, reschedules, and no shows within 48 hours of the scheduled appointment, 100% of the full fee is charged ($220).
Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Scheme
In 2006 Medicare introduced the Better Access to Mental Health Scheme. This initiative is now widely used, and provides assistance to anyone experiencing particular psychological difficulties.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Co-occurring anxiety and depression
Alcohol use disorders
Drug use disorders
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Attention deficit disorder
There are some problems that Medicare does not directly cover under this scheme – including, couples counselling, parenting therapy, neuropsychological assessment, learning disabilities, and Autistic Spectrum Disorder (this has it’s own Medicare scheme).
Currently, Medicare will provide a rebate for between 6-10 sessions (depending on the nature, severity, and duration of the presenting issue).
For more information on this scheme visit: