Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of psychological treatment?
The goal of all psychological treatment is to help you feel better and improve your understanding of yourself. This sometimes means discussing or dealing with painful issues or memories. It is possible that people may have strong emotional reactions to this process. It's very important that you advise your psychologist if you feel your symptoms are getting worse or are not improving at the rate you expected. Your honesty will ensure you maximise the benefits of the therapeutic process.
How does talking to someone fix my problems?
Talking with a Psychologist allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, empathic and nonjudgmental. Through talking to your psychologist, you and your psychologist work together to identify the problem, what maybe maintaining the problem, and learning new strategies to better understand or everyday difficulties and more significant mental health issues.
How does therapy work for children?
For children to feel comfortable in sharing their feelings and concerns, it is important they understand what kinds of information will be kept private. Often at the first session the child, parents, and psychologist will sit down together to discuss the issue of confidentiality and outline what types of information the psychologist might disclose to parents, and what he or she will keep confidential. For example, if a child discloses activity that puts themselves or someone else at serious risk of harm, the parent will be advised and an action plan established.
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions you will need will depend on your individual circumstances. Different factors such as the nature of the problem (acute or chronic), how well you are able to make recommended changes during therapy, and the frequency of therapy sessions. It is generally recommended that sessions are scheduled weekly to ensure momentum of therapeutic change. Your psychologist will measure your progress and will discuss treatment timeframes during your sessions.
How long is each session and how many sessions should I have?
The number and length of your sessions depends on your circumstances. Consultations are up to 50 minutes. More often than not, this is a 20 to 55 minute face-to-face session with your psychologist. The remaining time the psychologist plans treatment strategies and maintains your file.
What happens at the initial appointment?
Your first session with a psychologist will focus on asking you some questions to understand your reasons for seeking therapy, set goals for therapy and to formulate a treatment plan to help achieve your goals . Sessions thereafter tend to focus on more specific information about the problems you are experiencing, and providing you with skills, strategies and information that will help you to work through your main concerns.
Is my information confidential?
Do I need a referral?
No, you do not need a referral to see a psychologist. However, if you would like to see a psychologist and claim a rebate from Medicare, then you will need to see your GP and obtain and GP Mental Health Care plan.
If you do not want to claim from Medicare, you can come in using your private health fund or pay for the sessions without a rebate.
What are the fees?
Our fees vary based on the type of service you are seeking, for example: treatment, assessment, or forensic services. It is also based on the type of psychologist you see. Our fees are below the Australian Psychological Society’s recommended fees.
What medicate rebates am I entitled to?
If you have a GP referral, called a Mental Health Care Plan, you are eligible for up to 10 Medicare rebates per year of between $84.80 to $124.40. See our Fees & Rebates or contact our friendly staff to obtain specific information about the services you require.
Do you bulk bill?
We do not bulk bill. However we offer a reduced rate for clients who hold a current Centrelink Healthcare card.
What is the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist and counsellor?
All three works in the field of Mental Health but differ in their training, qualifications, and approaches.
- Psychologists have typically completed 6 years of education and training (an undergraduate degree, and or postgraduate degree with specialist training with both practical and theoretical components). They typically use a range of cognitive and behavioural therapies to assist people in the treatment of psychological distress and enhancing well-being. They do not prescribe medication.
- Psychiatrists are medical practitioners (doctors) who have studied 6 years of medicine and undergo further study to specialise in mental health. They can prescribe medications such as antidepressants as a treatment of psychological distress. They may also use a combination of medication and cognitive behavioural therapies.
- Counsellors and Psychotherapists vary in their education, training, therapeutic approaches. The titles “counsellor” and “Psychotherapist” is not regulated in Australia. Counselling is a talking therapy where emotional problems are worked through together to find a better way of coping.
What is involved in attending your group programs?
Our group programs are very much skills focussed. That is, you will learn a new skill each session. It is not group therapy. Joining one of our group programs is a simple process. Your psychologist may recommend your attendance at a group program to compliment the individual work you are doing together.
If you have a current GP Mental Health Treatment Plan, you are entitled to claim up to 10 group sessions in addition to your 10 individual sessions. Prior to attending, a deposit will be requested to secure your place in the group. If you are not already seeing one of our psychologists, but are interested in attending one of our groups, simply phone our offices to secure your spot in the program. You do not need a referral to attend our group programs.
Do you provide telephone counselling?
Yes we do provide telephone sessions. However, this would occur under certain circumstances:
- We have completed the assessment process and determined that telephone counselling is appropriate. We do this to ensure our clients’ safety.
- Telephone counselling is pre-arranged, that is not to book a face to face session and change this at the last minute
- That you have a quiet and private place from which to conduct a phone session
Please note that Medicare does not provide rebates for telephone sessions, so it will be charged as a private session, which can be paid via credit card prior to commencing the phone session
What is your cancellation policy?
A psychologist has been reserved for your appointment. If you are unable to attend for any reason, including illness of yourself or a family member, work commitments, child care, etc., we need sufficient notice to offer the appointment to another client.
We therefore need 3 business days notice to change or cancel an appointment. Otherwise there will be a $100 cancellation fee charged. This fee is not claimable from Medicare.
Why do you have a cancellation policy?
A cancellation without sufficient notice often results in losses as we are often unable to offer the appointment times to other patients. We have a cancellation policy which allows us to cover these losses by charging a cancellation fees. This is fairer than the alternative option of raising fees on all patients to cover losses from the minority of patients who cancel without sufficient notice.
Who can I talk to outside business hours?
Please read about crisis or after hours support in the section below for more information.
Our service is 100% confidential. We will not disclose your status as our client or any information provided by you to other parties without your consent. Psychologists may discuss cases with other psychologists for the purpose of professional supervision. This ensures you receive the best possible treatment. Discussions between psychologists don’t identify client names and all staff are bound by the same ethics and confidentiality.
Psychologists are bound by law and ethical requirements to disclose information about you to other parties when the following is involved:
- Current abuse or threat of abuse of a child.
- A risk of serious harm to yourself or someone else.
- Details of a serious offence under the Major Crimes Act
- Information (written or otherwise) requested by subpoena from the court of law.
Crisis & After Hours Support
Advantage Psychology is not a crisis service. We are unable to provide immediate support outside of our business hours.
In the event of a crisis or mental health emergency, you can call the practice to see if your psychologist has an available appointment for you. If that is not possible, your psychologist will provide you with appropriate contact details for other services.
The following options are available for immediate help:
- See your local GP if available.
- Contact the Mental Health Access Team on 1800 011 511.
- Go to your nearest hospital Emergency department.
- Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
- Call the Salvation Army CareLine on (02) 9331 6000.
- Call the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800.
Disclaimer: The content on this website is a summary only and is not intended to be nor should it be relied on as a substitute for professional advice.