How many sessions do people tend to see a psychologist for?
Every person has a different journey through therapy. This is largely dependent on the nature of why they are coming in and what it is that they are hoping to get out of sessions.

Some people come to see a psychologist to develop coping strategies to reduce or manage symptoms of mental illness. This type of work can be short to medium term, but might also involve checking in less frequently over the longer-term to deal with setbacks or prevent relapse.

Other people come to therapy to understand long-standing patterns (such as relationship issues) that stem from experiences during their childhood, or to receive ongoing support. This type of work tends to happen over an extended period of time, although again, this is dependent on client preferences.

Sometimes people come to therapy for a one off session or just a handful of sessions to speak about a specific issue in their life or to talk through a particular concern. Although problems and challenges are typically what bring people to a psychologist (at least initially), therapy can also be a space for self-development and growth.

What should I expect from my first session?
The procedure for a first appointment varies from practice to practice, but here is an overview of how things tend to work at Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology:

At the beginning of your first session your psychologist will briefly run through important paperwork with you. This will include completing a form with basic personal information and a consent form that cover issues such as confidentiality, fees and other important information about sessions. If you have been referred by a GP or psychiatrist, we will discuss the details of your Mental Health Treatment Plan at this point.

After completing paperwork the remainder of the session is usually spent discussing the issues that have brought you into therapy. As well as developing a thorough understanding of your concerns, your psychologist will explore relevant background history, for example, information about your family, social relationships, work history and any past counselling that you have done. Based on this information we will begin to help you to understand more about what might be triggering and maintaining your current issues. If time allows we will also work with you to develop a collaborative and flexible plan for future therapy sessions.

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists are health professionals who work in a range of areas including clinical, health, neuropsychology, sports, forensic, organisational and community settings. To become a fully registered psychologist you must undertake an undergraduate degree, an Honours degree and and at least two years of supervised training and further education in the field of psychology (either a Masters or Doctorate degree).

Psychologists assist people with everyday concerns such as stress and relationship difficulties, as well as mental health issues. Psychologists use “talk therapies” to help people to develop skills to cope with difficulties and to prevent on-going issues. There are a large number of research studies supporting the effectiveness of psychological therapy.

Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and further training and study related to the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists specialise in the medical treatment of mental illness and can prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists combine medication with therapy.

What is the difference between a counsellor and a psychologist?
Counsellors can come from a broad range of training and backgrounds. Currently in Australia the term “counsellor” is not protected. This means that anyone can refer to themselves as a counsellor. Having said this many counsellors have undertaken training and education in educational settings, ranging from a Diploma up to a Masters degree. An organisation called the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) has also been set up to protect the standards and ethical training of the counselling profession.

Do you receive a Medicare or a private health insurance rebate when you see a psychologist?

Medicare
If you have a referral from a GP or a psychiatrist for a Mental Health Treatment Plan you will be eligible to receive a Medicare rebate of $124.50 (for a clinical psychologist) and $84.80 (for a general psychologist) per session for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.

Private Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance that includes psychological counselling as extras cover you may be eligible for a partial rebate. It is recommended that you contact your individual insurance provider for further information about your individual coverage.

How do I know if I am eligible for the Medicare rebate?
You will need to make an appointment with your GP who will assess whether you are eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan. A Mental Health Treatment Plan will enable you to claim a Medicare rebate of $124.50 (for a clinical psychologist) or $84.80 (for a general psychologist) per session for a maximum of ten sessions per calendar year.

To be able to claim the Medicare rebate for your session you will need to bring a copy of your Mental Health Treatment Plan to your first appointment with your psychologist.

Do I need a referral to see a psychologist?
No, you do not need a referral. You can make an appointment with a psychologist without a referral from your GP or a psychiatrist. If you decide to do this you will need to pay the full amount for your sessions out of your own pocket.

How long are sessions with a psychologist?

At Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology sessions are approximately 50 minutes long.

How does confidentiality work with a psychologist?

All information that you disclose in your session with a psychologist is confidential. There are two exceptions to this rule. The first exception is if you are at risk of harm to yourself or someone else and the second exception is in relation to court orders. If either of these situations become relevant your psychologist will discuss this with you.

 

There can be lots of questions that come up when you’re trying to make a decision about whether to see a psychologist. If you have a question that we haven’t answered here, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can call us on (03) 9376 1958 or email: info@innermelbpsychology.com.au Our friendly client support team will get back to you within one business day.