Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I go on a 'Mental Health Plan' for your service and claim the Medicare Rebate?
The short answer is: No.
In this please consider:
The Medicare rebates available through a ‘Mental Health Plan’ through your GP is for Psychological counselling services carried out by a registered psychologist, it does not rebate for counselling with Counsellors. I am a Clinical Counsellor and have been working in the helping industry offering support and therapy for over 22 years.
In deciding the best course of action for your particular set of circumstances there can be a number relevant considerations to take into account.
In seeing a psychologist you should be aware that:
To qualify for the Medicare rebate you may find yourself diagnosed with a ‘mental illness’ by your GP or psychiatrist. In life it can be normal to suffer emotionally as a result of common life events and historical experiences, and from this react with anxiety, depression, and stress but that doesn't mean you have a ‘mental illness’. It is normal to experience depression, fear, anger, hopelessness and anxiety when you are dealing with conflict, separation, grief, loss, trauma, relationship issues, chronic illness, family problems, and work related issues. You could also struggle because you come from a toxic or dysfunctional family and have not had the chance to develop skills or beliefs that would help you move beyond this. You could also struggle because you have suffered abuse or traumatic life events and not had the opportunity to process this.
I present these possibilities (and there are many more) as none of this means you necessarily have a ‘mental illness’. Even if you experience excessive levels of anxiety your doctor may need to diagnose you with 'Generalised Anxiety Disorder' so that you can receive the Medicare rebate.
You need to be fully aware of this and consider whether you want a possible diagnosis of ‘Mental Illness’ on your permanent records which is held by Medicare, your doctor's clinic and may need to be disclosed for certain jobs or careers. Furthermore, these can be accessed by insurance companies for example that may impose a loading on your premium as a result of an existing health problem. While therapy conducted by myself is not reported or kept on any electronic database, and unless the limits of confidentiality are breached all therapy notes and information stay within our sessions.
- Currently the Medicare rebate refunds between $80 - $120 for the psychology session and it is important to note that typical psychologist's fees can range from about $150-$180 a session, so you will still have to pay the gap unless the psychologist you choose has a policy of discounting their fee to eligible clients.
- The number of sessions you are given access to rebate by Medicare will be a standard 10 sessions in a calendar year, this is currently broken into a 6 and 4 session format. The first 6 sessions in a year are offered to all individuals that are on the plan with a follow up 4 sessions at the discretion of the Psychologist to people deemed to be suffering ongoing mental disorders. If you need more sessions than your doctor can allocate in that year you will have to pay the psychologists full fee.
- Importantly, when someone else is paying for a large part of your therapy they can influence what treatment you receive. Psychologists can be limited in the therapies that they are allowed to offer by the Australian Psychological Society (APS). Which may in fact deny you access to a range of therapies and approaches that may be beneficial for you or more attuned to your particular set of needs.
- In all this you need to make an informed decision regarding your therapy and approach in moving forward with your mental health. In weighing this up please feel free to give me a call as I would be more than happy to discuss my service and its possible suitability. Finally, if your decision is to access the mental health plan through your GP they will have the resources to refer you to a registered Psychologist. Alternatively you can contact me and I will put you in touch with a number of Psychologists that I am in active consultation with here at our offices.
Why should I consider seeking counselling?
If you are stuck, struggling, or overwhelmed with any area of your life, or if you are wanting growth, healing and greater insight, seeking counselling can be a wonderful answer. Perhaps you are dealing with feeling anxious, sad, hurt, angry, depressed, frustrated or confused. Maybe you are struggling in your relationships and communication with your partner, family, children, parents, friends or co-workers. Maybe something has happened to you that you need to sort through. Or maybe you are simply searching for self-improvement, ways to take strengths and make them even stronger and more enriching. Counselling can be a helpful, effective and confidential resource to help you achieve all these things in your life.
Is therapy right for me?
Seeking out therapy is an individual choice. There are many reasons why people come to therapy. Sometimes it is to deal with long-standing psychological issues, or problems with anxiety or depression. Other times it is in response to unexpected changes in one’s life such as a divorce or work transition. Many seek the advice of counsel as they pursue their own personal exploration and growth. Working with a therapist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy can help address many types of issues including depression, anxiety, conflict, grief, stress management, body-image issues, and general life transitions. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, and working towards change in their lives.
Do I really need therapy? I can usually handle my problems.
Everyone goes through challenging situations in life, and while you may have successfully navigated through other difficulties you’ve faced, there’s nothing wrong with seeking out extra support when you need it. In fact, therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realise they could use a helping hand. You are taking responsibility by accepting where you’re at in life and making a commitment to change the situation by seeking therapy. Therapy provides long-lasting benefits and support, giving you the tools you need to avoid triggers, re-direct damaging patterns, and overcome whatever challenges you face.
How can counselling help me?
A number of benefits are available from participating in counselling. Counsellors can provide support, problem-solving skills, and enhanced coping strategies for issues such as depression, anxiety, relationship troubles, unresolved childhood issues, grief, stress management, and body image issues etc. Many people also find that counsellors can be a great help in managing personal growth, interpersonal relationships, family concerns, marriage issues, and the hassles of everyday life. Therapists can provide a fresh perspective on a problem or journey with you as you explore possible directions in finding a solution. The benefits you obtain from therapy depend on how well you use the process and put into practice what you learn. Some of the benefits available from therapy include the following:
- Attaining a better understanding of yourself, your goals and values
- Developing skills for improving your relationships
- Finding resolution to the issues or concerns that led you to seek therapy
- Learning new ways to cope with stress and anxiety
- Managing anger, grief, depression, and other emotional pressures
- Improving communication and listening skills
- Changing old behaviour patterns and developing new ones
- Discovering new ways to solve problems in your family or marriage
- Improving your self-esteem and boosting self-confidence
What is counselling like?
Every counselling session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals, developmental level, and needs in life. It is standard for therapists to discuss the primary issues and concerns in your life during therapy sessions. It is common to schedule a series of weekly sessions, where each session lasts around one hour. Therapy can be short-term, focusing on a specific issue, or longer-term, addressing more complex issues or ongoing personal growth. There may be times when you are asked to take certain actions outside of the therapy sessions, such as reading a relevant book or keeping records to track certain behaviours. It is important to process what has been discussed and integrate it into your life between sessions. For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. People seeking counselling are willing to take responsibility for their actions, work towards self-change and create greater awareness in their lives. Here are some things you can expect out of therapy:
- Compassion, respect and understanding
- Perspectives to illuminate persistent patterns and negative feelings
- Real strategies for enacting positive change
- Effective and proven techniques along with practical guidance
Is counselling confidential?
In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and counsellor. No information is disclosed without prior written permission from the client. However, there are some exceptions required by law to this rule.
Exceptions include the following:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse. The therapist is required to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person. The therapist is required to notify the police.
- If a client intends to harm themselves. The therapist will make every effort to work with the individual to ensure their safety. However, if an individual is unable or unwilling to keep themselves safe, additional measures may need to be taken.
- If the counsellors case notes are requested or subpoenaed by a court.
If you ever have questions or concerns about confidentiality, please be sure to ask.
You will benefit the most from counselling if you come openly and honesty, and are motivated and committed to getting help. You may find that counselling at times becomes difficult or stressful; this is often true when dealing with issues and change. At those times and as long as therapy is still helping, your goal is to stick with it and keep trying. Be sure to speak up if you have any questions or concerns that come up along the way with the therapy process. You will find that your counsellor is receptive to open communication and feedback.
What if my partner/spouse/family won't participate?
Not all family members have to take part in sessions for therapy to be effective. Of course, it’s better if all affected parties are willing to participate, but they often get involved in therapy later if they see your motivation and commitment. If your loved ones still will not join therapy, come anyway. Therapy with one person still can be effective in making changes that can have positive effects on everyone around you.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you do not show up for your scheduled counselling appointment and you have not notified us 24 hours in advance, you will be required to pay the full cost of the session.