Do I need a psychologist?
My answer to this is obviously yes. A psychologist is not just for when times are tough – although we’re pretty good to talk to when times are tough too. This psychologist can help you build a better future for yourself, get clearer on your goals, or simply get a more impartial perspective on your current situation. I can also see you through the difficult times and give you skills and strategies that you will be able to use for the rest of your life.
Seeing a psychologist is never a sign of weakness or that you can’t handle it yourself. See it more as a treat to yourself – just like you might have a massage for tired muscles (or just because it feels good).
What’s the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a counsellor?
A Psychiatrist does medical training first and then specialises in mental health. They can prescribe medication, which a Psychologist can’t do. They tend to be more focused on diagnoses and how to treat that medically (with medication).
A Psychologist is more focused on developing skills to deal with life better generally, whether that’s for you in the here and now, for you in your relationship, or dealing with past issues or traumas. Or even, creating a better future. So basically, we’re the ones who make you do the work rather than leaving it up to the drugs (medication). Sorry about that 🙂
A Counsellor is not so different in some respects to a Psychologist. The difference is that they’re not recognised by Medicare or Private Health Insurers so you can’t claim rebates. That may be because Counselling is not a regulated field so you can call yourself a Counsellor if you’ve done a 3 day course or a 3 year course. To all those really good Counsellors out there – I feel for you.
What should I expect when I see you?
On the practical side, when you arrive, the lovely Connie or Vanessa will give you a consent form to read through and a very quick form to fill out – it will take 5 minutes max. I’ll come and get you at your appointed time and then I’ll run through what we’re going to do. We’ll get started with talking about you asap and spend most of the time doing just that. I’ll ask what you want to get out of coming at the end (it’s good to think about this before we meet and before each session). Then I’ll very quickly go through how I think counselling works best and how I protect your privacy as much as possible. We’ll wind up 50 minutes later then make another appointment and take payment. So you’ll be finished up by the hour.
On the emotional side, you should expect my full attention and a genuine interest in you.
How long is a session?
50 minutes but by the time we’ve made another appointment and paid, plan for an hour.
Do I need a referral?
No. You can turn up without one. If you get a mental health care plan you’ll get a rebate. See Fees and Rebates for more information.
Can I get a medicare rebate?
You have to meet certain criteria for a mental health care plan. Your doctor is ultimately the one responsible for that decision. You are supposed to have a mental health disorder which can be anything from anxiety and depression to adjustment disorder and stress. And of course things like schizophrenia etc. If in doubt, ask your doctor.
What about confidentiality?
There are rules around breaking confidentiality that have to do with your safety or the law or Medicare and your GP (if you get a mental health care plan). You’ll find these in the consent form. What I try to do is to limit the chance that confidentiality would ever need to be broken. Things like your partner (or mother or mother-in-law – yes it’s happened) phoning me and trying to get information out of me does not constitute a reason to break confidentiality.