Usual sessions will last for approximately 50 minutes. Every therapy session is unique and caters to each individual and their specific goals. During therapy sessions it is standard to talk about the primary issues and concerns in your life, and make plans to apply what is learnt in the session to the real world.
At the end of each session it will be suggested that homework tasks be designed around key issues discussed during the session. It is your choice whether or not you complete these tasks but participation in these tasks will impact significantly on any benefits gained from the sessions. This homework will include things such as making observations of behaviours, feelings and/or consequences, trying out new skills, or reflecting on an issue. This homework is intended to assist with processing what has been discussed and integrating it into your life.
For therapy to be most effective you must be an active participant, both during and between the sessions. To get the most out of it, it’s important to reflect on your last session, prepare for your next one, and generally pay attention to your thoughts and feelings throughout the week. It may be useful to take notes in the session or keep a therapy journal.
The number of sessions required for therapy varies depending on the goals and needs of the individual. It is usual for at least 4-6 sessions, often around 10, but sometimes it can be considerably more depending on the complexity of the issues being addressed.
Under the Better Access initiative, an eligible people can receive a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions in a calendar year (1 January to 31 December). However, a GP referral cannot be provided for the full 10 sessions in one go, so your doctor will need to review progress after the first 6 to determine if additional sessions are required. This review may approve a further 6 sessions but requires a feedback letter from your psychologist which must be received by the doctor at the time of their review appointment.
Psychiatrists and Paediatricians are able to refer for a 12 month period and do not need to complete a review during that time although there is still a maximum of 10 Medicare rebates in a calendar year.
After you have reached the maximum number of rebates for the calendar year, no further Medicare rebates are available until the new calendar year. Any sessions still remaining under your last referral/review can be used in the next calendar year but only with 12 months of the referral.
Additional sessions are possible beyond the Medicare limits but only if full fees are paid, although private health rebates may be possible.
Subsequent sessions will take about 50 minutes and are initially scheduled every 1-2 weeks, with the gap gradually lengthening to allow more time for integration and consolidation between sessions.
It is important to schedule your appointments when you can give them full attention. Give yourself time and space to process and reflect around the therapy hour. Remember it may not be realistic to expect to return to work or school after a session, depending on the emotional content discussed. Also appointments will not always finish on time so please avoid scheduling other commitments too soon after the appointment time.
It is best to reschedule appointments if they clash with important events that will cause resentment if they are missed. This is especially relevant for children who are unlikely to engage well in a session if they are missing a special excursion or their favourite class. Unfortunately appointments are currently only available during school hours, so some school will be missed, but it may be appropriate to vary the timing so that the same class is not always missed.
Make sure you provide at least 24 hours notice of a need to reschedule to avoid a cancellation fee.