People seek assistance from a psychologist for many reasons such as dealing with long-standing psychological issues including anxiety or depression, seeking assistance with adjustment to significant life changes or transitions, or support to pursue their own personal exploration and growth.
Working with a psychologist can help provide insight, support, and new strategies for all types of life challenges. Therapy is right for anyone who is interested in getting the most out of their life by taking responsibility, creating greater self-awareness, developing skills, and working towards change in their lives.
It’s a good idea to take the time to carefully choose your therapist and find someone you are comfortable working collaboratively with. If you’re not sure about your new therapist or the process overall, give it at a few sessions — unless it is very clear after the first or second session that the therapist is not a good fit for you.
Therapy is an interactive process, you need to be comfortable to express your needs, ask questions, speak up about what you’d like to discuss during a session, provide feedback about what is or isn’t working, ask for clarification when needed, and request appointment changes when needed.
Individuals can see a psychologist without a Medical Practitioner’s referral, however, Medicare will not provide a rebate for these sessions. Some private health funds provide a rebate for psychology sessions without the need for a referral but you will need to check with your fund regarding eligibility for such as rebate.
The most common type of referral is for a Mental Health Care Plan. A General Practitioner can provide referrals for access to several other types of Medicare rebate including support for those on the autism spectrum, with chronic illness, or needing support with pregnancy related issues. Please discuss these referrals with your GP if relevant however as the rebates are considerably lower, bulkbilling will not be possible.
A Mental Health Care Plan is written by a General Practitioner who is required to complete a mental health assessment and prepare a mental health treatment plan before referring to a psychologist.
In order to discuss a treatment plan with your General Practitioner you will need to book a longer appointment time. The Better Access initiative covers a number of conditions including: psychotic disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, phobic disorders, anxiety disorder, adjustment disorder, depression, sexual disorders, conduct disorders, bereavement disorders, post traumatic stress disorder, eating disorders, panic disorder, alcohol use disorder, drug use disorder, sleep problems, attention deficit disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and co-occurring anxiety and depression.
Please note that sessions provided under a Mental Health Care Plan will attract a gap fee unless you are eligible for a concession when the fee can be bulkbilled (see Fee and Concession sections below).