Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Psychologist?
Psychologists study the way people feel, think, act and interact. Through a range of strategies and therapies they aim to reduce distress and to enhance and promote emotional wellbeing. Psychologists are experts in human behaviour, and have studied the brain, memory, learning and human development. Psychologists can assist people with emotional and behavioural difficulties, including those with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, serious and enduring mental illness, addictive behaviours and childhood behaviour disorders. Psychologists are trained in a range of different psychological therapies, however individuals play an important part in their own counselling sessions by working with the psychologist to understand their feelings, thoughts and actions. Psychologists use non-drug treatments and do not prescribe medication, but where appropriate, they may work with other medical practitioners such as GPs, who may prescribe medication as part of an overall treatment plan. For more information, please see the Australian Psychological Societies webpage.
What is Therapy?
Therapy, or counselling, is a confidential and professional service that assists a person to become more self-aware and emotionally healthy. Counselling involves talking with a person in a way that helps that person solve a problem or helps to create conditions that will cause the person to gain a greater understanding of themselves, their behaviours, their character, their values, and their life circumstances, leading to a more positive and fulfilled life. Individuals, couples and families seek counselling for a range of issues within their personal or work lives. Often counselling is sought out at times of change or crisis; however, counselling can be useful and helpful at any time in our life. Depending on your needs and the psychologist you work with, different styles of counselling and therapy may be used. Commonly used therapies at Vitalise include Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Mindfulness, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Psychoeducation, Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Solution-Focused Therapy, Gestalt Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). Clients usually find counselling a very liberating and empowering experience. That is not to say they don’t feel nervous when first entering therapy. However, the process and the feeling afterwards, are usually very positive and beneficial.
What should I expect in my first session?
Firstly, your psychologist will provide you with a consent form which will outline the professional conditions they abide by as set out by the Australian Psychological Society, including your rights of confidentiality. The first question your psychologist will tend to ask you is “What brings you here today?” You will then have the opportunity to tell them why you have come, what you would like to work on and to ask any questions. Together, you will discuss any history that is relevant to the situation and come up with a plan, including discussion about what change you might expect to see and how often you should attend. You may then discuss the first steps and strategies you can take to start making a positive emotional change in your life. It should be noted that psychologists may work in different ways, so the above may vary depending on who you see and how they work. One thing you can be guaranteed of is that your psychologist will provide a safe, nonjudgmental and caring environment.
How many sessions will I need?
The counselling process is different for every individual, and consequently the number of sessions you need will depend upon your own unique circumstances. Some people see changes in a small number of sessions, while others may take longer. Some clients also prefer to work on their emotional development on a long term basis, which is perfectly fine.
How many sessions can I have?
There is no limit to the number of sessions you may choose to have with your psychologist. However, the maximum number of sessions covered by Medicare in one calendar year is 10, with an additional 6 sessions available in exceptional circumstances. For some issues, you might not need to attend this many sessions, but for others you might find it helpful to continue past 10 sessions. If you do see a psychologist through the Medicare initiative, your psychologist will remain in contact with your GP to discuss your treatment and progress (only with your permission), and most mental health treatment plans involve a review with your GP after 6 sessions. Through the Medicare Better Access initiative you are also eligible for ten rebated group sessions per calendar year in addition to your individual sessions.
What are the limits to confidentiality?
Privacy and confidentiality are vitally important in therapy; however, there are some limits to confidentiality. Everything said in counselling is confidential, meaning that unless you give verbal or written permission, we won’t discuss your information with others, including family members, except in special circumstances, detailed below. If you have a doctor’s referral, we are obliged to provide a brief report to that doctor after 6 and 10 sessions, or earlier, when necessary.There may be other times when information is provided to other professionals in order to protect you or others from harm; we are bound by law to do this. The specific types of situations are a) if a client is likely to harm themselves or others and b) if there is a child at risk of harm, and c) if the courts subpoena information. Please feel free to email or call us with any questions you still have.
When do I pay and how do I claim the rebate?
Fees are due on the day of your appointment and you may pay by cash, EFTPOS, credit card, or paypal. Eligible Medicare Rebates are processed on the spot with the funds transferred directly into your bank account.
What if I have private health cover?
Some private health insurance policies cover psychological therapies. For any single session, you can only claim a rebate through Medicare or private health, not both. Vitalise can process on the spot private health rebates through our HealthPoint terminal. Click here for more information and to find out which health insurance companies are available through Health Point.