To help you with questions you may have regarding our service we have listed below answers to many of the common questions we are asked. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us:
- Do I need a referral from a doctor?
- How long will each session be?
- How many sessions will I need?
- Are my sessions confidential?
- What is the difference between Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Counsellors?
- Am I eligible for a Medicare rebate?
- Am I covered by my private Health Insurance?
- How and when do I pay?
- What are the fees?
Do I need a referral from a doctor?
Anyone can choose to visit a psychologist without a referral from a doctor. The advantage of having a doctor’s referral is that it will entitle you to a rebate from Medicare, as long as the doctor has drawn up a Better Access to Mental Health Care Plan (Item 2700) for you.
Private Health Insurance refunds are available from over 40 different health insurance funds. Each one will reimburse a different amount depending on your level of cover, but generally do not require a doctor’s referral. Please check with your insurer.
You cannot claim both the Medicare rebate and a Private Health Insurance refund for the same psychology visit.
How long will each session be?
Appointments are usually 50-60 minutes long. The initial session is also the same length of time and charged at the same rate as a standard consultation
This varies and generally depends on the severity and duration of the problems you are facing.
Most people attend between 2 to 4 sessions. More complex or longstanding issues can take longer.
Initially sessions are weekly but after a few sessions can stretch out to fortnightly or monthly.
Patients can be assured that we will work together on a flexible plan that you find comfortable.
Are my sessions confidential?
Absolutely. Your privacy is protected at all times. Psychologists are bound by the legal requirements of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 and follow strict guidelines for professional conduct that include confidentiality.
Your client file, which includes your personal information and session notes is kept in a secure location and is only accessible to authorised employees. You can ask to see the information that is kept in your file at any time.
However, if the file is subpoenaed by a court we are obligated to release it to them. Likewise, if you disclose any plan to seriously harm yourself or another person we are legally obligated to inform the appropriate authorities. Psychologists are also obliged to report any form of abuse of a child.
We can release information to other parties for your benefit, but we must have your consent.
Am I eligible for a Medicare rebate?
Eligibility is determined by your GP. For the guidelines for who is eligible click here to view the Medicare Consumer Fact Sheet.
If your GP determines that you could benefit from seeing a psychologist he/she will draw up a GP Mental Health Care Plan (Item 2710) and register it with Medicare. The GP will have to answer a number of questions about you on the form for Medicare and this usually takes about half an hour, so remember to make a long appointment if you anticipate a referral. Your doctor will also need to include the psychologists’ Medicare Provider Number, which for Wendy Gollan is 2585222X. Alternatively, you can be referred to us by a Psychiatrist or Paediatrician.
The Medicare rebate for a consultation is $84.80 and is available for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.
Am I covered by my Health Insurance?
You will need to check with your private health fund whether your plan covers your session costs and to what level. More than 40 funds offer a rebate for psychology services.
You can be reassured that we are fully qualified and registered with all private health insurers for any rebates that your private health fund policy may offer.
How and when do I pay?
Clients are expected to pay for each session on the day. EFTPOS is the preferred method of payment but credit cards (Visa and MasterCard) and cash are also accepted.
You can claim for Medicare rebate or Private Health Insurance refund on the spot as we have both a Medicare and HICAPS EFTPOS terminal. This saves you all the hassle of taking a paper receipt to another office for claiming. However, paper receipts are available if you prefer.
For a visit being claimed on HICAPS you simply swipe your Health Insurance card through our EFTPOS terminal and your refund is automatically deducted from the full psychology fee. You then pay only the difference by debit card, credit card, or cash.
For a visit being claimed on Medicare you pay the full fee first by the payment method you prefer. Then your Medicare card is swiped through our EFTPOS terminal. Once processed the rebate is paid directly into your debit card (usually over night). Please note, Medicare will not pay rebates into credit cards. If you wish to collect the rebate in cash you will need to attend the Medicare office with a paper receipt from us.
If you are being funded by Work Cover, the Motor Accident Insurance Commission, Victims Counselling and Support Service, or the Department of Veterans Affairs sessions are free, but you must make prior arrangements and ensure all paperwork has been covered before making the appointment.
What Is The Difference Between Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Counsellors?
Psychiatrists are firstly qualified doctors who have done six years of medical studies at university, who then go on to do further specialist study into medical treatments that affect the brain and human behaviour. When psychiatrists are consulted they usually prescribe medication to relieve the symptoms that their patients are suffering. Only fully qualified and registered people can promote themselves as psychiatrists. Their patients are usually those who have a diagnosed mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
Counsellors have a wide range of training varying from a 6-week welfare course to a 3-year university degree. Counsellors do not need to be registered and there are no qualifications required to be called a counsellor. Some counsellors call themselves psychotherapists. There are no regulations on that title either. Generally counsellors are very good at listening to problems and offering the sort of good advice that you might hear from trusted family or friends.
Psychologists do a minimum of four years specialist study at university. They learn about the human brain, behaviour, emotions, and social aspects of people. After this they do another two years of study, or they work under the close supervision of an experienced psychologist. Until all this is completed they cannot be qualified. All psychologists must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia, which comes under the umbrella of AHPRA.
Psychologists are not only good at listening to problems but they trained in techniques to diagnose what is causing the problems and can offer simple life changes to help patients manage to overcome the problem themselves, often without medication. Psychologists are not qualified to write prescriptions. They see people who are struggling with every day life problems such as stress or relationship difficulties, or who are, perhaps, suffering from common problems, such as anxiety and depression.
In short, the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists? “Psychiatrists give pills; Psychologists give skills.”
For more information go to psychology.org.au/community/about/
The current fee for a psychologist visit is $174.00, which is a $89.20 gap fee after the current Medicare rebate of $84.80. Alternatively HICAPS for your private health insurance can be claimed (see How and when do I pay?), but not both.
Special arrangements can be made for patients who hold a Health Care Card or Pension Card from Centrelink. Please phone and enquire. 07 5564 2202