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Psychologists are trained health professionals who assist people with reducing their distress and enhancing their health and wellbeing. Psychologists help people with understanding, changing and managing both their emotions, as well as helping to change unhelpful behaviours.

Psychologists assess the presenting concerns that may be causing challenges within someone’s life. Together with the individual they develop a plan for treatment that addresses the goals of the individual through the use of evidence based treatment.

Numerous studies have identified the benefits of psychological therapy. Evidence-based-treatments have been shown to assist people in addressing a range of problems and issues.

People can benefit from addressing challenges from personal or relationship difficulties to helping with emotional and psychological wellbeing.

Your psychologist will conduct an assessment with you to determine the factors that have led to your difficulties, the issues that are perpetuating your current situation, and the patterns causing you problems.

You will then work with your psychologist on exploring these issues, developing skills, learning how to address your difficulties and setting yourself goals for treatment.

You may be given tasks to complete outside of treatment in order to gain from the work explored within session.

A psychologist has university level training and has completed a minimum of six years of study. They are required to continually engage in ongoing professional development. Your work with a general psychologist may involve addressing everyday problems such as stress and relationship difficulties. Additionally, you may focus on building skills needed for more effective coping or management of your symptoms. Clinical psychologists treat and diagnose people experiencing mental illness. They have training in the treatment of mental health conditions.

Psychologists are regulated within Australia by AHPRA who ensure minimum standards are met and enforce a strict code of ethics. “Therapists” and “counsellors” are not regulated terms in Australia. This means that the individual does not have to register with any authority and can have varying levels of training that do not need to comply with any standards.

A psychiatrist has a medical degree as well as additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication, while psychologists can not. It may be beneficial to see both a Psychiatrist and a Psychologist for the treatment of your mental health.

There is considerable overlap between a general psychologist and clinical psychology. Like psychologists, clinical psychologists aim to provide a wide range of psychological services to individuals across the lifespan. They aim to reduce psychological distress and to enhance and promote psychological well-being.

Typically, psychologists focus more on healthier, less pathological populations whereas clinical psychologists focus on individuals with more severe and complex mental health issues. They are trained in the assessment and diagnosis of mental illness and are qualified to provide clinical skills for complex psychological problems.

Everything discussed in session between you and the psychologist remains confidential. Only if the psychologist believes there is a risk to yourself or others can confidentiality be broken, or if subpoenaed by law.

Your psychologist may take notes during the session to help with documenting your session. These notes will be stored securely.

If you are using a Medicare Mental Health Care Plan then the psychologist is required to provide your GP with a report in relation to treatment. This will generally be discussed with you in session.

You will be asked to sign a consent form in your first session nominating the people or organisations that you give consent for your psychologist to speak with if required.

You are asked to attend 15 minutes early for your first appointment in order to complete any necessary paperwork. Your psychologist will review these documents with you at the beginning of the session. In this first session your psychologist with collect a history from you by asking a range of questions in order to form an understanding of your individual story. They will also learn more about the problem that has brought you to treatment.

In order for you to benefit from treatment you need to feel comfortable with the psychologist that you will be working with. Part of your first session will be determining if the therapist is the right fit for you.

In learning about your particular difficulty your therapist will also determine whether they are the right psychologist to be working with you. If they do not feel that they have the appropriate training or expertise for your particular problem they will assist you to find the appropriate support.

At the end of your first session, goals for treatment will be developed in collaboration with you and treatment options will be discussed.

Medicare rebates for psychological treatment by registered psychologists are available under the Australian government’s Better Access to Mental Health Care.

You will need to book an appointment with your General Practitioner (GP) to obtain a Mental Health Care Plan. It is recommended that you inform the receptionist at the time of booking that you require a Care Plan as your GP will likely need an extended appointment to complete the necessary paperwork.

  • Your GP will complete an assessment with you and discuss why you may benefit from such a referral. Once your GP has determined that you are eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan they will complete a plan and provide you with a referral letter.
  • You have the choice of selecting the psychologist that you would like to see.
Everyone is different due to the nature of their problem and the extent this impacts upon them. Your psychologist will speak with you about your goals for treatment and how many sessions may be required. Generally people can receive enough support from the ten sessions or less however others benefit from longer term care. Our focus is on ensuring the resolution of your difficulties and maintaining the gains you have made.
Regular attendance at sessions is helpful to ensuring that progress is consistent and gains are maintained. Initially you may attend either weekly or fortnightly. This may be extended out to monthly or longer after a period of time. It is best to discuss this with your psychologist as you progress through treatment.

Links

There are a number of helpful websites containing valuable information and resources. Below are some websites that you may find beneficial.

Crisis Numbers

Please note that if you or someone else is in crisis or in need of urgent assistance, please contact one of the crisis services below or call emergency services on 000.

  • Lifeline Ph: 13 11 14
  • Suicide Help Line 1300 651 251 (24 hours)
  • Eastern Mental Health Triage 1300 721 927
  • Kids Helpline Ph: 1800 55 1800