Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a referral to see a Clinical Psychologist?
Although a referral is not required, many people prefer to obtain one from their GP prior to attending sessions because they will be eligible for a Medicare rebate of $126.50 for up to 10 sessions per calendar year. A referral to a Psychologist is called a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) or Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP).
Is the information I give my Clinical Psychologist confidential?
Clinical Psychologists are bound by the Australian Psychological Society’s Code of Ethics, which involves maintaining the confidentiality and privacy of the identities and personal information of those they work with. All personal information is stored in a secure drive and file names are de-identified. However, in specific circumstances where your Clinical Psychologist has recognised that there is a significant and imminent risk of serious harm to you or someone else based on information you have provided, they are ethically bound to relay this information to whoever is able to act to prevent this harm. Clinical Psychologists are also mandatory reporters and are obligated to inform Family and Community Services of any serious risks identified to the physical or emotional wellbeing of a child.
What qualifications does a Clinical Psychologist have?
A Clinical Psychologist has completed a four-year undergraduate degree with honours, two-year masters degree and two years of supervised practice with extra professional development and supervision requirements. Clinical Psychologists are required to participate in ongoing professional development and supervision every year in order to maintain their registration. Completing a Clinical Psychology qualification involves training in and exposure to a variety of client population groups, presenting problems, assessments and therapy modalities, as well as an independent research project.
What will happen at my first session?
Your Clinical Psychologist will spend time explaining key points related to consent, and will obtain your signed consent to assessment and therapy. You can withdraw your consent later at any time, should you change your mind. The first session is generally then used to get to know you and your therapy goals, and discuss next steps with you.
How many sessions do I need to attend?
There is no set number of sessions that people must attend in order to make progress with their mental health. Some find having only a few sessions will give them the information and support strategies they need to move forward without assistance. Others really benefit from longer-term support, sometimes over a year or more. The recommended number of sessions depends on the main issues the person is seeing their therapist about and how quickly they respond to therapy. It is ultimately your choice as to how many sessions you attend, as only you can truly assess the value of continuing to engage in your own therapy.
How often do I have to attend therapy sessions?
There is no fixed rule about how often someone should attend therapy and this also largely depends on the main issues they are seeking therapy to address. However, if you are working with a new therapist, it is generally recommended that you attend on a weekly or fortnightly basis for the first 3-6 sessions. This allows the therapist to establish a good relationship with you and gain momentum in the work you do together. Sessions can later be more spread out as you become better able to work independently, with less input from your therapist.
What if I don't feel comfortable with my therapist?
It is normal not to gel with everyone and it's the same with Psychologists. It is important to find a therapist who you feel understood by and who you feel genuinely wants to support you. It is completely OK to try out two or three therapists before you find one who feels like a good fit. Sometimes, though, you might feel uncomfortable because of what is discussed during sessions, rather than how your therapist comes across. If this happens, it is worthwhile having a conversation with your therapist about whether it is something that can be worked through or if another therapy style might be a better fit for you.
What are my responsibilities as someone who is participating in therapy?
Therapy is a partnership between the therapist and the person they are working with, and cannot be a successful process without the input of both. People who get more out of therapy attend sessions regularly, answer the therapist’s questions openly and honestly, and are willing to try things that might feel uncomfortable sometimes. Your therapist will never force you to do anything, and any challenging activities your therapist might suggest should be set in collaboration with you, in order to achieve a goal you have set for yourself.