What is the difference between a Counsellor and a Psychologist?
Counselling and psychology are often used interchangeably, though the training for these qualifications differ greatly from one another. Counselling services are not as heavily regulated as psychological services, so there is no guarantee of the level of experience or training that the counsellor may have. These can vary from a few days of training to, perhaps, a Master’s degree. Psychology, however, requires the completion of a minimum of six years of training. This training includes one to two years of supervised clinical practice as well as university study. Specialist psychologists such as Clinical Psychologists have a postgraduate degree at a Masters, Doctorate or PhD level. All Psychologists must also register with the regulatory body, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). This ensures a high standard of care, with annual requirements to achieve continuous training and professional development.
What training and experience do our psychologists have?
Every psychologist at Wise Institute is a Clinical Psychologist or Clinical Psychology Registrar. This means that they have completed a four-year bachelor degree with honours followed by a two year Masters, or a three year Doctorate of Psychology or a combined Masters of Science / PhD. Following the completion of these degrees, there is a further two years of supervised clinical practice, to become fully qualified Clinical Psychologists. Clinical Psychology Registrars are in the process of completing those final two years. All Clinical Psychologists have completed independent research in the area of clinical psychology during their training.
All of our psychologists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and have a wide variety of experience working with children, teenagers, their families and support networks. As Clinical Psychologists, we have all met the high ethical and professional standards required by the Psychology Board of Australia and engage in initial and annual updates of education, training and professional development in the area of psychology and the specialist field of clinical psychology.
Are there concerns we can’t help with?
While our psychologists can help with many areas of concern, we do not do family or “custody” assessments to make recommendations about living arrangements for children. We also do not provide diagnostic or formal reports or letters for court purposes or other third parties (e.g. insurance companies, Centrelink, etc).
If you are looking for assistance with reports or assessments, we are able to provide some recommendations of colleagues outside of Wise Institute that can assist you.
Booking and Attending Appointments
How can I make an appointment?
The best way to book an appointment is to phone us on 9906 5199 between 9:00am-5:00pm weekdays. Alternatively you can complete the online form or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our receptionist will assist with taking basic information and then Simone, our Intake and Client Services Manager, will speak with you to get an understanding of your individual needs so that she can arrange an appointment with the most appropriate clinician.
We appreciate that you may have been referred to a specific clinician, but occasionally the referral to that clinician is not appropriate; for instance, in the event that the clinician does not see adolescents, or their schedule simply doesn’t align with yours. Discuss these needs with Simone and she can give you options either within our practice or elsewhere.
How long will I have to wait for an appointment?
Appointments with psychologists are set up to ensure that all clients within our service are able to be seen within a suitable time frame—we want to ensure that you get the most effective treatment. With this in mind, there can be a wait to get in to be seen for your first appointment, but after this, you will be able to book ahead to ensure ongoing availability. Wise Institute carefully matches every client with the psychologist who has the most experience in the area of the client’s concern to ensure the most positive outcome possible. We operate waiting lists which can help facilitate the earliest appointment available in the case of any cancellations and ensure that ongoing clients are seen in the timeframe that is most suitable for them.
We have a cancellation policy that reflects the time the psychologist set aside for your appointment. A full fee is charged for sessions that are cancelled less than 24 hours prior to the scheduled appointment time.
To assist, we send SMS reminders roughly 72 hours prior to each appointment. You are welcome to respond directly to that text if you are no longer able to make that appointment.
We are just ten minutes walk from St Leonards Station and five minutes walk to the Pacific Highway or Falcon Street, where buses run frequently in all directions.
How often do I need to see a psychologist?
There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to the frequency of appointments with a psychologist. The regularity of appointments will be discussed further at the time of your first appointment with a psychologist and a regular time reserved for you, if necessary. The frequency of your appointments will be determined by a number of factors including, your situation, the recommendation of your GP, or other health care professionals, your support network and your availability.
How long are psychology appointments?
Your initial assessment will last for 1 hour, ongoing consultations are 50 minutes.
What should I bring with me to see a psychologist?
You only need to bring yourself and any documentation you would like to share with us. This may include a referral or reports from your GP, a Psychiatrist, Paediatrician or any other health professionals that you’ve seen, such as a Dietician or Physio. Bring anything with you that you think will help the psychologist to understand you and your current needs.
Could I bring someone along with me for support?
Some people find it helpful to have a friend or family member accompany them for the first couple of appointments and we are very supportive of that if it feels right to you. This is not required, so do what feels right to you.
What if I don’t connect well with the psychologist?
The quality of the client-psychologist relationship is the strongest predictor of outcomes from psychology sessions. With this in mind, if after a couple of appointments you don’t feel that the psychologist is the right match for you, please discuss this with the practitioner or call Simone to request a change.
If you feel comfortable, we recommend that you discuss your experience with the psychologist working with you first. They are highly skilled at challenging discussions and your feedback will assist them to know what you need. They are committed to supporting you in your goals and will not take this personally. The psychologist will be able to work with you to assist in determining who might be a better match for you and will pass this information on to Simone, our Client Services Manager, who will assist in placing you with another psychologist. If you wish, they can also pass on the information that you have provided so far to a new psychologist, so you don’t need to start from scratch again.
Alternatively, Simone is on hand to assist you throughout your time with Wise Institute. Simone would happily talk with you to understand you experience and assist in transitioning you to another psychologist. Feel free to contact Simone by phone 9906 5198or email email@example.com.
Referrals and Pricing
Do I need a referral for a psychology appointment?
You do not need a referral to consult with a psychologist, unless you wish to claim Medicare rebates. If you would like to claim with Medicare, you will need to see your GP to assess your eligibility for a Mental Health Care Plan.
If you plan to use your private health insurance, no documentation is necessary. The only exception to this is for clients claiming on HCF. HCF require that you utilise a Mental Health Care Plan provided by a GP and exhaust all of the sessions covered by Medicare, only then can you claim on your private HCF medical insurance.
What is a Mental Health Care Plan and how do I get one?
A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP), is a recommendation written by your GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician, for sessions subsidised by Medicare. The GP will discuss your concerns with you and then determine your eligibility in accordance with Medicare guidelines. To be eligible, you must have a diagnosable mental health condition that is impacting on your functioning and causing a significant level of distress. The development of a MHCP requires some information gathering, so most GP’s request patients to book a long consultation to create a plan together.
Your GP will ask you a series of questions and may ask you to complete a questionnaire. The aim of the plan is to set goals and agree on the best treatment.
What is a Medicare referral and am I eligible for one?
A MHCP is one type of Medicare referral, other types include plans for Chronic Disease Management, Helping Children with Autism and Better Start for Children with Disability. All of these plans require a referral from a GP or other specialist, please speak with your GP to determine your eligibility.
If I am not eligible for a Medicare referral, am I able to claim from my private health fund?
If you are covered for psychological services under your private health fund, you are entitled to claim for these services. The claimable amount per session, and number of sessions per calendar year, depends upon your private health care plan.
HCF is the only private health fund that requires you to utilise a Medicare Mental Health Care Plan and exhaust all of the sessions covered by Medicare. Only then can you claim on your private HCF medical insurance.
Can I claim on Medicare and from a private health fund concurrently?
Unfortunately, this is not possible. We will create a specific invoice depending upon whether or not you intend to claim from Medicare. If we receive a Medicare referral from your GP, then we will create invoices using the Medicare format until your session limit has been reached.
How much do sessions cost?
All psychologists working with Wise Institute have the highest level of qualifications and ongoing training under AHPRA guidelines. This provides certainty in the highest quality of care with the knowledge and experience to treat even the most serious of concerns.
Our psychologist’s rates vary, but are guided by the recommendation of the Australian Psychological Society’s fee schedule, this is currently set to $251 an hour.
If cost is an issue, we have a variety of different options for you including payment plans, and, if appropriate, group programs for which we can offer concessions. Please raise any concerns around payment with Simone, our Client Services Manager, who can give you options regarding your particular needs.
What is the Medicare rebate amount for psychology appointments?
The rebate amount depends upon the psychologist you see, the total amount you have spent on Medicare eligible medical care expenses within the calendar year, and the duration of your psychology appointment. As a guideline for reimbursements, a client who has a 50 minute appointment with a Clinical Psychologist would be reimbursed $126.50 by Medicare, with a Clinical Psychology Registrar this rebate would be $86.15.
Are Medicare rebates applicable to couples and family therapy?
No, Medicare MHCPs and Medicare referrals are only for individuals. However, if one of the individuals in the couple or family is suffering from a condition that meets the criteria, that individual can seek a care plan from their doctor.
May I claim for a session on a family members Medicare referral?
As MHCPs and Medicare referrals are written for individuals, a claim can only be made when that person is present for the session.
By way of example, A MHCP is submitted under a child’s name, ‘Jane Smith’.
If the parents are required to attend a session on their own in relation to Jane’s ongoing care, this invoice is not claimable from Medicare.
If the session is for Jane Smith and her parents attend with her, the invoice can be claimed with Medicare.
Are phone and Zoom sessions with a psychologist covered by Medicare?
Yes, until 31 March 2021, you can claim teleheath sessions with a valid MHCP. Under this care plan you can currently claim up to 20 sessions per calendar year. In response to COVID-19, we are monitoring the safety of face-to-face sessions closely and offering appointments via Zoom or telephone should this be more appropriate.
Do I need another referral if I still have unused sessions covered on a Medicare referral?
No, not necessarily. Any unused sessions that are under a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) or MHCP Review can be used with any psychologist if you still meet the criteria for the condition listed. Once a Medicare referral is submitted to Medicare for a specific mental health item number, it is valid for life. Referrers will typically allocate six sessions under a MHCP or review. Once these have been used, you will need to conduct a review with the GP so they can check how you are going in treatment and they can then refer you for further sessions, if they feel this is warranted.
Until 30 June 2022, the maximum number of face-to-face psychology sessions claimable through Medicare per calendar year is 20. This is a COVID-19 initiative and requires a specific GP referral for the additional sessions. It is recommended that you go online or call Medicare on 13 21 50 to confirm how many sessions have been claimed. This will allow you to stay up to date with the remaining sessions and pass on this information to your psychologist.
Do you process Medicare claims instantly?
Not at the moment, though we hope to offer this service soon. For now, we supply a copy of your invoice to you for claiming through Medicare. This can be lodged in person at a Medicare office or via your smartphone on the Medicare App.