What can I expect from psychological therapy sessions?

Psychological therapy utilises evidence-based treatment interventions that have been shown via research to provide efficacious outcomes for clients for a variety of disorders. Each session with your therapist will work towards specific goals collaboratively set out by you and your therapist. This may involve the therapist providing you with information about your diagnosis or your symptoms, strategies to help you manage these symptoms or difficulties, and reduce the frequency or severity of the symptoms. One aim of therapy will be to hopefully reduce the overall triggering of your symptoms in the long term.

What will happen in my first session with the psychologist?

The first session is an assessment session, meaning that your psychologist will spend the 50-minute appointment working towards understanding what is currently going on for you, what has happened over time to lead to the current issues, and whether there are other factors involved in the development of your symptoms/difficulties. If your psychologist gains enough information from you in this session, they will provide you with an idea of what the treatment plan will look like and get feedback from you as to whether that plan seem suitable for you. You can help by this process if you are already aware of your goals for therapy or if you already have an idea of how your issues may have developed. You are welcome to bring any information along to your session; please let your psychologist know from the start if you have information to give them.

How can I get the most out of therapy?

  1. Find the right psychologist. It is important that you feel it is a good fit with your psychologist. Although this does not necessarily occur in the first session, you will often at least get a feel for whether the psychologist is right for you or not. At MDC, we know how important it is to have a good connection with your psychologist. Therefore, if you find after the first or second session it does not feel right, we welcome you to let us know; we can then find another suitable psychologist for you at our clinic or recommend other psychologists. Our psychologists will not be offended by this request.
  2. Try to be honest with your psychologist about what you hope to gain from the session at the start of the session. While the psychologist will have an agenda for the session based on your goals and the treatment plan, it is important that you voice your own agenda for the session as the psychologist will be more than happy to either shift focus for the session or alter the treatment plan according to your specific goals week to week if necessary. Additionally, if a certain treatment path or specific strategies are not working for you, please try to be as up front with your psychologist as possible, so they can change their approach accordingly.
  3. Do tasks in between sessions. The tasks your psychologist sets for you to do outside of session are important in order for change to happen. These tasks may be self-reflective tasks, journaling, practising strategies, or facing various difficulties in specific ways. Doing these tasks will help you understand what is going on in your day-to-day life that needs to be addressed within session.
  4. Schedule regular appointments. Having sessions frequently (at least to begin with), ensures good momentum towards your goals. Weekly or fortnightly sessions helps keep sessions on track and can be spent targeting the next step of the treatment path rather than spending lots of time simply “catching up” on what has been happening. The latter is more likely to occur with infrequent sessions (as symptoms may need to be re-assessed when more time has passed).
  5. Prioritise your mental health. Attending sessions and prioritising your therapy is important to make sure you make the gains you hope for. Reducing your psychological symptoms and feeling better can take time and you may still have ups and downs throughout the therapeutic process; however, if you commit to attending your sessions, you are more likely to experience long term gains.

How do I get Medicare rebate for sessions?

There are a couple of options available for you to claim Medicare rebate on psychological sessions:

  1. Visit a GP and get a Mental Health Care Plan. This plan allows you to obtain Medicare rebate for 10 psychological sessions in a calendar year. Please book a long consultation with your GP as completion of the plan can take 30-45 minutes. Clients are encouraged to register for the Medicare Safety Net to obtain higher Medicare rebates after the safety net is reached.
  2. Visit a GP an get a Chronic Disease Management (CDM) referral (previously called EPC). This referral option is for people who experience a chronic medical condition or complex care needs for a minimum of 6 months. It provides Medicare rebate for 5 sessions with an allied health professional. Please check the eligibility criteria with your GP.

If you are eligible for both of these referral types, you may be able to obtain both options in any given calendar year. The first step is obtaining a Mental Health Care Plan.

Do you provide treatment for children and adolescents?

Yes. Our psychologists are trained in treating children, adolescents, and adults. Each psychologist may differ in which area of mood disorders and the age range they treat. Please see “about us” for descriptions of our current psychologists.

How do I know if the psychologist is the right person for me?

Although it is often difficult opening up to a stranger immediately, you can often tell in the first session if you feel comfortable with this person. Comfort and connection is important for therapy to work as you want to be able to be honest and open in your sessions; otherwise your psychologist will miss out on important information and you will miss out on the right treatment. It is also important that you do not feel judged by your psychologist and that they seem to understand your issues/difficulties. The right person will also allow you to feel that you can disagree with them and have your own input into the treatment path that you and your psychologist decide on. If you do not experience this type of rapport with your psychologist, please let us know so we can find the right psychologist for you. Our psychologists understand the importance of seeing the right person and will therefore be more than happy to help you find the right person even if it means it is not the person you started with.

What if I don’t have a referral?

You are welcome to attend therapy sessions without a referral; anyone can attend psychology sessions without a referral from a GP or a specialist. However, without a referral you will need to pay the full fee as you will not get any Medicare rebate.

What are the qualifications of a clinical psychologist?

A clinical psychologist has obtained an honours degree in psychology and conducted postgraduate study. The latter can take three forms: a Clinical PhD; a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology; or a Masters in Clinical Psychology (with additional supervision required prior to clinical endorsement). A clinical psychologist has specialised endorsement within allied health.

What if I have a specific goal in mind for therapy?

Specific goals can be very helpful for therapy as they can help to guide your psychologist with the assessment process and the development of the treatment plan. Bring your goals in with you to the first session and let your psychologist know what you are hoping for; you can also bring a list of goals for each session. However, it is important to be realistic with your expectations for each session and for the overall treatment plan.

What if I don’t know what my goals are for therapy?

If you are struggling with a variety of problems, but can’t quite figure out what your goals are, that is absolutely fine. This is the point of the assessment phase of therapy which can take several sessions to make sure you and your psychologist target the right issues with the right treatment intervention. After the assessment phase your psychologist will discuss goal options with you that should hopefully address the issues you feel you are struggling with.

How often should I book sessions with my psychologist?

Booking regular sessions to start with is helpful to ensure good momentum towards your goals. Weekly or fortnightly sessions helps keep you on track and can be spent targeting the next step of the treatment path rather than spending lots of time simply “catching up” on what has been happening. The latter is more likely to occur with infrequent sessions (as symptoms may need to be re-assessed when more time has passed). Once you and your psychologist have a good understanding of the issues you are facing, have a treatment plan, have strategies in place for you, have reduced your symptoms, and are working towards you longer term gains, then sessions should be less frequent so you have more time to work on the goals in between sessions.