How Much Does it Cost to See a Psychologist?
How much will it cost to see a psychologist or counsellor on the Gold Coast?
At East Queensland Counselling & Psychology located in Palm Beach and Southport we charge $130 per hour for individual psychology sessions and $160 per hour for couples counselling. If your Doctor has given you a mental health care plan Medicare will pay for $84.80 of the total cost and you will need to pay a 'gap' fee of $45.80 on the day of your appointment. If you are on a low income or receiving a Centrelink benefit there will be a gap fee of $20.
How do I access a psychologist through Medicare?
You may qualify to access a rebate on your psychology fees through Medicare. To determine if this is the case simply ask your doctor at your next visit whether he or she is able to provide you with a referral and a Mental Health Care Plan to enable you to see a psychologist. While some psychologists will ‘bulk bill’ you, which means that the whole fee will be covered by Medicare, many will ask you to pay a ‘gap’ which is the difference between the fee that they normally charge and the costs covered by Medicare.
Will my private health insurance cover any of my costs?
Depending on your level of cover you may find that your private health insurance will allow you to claim a rebate for any psychological services. Generally private health insurance does not cover the entire fee charged by the psychologist and you will still need to make up the difference by paying a 'gap'.
What if I have a concession card?
At East Qld Counselling & Psychology we will bulk bill you for psychological treatment if you are receiving Centrelink assistance and have a concession card along with a mental health care plan from your doctor and are experiencing genuine hardship.
What will happen during my first session?
If you have never had a session with a psychologist your initial visit may feel a little daunting. Usually what will happen is that the psychologist will want to get to know you better and will be informally assessing your situation. He or she will want to learn about your situation, or in the case of relationship counselling, the issues between yourself and your partner. Sometimes they may ask you to complete paper work, including an intake form that outlines basic information about you, or they may ask you to complete one or two assessment forms that will provide them with some objective information about you and what is happening in your life right now.
In our practice we like to understand the main problem that is bothering you, learn a little about your family of origin (the family that you grew up in) and then focus on your strengths and how best to apply these to what is happening right now. Often a psychologist will offer to teach you some skills that may assist you to deal differently with the situation that is bothering you, such as assertiveness skills, conflict resolution skills, anger management skills, or skills focussed specifically on improving your relationship with your parnter.
It is essential that you feel comfortable to talk to your psychologist openly and honestly as he or she really needs to get to know you well in order to help you. If you don't feel safe with your psychologist then you probably need to find another one, although keep in mind that it can take a little time to develop a trusting relationship with any psychologist.
In almost every case clients who have entered our clinic as counselling 'virgins' leave feeling supported, cared about, and as though a weight has been lifted from their shoulders. Don't just take my word for it, try it yourself!
How long does therapy take?
Initially your first session with a psychologist will probably only last for an hour.
How many sessions you will require after this really depends on what is happening to cause your distress. Generally it is helpful to approach treatment with the view that you will probably benefit from investing in at least 6 sessions, and given that you will be making changes that you want to last you would be best advised to consider between at least 10-20 sessions spread out over a 12 month period. You may find that your psychologist initially wants to see you every week, and then fortnightly, and then maybe monthly before you are asked to touch base for a maintenance session at 6 months.
What is the difference between a psychologist, a psychiatrist, and a counsellor?
A simple way to distinguish between these three practitioners is to look at what they have studied to earn their title:
- Psychologist: has primarily been trained in the science of behavior. They are most interested in understanding human behavior and generally conduct research, perform testing, assess and then design interventions to treat a full range of emotional and psychological challenges. To be able to practice as a psychologist in Australia you must have completed the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency’s requirements for registration.
The word 'psychology' basically comes from the Greek word 'psyche', originally meaning 'life' or 'soul', combined with 'logy', originally meaning 'to study' = study of life.
- Psychiatrist: has primarily trained as a medical practitioner and then pursued further studies in mental health. A psychiatrist is able to diagnose specific mental illnesses according to the DSM-V and is also able to prescribe medication to treat mental illness. A psychiatrist is a registered medical practitioner.
The word 'psychiatry' stems also from the Greek word 'psyche' combined with 'iatry' which means 'medical treatment' = medical treatment of life.
- Counsellors: are the only specialists who have primarily been trained in methods for listening and responding to people’s problems. They may have studied any number of different therapies including person-centred counselling, solution focused therapy, motivational interviewing, or narrative therapy among others. There are now apparently over 400 different types of theoretical orientations and techniques world wide.
Counsellors in Australia do not have to be registered to provide services and therefore they do not have to hold any qualifications. However many of them have been to university to study counselling and hold as many if not more qualifications in terms of working directly with people than a psychologist or psychiatrist. It is a good idea to ask a counsellor what and where they have studied prior to booking an appointment.
You can watch a very quick and basic outline of the difference between a psycholgist and a psychiatrist below: