Psychology FAQ in Sydney

FAQ

What's the difference between a Psychologist, Psychiatrist and Counsellor?
Psychologists have training in a variety of evidence-supported theories that relate to understanding and changing human behaviour. Training also involves administering and interpreting psychological tests and conducting and interpreting psychological research. They study for a minimum of 6 years at university level before gaining registration. Furthermore, a Psychologist is required to continue to educate themselves through professional development programs.

Psychiatrists initially trained as medical doctors and then trained as specialists. They can and do prescribe medication which can assist with mental illnesses. They assist in making decisions about treatment, admissions and discharges from hospital, as well as referral to other medical specialists.

Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, individuals who call themselves counsellors or psychotherapists don’t require registration with any governing authority or minimum level of training, and no government legislation regulates who can call themselves a counsellor or psychotherapist.There is varied training available, from a Masters in Counselling to a few weeks by correspondence.

What is the difference between a Psychologist and Clinical Psychologist?
Psychologists complete 6 years of full-time (or equivalent in part-time) training comprised of 4 years of a full-time university degree plus 2 years of supervised experience..
Clinical Psychologists typically complete all the same basic training as Psychologists but, in addition, complete at least an additional 2 years of full-time university training at Master’s degree level or above in Clinical Psychology. They receive further specialist training in more severe psychological problems and complete internships in several clinical settings. Their training usually involves more specific and intensive training in psychological treatments for particular conditions.
What about confidentiality?
All the information you disclose to your Psychologist is private and confidential. Our files are kept in secure storage, and unless your Psychologist has your express permission, no information will be given to a third party, unless it is subpoenaed by a court, you give us permission to disclose information, or our failure to disclose the information places you or another person at risk. In the event of any of the above occurring, your Psychologist will contact you and discuss any concerns with you before any information is released.

However, your psychologist is obliged by Medicare to write update letters to your referring doctor, if undergoing therapy under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan after 6 sessions and at the end of treatment.

Psychologists are bound by the legal requirements of the National Privacy Principles from the Privacy Amendment Act 2000 and follow strict guidelines for professional conduct that include confidentiality.

Can I claim a Medicare rebate for sessions?
Being registered with the Psychology Board of Australia, Angus is accredited by Medicare to provide psychology services as a Clinical Psychologist. The Medicare rebate you can claim is currently $124.50 per session for up to 10 sessions per calendar year.
Can I claim Medicare and a private health fund for the same session?
Unfortunately, no. We will only either issue receipts as “Medicare Format” OR “Private Health Fund Format” as Medicare is very particular about this. Medicare will not pay “Private Health Fund Format” receipts and vice versa.

We will create receipts using the Medicare format if we receive a Medicare referral from your GP until your limit has been reached. Only when your limit has been reached that we will swap for you to claim under your private health fund.

How can I make an appointment?
The most common and easiest way is by reaching our office by phoning 0450 523 158 any time of the day.

You may also fill out the contact form on the Contact page or email the office directly at inquiries@ampsych.com.au.

What is a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan and how do I get one?
A GP Mental Health Treatment Plan is part of the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative. This plan is provided by the GP in order to provide considerable assistance to people living with mental health problems, allowing them greater access to psychologist and providing more affordable mental healthcare.

It includes documenting results of the assessment, client’s need, goals and actions, referrals and required treatment/services, and a review date.

Clients are encouraged to book a longer session with their GP if they are requesting a referral for psychological services, in order to enable the GP to complete the assessment and GP Mental Health Treatment Plan.

How many sessions will I need?
The frequency of your appointments will depend on the nature of your concerns and the goals you wish to achieve. You will be given a guideline for the number of sessions that you are likely to need following the initial assessment. Your rate of progress is also dependent on the amount of time you spend practising skills and working between sessions.

Please note: If you are claiming services through Medicare or your Private Health Fund, they will not give you a rebate for two consecutive consultations within a 24-hour period.

How long do appointments last?
Consultations generally go for approximately 50 minutes. It is strongly encouraged for clients to be punctual and arrive at least 5 minutes prior to their appointments. We will not be able to extend sessions if clients arrive late because subsequent appointments for the day will be affected.
How do I find you?
Our main clinic is based at 2 Warwick Avenue Cammeray NSW 2062.

If you are still having trouble locating us, please dial 0450 523 158.

Can I lodge my Medicare claims electronically?
Yes. We have facilities for you to claim the rebate directly from Medicare after each appointment.
Do I need a referral?
No. You do not need a GP referral before coming to see us. Just pick up the phone or fill up our Contact form and make an appointment.

However, if you wish to claim the Medicare rebate you will need your GP’s referral first as part of the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan.

I saw another psychologist for a few sessions under a Medicare referral in the past. Do I need a new referral?
Not typically.

It is your decision which clinician you would like to attend for treatment and referrals are transferrable between psychologists. Once an initial GP Mental Health Treatment Plan is submitted to Medicare for a specific mental health condition, it has a ‘life-long’ validity. However, during the treatment process you are required to return to your GP for a review after the recommended number of sessions they have requested you attend. Although you may not be required to return to your GP at this stage, it is polite to advise them of the change.

As the maximum number of sessions per calendar year is 10, it is recommended you call Medicare on 13 21 50 or write to the following address in order to confirm how many sessions have been claimed to date so that your new clinician can be notified:

Medicare, Release of Information,
GPO Box 9822,
Sydney 2001

What is the cancellation policy?
Like many other professional services, Angus Munro Psychology has a cancellation policy. We can offer another time suitable for the client if we are given reasonable notice which, at the very least, is two business days (48 hours).

A full fee is charged for sessions that are cancelled or postponed less than one business day (24 hours) prior to the scheduled appointment time and 50% is charged for sessions cancelled or postponed less than two business days (48 hours) prior to the scheduled appointment time.

We send an SMS or an email roughly 48 business hours prior to appointments that serves as a reminder.

How much is the rebate from Medicare if I have a referral?
The rebate amount varies depending on the location, format and duration as shown below. The typical rebate is $124.50.

Updated Medicare Table

Last updated November 2013. For more information call Medicare (http://www.medicareaustralia.gov.au/) on 132 011.

Can I get Medicare rebates for couple or family therapy?
Unfortunately, no. Medicare is ONLY for individuals.

If one member of the family or an individual from a couple is suffering from a condition that meets the criteria of being a diagnosable disorder and is severe enough, then THAT individual can seek a care plan from their doctor.

If the best treatment for the individual involves sessions that only include their partner or other family members without that individual being present, then that is what we will do. Please remember that the rebate will not be claimable for any sessions where the identified patient is not present. There are often very good reasons not to have the them in the room. For example, when a four year old is having behavioural problems it is more appropriate to work with the parents for the bulk of the time. Medicare would have us keep the child in the room throughout the parent sessions but this could worsen the problem.

Finally, we do not split the bill if two people within the treatment both have care plans or any other schemes that would increase the level of rebate per hour above what an individual would receive.

Is the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) referral the same as the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan?
No. This is a different referral used for allied health treatments including psychology. Formerly known as Enhanced Primary Care (ECM), Chronic Disease Management (CDM) under item number 10968 enables you to claim a rebate for a maximum of 5 sessions only per calendar year through Medicare.

The process for obtaining this referral is the same as with the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan. For more information, please see ‘What is a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan and how do I get one?’http://www.ampsych.com.au/faq/

Am I allowed to claim from Medicare for a session under my family members Medicare referral?
A Medicare referral, either GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or Chronic Disease Management (CDM), is submitted from your GP for the individual needing treatment and this name will be documented on the referral. Therefore a claim can only be made when this particular individual is present for the whole or part of the session.
If I am not eligible for a Medicare referral, am I able to claim from my health fund?
If you have health cover for psychology treatment then you are entitled to claim. The claimable amount and number of sessions per calendar year depends on your plan.

HCF is the only health fund that has different regulations. If you are a member of HCF and you do have psychology cover, they will only rebate you for sessions once you have claimed your maximum number of sessions for the calendar year through Medicare under the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan. A form will then need to be filled in and signed by your clinician to confirm that you have reached your maximum 10 claimable sessions for Medicare.

Therefore, if you decide not to proceed with the GP Mental Health Treatment Plan or you are not eligible, HCF will unfortunately not rebate you.

How do I know if I can access Medicare benefits?
Under the Better Access initiative, Medicare benefits cover treatment for people undergoing difficulties with:

Psychotic disorders Post traumatic stress disorder
Schizophrenia Eating disorders
Bipolar disorder Panic disorder
Phobic disorders Alcohol use disorders
Anxiety disorders Drug use disorders
Adjustment disorder Sleep problems
Depression Attention deficit disorder
Sexual disorders Obsessive compulsive disorder
Conduct disorder Co-occurring anxiety and depression
Bereavement disorders

I live in a rural and regional area of Australia can I still access therapy?
Yes, we are able to treat clients using SKYPE. See our Skype Therapy page for more information about the procedure. It should be noted that Skype based sessions are not currently covered by Medicare or private health funds. We have received advice that Medicare is looking into this discrepancy.
I'm about to turn 75 – am I too old for counselling?
No one is ever too old to improve their quality of life. We have had a number of clients aged well into the 80s who have been able to achieve and maintain desired changes that have made significant improvements in their functioning.

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