Psychologists can provide you with strategies to cope with stress and anger, deal with grief and loss or manage mental health concerns. They’re trained to listen and offer support, advice and treatment.
To see a psychologist, it’s best to get a referral and Mental Health Plan from your GP. A Mental Health Plan allows you to access up to ten government subsidised sessions each year. Most psychologists do charge an additional fee so there may be a gap payment required. This gap can be between $30-100. If you’re worried about the cost, ask your GP if they can recommend someone who doesn’t charge a gap.
You can see a psychologist without a referral from your GP, however you will have to pay the full fee, which is usually around $250 per session.
If your GP has suggested a psychologist, give them a call to make an appointment. Appointments will usually take 45 – 60 minutes. If they haven’t recommended anyone or you’re not happy with the recommendation, you can contact your local RAMHP Coordinator or check out the National Health Services Directory for psychologists near you.
There is also the option to see a psychologist via video call. This may be useful if there isn’t a psychologist near you or if there is a long wait time. These appointments will require you to use a computer, tablet or phone to see and hear the psychologist. This is called ‘telehealth’ and if you live in a rural or remote area* then you are eligible for the government rebate on these appointments.
* To see if you are eligible for the government rebate on telehealth psychologist appointments, click here. In the ‘Address’ box enter your home address and under ‘Classifications’ select Modified Monash Model and year 2019. Hit ‘Search location’ and it will give you a number under MMM 2019. If your number is between 4 and 7 then you are eligible for a government rebate on telehealth psychologist appointments.
Think about what you would like to gain from seeing the psychologist. Once they’ve got a good idea of your situation and what you want in regards to your treatment, they will provide you with support and strategies unique to your situation.
If you’ve got a lot of questions, it can be helpful to write them down before you go. Think about:
What you would like them to help you with
What feeling better would look like for you
You can always take a family member or friend along with you for support, if you think that would help.
It’s important to remember that psychologists can’t share your information, unless you specifically ask them to.
Either before or at your first appointment you will be asked to sign an agreement about payment, cancellations and confidentiality. The psychologist should also discuss expectations, this can be a good opportunity to tell them what you hope to achieve or ask any questions.
You won’t resolve all of your concerns in the first session. The first appointment is about getting to know each other and giving the psychologist an idea about your life and what is worrying you. Talking about your concerns for the first time can be tough, but it helps to be honest with your psychologist so that they can offer you the best strategies to help your situation.
Remember psychologists speak with people every day about their mental health. Be honest with them, don’t try to pretend if you’re not feeling great. Mental Health concerns are common and they can help you to get on top of it.
Think about what you and your psychologist discussed. The psychologist will usually suggest that you make another appointment soon after.
Make sure to take action on what you talked about; practice an exercise at home or complete any ‘homework’ they’ve given you. It is important to do this so at your next appointment you can discuss how that strategy worked for you and if there are others that you can try.
Have you thought of any questions or things you want to mention to your psychologist at your next appointment?
If you didn’t click with the psychologist after a couple of sessions, then don’t be afraid to think about seeing a different person next time. Your psychologist won’t be offended, instead they will help you find another and make sure that you get the best treatment possible. You might feel discouraged if the first try doesn’t click, but try again, you’ll find what works for you.