Important Information about Counselling

Do I need a referral to make an appointment?

No referral is required to make an appointment. If you have a referral with a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP then you can claim a Medicare rebate of $86.15 per session for up to 10 sessions per calendar year. If you do not have a referral you cannot claim a rebate from Medicare,  but you can use Private Health if applicable.

What is a Mental Health Care Plan?

A Mental Health Care Plan is developed in conjunction with your GP assessing your mental health. After doing an assessment your GP will make a plan for you which may include a referral to a psychologist under the Better Access initiative. This is a Government initiative to enable people living with mental health problems to obtain more affordable treatment from psychologists via Medicare rebates.  To obtain a Mental Health Care Plan you will need to book a long appointment with your GP to discuss your concerns and determine whether counselling is the best treatment plan for you. Better Access is for diagnosable disorders such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, phobias, mood disorders, eating disorders and addictions. People with a Mental Health Care Plan are eligible for Medicare rebates for up to 10 sessions per calendar year with a Psychologist, as well as  10 group therapy sessions. The current Medicare rebate for a standard 50 minute session with a psychologist is $86.15.  If you are unsure whether you are eligible for a Mental Health Care Plan then please call us to discuss it or consult your Doctor.

How do I choose the right counsellor for me?

It is very important when deciding to get help for a problem that you find the person who can best assist you. Firstly, it can be helpful to understand the differences between types of health professionals. The words counselling, therapy and psychotherapy are often used interchangeably and may be conducted by a psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor or therapist. It is always advisable to check qualifications, experience and areas of specialty before deciding who to see. Below are some definitions which may help you choose the best practitioner for you.

Secondly, once you meet with someone, check if what they are saying seems to make sense to you and if you feel comfortable talking with the person. It is normal to eel somewhat anxious at their first visit. Has the health professional heard and understood your concerns, and outlined a clear plan for the treatment?  Other things to consider include accessibility and cost of sessions.

Psychologists have completed 6 six years of training with at least 4 of those at University. They must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia which ensures that they follow high standards of ethics and meet ongoing professional development requirements. Psychologists work in a variety of settings and may focus in different areas including counselling, mental health and assessment. Psychologists are not able to prescribe medication. Medicare rebates are available when you see a psychologist if they have a Medicare provider number.

Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and then further study specialising in mental health. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists offer psychotherapy, while others focus primarily on the medical management of mental health problems.

Counsellors and therapists are not currently regulated in Australia. Many counsellors have completed a degree in counselling or social work and have membership with a peak organisation, such as PACFA, which means they have minimum standards and ongoing professional development requirements.  However, there are some counsellors and therapists that have done only short courses or not completed any formal training. Therefore, it is important to check qualifications and experience before deciding to see a counsellor or therapist.

What will happen at my first appointment?

For many making the decision to make an appointment to see a psychologist is a difficult one and results in feelings of anxiety.  At Live Well Now we understand this and provide a comfortable, friendly and non-judgmental space for you to confidentially discuss your concerns with a caring professional. Sessions are scheduled for 50 minutes and the first  session is generally focused on developing an understanding of why you are seeking help and what your goals are. You will then work together with your psychologist to develop a plan to meet your counselling goals. 

How many appointments will I need?

The number of sessions required varies depending on the person and severity of the problem/s. Most commonly, clients use  4 to 12 sessions. More sessions may be needed to consolidate changes or for long standing and complex problems. Clients on a Mental Health Care Plan will generally be given a referral for 6 sessions initially and can then request further sessions, up to 10 per calendar year.

Can I get help and compensation if I have been a victim of crime?

Victim Assist Queensland is the Queensland Government assistance scheme for victims of violent crime in Queensland. The role of Victim Assist Queensland is to aid in the recovery of victims of crime who have been injured as a result of an act of violence. They are able to reimburse victims of crime for the costs of goods and services they may require to recover from the physical and/or emotional effects of violent crime. For example, Victim Assist can pay for the cost of counselling from a qualified practitioner where a victim of violent crime has suffered psychological distress. Under the new legislation parents of children who have been victims of crime can now also obtain assistance as Parent Secondary Victims.  Victims of crime may also be entitled to a compensation payment over and above any expenses incurred.

At Live Well Now we are experienced in assisting people to heal after trauma. We understand the process involved in applying for compensation and can help you with your application. Victim Assist will pay the full cost of counselling sessions for eligible clients whose applications have been approved.  To apply for assistance a Financial Application and Medical Certificate need to be completed and sent to Victim Assist QLD.

For more information go to Victim Assist Queensland or speak to a Victims Link Up Information Officer on 1300 546 587.