- What is psychological treatment?
- What is a clinical psychologist?
- What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist?
- What are your qualifications?
- What types of psychological treatment do you offer?
- Do you offer couples counselling?
- Do you work with children?
- Do you offer group sessions?
- Is it confidential?
- What if something happens in therapy that I don’t like?
- How many sessions will I need?
- How long is each session?
- Where are you located?
- Do I need a referral?
- What happens if I can’t attend?
- How does payment work?
- Do I need to bring anything to my appointment?
- How do I make an appointment?
What is psychological treatment?
The term psychological treatment refers to a range of talking based interventions which aim to help you better understand your thinking patterns, habitual behaviours, emotional responses, and communication skills. This understanding can help you decide whether to accept or change things about yourself that have been causing issues in your everyday life. This process is likely to lead to a greater sense of wellbeing and improved quality of life.
Psychological treatment can help with recovery from an episode of mental illness, as well as prevention of future episodes. It can also help you cope with and adjust to difficult events or transition periods, or simply help you understand yourself better and move forward in a positive direction. The most effective psychological treatment occurs when you find a therapeutic relationship in which you feel respected, listened to, and secure enough to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Talking about yourself and your inner world can be very confronting and takes great courage, but the rewards are immense.
Some people prefer to access psychological treatment individually, while others respond best to group therapy. There is a large body of research investigating which therapy frameworks have the best outcomes with particular presenting complaints. It is the ethical duty of a psychologist to maintain a good understanding of this research and to apply therapeutic frameworks in line with the research findings. Psychologists refer to this as “using an evidence based treatment approach.”
What is a clinical psychologist?
Clinical psychologists are trained in a range of techniques and therapies with demonstrated effectiveness in treating mental health issues. They hold particular skills for applying psychological theory and scientific research to solve complex clinical psychology problems requiring individually tailored interventions.
Clinical psychologists may also be involved in research, teaching, or designing treatment programs in various settings (such as psychiatric, rehabilitation, and primary care).
What is the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Broadly speaking, there are three main differences between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist:
In Australia, a Psychiatrist has successfully completed a medical degree and at least one year of full time equivalent general medical training. They have then successfully completed additional training in psychiatry, which takes a minimum of 60 months (full time equivalent). A psychiatrist has therefore completed at least eleven years of education and training in medicine and psychiatry.
In Australia, a registered psychologist has completed at least six years of education and training in psychology. This includes a Bachelor degree and an Honours program, and then usually a Postgraduate degree such as Masters or PhD. Clinical psychologists are trained to provide psychological assessments and diagnoses, and psychological treatment.
Psychiatrists are able to recommend and prescribe psychotropic medications. Many psychiatrists have admitting rights to a psychiatric hospital and/or day program. Some psychiatrists provide talking interventions, whilst some choose to focus purely on biological treatments. Clinical psychologists provide talking interventions but do not prescribe any biological treatment. Clinical psychologists do not have admitting rights to hospitals or day programs. Both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists have specialist training in assessing mental illness and making diagnoses as appropriate.
The Australian Government structures Medicare rebates differently for psychiatry and psychology. For current information on the rebate structure, you can visit the Medicare website.
Research indicates that many mental health conditions benefit from a combination of biological treatment and talking intervention. If you choose to see a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist and consent to them communicating with each other about your treatment, this is called entering a “shared care” arrangement.
What are your qualifications?
I attended Swinburne University from 1998 to 2002, in which time I completed a Bachelor of Arts with dual majors in Psychology and Psychophysiology, then Honours in Psychology. I also attended Deakin University from 2003 to 2004 to complete a Master of Clinical Psychology.
In addition to formal qualifications, I also spent twelve years learning vocationally by working in the public mental health system as a clinical psychologist between 2005 and 2017. My longest and most challenging role was in adult acute psychiatry with a Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (CATT) from 2009 to 2017 and I also spent around four years working with adults attending Continuing Care Teams. This means that I have experience providing short term psychological intervention for adults who are experiencing a crisis or an acute episode of mental illness, as well as longer term interventions for adults with ongoing mental health issues. I have also worked in youth specific early psychosis teams, and a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in a rural setting.
What types of psychological treatment do you offer?
The main interventions I use are:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Interpersonal Psychotherapy
- Solution Focused Brief Therapy
I have experience with Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) but I do NOT offer this treatment in my private practice, as it is not designed to be implemented solely as an individual therapy. If you have previously graduated from a DBT program you may like to see me for revision of the skills training information, or to work more on building a life worth living. For information about accessing a DBT program, I recommend you look at the website of the Australian BPD Foundation Limited.
Do you offer couples counselling?
I do not offer couples counselling, as the majority of my training and experience has been with individuals. I do find that it can be helpful to spend at least one appointment meeting with you together with your partner or another significant family member. This is because sometimes family members have useful perspectives to share about your difficulties, or they might be wondering how best to support you. I am also very happy to provide your family members with recommendations if they wish to seek their own support.
Do you work with children?
I do not work with children. I have worked with children in the past and I believe play therapy and family interventions are very powerful and important, but most of my career has been spent working with adults and I believe that is where my main strengths lie.
Do you offer group sessions?
I do not have the capacity to offer group sessions currently. If you are interested in group sessions as an adjunct to our individual work together, I am happy to help you find a provider that suits you.
Is it confidential?
Psychologists take your privacy very seriously. I understand that for you to feel comfortable talking to me you need to feel confident that none of your personal information will leave the room. With this in mind, I will keep everything you tell me confidential, with a few important exceptions:
- If I become aware that a child is suffering abuse or neglect, I am mandated to report this to the Child Protection Service.
- If I receive a subpoena, I will be legally compelled to release information that is relevant to the legal matter at hand.
- If I believe you are at acute risk of committing suicide or seriously harming someone else, I will provide this information to your next of kin and a relevant emergency service so that you can receive urgent treatment.
I will inform you if any of these exceptions occur, and I will tell you what information I will release (and why). I will always endeavour to inform you ahead of time and let you have a say in how much information is released.
Please note that if you are referred to me under a Mental Health Treatment Plan, I will send a feedback letter after your first session and again at the end of each block of sessions. These letters are to provide your referrer with a basic overview of what we have discussed, the type of treatment framework I am using with you, and the progress we are making. These letters help your referrer to decide whether or not to allocate more Medicare rebates for you. I am happy to provide you with a copy of any letter at your request.
From time to time I will discuss your case with a trusted colleague in order to help me improve my understanding of you and to give you the best possible treatment. This process is called seeking supervision and is a routine part of practicing ethically as a psychologist. It is done without mentioning any identifying information whatsoever.
What if something happens in therapy that I don’t like?
In any interaction with another person there are likely to be times when you feel upset by something that has been said or done. There may be times in therapy where something has upset you and you feel like I haven’t noticed or haven’t tried to repair damage done to the therapeutic relationship.
I would hope that we have built sufficient rapport for you to feel comfortable raising this issue with me directly so that we can work together on repairing and learning from it. Raising such issues within a therapeutic relationship can be a safe way to practice this skill, which can benefit your other relationships immensely. It is common to worry about offending me, but this needn’t be a concern as I am quite aware that I am not perfect, and my main priority is creating a safe space for you to make the best possible use of your treatment.
If you believe that I have behaved in an unethical manner, it is important to know that you can raise your concerns with my regulatory body, the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions required depends on your treatment goals. For example, you may be experiencing panic attacks and have the primary goal of wanting to cope with these attacks. In this case we would work together for only a few sessions where I would provide education about panic attacks and teach you strategies to cope with them. If, however, you’re experiencing panic attacks and you also want to work on broader issues within your life and relationships, you may opt to have more sessions where we examine these underlying factors in addition to directly addressing the panic attacks.
In your first session with me, we will discuss and prioritise your treatment goals. It might be helpful to have a think about these goals before you attend, but this is not essential. As treatment progresses we will review the progress towards your treatment goals and adjust the treatment approach as needed.
How long is each session?
I allocate one hour per session. Approximately 50 minutes of this is spent talking with you. I use the rest of the time to reflect on and document the session, which is an ethical and legal requirement.
Where are you located?
My practice is located in the Wheelers Hill Business Centre. The street address is suite 1.21, 202 Jells Road, Wheelers Hill, Victoria, 3150. The suite is on the first floor and says “Cortex Consulting” on the window.
Do I need a referral?
You only need a referral if you want to claim Medicare rebates for your appointments. If this is the case, you will need to ask your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist for a Mental Health Treatment Plan. These plans take some time to complete, so ask your doctor or their reception staff whether they need you to schedule an extended appointment time.
Medicare rebates are currently available for a maximum of ten individual and ten group sessions per calendar year under the Better Access Initiative (BAI). If your referrer decides that you meet criteria for Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) rather than BAI, they may refer you elsewhere for up to 12 sessions of psychological intervention free of charge. Please note that I am not a registered ATAPS provider.
What happens if I can’t attend?
If you can give at least 24 hours notice this gives me the opportunity to contact people on my cancellations list so that they may be offered an appointment. If you’ve ever been on a cancellations list I’m sure you’ve appreciated times when a health professional has been given enough notice that they can offer the appointment to you.
How does payment work?
See my fees page for information about payment and rebates.
Do I need to bring anything to my appointment?
I would appreciate it if you sign and bring this consent form to confirm that you understand your rights and responsibilities. If you are uncomfortable signing this consent form we can discuss your objections when we meet, or you are welcome to contact me beforehand.
If you want to claim a Medicare rebate on the day you will need to bring your Mental Health Treatment Plan. It is helpful to me if you fax or email your plan to me before your first appointment, but this is not essential. In the absence of a Mental Health Treatment Plan I will provide you with an invoice that you can present to Medicare.
How do I make an appointment?
If you are considering making an appointment with me, the first step is to contact me so we can have a brief conversation and decide whether we would work well together. I currently consult on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons between 1:00pm and 5:00pm. I am also available via Skype for appointments outside these hours, but please note that Skype sessions are not eligible for Medicare rebates.