What is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists?

Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together. Clinical Psychologists have postgraduate degrees in psychology (requiring a minimum six-seven years of study, training and supervision). Psychiatrists have medical degrees and prescribe medications. Psychologists base treatment on assisting clients in addressing maintaining factors for their difficulties, including changing unhelpful behaviours and responding to cognitions (thoughts). Psychologists use evidence-based treatment approaches (derived from research). Clinical Psychologists are well-versed in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a range of psychological problems.

What duration can I expect of my therapy sessions?

Individual and couple therapy sessions are typically 50-60 minutes. There is the option for 80 minute sessions for couple therapy.

The process for couples sessions are typically as follows:

First session – joint

Second session – Partner 1 individual

Third session – Partner 2 individual

Subsequent sessions – joint

Do I need a referral to see a psychologist?

You do not need to get a referral to see a psychologist; however, if you wish to claim your therapy sessions under Medicare, a referral is necessary.

How does Medicare work for psychology?

If you wish to claim your sessions under Medicare, you will need a referral from your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist. If your referral is from your General Practitioner, he/she will do a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) for you, and referrals will be provided under that plan.

Medicare currently allows for clients to claim a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year (January – December). Your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist will provide you with an initial referral for six sessions, followed by an additional referral for four further sessions if required, upon review.

The current Medicare rebate for each individual session with a clinical psychologist is $124.50.