A referral is not required to make an appointment to see a psychologist and your private health fund may offer rebates for psychological services. Referrals are required if you would like to see a psychologist under the Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care scheme. A general practitioner or medical specialist can refer you under the scheme. For people under a workers compensation or motor vehicle accident compensation scheme it is generally advisable to obtain a referral from a medical practitioner.
I am at my practice Monday s to Fridays and Consulting hours are between 9.30 am and 6.00 pm.
Individual consultations are between 50-55 minutes. Under special circumstances, consultations can be longer such as for family meetings. I also provide clinical services outside of the practice when clinically indicated. For example, for people who have become anxious following a motor vehicle accident, being supported while in a car can greatly help in the treatment outcome. Another typical example relates to individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. When the time is right, having a therapy session that involves going to places or being in situations that trigger compulsive behaviours often consolidates on gains made in the therapy room.
What to Expect at Your First Appointment
People come to therapy for a range of reasons. At your initial consultation I begin by asking you to tell me what has been troubling you and the kind of changes you would like to make in your life. I will be exploring how long you have been feeling the way you have and the situations or circumstances you are most likely to be feeling and reacting the way you do. I like to initially focus on what is happening in your life right now so that you can begin to make the kind of changes that will enhance your health, wellbeing and relationships. Early life events may also be contributing to your current difficulties, so when relevant, I will also ask questions about family and childhood experiences to see how they may be impacting on your life. Typical childhood examples often include traumas, conflict within the family, having a parent with a long term illness and so on. The ideas and explanations we develop about why we are the way we are and the difficulties we experience can also help to shed light on what causes our difficulties. Without realising it, our personal explanations can lock us in to a loop which, in itself, is the problem. For example, believing you are no good as a person and that is why bad things happen to you.
When working with individuals with substance issues I find it important to look beyond the substance and to see the whole person. Obviously, strategies that assist in reducing or abstaining from substance use is often helpful. But when you take away your substance use, you are also potentially taking away your solution to your problems. What helps to break away from substance related problems is to learn to better manage your emotions and thoughts, and know how to effectively self soothe.
The therapy approach I adopt will depend on the concerns you have and the goals that you would like to work towards. Observing, recording and reflecting on experiences are a vital part of your therapy and process of change. In order to enhance the benefits of therapy, it is often helpful to set some time aside after each session to reflect on the themes we identify and read relevant materials that I provide. Keeping a brief record of events during the week that trigger problematic reactions will also help in identifying what causes you to think, feel and behave the way you do.
All information and records regarding you are kept strictly confidential. I will not release any information about you to anyone except with your authority. There are, however, circumstance in which I am obliged to release information. If you are referred by a Medical Practitioner then I am required to provide an initial report, and regular progress reports. This report is a professional courtesy to the referring doctor or agency and helps in providing an integrated service to you.
In an emergency that involves your safety or the safety of others, I may be legally required to contact other agencies. In addition, Courts can subpoena psychologist’s records.