Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Should I see a psychiatrist or a psychologist? 

 

Both psychiatrists and psychologists have specific training in managing mental health issues.

A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner (the Australian qualification is MB,BS) who has participated in a five year specialist training program and passed a rigorous examination process before becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (FRANZCP). They have training in psychiatric diagnosis, which is essential in deciding which of the evidence based treatments might be useful for each individual. They are able to prescribe a wide range of medications including antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotics, mood stabilisers and stimulants for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Clinical Psychologists have a university degree with further post-graduate qualifications in addition to supervised experience before gaining registration. Many have postgraduate qualifications to specialise in various aspects of psychology including mental health, and family or couples therapy. They cannot prescribe medication. Their treatments are based on changing behaviour and emotional responses without medication.

Both psychiatrists and psychologists can use a wide range of psychological interventions, depending on their individual training, experience and interests. These treatments include cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), dialectal behaviour therapy (DBT), supportive and psychodynamic psychotherapy, family therapy and relationship therapy.

Whether you see a psychiatrist or psychologist depends on many factors including personal preference, the nature of the problem, whether medication needs to be prescribed, the number of anticipated sessions required, waiting times and cost. Your general practitioner will be in the best position to advise you which would be the most suitable for you.

As Braidwood is a group practice, it is not uncommon for a patient, partner or family member to be referred to another therapist in the practice. Some patients see both a psychiatrist and a psychologist. 

Do I need a referral to see a therapist?

 

If you are seeing a psychiatrist, in order to receive Medicare rebates, it is necessary to obtain a referral from a medical practitioner. Referrals from a specialist are valid for 3 months and from a general practitioner for 12 months, unless longer is specified.

If you are seeing a psychologist under the Better Access scheme, your GP will write a Mental Health Plan for you and you can receive Medicare rebates for 10 individual sessions and 10 group sessions per calendar year. If you are seeing a psychologist under the Access to Allied Psychological Services (ATAPS) program you are eligible for 12 sessions per year. If you have Extras cover under your private health insurance you may be eligible for additional rebates.

If you do not require a Medicare rebate, a referral is not necessary and there is no limit on the number of sessions you can attend.

How quickly will I be able to get an appointment? 

 

We will attempt to give you an appointment with the therapist you have been referred to as quickly as possible. Sometimes there is a waiting list and you increase your chances of seeing someone quickly if you are flexible with the times you can attend, you are on more than one therapist's waiting list and if you can attend at short notice (as sometimes a session comes up due to a last minute cancellation).

We understand the wait can be frustrating, but as patients may require a number of appointments for assessment and treatment, we need to be sure that once you have seen a therapist that there will be further appointments available to you in the following weeks. 

What are the fees to see a psychologist or psychiatrist? 

 

Braidwood is a private practice and we do not bulk bill.

Fees vary, depending on the individual therapist, the length of the session and whether you are seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist. When you ring for an appointment our staff will be able to inform you of your therapist's fees.

Payment on the day of consultation in cash, eftpos or credit card (Mastercard or Visa) is required. Once paid, we can issue you with a receipt and you can submit it to Medicare for a refund. Alternatively we can lodge the claim online with Medicare and you will be sent a cheque or refund can be deposited into your bank account within two days, if your bank account details are registered with Medicare.

Appointments are confirmed one business day prior, by SMS. If a session is cancelled at short notice, we are not able to help someone else. Each therapist has their own policy, but in general, between one to three business days notice is required. If less than the notice required for a cancellation is given, then a fee will be charged. Similarly, non-attendance without cancellation will incur a fee. The missed appointment and cancellation fees are not refundable from Medicare. At your first appointment your therapist's individual policy will be given to you in writing.

How much are the Medicare rebates? 

 

The Medicare rebate for an initial psychiatric consultation is $221.30, and $156.15 for standard consultations. For an initial and standard consultation with a psychologist the rebate from Medicare is $124.50.  The rebate for group therapy with a psychologist is $21.65 per client per session.

Medicare also has a complex Safety Net system. For individuals and families registered for the Safety Net, once you have paid $2,093.30 (for 2018) in out of pocket expenses in a calendar year, Medicare will refund 80% of your out of pocket expenses. The Safety Net threshold for concession card holders is $668.10. In practical terms, once you have seen a psychiatrist for approximately 12 sessions in a calendar year, most of the cost of a session will be refunded from Medicare.

For further information about the Medicare Safety Net click here.

Is my information confidential?

 

We realise that seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist may be a very difficult, sensitive and private issue and we take your confidentiality very seriously. The Braidwood building is a house and has no signage, apart from the house name.

The secretarial staff and therapists have had specific training concerning patient's privacy and confidentiality and they will not release information about you to any third party without your permission. Patients' files are securely stored by, and are the property of, each individual therapist.

As you have been referred by your doctor, it is normal practice to write back to your GP and to other health professionals who may be involved in your care. If you do not want certain information released to them, it is important that you mention that fact to your therapist specifically.

There are certain situations in which we might (rarely) need to break confidentiality. This would only occur if we were concerned for the safety of a child or if we believed a patient was at risk of harm to themselves or others.

What should I do in an emergency? 

 

Braidwood is not an emergency service, and we do not offer out of hours contact to our practitioners (unless an individual arrangement has been made between a patient and their therapist).

In the case of an emergency, the following can be contacted:


  • The police or ambulance service: phone 000
  • Your general practitioner
  • The Mental Health Crisis Team, usually based out of your local Community Health Centre or major teaching hospital. The team will have psychiatric nurses, psychologists, social workers and psychiatrists on call. They offer extended hours contact, and may even be able to assess you in your home.  The NSW Mental Health Access Line 1800 011 511 will put you in touch with your local mental health service.
  • Going to the Accident and Emergency department of your closest hospital
  • Telephone Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Telephone Salvo Crisis Line: 8736 3295
  • Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
  • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
  • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
  • Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Line 1800 424 017

Where can I get further information about mental illness? 

 

The following websites have a wealth of information about mental health issues:

www.sane.org

www.beyondblue.org.au

www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

www.crufad.org