Frequently asked questions

Psychology for life’s trauma

What is a registered psychologist?

Psychologists can assist people who are having difficulty controlling their emotions, thinking and behaviour, including those with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression, serious and enduring mental illness, addictive behaviours and childhood behaviour disorders. Through a range of strategies and therapies they aim to reduce distress and promote and enhance emotional wellbeing.

Psychologists are required to have a minimum combination of six years of university training and supervised experience, as well as engage in ongoing education to keep their skills and knowledge up to date. Registered psychologists are listed on the AHPRA website.

How can I access psychology services?

To access mental health treatment under Medicare you must be referred by your GP, a psychiatrist or a paediatrician. If your GP is referring you they will prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan which you will need before attending your psychology appointment. You should book a longer appointment with your GP to allow time to complete this.

The referral process can be confusing. Generally speaking, a total of 10 sessions are available each calendar year along with a valid referral to access Medicare subsidies. These sessions will be reviewed by your medical practitioner each 6 and 4 session allotment.

Do I need a referral if I want to come privately?

You are welcome to access psychology services privately – this means there is no need to obtain a referral or Mental Health Treatment Plan from your GP or other treating practitioner. The service provided remains the same however the fee will be paid for privately, meaning no subsidies are applicable. There are no reporting requirements or obligations when paying for private sessions, meaning the content of consultations will remain private and confidential with consideration of any legal restrictions or limits to confidentiality.

What are the limits to confidentiality?

Information gathered by the psychologist will remain confidential, except in the following circumstances:

    • it is subpoenaed by a court; or
    • failure to disclose the information would place you or another person at serious risk to life, health or safety; or
    • your prior approval has been obtained to
      – provide a written report to another professional or agency. e.g., a GP or a lawyer; or
      – discuss the material with another person, eg. a parent, employer or health provider; or
      – disclose the information in another way; or
    • you would reasonably expect your personal information to be disclosed to another professional or agency (e.g. your GP) and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose which is directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected;
    • when consulting colleagues, or in the course of professional supervision; or
    • disclosure is otherwise required or authorised by law.

What costs are involved in seeing a registered psychologist?

Please refer to our fees page.

What if I need to cancel?:

We understand that life intervenes, and occasionally a cancellation will happen. If you need to cancel or postpone your appointment, please provide at least 24 hours notice to avoid any cancellation fees. Providing less than 24 hours notice or not attending your appointment limits our ability to provide services to others in need and will incur a charge of 50% of the session fee which will need to be paid prior to rescheduling or attending your next appointment. Should there be more than two cancellations with less than 24 hours notice or non-attendances, then future cancellations or non-attendances will incur the full fee payable.

If two consecutive cancellations have been made the psychologist reserves the right to cancel future appointments and refuse further services or request that future non attendances/cancellations are paid at the full fee rate. Please note that if a third party is paying for your consultations then the cancellation fee will be payable by yourself personally.

If there are exceptional circumstances, please contact us on 1300 405 902 to discuss your situation.

How do I pay for appointments?:

We use a combination of EFTPOS and online methods called Stripe, both are secure methods to pay for your appointment. When you book your initial appointment we require a 50% deposit to secure your appointment and may ask for your credit card details over the phone. Payment is required on the same day as your appointment. Please ensure you have sufficient funds in your account on the day of your appointment, otherwise this may result in payment of additional charges associated with any bank fees received for the declined payment. Please note that any cancellations fees as per the cancellation policy above will also be debited to your nominated card.

What can your services and treatments help me with?

We treat a range of trauma-based issues and mental health conditions and concerns, not restricted to PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, personality disorder, complicated grief, dissociative disorders, chronic pain, addiction, eating disorders, performance anxiety, stress, disturbing memories and phobias.

What can I expect in the first session?

Following a discussion of your completed consent form at your initial session, we complete a thorough and comprehensive clinical interview. We’re looking to get to know you and your unique circumstances and experiences in order to create an individualised treatment plan. You may also be asked to complete questionnaires to assist in your treatment planning.

The initial appointment can take anywhere from 50-75 minutes and is charged at a higher rate to reflect the additional time and work required.

What does Therapy look like?:

Following a clinical interview, therapy generally follows a three phase model:

  • Stabilisation – providing you with tools and techniques to help you regulate your emotions and your responses
  • Active Therapy – this stage goes into a deeper level targeting the underlying reasons your symptoms develop with the view of resolving them
  • Where to from here – now that you’re symptom-free it’s time to explore living a fulfilling life and tackling life’s challenges and obstacles.

How many sessions do I need?

This varies and is something best discussed with your psychologist.

How is information collected and stored?

As part of providing psychological services to you, it will be necessary to collect, record and store personal information from you that is relevant to your situation, such as your name, contact information, medical history and other information considered relevant to providing psychological services. This collection of personal information is a necessary part of the psychological assessment and treatment.

A detailed description of how your personal information is managed, how you can access your personal information, and how to lodge any concerns or complaints about this service or how your personal information is managed must be provided to you by your health professional on request.

Your personal information gathered as part of your assessment and treatment is kept securely and, in the interests of your privacy, used only by your psychologist and the authorised personnel of the practice (as necessary). Your personal information is retained in order to document what happens during sessions, and enables the psychologist to provide a relevant and informed psychological service to you. A more detailed description is provided in the practice’s “Privacy policy for management of personal information”, which can be obtained by contacting The Shellharbour Clinic. The Privacy Policy contains information about how to access and seek correction of your personal information, and how to lodge a complaint about our management of your personal information.

At any stage you are entitled to access your personal information kept on file, subject to exceptions in the relevant legislation. The psychologist may discuss with you different possible forms of access.

How long do appointments go for?

Our clinic offers two types of appointments

  • 60 minutes: comprises 50 minutes face to face time and 10 mins of administrative* time
  • 90 minutes: in total with 75 minutes of face to face counselling and 15 mins of administration time.

* administrative time includes reading, writing notes, booking your next appointment and/or processing the payment.

Why 90 minute sessions?

Generally, the initial appointment is set at 90 minutes to allow enough time to complete the required paperwork and do a thorough clinical interview of your circumstances to develop a treatment plan.

Beyond the initial appointment, 90 minute appointments are generally requested by the psychologist for trauma work and/or EMDR therapy. The 90 minute sessions are ideal for trauma work and EMDR therapy as it allows us more time to explore sensitive issues with adequate time for debriefing on conclusion of the appointment so that you can leave the clinic in an as grounded and present oriented place as possible. Extended sessions are also an option should you prefer more time in session with your psychologist- please let your therapist know. Please note that extended sessions are charged at a higher rate to account for the extra time spent.

What to expect when I arrive?

When you arrive at The Shellharbour Clinic please take a seat in the waiting room. Your clinician will come to the waiting room to collect you for your appointment.