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Questions about psychology, psychotherapy, and psychologists

Should I see a psychologist?
Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a psychologist?
How many sessions will I need?
Is therapy confidential?
Can I contact you in an emergency?
I’ve had a bad experience with a psychologist before. Are you open to feedback?

 

Questions about our fees and rebates

What are your fees?
What is your cancellation policy?
How does a doctor’s referral work?
What are my Medicare and Private Health rebate entitlements?
How are payments processed?

 

Preparing for your first session

What happens in our first session?
First session forms
What about parking and public transport?
How do I find you once I’ve arrived?
What else should I know in preparation for our first session?

 

 

Questions about psychology, psychotherapy, and psychologists

Should I see a psychologist?

Research tells us that around one in five Australians will develop a common mental health problem that psychologists can help with. As professionals trained in the understanding of human behaviour, psychologists are well equipped to apply their knowledge and experience to helping individuals, couples and families with a wide range of everyday problems and mental health concerns. If you are wondering whether a psychologist can help you with your problem, please contact us at Heart Matters Psychology and we will be happy to answer your questions.

 

Do I need a doctor’s referral to see a psychologist?

No, you do not need a doctor’s referral to visit a psychologist. You only need a doctor’s referral if you would like some help through Medicare to pay for your psychologist’s service fees.

 

How many sessions will I need?

It is difficult to say exactly how many sessions you will require, because of the multiple factors involved (e.g., regularity of sessions, the complexity of the problem/s you are experiencing, how effective the recommended treatment is, unexpected complications or life events along the way, etc). Some people get everything they need within a session or two, others require many more. We will discuss treatment and aim to set goals with you early in our work together, and there will be regular opportunities to collaboratively review how this process is going. Please talk to us in session if you have any concerns or questions about this process.

 

Is therapy confidential?

Effective therapy depends on a trusting relationship between the client and psychologist, and an important aspect of any trusting relationship is an expectation of confidentiality and privacy. Your relationship with a psychologist is a professional one with important and specific limitations to what can be kept confidential. Before communicating with us, it is important that you take the time to understand the limits of confidentiality that apply to any and all information you share with us by telephone, online, in writing, and in person.

Our strict confidentiality policy outlined below is based on the combined stipulations of the APS (Australian Psychological Society) Code of Ethics, the mandatory reporting requirements set out by AHPRA (the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency), and various state and federal Government regulations. These stipulations are occasionally updated to keep in line with changes in technology, legislation, and best clinical practice standards.

Heart Matters Psychology’s confidentiality policy:
Please note that the limits to what Heart Matters Psychology can keep confidential (outlined below) apply to all and any information and communication that takes place directly between you and your psychologist, regardless of:

  • The medium by which you contact us (online, in person, telephone call, sms, post, email, etc); and
  • The nature of the contact (i.e., these limits apply during the active delivery of psychological services, but they also apply to what you post to our social media, what you include in an email enquiry to us, what you say in a voice message recording, etc).

By communicating with us, you do so with the understanding that all information we gather during our contact with you will remain strictly confidential except under any of the following serious circumstances:

  • Where there is a legal obligation to disclose information (e.g., if we or our file notes are subpoenaed);
  • If we reasonably believe that the collection, use, or disclosure of such information is necessary to lessen or prevent a serious threat to the life, health or safety of any individual, or to the public’s health or safety;
  • When we access professional supervision or training (we agree to only discuss information in a way that conceals your identity and the identity of associated parties, and to only discuss this concealed information with colleagues who are professionally and ethically bound to preserve your privacy too);
  • To comply with the conditions of your funding (e.g., reporting requirements for sessions funded by a Medicare scheme, your employer, WorkSafe, DVA, etc.);
  • In following all legal requirements for reporting alleged or suspected child abuse to the relevant authorities as specified by the Victorian Government;
  • If you are (or someone you tell us about is) a registered health practitioner that has behaved in a way that AHPRA deems ‘notifiable conduct’; or
  • If you are a supervisee accessing our services for clinical supervision, we adhere to the reporting requirements outlined in the Psychology Board of Australia’s supervisor guidelines.

In all of the above exceptional circumstances, we make efforts to safeguard your privacy where possible by communicating only what is necessary and relevant to disclose. If we wish to share information with others on your behalf under any circumstances other than those listed above, we will gain your consent or the consent of the person/s with legal authority to act on your behalf (usually using this Information release form). Session notes and records of all other communication are stored in a secure location.

We respect and support your right to make an informed decision about how and what you communicate with us, and so we will do our best to alert you to our confidentiality policy as early in our first communication as we can. By communicating with us, you are consenting to all information being treated in accordance with our confidentiality policy. If you have any questions or concerns about your privacy and information, please raise these with us at the beginning of our first contact before disclosing anything further.

 

Can I contact you in an emergency?

Heart Matters Psychology is not an emergency service and we cannot guarantee timely responses to urgent messages left for us via phone, email, or online. We may be unavailable for significant periods of time during business hours, and we do not check our devices outside of business hours or when on leave unless we have told you otherwise. Returning missed calls or messages may take over 48 hours in some cases. If you require urgent assistance and have not been able to see or speak to us in real time, please do not wait for a response from us – contact emergency services (e.g. call 000, present at the emergency department of the nearest hospital, or contact Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone counselling service on 13 11 14) or the relevant supports in place for you. A reminder that Heart Matters Psychology’s confidentiality policy applies to all contact with us.

 

I’ve had a bad experience with a psychologist before. Are you open to feedback?

When you work with a registered psychologist, you are engaging the services of an individual who has met registration requirements that stipulate a particular level of training, experience, professionalism, knowledge and ongoing commitment to professional development and regular supervision. These requirements are in place to help ensure the service you receive is safe and of high quality. Due to the nature of psychological work, on occasion your time with a psychologist may be uncomfortable, challenging, or even painful – but it should always be a safe, professional, and respectful experience. Should you ever have serious concerns about any psychologist’s professional conduct, capacities, or practice, we encourage you to seek further advice through the governing body for all Australian health practitioners, AHPRA.

The psychologists at Heart Matters Psychology recognise the serious responsibilities we take on in our role as your therapist, and we actively seek regular feedback throughout the therapy process. This helps us to adjust treatment as required, and keeps us attuned to how you’re going. We are open to hearing how we can help you better, which in turn help us improve our practice. We adhere to the ethical code of practice set out for psychologists by the APS and our conduct is subject to AHPRA regulations.

 

Questions about our fees and rebates

What are your fees?

Our fee for a standard (i.e., 45-60 minute) consultation is $180, for sessions conducted in person or via telephone/video call. Any incidental, brief calls and emails with you, your referring practitioners, and relevant third parties are included in this fee. Please note that our standard fee is substantially lower than the APS recommended rate for standard consultations, which is currently $246. Under some special circumstances we also offer further fee reductions – please discuss this with us if required.

While we are happy to include incidental calls etc. in our standard fee, the provision of psychological reports or detailed letters (the kind required for legal matters or by workplaces and schools, medical practitioners, and insurers) takes substantial time and so incurs a separate fee. Please discuss this with us if it applies to you, and please provide as much notice as possible (we need a minimum of two weeks’ notice) if you anticipate requiring a report or detailed letter.

We also have a cancellation policy, as described below.

 

What is your cancellation policy?

We understand that sometimes your circumstances might change and you will not be able to keep an appointment. If this happens, please contact us as soon as possible, as we require at least 48 hours’ notice in order to organise someone else on our waiting list to take your appointment.

If you are cancelling an appointment with less notice than this, the following charges apply:

– Sessions cancelled with less than 24 hours’ notice will result in the full session fee still being charged.
– Sessions cancelled with less than 48 hours’ notice will incur a cancellation fee of 50% of your normal session rate.

Cancellation fees are due ahead of your next session – please contact us to organise payment over the phone or via online bank transfer. Unfortunately Medicare and Private Health funds do not allow rebates to be claimed for cancellation fees.

To help you avoid missing an appointment, we use an automated text and/or email reminder system. You will receive both a text and email to your provided details 24 hours ahead of your session time (please tell us if you do not wish to receive these reminders). This is only a prompt to help you remember your appointment – please find your own additional, reliable means to ensure you remember and attend scheduled sessions.

Sometimes your personal circumstances might change unexpectedly (such as illness or a family emergency) and you will not be able to keep an appointment or provide the above notice. Please let us know if you are cancelling for these exceptional personal circumstances – we do not apply our cancellation fees if these occasions are infrequent and irregular. Our cancellation policy does apply however to sudden changes in your work/study commitments.

By booking an appointment with Heart Matters Psychology, you are agreeing to our cancellation policy.

 

How does a doctor’s referral work?

For those who need financial help to access mental healthcare, there is the Australian Government scheme called the ‘Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative’. This program enables a person diagnosed with a mental health condition to receive a capped amount of financial assistance for the psychological treatment delivered by a Medicare-registered psychologist.

Your first step in organising this assistance is to book an appointment with your GP, psychiatrist, or paediatrician to discuss your mental health concerns (it’s best to book a longer appointment if you are seeing your GP about this). Your doctor will ask you some questions to determine if you are eligible under this Medicare scheme, and if so they will put together a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP) for you to sign and a referral letter for you to give to a psychologist. The MHTP and referral set out the areas for you and the psychologist to focus on together, as well as the number of sessions (a maximum of six) for which you can claim a Medicare rebate. If you reach the maximum number of these sessions under your referral but psychological treatment hasn’t yet finished, your psychologist can write to your doctor requesting another referral for more Medicare-supported sessions. You and your doctor must then meet again to review your progress so they can decide whether to provide you with another referral. The ‘Better Access’ initiative only allows a maximum of 10 Medicare rebates to be claimed per calendar year; you are able to see a psychologist more times than this in a calendar year, but any additional sessions need to be funded privately.

Please note that a doctor’s referral to see a psychologist under the ‘Better Access’ scheme and most other Medicare programs entitles you to a Medicare rebate, but your psychologist still sets their own fees. Please read the next section on rebates to find out what rebates and out-of-pocket expenses are involved in seeing Heart Matters Psychology under the ‘Better Access’ initiative, and to learn about the other Medicare schemes and initiatives you may be eligible for please visit the APS website.

 

What are my Medicare and Private Health rebate entitlements?

Medicare rebates: The Medicare rebate for appointments with a clinical psychologist under Medicare’s ‘Better Access‘ initiative is $124.50. After paying the standard fee of $180 and receiving the rebate, you will be $55.50 out of pocket per session for these sessions.

Additional information about psychology fees and Medicare rebates and programs is available on the APS website.

Private Health rebates: Your rebate will depend on your level and type of cover, and who your insurer is. Please contact your fund if you are unsure what rebates you may be able to claim.

Can I use Medicare and Private Health together for rebates?: No, unfortunately you cannot use your Private Health extras cover and claim a Medicare rebate for the same session. If you require more sessions in a year than the number provided under your Medicare scheme, you are able to use your Private Health extras cover to claim reimbursements for these additional sessions.

 

How are payments processed?

Payment for your session is due in full on the day of your appointment. Our combined HICAPS/EFTPOS terminal allows us to process payments and rebates on the spot for you. Payments can also be made with cash if you prefer (please have the correct amount as we do not keep cash on hand).

Processing Medicare rebates: Claiming your Medicare rebate via our terminal only takes a few minutes, and it requires you to please bring to your session:

  • Your current doctor’s referral and MHTP,
  • A current Medicare card or Medicare number,
  • Your method of payment (Mastercard or Visa, debit card, or the correct amount in cash), and
  • A debit card even if paying by another method (we can only release Medicare rebates into a cheque or savings account).

Unfortunately Medicare does not allow us to only charge you the ‘gap fee’, so please ensure you are able to pay the full session fee up front, and allow a couple of days for your rebate to arrive in your account.

We do not have Medicare online claiming facilities. The receipt we issue you after payment contains the details required for you to make your own claim directly through Medicare if you prefer. You can either claim your rebate at a Medicare office, or online using myGov (if you already have a myGov account, here are the instructions for setting up the myGov smartphone app.

Processing Private Health rebates: If you belong to a Private Health fund with ancillary (extras) cover that is partnered with HICAPS (check here), then we can claim your rebate for you on the spot and charge you just the gap fee. Please bring your Private Health fund card with you, and please note that we can only process claims on the day of your session. If you don’t have your card with you at the time, the receipt we issue you after payment contains the details needed to make your own claim through your insurer directly.

 

Preparing for your first session

What happens in our first session?

You may not know what to expect when meeting a psychologist for the first time, and you may feel a little nervous. While this may be your first time seeing a psychologist, we have met hundreds of clients for the first time and so we are practiced at helping a diverse range of people feel more welcome and comfortable. Like any first meeting, this initial visit is really an opportunity to get to know one another. We’ll ask about relevant areas of your life generally as well as specific questions about what’s brought you to therapy; it’s a professional, respectful enquiry process with many opportunities for feedback along the way. We may not get as far as sketching out goals for treatment in this first session, but you will hopefully have enough information to decide whether you would benefit from making another appointment with us.

 

First session forms

There’s a lot to get through in our first session together, and it would help us make the most of our time together in person if you take 15 minutes now to complete these two forms and submit them to us ahead of our first session. Please ensure you have already read our confidentiality policy first:

  1. This intake form is essential – please complete and submit it online, or please download this version instead if you prefer a form that can be downloaded, completed offline electronically or as hard copy, and emailed back to us. If you are completing the online version, please note that once we receive your form, we download it as soon as is practical and store it securely offline, then permanently delete the online copy from the cloud.
  2. Please also download and complete this questionnaire electronically and email it back to us (be sure to download it before completing it).

 

What about parking and public transport?

Unfortunately there are no parking facilities available for clients on premises. There is very limited street parking near the building, and private parking can be very expensive.

Fortunately we are located very close to all forms of public transport:

  • Train
    – We are a 600m walk Flinders St. Station
    – We are a 750m walk from Southern Cross Station
  • Tram
    – The 58 tram (along William St./Flinders Ln.) stops on the next block from us
    – The 11, 12, 48, and 109 trams (along Collins St.) stop within two blocks,
    – The 35, 70, and 75 trams (along Flinders St.) stop within two blocks, and
    – Plenty others nearby also run – please visit the Public Transport Victoria website
  • Bus
    – Numerous buses stop on the four streets surrounding our block – please visit the Public Transport Victoria website.

 

How do I find you once I’ve arrived?

We are located in Melbourne CBD’s Clarion Suites Gateway building (pictured below), which is on the corner of William Street and Flinders Street. Access is via William Street, where you will find both stairway and ramp entrances.

1465638970081

This is a mixed hotel/residential/commercial building, and so you may be a little surprised by the hotel atmosphere when arriving. We’ll be expecting you, so just take a comfortable seat in the lobby area near the elevators and we’ll come find you at our scheduled appointment time.

Please do not approach the lobby reception desk, as this is not part of Heart Matters Psychology. If you are arriving on schedule there’s no need to let us know you have arrived; we’ll be with you a minute or two ahead of our appointment time. Please be punctual and please text us if you are running late. In most cases we will be able to send you a brief text if we are running more than a few minutes late, so please keep your phone handy.

There is a bathroom in the restaurant area past the elevators which you are welcome to use, and the restaurant also makes takeaway coffee/tea.

 

What else should I know in preparation for our first session?

So, let’s check whether you’re prepared for our first session:

Great – that’s everything!

We look forward to meeting you.