Frequently Asked Questions
Who is a psychologist?
A psychologist is a professional who is trained in the study of human behaviour. Most psychologists choose to use this knowledge to assist those experiencing mental health difficulties, social/occupational/family difficulties and many more (see What We Do for more examples). You may also come across psychologists who contribute to research in this field of human behaviour.
It is important for you to know that a psychologist must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) under the Australian Health Practitioners' Regulation Agency. This ensures that they are upheld to a strict code of ethics that they must adhere to in order to keep their registration. You may check whether a person is registered via the PsyBA website. A psychologist would have completed at least 6 years of training in order to qualify for registration with the PsyBA.
How can a psychologist help me?
Sometimes you may find it difficult to talk to family and friends about certain issues. Other times, clients who attend may also feel confused about what is going on for them. A psychologist uses his/her knowledge of human behaviour to help you process the thoughts, emotions and behaviours that you may find problematic or want to improve or grow. Using scientifically-researched strategies and methods, psychologists may choose to engage with you in your journey in discovering those that best suit your needs, your personality or simply your individual preferences.
What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
Your psychologist and psychiatrist work together for your mental health needs. The biggest difference between them is that your psychiatrist is a medical doctor and will be the person you consult with if you are on medication. Your psychologist will typically consult with you in an in-depth manner and perhaps more frequently regarding your difficulties/areas of improvement whereas you may see your psychiatrist for reviews. Your psychologist is unable to prescribe any medications to you.
It is also possible for you to see only a psychologist or a psychiatrist or both. If you are unsure if you need to see a psychologist, please feel free to contact us or consult with your GP or psychiatrist who can also refer you.
How do I see a psychologist at Bright Mind? Do I just call?
The best way to make an appointment is to call us on 9704 7244. We usually advise you to speak to your doctor about your worries first so that they are able to help you decide if a psychologist would be helpful for you. Your doctor will also be able to prepare a plan for you to access rebates (see Question 5 or Referral Processes and Fees and Rebates). If you wish to claim for rebates, you must see your doctor before making your psychology appointment.
What is a Medicare rebate and how does it work?
Medicare provides 10 psychology session rebates + additional 10 rebates (till June 2022) under a GP Mental Health Care Plan per Calender year. For clinical psychologists, this means the rebate that you can claim for each session is $128.40. For general psychologists, the rebate is $87.45. Sometimes, your doctor may choose to refer you under the Enhanced Primary Care Program, in which case the rebate is $54.60. We usually recommend for doctors to refer specifically under the GPMHTP/Mental Health Care Plan as it is specifically designed for psychology sessions while EPC which is 5 sessions is utilised for clients for management of a chronic disease. This includes your allocation for other professionals such as osteopaths, physiotherapists, podiatrists, diabetic educators etc which you may need.
For referral to be valid, your doctor must issue you a referral letter addressed to Psychologist or Bright Mind Psychology accompanied by a GP Mental Health Care Plan. When you attend for your first psychology session, you must bring your Medicare card in order for your rebate to apply. Normal fees apply otherwise without the rebate.
Do I need to do anything or bring anything for my first session? What can I expect to happen?
Other than your referral letter, GP Mental Health Treatment Plan and Medicare card if you wish to claim a rebate, just bring yourself and any other materials that you think might help in introducing yourself. Payments can be made using any card, while rebates are claimable into a savings or cheque account on-the-spot which saves you the hassle of claiming on Medicare online or in-person.
Your first session is the best opportunity to start talking to our psychologist about what is on your mind. It is normal to feel unsure about where to begin. Our psychologists will attempt to put you at ease in conversation and lead with questions. Remember, you are there for assistance and it is your session!
It is also an opportunity for our psychologists to begin getting to know you and your life story. They may choose to ask you questions about family, your childhood, past experiences with your current symptoms, how you manage stress, your interests and hobbies and other topics! Of course, no one can 'make you' reveal details about yourself. Psychologists can only work based on the information you give them. Bear in mind, psychological treatment works best with greater understanding of any person!
All sessions tend to last for 50 minutes, with another 10 minutes to set up your next appointments if you and your psychologist conclude that that is in your best interests. We value the quality of our service to you and all other clients and try to keep our appointments to the allocated time.
I think my family member or friend needs to see a psychologist. Can I refer them to Bright Mind Psychology?
We understand that it can often be distressing to see a loved one struggling. It is also quite common that you may recognize their need to talk to someone before they do. In this case, we encourage you to have a conversation with them about your idea first. They may feel more comfortable speaking to you about it. They can also speak to their doctor who may suggest for them to see a psychologist.
If you are a parent who is concerned about your child, please feel free to give us a call, and our principal psychologist will speak to you briefly regarding your concerns.
Don't forget! If you are distressed as a result of something else your loved one is going through, your wellbeing is just as important and you may find it helpful to talk to someone too!
Why can't my family member/friend/neighbour/colleague and I share the same psychologist?
There are some other therapeutic ways that you and your family member or even friend can share the same therapist such as Couples Counselling, Family Therapy, Family Mediation etc. In the case of individual counselling/therapy, it is highly recommended that you and a loved one have different psychologists.
When you choose to share your life story with a psychologist, you want to feel free and open to discuss anything on your mind. A main challenge to not sharing with family or friends sometimes may be that we feel judged or that they would be upsetting them. A psychologist is required to remain fair and on your side, even if they might have an opinion that is different sometimes. When a psychologist works with the knowledge that they are seeing someone else that you know, it becomes difficult (and some would say humanely impossible!) to always maintain the same objectivity when it comes to the same topics or people you discuss. This becomes very confusing to remember which information comes from who and how to approach this as fairly as possible. In any case, you may not feel comfortable being completely open with your psychologist, knowing that they are holding information about a family member or friend who you now want to talk about. This greatly disadvantages you, your loved one, and your psychologist in the therapy process.
Thinking about it this way helps:
We are likely to talk about physical pain and ask help for it than when we feel emotional pain. That is why it appears easier to share a family doctor for instance, or a physiotherapist, podiatrist, or even a personal trainer or hairstylist!
At times, clients feel that they should decide whether they are comfortable entering into therapy with the same psychologist. However, that would mean that there are certain aspects of the clients' lives in relation to their loved one that the psychologist will be unable to discuss (this is called conflict of interest) and may not be apparent at the time. We do ask all clients consider this carefully to avoid disappointment as the psychologist reserve the right to suggest that treatment is not viable due to conflict of interest in the future.
In any case, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Psychology Board Australia are quite clear on the code of ethics that psychologists are required to prevent entering into roles with multiple family members for the very reasons we explained above. There are other psychologists which clients can be linked to.
Some exceptions are made at times for parent-child relationship with the child is young and therapy process would be shared with the parent normally. However, it is clear that the child is still the client.