Some Common Questions
What Happens During Therapy?
Initially we meet to discuss the nature of your problem and examine the factors which may be causing it. Sometimes I may conduct some psychological tests to gain further insight into the nature of the problem (these tests are usually questionnaires or special puzzles).
Experience has shown that current problems are often caused by emotional traumas or experiences from the past which have not been resolved. These may need to be resolved before the current behaviour will change. Once we have an understanding of the problem, we begin the change process. This involves identifying the patterns of dysfunctional thoughts or behaviour, understanding the consequences of the behaviour, and then seeking to change them. I use four prime interventions in working with people:
1. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which is a relatively short term, focused approach to the treatment of many types of emotional, behavioural and psychiatric problems. The application of CBT varies according to the problem being addressed, but is essentially a collaborative and individualised program that helps people to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and learn or relearn healthier skills and habits. CBT has been practised widely for more than 30 years. It has been researched extensively, and has demonstrated effectiveness with a variety of emotional psychological and psychiatric difficulties.
One of the main components of CBT is Exposure therapy, and is often essential for people who are suffering an anxiety disorder. The cognitive behavioural treatment of conditions such as: panic with agoraphobia, simple phobias, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress usually entails an exposure component. That is, putting yourself in the situations you are worried about in order to manage your anxious symptoms.
Although this may sound difficult, I will work with you to give you the tools to cope with confronting your fears (e.g. rational thinking, slow breathing and isometric relaxation).
2. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), which gets its name from one of its core messages: accept what is out of your personal control, and commit to action that improves and enriches your life. The aim of ACT is to maximise human potential for a rich, full and meaningful life. ACT does this by:
a) teaching you psychological skills to deal with your painful thoughts and feelings effectively - in such a way that they have much less impact and influence over you (these are known as mindfulness skills).
b) helping you to clarify what is truly important and meaningful to you - i.e your values - then use that knowledge to guide, inspire and motivate you to change your life for the better.
3. I also use Sandplay Therapy with children, young people and adults. You can click onto the link in the Home Page to read more about this.
4. As you will also see on the Home Page, I am an EMDR practitioner (which stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing). This is one of the trauma-focused therapies which I use. Narrative exposure therapy (NET) is another, which has been found to be effective for people with a posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of multiple trauma.
All interventions which I use (including Schema Therapy, psychoeducation and Solution-focused Therapy) are evidenced-based with many years of research to show their effectiveness.
How long does each therapy session take?
A standard session lasts 50-60 minutes although the initial session usually takes around 90 minutes.
Are there side effects from therapy?
Therapy from an experienced and qualified therapist is generally a safe and interesting process. I try to make sure that therapy progresses at a pace you can handle. However, looking at problems, or talking about painful memories, can be unpleasant so some people may feel a bit worse before they start to improve. It is important that you talk about your feelings, so we can minimise any distress which may arise. If you have major life events about to happen, please advise so we can manage the emotional processes to minimise interference.
Fees, Payment and Medicare
The Australian Psychological Society (APS) recommended fee for psychological treatment in 2020-2021 is $260 for a 45-60 minutes consultation. Currently, I provide a standard appointment of 45-60 minutes at $220 per session. This fee is reduced through Medicare if you are referred by a treating Psychiatrist or consultant paediatrician, or by a General Practitioner who prepares a GP Mental Health Care Plan (Medicare item 2710). This will entitle you to six sessions of rebates and after a review by a GP, another four sessions per calendar year (10 in total).
The current rebate is $128.40 per session.
Therefore, as the Medicare rebate for each session is currently $128.40, a gap payment of $91.60 is all that you will pay. Please note that payment is required at the time of consultation. I have EFTPOS and HICAPS availability, so it is possible to put through your payment and to immediately claim the Medicare or Health fund amount, so that you then only need to provide the gap payment.
However, in some circumstances I am also able to bulkbill on the recommendation of a referring doctor or presentation of a student or concession card or if you are not working or have particular hardship.
Please let me know if you have a healthcare card or you are on some form of benefit or have some other hardship in relation to the fee. I also accept referrals through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Comcare and NSW State Insurance Regulatory Authority (SIRA).
You will need to bring your referral information (such as a doctor’s referral if you have an insurance claim, or your Mental Health Plan) along to your first appointment.
Workers Compensation or Motor Vehicle Accidents
I am willing to see people who have compensation claims. Insurance companies charge a scheduled rate and if you have been approved for treatment, the cost of consultations will be billed directly to the insurance company (inc Comcare and SIRA). It is important to note that ultimately responsibility for payment remains with you. If your claim is in dispute, then you will be responsible for payment.
A cancellation fee may be charged if 24 hours’ notice is not given, however we understand that there are often emergencies and extenuating circumstances which make attendance difficult. These circumstances should be discussed. If the time slot can be filled, no fee will be charged:
The APS recommends the following cancellation fee for 46–60 minute service:
• 0–24 hours notice: Full fee
• 24–48 hours notice: 50% of fee
• 48 hours–7 days notice: 25% of fee
Collection and use of information
Please be aware that in certain cases, personal or health information may be released. For example, if you have been referred by others, such as an insurance company, medical practitioner, solicitor or the courts, a progress report or full report may be provided to them. Where possible you will be advised of the possibility of the information being released to a third party. In cases where a report is requested for legal purposes, any information provided to me may be included.
Under law, I am required to keep files for seven years from the completion of treatment, except in the case of a child, where a file must be kept for seven years from the point the child turns 18 years of age (ie until the child turns 25 years of age, whatever age they commenced treatment). Files will be destroyed in a secure fashion at the conclusion of this time.
I work in private practice 2-3 days per week. My availability is restricted to office hours, which includes some evening consultations. I do not provide emergency crisis care services. In case of emergency, contact your GP, Local Hospital, and/or the Mental Health Crisis Team. As we meet for your first appointment, we will discuss the preferred frequency of sessions and schedule these ahead to ensure continuity of treatment.