FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
You do not require a GP referral to see a counsellor/psychotherapist. This can be a good thing as generally it means you can be seen quicker, with less paperwork.
Also, keep in mind this means you are choosing who you work with – not everyone is a good fit together, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. Counselling is no different – you deserve to feel listened to and respected. Feel free also to ask the counsellor about their training, qualifications and their approach.
In a first session the counsellor will generally want to know about what has brought you to counselling now. You will be asked a little about your daily routine, your relationships and background. It is good for the counsellor to hear from you in your own words about what is troubling you and what you are hoping to achieve from attending.
This varies from person to person and it really depends on what sort of issue you are bringing. We can talk about this in our first call or meeting.
However, you may like to know that I am ethically required to ensure that you attend for only the minimum number of sessions you need to meet your needs and goals.
People see counsellors for a variety of reasons, and it is not unusual to come because of some difficulties with a particular experience, such as a relationship issue or loss, and then end up talking about other things too.
Due to my extensive training, I provide a safe, warm space where you can go at your own pace. Some clients are dealing with issues such as depression, anger, bereavement, trauma, relationship problems or family conflicts. They may suffer from eating issues, panic attacks, insomnia, stress or anxiety. Feelings like sorrow, pain, rejection, confusion or anger may be interfering with their day-to-day lives.
The range of problems that people come to talk about are as varied as the people themselves. Some people don’t know what the problem is – they may simply be unhappy – whilst others want to talk about a specific difficult situation. Clients sometimes come to talk about a particular problem, only to discover that it’s something else that is the real trouble.
Relationships, loss and change are all common themes, as are anxiety and stress. Significant life changes, such as the ending of a relationship or moving home or to another area, can have a major impact on us. Emotional problems do not necessarily go away if we ignore them, so it makes sense to deal with them as soon as possible.
Confidentiality is fundamental to the counselling relationship. I do not share your information with anyone else.
There can, however, be certain ethical and legal exceptions and I will clarify this with you prior to us agreeing to work together.
Counselling services are not covered under Medicare. If you have private health insurance, some funds do contribute, but this depends on your level of cover and you would need to check this with them.
Medicare rebates are offered only for those diagnosed with mental health disorders under a mental health plan prepared by a GP.
Counselling works from a less diagnostic model, and due to the fact that I am working privately, I do not need to report back to the government about our sessions. (Bear in mind there are limits to confidentiality under duty of care, which I am obligated to work within and happy to discuss with you.)
Sometimes, you do not always ‘click’ with the person your GP refers you to. Unfortunately, this prevents some clients from continuing their treatment.
In a counselling relationship, the main focus is on the rapport and connection between the client and counsellor. Outside of the many fields of evidence-based counselling approaches, this is the critical factor to ensuring you feel comfortable and that changes start to happen.
So it really comes down to choosing a counsellor that you feel comfortable with. Generally, fees for counselling are on a par or slightly above what you would pay for the mental health care plan sessions anyway. You can usually also be seen quicker, and more frequently, if you wish. Sometimes a gap of a few weeks can be quite long in between sessions, and means the next session can feel like ‘catching up’ and rebuilding rapport. However, for some, this might be all they need and require. Again, this is something we openly discuss.
Medicare does not provide a rebate for relationship or couple counselling. Your private health fund may contribute.
I practice under the Australian Counselling Association’s Code of Ethics and Practice. This means I am obliged to honour the individuality of clients and work in a safe, empathic manner.
I am also required to complete ongoing personal and professional development yearly, as well as attend supervision.