All Posts by Matthew

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How to find an awesome psychologist, without asking your friends

A story I’ve heard a lot

You ask your doctor for a referral to a psychologist, maybe as part of getting your mental health treatment plan. The doctor doesn’t know the psychologist all that well, and you just don’t click with them.

So you search Google for psychologists near you who work with the issue you’ve got, and check out their websites. You go with one who sounds good, but what they’re like in person is different to what they wrote on their site.

Finally you ask a few of your good friends if they’ve ever seen a psychologist. It turns out they have, they just don’t talk about it, and you get a recommendation. This psychologist was helpful for your friend, and they end up being helpful for you.

Can you relate to any of that? Or maybe you’re at the start of your search and feeling a bit lost and worried.

I don’t want to tell my friends

I hear you. Mental health can be some of the most private stuff in your life, and it can be scary to discuss even with close friends. So we’ll look at why friend recommendations seem to work well, and how you can get the same good result without having to reveal things you’re not ready to.

Friend recommendations have a few things going for them.

For a start, you’ve got proof that the psychologist has been helpful to someone else. It’s like when you’re choosing a hotel. Reading reviews on TripAdvisor tells you more than just reading the hotel’s website. You can get some independent information on what your friend’s psychologist was like.

Plus your friends are probably similar to you in some ways — maybe their personality, their values, and where they’re at with their lives. That’s why you’re friends! If the psychologist is good for people like you, they’re probably good for you.

So first, you’ll need to work out what you really want from a psychologist.

You already know what you want, sort of

If you trust your intuition and let yourself be honest, you’ll find that you can answer some basic questions about who your right psychologist will be.

  • What gender?
  • How old?
  • Married? Divorced?
  • What religion, or none?
  • Sexual orientation?
  • Personality and style?

It’s ok to say “it doesn’t matter” to some of the questions.  Just don’t say “it shouldn’t matter” if your intuition is telling you that it does. For example, if you feel you need to see a older female psychologist who’s been through a divorce, there’s no point seeing a young male psychologist who’s never been married. If you know in advance that someone won’t fit what you need, just don’t do it.

How to find out what you don’t know

There’s more to it than the basic things above. You need a therapy style that works for you, and a treatment mode that suits your issues and goals. But you probably don’t know about therapy styles and treatments. How can you find out?

First, think about what you’re after:

  • Do you want to change your thoughts and the way you talk to yourself?
  • Do you want to deal with the here and now, rather than your past?
  • Do you want to work through things that happened when you were young?
  • Do you want to work through family stuff?
  • Do you want to look at the unconscious parts of your mind?

Second, do some reading. Here’s a good article on the different types of therapy. So many! Two that you need to know about are acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are very widely used and lots of people get good results from them.

Third, we have a quick online quiz that helps you think about how you want a psychologist to help you. It gives you a result you can use when choosing psychologists, and take with you so you have better sessions. Get a MindFit account and then take the Ways of Being Helped quiz.  If you’re already signed up just follow the link from your Member Home page.

Getting help with getting help

If you’ve worked through the tips in this post then you’ve got some more clarity on what you need. Now, how do you find psychologists who match? What do you say on the phone to check that they’re right for you? How do you know they’ve got a good track record with people like you?

You don’t have to do it all yourself! We know over 2000 psychologists in Australia and we’re happy to do some searching for you. Send us a quick message and we’ll get started.

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How to get money back on your psychology sessions

The basic facts

  • A mental health treatment plan (MHTP) can save you $1245 a year
  • You can get one from your doctor, or any GP
  • It lets you claim a Medicare rebate on your psychologist sessions, up to 10 a year

How do I get one?

Mainly, go to a doctor and ask for one. If your doctor is the kind where you make an appointment first, mention that you need an MHTP when you book. They might have to give you a longer appointment than usual so that your doctor has time to do the plan. If you’re going to a medical centre or your doctor does walk-ins, just walk in.

You don’t have to see your family doctor. It doesn’t even have to be a doctor that you’ve seen before.

What happens when I’m at the doctors?

It will depend on the GP. Some doctors will collect a full history, give you a questionnaire, make a diagnosis, discuss your treatment goals, and talk you through the treatments they’ve planned for you. This is what they’re meant to do and it takes a bit of time, maybe 20 minutes. You will have to talk about your mental health stuff with the doctor, so be prepared.

Other doctors will quickly fill out a plan template with the minimum required information. This is bad if you’re relying on the GP for care, because they don’t understand your needs and their plan won’t be very tailored for you. It’s not so bad if you’re taking more responsibility for your own care, because now you’ve got your plan so you can get your Medicare rebates. You can do all the goals and treatment planning with the psychologist.

Almost certainly you’ll get a referral to a psychologist. If you already have one in mind, you can ask for the referral to be written to that psychologist. The doctor is allowed to give you a blank referral to “any psychologist”, but they probably won’t. Keep reading for why this doesn’t matter.

What if I don’t like the plan or the psychologist?

Your MHTP lets you get Medicare rebates for 6 sessions with any registered psychologist. If you don’t like the psychologist named on the plan, you can choose a different one. You still get your rebate, and you don’t need a new MHTP or updated referral letter.

If you don’t like one of the goals or treatments on your MHTP, discuss it with your psychologist and do something different.

If you want some help finding a psychologist who’s right for you, get started with us.

Already registered with MindFit and want to update us on what’s going on for you? Update your profile here.

How much is the rebate?

The rebate amount varies, depending on whether the psychologist is a “general psychologist” or a “clinical psychologist”.

  • General psychologist: $84.80
  • Clinical psychologist: $124.50

Psychologists set their own fees. When you’re choosing between psychologists or booking a session, make sure you ask how much it will cost and which rebate amount you’ll get.

How do I get my rebates?

You’ll need to pay the full fee for the session on the day. If your psychologist has electronic claiming you can then get your rebate on the spot. If not, you need to send your receipts to Medicare.

If your psychologist bulk-bills, you don’t have to pay anything. Hardly any psychologists bulk bill.

How many sessions do I get?

Your MHTP gives you 6 sessions. When you’ve used them you can go back to the doctor and get another 4 sessions. Then that’s it for the year.

You can still have sessions with your psychologist, but Medicare won’t give you any money back for them.

On January 1 each year you’re eligible for 6 sessions again. You don’t need a new MHTP each year.

What makes me eligible for an MHTP?

Most MHTPs are for depression or anxiety. Here’s the full list of conditions that are eligible:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Adjustment disorder
  • Depression
  • Conduct disorders
  • Bereavement disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Sleep problems
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Co-occurring anxiety and depression

Do I have to see a doctor to access psychology services?

No, but you can’t get a Medicare rebate without an MHTP.

(Technically you can get a Medicare rebate if you have a referral letter from a psychiatrist or paediatrician. But if you had a psychiatrist or a paediatrician you probably wouldn’t be reading this.)

Can I meet with my psychologist before getting an MHTP?

Sure, but you can’t get rebates for sessions that happened before the date your MHTP was filed with Medicare. (Your GP does the filing.)

Why does my doctor need to be involved?

People have different opinions about this.

On the one hand, your GP might be familiar with your medical and personal history which can be useful. They can help manage your medication, and prescribe things for you, which your psychologist can’t do. So if you have a good doctor they can be part of your mental health care team.

On the other hand, all the stuff the doctor does to prepare an MHTP probably gets re-done by the psychologist. You might decide to make the psychologist a more important part of your care, and just get through the MHTP formalities.