How do I receive the Medicare rebate?
You first need to visit your General Practitioner (GP) and explain your mental health concerns and obtain a referral. It is polite to book a longer consultation with your GP so that they have adequate time to develop a care plan with you. Your GP will generate a “Mental Health Care Plan”, which entitles you to Medicare Rebates. All you need to do is bring this referral and Medicare card to your first consultation. You can obtain 6 rebated sessions on your first referral and another 4 rebated sessions on your second referral (called a 'review'). Under normal circumstances you can be rebated up to 10 sessions in a calendar year. It is not a problem if you cannot get a referral from your GP before the first session. It just means you will not get Medicare Rebates for those sessions prior to the referral.
Can I still see a psychologist without a referral?
Yes. You are welcome to attend any time without a referral. You only need a referral if you wish to claim Medicare rebates. Many clients do not use Medicare but prefer to pay the full fee or use Private Health rebates.
What if I’m late or miss an appointment?
We aim to be on time and ensure that all appointment times run to schedule. For this reason, if a client runs late the full fee and scheduled appointment time will be kept the same and extra time cannot be given. We do appreciate that circumstances may require appointments to be rescheduled. If you need to cancel an appointment it is important to give us a minimum of 24 hours notice. Lifeboat reserves the right to charge clients the $50 fee for non attendance where appointments are missed with less than 24 hours notice. This fee will be the responsibility of the client and not other paying parties.
What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
There are a number of important differences between these two types of mental health professionals. The first is that Psychologists have completed university studies in the understanding of human behaviour, emotion and thought, whereas Psychiatrists have an undergraduate qualification in Medicine. The second difference is that Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications whereas Psychologists are not licensed to do so. Psychologists treat mental health issues with thought and behavioural techniques, such as thought analysis and restructuring, life skills training, education, lifestyle adjustment, exercise, goal setting, problem-solving and making positive environmental changes. Psychiatrists are particularly helpful when medications are required, such as with psychotic disorders, bipolar disorders or when the presenting illness has organic pathologies, for example, in cases of dementia or acquired brain injury.
Should I take medication for my concern?
Previous scientific evidence indicated that medication is a front-line treatment with a few specific mental illnesses. For example, Bipolar Disorder and the varying types of psychoses are best treated with medication. For other more common mental health issues, such as clinical anxiety and depression, medication can also help to stabilise mood and bring about change – in the short to medium term. However, it is important to appreciate that the choice of medication versus therapy is not mutually exclusive. Just because you may be already taking medication does not mean you would not benefit from therapy.
Indeed, the latest neuroplasticity research now cautions against the use of medications and instead supports the importance of enriched environments and talking therapies as front-line treatment:
“To effectively address mental illness, neural pathways need to shift. This capacity of the brain to change has been demonstrated with enriched environments – of which talking therapies are an important part. The role of therapeutic relationships in changing neural connectivity and reshaping higher neural connections is indeed in line with Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel’s prediction in 1998 – the dawn of a ‘remarkable scientific revolution’ that will change the paradigm of understanding the brain for the 21st century”. – Pieter Rosouw