You’ve decided to invest in your mental health and wellbeing by engaging in therapy. Where do you start? What support are you looking for? Does your GP need to be involved? What are the likely costs? Navigating the territory of seeking help can be confusing. It is hard enough to take the first step without the additional stress of researching every potential option.
One pathway involves requesting a Mental Health Care Plan through your GP which provides a set number of rebated sessions with a psychologist. This is particularly helpful if you are seeking a diagnosis or short-term intervention. Treatment typically involves an approach called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).
Currently, Medicare will rebate you $129.55 for a 50+ minute session with a clinical psychologist on a Mental Health Care Plan (more for Clinical). If the actual cost for a session is greater than this, you’ll pay the difference.The Australian Psychological Society’s 2021-2022 recommended schedule of fees sets the standard 45 to 60 minute consultation fee at $267 (GST exempt) with a clinical psychologist. Under this recommendation, a gap of $137.45 per session remains payable, with the fee reverting to the full amount after the set number of rebated sessions is reached.
Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) registered counsellors, on the other hand, provide a variety of therapeutic interventions (which can include CBT), specialising in specific modalities to more flexibly meet the needs of each client. They do not diagnose conditions, rather, working from a non-pathologising, evidence-based perspective that includes the whole person (which, of course, may include a diagnosed condition).
More often than not, a registered counsellor’s session fee is similar to the gap of a rebated Mental Health Care Plan session fee. Mangrove House, for instance, charges $120 + GST ($132) per 60 minute session. Working with a counsellor or psychotherapist, there are no limits on the number of sessions you can access per year. This is decided together by you and your counsellor.
Due to the common misconception that the Mental Health Care Plan is the most affordable and correct way to access counselling, the psychologist on your doctor’s referral may have a lengthy waiting list, whereas a counsellor would be able to refer you to a specialist within their network more quickly to meet your needs if they were not able to see you during your time of need.
When working with a counsellor or psychotherapist, correspondence with your GP is entirely your choice. If you want discretion, counselling is not included on any medical records (such as my myhealthrecord.gov.au or eHealth) – unless you request this from your GP.
Ultimately, it is important to be well informed and confident in your choice to engage in therapy. Finding the right support need not be stressful. Chat to one of our counsellors today to see if our offering meets your needs.7