Currently in Australia, counsellors and psychotherapists are what are considered by the government as unregistered professionals (there is much lobbying happening to try and change this). Whereas a psychologist (and social worker) are considered registered. What this means for you is that if your GP creates a mental health care plan for counselling and treatment of a diagnosed mental health condition, in order to get a rebate from Medicare, you must see a registered psychologist or social worker, rather than a counsellor or psychotherapist.The mental health care plan gives you access to rebates for up to ten sessions per calendar year and is part of the Better Access to Psychiatrists, Psychologists and General Practitioners through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (Better Access) initiative.
As I am a psychotherapist, you cannot receive rebates from Medicare for your session with me. However, some clients still come to me with a referral from a GP based on their mental health care plan. Usually because they are looking for an approach that will be person focussed— rather than diagnostic— and they have benefitted from the counselling and psychotherapeutic framework in the past.
Although you don’t receive a Medicare rebate, there are still many benefits in having psychotherapy or counselling sessions. And despite the term unregistered, does not mean that these types of professionals are any less skilled, equipped, experienced or capable to genuinely help you with your concerns or mental health issues.
Although most people seeking a GP referral to counselling are motivated, in part, to receive the financial relief of rebated sessions, not everyone fits this description. A lot of people that access my counselling services comment that, although they know they could see a psychologist and receive a rebate, they would rather spend their time and resources with someone that is a good fit for them, rather than just going with someone for the sake of receiving a rebated session/s. This is definitely not to say that you can’t find a psychologist (or social worker) who is a good fit for you.
People choose my counselling services over psychology because they like my person centred approach, they aren’t going to be boxed into a diagnosis and be given the same therapy as thousands of others. Clients have enthusiastically expressed that they enjoy speaking with someone that is open to spirituality and that their spiritual world will be honoured just as much as their mental, emotional and physical world. Often, this can be disregarded in the psychology experience (this may depend on the professional) but it can be an important part of healing.
So whilst a doctor’s referral isn’t completely necessary, you might feel extra reassurance and comfort in first talking to your GP and knowing that they are referring you to the much needed counselling. And a lot of my clients do come to me because their GP sees the value in ongoing counselling.
You do not need a GP referral to see me and you can book a counselling appointment quite easily. Some people do use my counselling services with a referral. However, rebates are not available with psychotherapy and counselling services at my Adelaide practice.