Frequently Asked Questions

Please note the following FAQs are intended for basic information only. They should not take the place of professional advice, which can be obtained through individuals, such as your psychologist, GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician in relation to your mental health needs.

  What if I need Help Urgently?

Clearview Psychological Services is not an emergency service. If you need immediate assistance (if you are worried someone might be at risk of harming themselves or someone else, or you or someone else is suicidal) please call:

Psychiatric Triage on 1300 661 323    (24 hours a day, 7 days a week).

If the person is threatening to harm you, call the police on 000.

Please note your psychologist may also refer you if your needs may be more suitable to multi-disciplinary treatment available in the public mental health service.

Other questions include:

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1. Will I get an Appointment Straight Away?

Whilst we will try to fit you in as soon as we can, it may not always be possible to be seen immediately, as we are not an emergency service. Appointments generally last for 50 minutes, and availability will be discussed with you at the time you first call. Our offices do not have a receptionist, so the best way to make contact is by telephone. Sessions are by appointment only, and may be made by phoning our clinic to arrange a time.

* Your call is very important to us, but we may be in a consultation when you ring.
* Please leave a message if we are not available and we will call you back as soon as we can.
* If sending a text, please state your full name in your text.

2. What Types of Things do People see Clinical Psychologists for?

There are lots of different reasons people go to see a Clinical Psychologist. Due to the specialized training a Clinical Psychologist undergoes they are able to work with a number of mental health difficulties such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating, psychotic, dissociative or personality disorders, trauma, abuse, grief or issues with drugs, alcohol or gambling.

Alex works with people across all age ranges and stages in their lives. We work with individuals, couples, and families on relationship difficulties. Psychologists also work with other issues that may present firstly in childhood and adolescence. This could be such difficulties as behavioral disturbances, ADHD, bullying, issues at school, Autism and Asperger’s.

3. What Happens after I call Clearview Psychological Services?

After you have spoken with Clearview and arranged your first appointment  you will receive a confirmation letter (and some forms to sign) via email. This provides information on your appointment, where to come, what to bring and a confidentiality agreement to read and sign. We are happy to discuss any questions you may have at your first appointment.

4. What if I need to Reschedule or Cancel my Appointment?

A 50 minute time slot has been reserved especially for you. Please contact us as soon as possible if for some reason you need to reschedule or cancel your appointment.  Cancellations may be made by calling our office, or by text.  Please include your full name in your text. It is important you let us know as soon as possible if you cannot make an appointment.

Failure to give a minimum of 24 hours notice of a cancellation, or non attendance will result in a cancellation fee of $50 being charged. This fee is not covered by Medicare / Third Parties and applies to both Gap Fee and Concession Card Holders.

The cancellation fee must be paid within 7 days, or at your next appointment, whichever is earlier.

If you cancel an appointment, there may be a delay of several weeks before another appointment is available. This may differ at various times depending on Alex’s case load.

Running Late?  If you are running late for your appointment, please call us to advise that you are on your way. Your Psychologist will wait for you for 10 minutes. If you do not make contact to advise that you are on your way, they may at times leave the premises.

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5. How Much do Appointments Cost and How Long are they?

Appointments typically last for 50 minutes and the full cost for this is currently $170. However, you may not have to pay this full amount if you have a referral from your doctor and are eligible for Medicare MBS, or have a Healthcare or Tertiary Student ID Card.

6. How Can I Pay for my Appointment?

All appointments must be paid for at the time of your visit. If you are to be bulk billed (conditions apply) you will need to present your current Medicare card. Payment for services may be paid by Cash, Visa or Eftpos (conditions apply).

Easy Claim is also available for direct rebates if you have your bank account details registered with Medicare and your Medicare Card available. Please note a Gap Fee may also apply that will need to be paid on the day. Conditions apply.

7. Where is Clearview Psychological Services located?

We currently have offices in central Ballarat. Please see Contact Us for a map of our location.

8. Can I Bring Someone with Me to my Appointment?

You are welcome to bring a support person with you to your appointment. This may be a family member, friend, partner, spouse or other significant person who is there to help you feel comfortable.

If the appointment is for an adult you may need to consider if it is appropriate for your children to attend and hear what is discussed at your appointment. If you are not sure what may be appropriate, please call and discuss this with your psychologist prior to attending your appointment.

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9. What Happens at my First Appointment?

When you arrive for your first appointment you will meet with Alex. We will discuss confidentiality with you, tell you a bit about ourselves, get you to complete some paperwork, and begin finding out what your current concerns and difficulties are. You can ask us about anything you may not be sure of in relation to this process, and we will do our best to answer these questions.

Psychologists are privileged enough to be trusted by the people they see, who often tell them about very personal and private experiences. Please do not feel ashamed or worry that you may shock or upset your psychologist, as they are experienced in these matters. In training as Clinical Psychologists they have been selected due to their ability to remain professional and non-judgmental.

To fully understand and tailor your psychological treatment, we may need information about your personal history, such as relevant information about your home life, childhood, education and job history, relationships, legal status, forensic issues, and relevant medical conditions or diagnoses. With your written consent, we may also contact other agencies or people you give us permission to speak with to gather extra information to help with your treatment.

10. Is what I talk to my Psychologist about private?

Please note that Psychologists abide by strict ethical guidelines and laws in relation to confidentiality and their professional practice (see Related Links for more information). Clearview Psychological Services aim to provide a safe, confidential service where you can be open and honest about what has lead you to seek psychological treatment.

Your personal information is confidential to us and any exception to this will be discussed with you in your appointments. An example of this might be if you gave permission for us to discuss certain aspects of your treatment with a Psychiatrist or Psychiatric Services case manager.

It is important to note that there are certain legal/ethical situations that override confidentiality. Whilst not common, situations may arise where psychologists could be required to provide information or notes from their appointments with you. For example, if their notes are subpoenaed by court or they need to contact authorities if risk issues are involved. Wherever possible your psychologist will try to involve you in this process.

11. Who Needs to be at My Child’s Appointment?

As children are usually part of a bigger family system, it is very important for parents and/or primary caregivers to be included in their child’s appointment. Family members can often give vital information or perspectives and it is beneficial to work as a family with your child to help them overcome their current difficulties. Your psychologist may also like to speak with all parties individually at some point. Evidence shows that parents/caregivers’ involvement in treatment often leads to better outcomes for children.

It is important that you disclose any custody issues and family court, social services, mental health service etc involvement.

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12. Will I feel better straight away?

This is a tough question to answer. Unfortunately there is no magic wand to wave to make you feel instantly better. Alex will work with you to come up with a psychological treatment that research has shown to lessen or resolve your current difficulties. Sometimes other factors such as medication that has been prescribed by your doctor can also play a role on how long it takes to feel better. Any questions or concerns about medication need to be discussed with the treating medical professional involved in your care, such as your GP or psychiatrist. Psychologists cannot give advice on medication as they are not medical practitioners.

Some people do find when they see a psychologist that they initially feel quite upset. Others may feel numb or no different at first, or feel relieved that they are doing something about whatever is troubling them. For people who begin to feel distressed, this can be due to the fact that they need to discuss potentially painful or sad experiences in their life, or beliefs about themselves and the world around them. This can lead to them feeling distressed for a while afterwards.

Whilst it can be hard, the more open you are about how you feel, and what has lead up to you seeking assistance, the more effectively your psychologist can work with you. They will tailor a psychological treatment that targets your difficulties and builds on the strengths you already have. Remember you and your psychologist will agree on what you do or do not want to address in your appointments, and what is appropriate.

Some issues may have taken many years to develop, and cannot be resolved overnight. It takes effort by you, and application of the strategies and “homework” given to you by your psychologist to benefit from treatment.

As Alex only uses psychological treatment that has been shown by research to be effective, you know that you will be receiving the best possible psychological care.

13. How Long will I need to see a Clinical Psychologist for?

This may depend on what your presenting concerns are and how long you have experienced these difficulties. We will discuss with you a general outline as to what time frame may be realistic to start to resolve some of your difficulties. This will be continually evaluated with you as you undertake psychological assessment and treatment.

As Alex only use strategies that have been shown to be effective by research, the focus is typically short term, as the aim is to teach you how to become your own ‘therapist’. Sometimes an additional appointment later on can be useful occasionally, if warranted, to bolster your ability to cope in difficult times and provide a ‘refresher’.

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14. What is the type of treatment you use?

Alex works from a ‘scientist practitioner’ model. As such we look to psychological therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, that has shown by ongoing evaluation and research to be the most effective treatment for your emotional or mental health difficulties.

15. How soon will I get my Medicare Rebate?

This is largely dependent on whether you have been able to use Easy Claim (conditions apply). If your bank details are registered with Medicare, your rebate will typically be deposited to your bank account almost immediately. If you have been required to pay upfront at the time of your appointment you need to take your receipt to your nearest Medicare office for your rebate.

16. What is a Clinical Psychologist?

A Clinical Psychologist is someone who has undertaken extensive training in a specialised form of psychology that focuses on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of psychological difficulties, including mental health issues. Please see What is Clinical Psychology for more information.

17. What is a Counselor?

A counselor is a general term for someone who provides guidance to others, often in relation to emotional difficulties, or times of hardship. A counselor can be someone from many different disciplines such as a social worker, nurse, psychologist, teacher, or someone who just has an interest in counseling.

As this term is not protected in Australia, there is no minimum training requirements, and may vary from a few days to many years of professional development. Due to this a counselor’s approach may be very different to that of a clinical psychologist. It is important to ask your counselor to tell you about their background, training and any professional affiliations they may have.

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18. What is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has undertaken extra training to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to treat these conditions, whereas a psychologist cannot. You may be referred to a psychiatrist by your GP for a specialist consultation.

19. What is a Paediatrician?

A Paediatrician is a medically qualified doctor who has undertaken extensive training to work in looking after the specialist health of infants, children and adolescents. Your GP may refer your child to a Paediatrician for a professional developmentally specific consultation.

20. What is the Better Access to Mental Health Care?

This is a Federal Government initiative to improve treatment and management of mental illness within the community. Its aim is to increase access in the community to mental health professionals such as psychologists and psychiatrists amongst others disciplines. To discuss your eligibility for this with your GP, please book an extended appointment to see if you could benefit. If your GP decides you are suitable they will write a referral and prepare a Mental Health Treatment Plan for you that will entitle you to a fixed number of sessions with a psychologist per calendar year. This will also provide a rebate for you through Medicare MBS.

21. What is a Gap Fee?

A gap fee is the difference between the fee charged for your consultation, and the amount covered by Medicare, i.e. your out of pocket expense. This applies to people who do not have a Concession Card or Tertiary Student Identity Card. Our gap fee is currently $45.50 per session for individuals with a Mental Health Care Plan referral. The gap fee is dependent on the Medicare item code used by your referring GP.

22.  Why are There Sometimes Several Weeks Between Appointments?

There may be 2-4 weeks between appointments to enable you to digest the information you have received, take the time to do your homework, and work through the situation. If you feel that you need to be seen sooner, or if your situation has changed dramatically, please call us to discuss.

23.  What do I do in the Case of an Emergency?

Clearview Psychological Services is not an emergency service. Our appointments are booked for 50 minute sessions often 2-4 weeks in advance, so we may not be able to see you at short notice. Sessions are by appointment only. Phone messages after hours are not cleared until the next day, or if left over the weekend until Monday.

If you need immediate assistance (if you are worried someone might be at risk of harming themselves or someone else, or you or someone else is suicidal) please call:

a) Psychiatric Triage on 1300 661 323 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week);

b) Your General practitioner; or

c) If the person is threatening to harm you, call the police on 000.

24.  Can I Come as a Private Patient?

You do not have to go to your GP to visit a psychologist. You may come direct as a private patient. However, this will mean that you will be liable for the full cost of each session.

Some people may choose to come once, or several times as a private patient. However, if you then decide to approach your GP for a Mental Health Treatment Plan to reduce the cost, the plan cannot be back dated, and you remain personally liable for the cost of all sessions prior to the date of the Mental Health Treatment Plan. See Fees for more information.

You may also wish to consider coming as a private patient should you require more than the ten sessions currently available under the Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care scheme.

25.  What is Bulk Billing?

Bulk Billing is when Medicare covers the full cost of your appointment, and you have no out of pocket expenses. Conditions apply.

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26. Can I Change My Psychologist?

Sometimes you may be unable to make an appointment with the psychologist stated on your referral, or you may wish to change psychologists for a variety of reasons. You are able to use more than one psychologist over the course of your plan. If you wish to change psychologists, please advise your initial psychologist that you wish to stop attending with them, so they may close their file and write to your GP regarding your treatment to date.

Please advise your new psychologist of the number of sessions you had previously. It is important that you keep a record of your attendance, as due to current privacy regulations Medicare will not advise a clinician of the number of sessions you attended with another psychologist under your current Mental Health Treatment Plan.

27.  Can I Cease Treatment?

Generally you and your psychologist will agree upon when you no longer need to attend, dependent on whether you have reached the goals you set.  In some circumstances, however, you may wish to cease or postpone treatment for personal reasons.  Should you wish to do this, please advise your psychologist so that they may close your file, and write to your GP regarding your treatment to date.

28. Can I resume treatment if my file has been closed, or I have not been for a while?

When circumstances or issues in your life change, it is not uncommon that you may feel the need to have further treatment.  This may be a one off “refresher” or a series of appointments.  Depending on the time elapsed, you may be able to use the remainder of sessions available under your original Mental Health Treatment Plan, or you may need to go to your GP to get a new referral.

29.  What is an Ongoing Referral?

At the end of six (and/or ten) sessions, your psychologist writes a letter to your GP detailing treatment to date.  Should you require further sessions, you must make an appointment with your GP to discuss this, and obtain an Ongoing Referral Letter signed by your doctor.  Your GP may approve a Mental Health Care Treatment Review at their discretion.  Please bring the Ongoing Referral letter (and Mental Health Care Treatment Review if provided by your GP) to your next appointment with your psychologist.

IMPORTANT: Failure to get a signed Ongoing referral letter from your GP confirming that a further 4 sessions have been approved (to a maximum of 10 in a calendar year) BEFORE your next psychology appointment, will mean you will need to pay in full for this session. Without the Ongoing Referral you cannot be bulk billed.

A Private Invoice would be furnished, which would not be eligible for a Medicare Rebate.

Please note that GP referrals cannot be back dated.

It is recommended that you make an appointment to see your GP at least two weeks before your next appointment with your psychologist. Please advise the GP that it is for a Mental Health Care Treatment Plan Review as it may require an extended appointment. Refer to Medicare Rebates for more information.

30. Paediatrician Referrals

If you have a referral letter from your Paediatrician, it is the policy of our clinic to ask you to make an appointment with your GP before your first session to arrange for a Mental Health Care Plan (under the Better Access to Mental Health Care Scheme) to be completed. Please bring your referral letter from your Paediatrician, plus your referral letter from your GP (and a copy of the Mental Health Care Plan if provided by your GP)

31.  What if I have had ten sessions with my psychologist in one calendar year?

Individuals who have already accessed 10 or more individual and/or 10 or more group MBS rebateable allied mental health services this year will not be eligible for additional MBS rebateable services until 1st January of the following year.

Your psychologist can continue to provide services to you but these psychological therapy services will not attract a MBS rebate under the Better Access initiative.

32. What is the definition of a calendar year per Medicare?

A calendar year per Medicare is 1st January to 31st December.

 

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