- Do I really need counselling, coaching or therapy?
Hmmm, only you can answer that question but what I would say is that if you are browsing this website then something isn’t working quite right for you or someone you love! Most of us wait until our problems become huge before we take action, particularly when it comes to our mental or emotional health but it really shouldn’t be this way. We seek the help of experts for other services so why not our emotional wellbeing? It is normal to feel down, worried, stressed, frustrated or angry from time to time in our lives. It is not normal, however, to experience these feelings for lengthy periods of time or to such an extent that they are making our life a misery or holding us back from reaching our full potential.
- What is the difference between therapy and coaching?
Clients who present for therapy are usually experiencing significant emotional or mental distress. They have been unable to resolve these issues by themselves and need support to process their difficulties and learn new ways of thinking about or dealing with them. Clients who present for coaching are often already functioning quite well but are looking to refine and improve on one or more of their life domains. This might include exploring an alternative career, finding a new relationship, commencing parenthood or working on health and fitness.
- What is a Psychologist anyway?
In order to call yourself a Psychologist you must complete at least six years of training. This has to include formal academic study, practical training and supervision by other experienced psychologists.
Psychologists often choose to specialise in areas they find themselves best suited to. This might be therapy with certain client groups (such as kids, adults or couples), organisational psychology, coaching psychology, research or teaching.
Most counselling psychologists like myself have trained in methods to assess and respond to the emotional needs of our clients through talking therapies and action-oriented coaching. Our aim is to help our clients to recognise unhelpful ways of thinking, feeling and behaving and assist them to move on to more functional ways to approach their lives.
- What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?
At its simplest, psychiatrists are medically trained and psychologists are not.
Psychiatrists – are very good at assessment and diagnosis and can prescribe medication. They tend to treat the more serious or intractable mental health conditions such as psychosis, schizophrenia, serious addictions and chronic, long term depression and anxiety.
Psychologists – are also trained in assessment and diagnosis but cannot prescribe or advise on medication. Psychologists tend to be more treatment focused and are better equipped to support those with less serious mental health issues. Psychologists are also trained to support clients who are not unwell but simply seeking to improve their emotional and mental wellbeing.
How I tend to work with psychiatrists:
Psychiatrists are significantly more expensive to consult than psychologists so I use them quite strategically for my clients. In my practice I will recommend a psychiatrist review if I think your case is complex or you are very unwell. I may also suggest it if you are not showing the improvement I would expect or if I think you need a more thorough diagnosis or sophisticated management of your medication.
- What happens in a counselling/therapy session with you?
At your first counselling session I will be undertaking an assessment of your needs. This will include asking questions about your mental health history, your current life context, any important life events, your physical health status and any relevant family history. I will also be asking you what you are hoping to achieve from your time with me and will usually give you an idea of how I work.
Your job in that session is to decide if you feel you can work with me and whether you feel confident I can help. My job is to put you at ease, help you to feel understood and ask enough questions to make an informed call on whether I can assist.
Subsequent sessions usually commence with a check-in on new events or progress since the previous meeting followed by ongoing work related to your therapy goals.
Therapy and coaching are usually most effective when we balance the need to develop understanding and knowledge about our concerns or desires (insight) with the importance of taking action. I want to teach you to leverage off your strengths so that you can make purposeful, real changes in your life. With this in mind I will often give you tasks to complete in the time between sessions. The purpose of this is to help consolidate what you have learnt and encourage you to apply your new skills and understanding in your everyday world. Your feedback on this enables us to tailor and refine the strategies to work best for you in your life.
- How many sessions will I need?
Ha, the million dollar question! The length of time you spend on sessions depends on so many factors which include the nature of your problem, your commitment to the process, how good I am as a therapist, your readiness for change and even your emotional and financial resources. As a ball park figure, the average number of sessions my clients spend with me is about 8.
- Are sessions confidential?
All psychologists are obliged to respect the privacy and confidentiality of their clients so you can rest assured that what is said in session stays in session. The only time that information can be shared with another party is if a concern arises about either your or someone else’s safety, or if a Court has a good enough reason to ask for your records. If you come with a Mental Health Care Plan some information will be shared with your GP as part of the shared care arrangement. The situation is a little different with children which I explain here.
- Can I use Medicare or Health Fund to assist with the cost?
The short answer is, possibly.
The Medicare Benefits Scheme allows clients with defined mental health issues to access a rebate for up to 10 counselling sessions per calendar year. The rebate is currently $84.80 per 50-60 minute session. Your GP will determine your eligibility for this scheme and will provide you with a referral and a ‘Mental Health Care Plan’ if this is the case.
For health funds you will need to check with your provider to determine whether you can claim for psychology services as they all have different rules and levels of cover. If you are eligible I can process most health fund claims on the spot.
Coaching clients will not be able to claim Medicare unless they have also been assessed by their GP as having a mental health issue.
A note on the expense of therapy and coaching:
I acknowledge that therapy can be costly, however, I’m going to do a bit of a sales pitch here. How many of us now own a flat screen TV (or two), recent model car/s, have renovated our houses or wear designer sneakers? How much does any of this matter if we are so depressed we can’t experience pleasure in our relationships; so stressed we don’t allow ourselves a moment to appreciate what we have achieved or so anxious that we can’t even enjoy our hard earned holidays? Therapy and coaching is about INVESTING IN YOUR QUALITY OF LIFE. Material possessions are nice and give us a sense of comfort, security and progression but they surely aren’t more important than our mental health and wellbeing?
I so appreciate you taking the time to read my posts and I sincerely hope that you find them helpful. Please understand, however, that the information you find here is not a substitute for therapy and I cannot respond to individual requests for help in the comments. If you have serious concerns about your mental or emotional health please seek personal, professional help.