*** coronavirus updatE *** ACCESS appointment booking and online Telehealth Portals here check out some helpful resources here
However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Stephen Hawking
The practice has moved to a full telehealth/telephone service during the COVID-19 pandemic, until further notice. Consultations are offered as follows:
Mondays: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM,
Tuesdays: 8:00 AM - 7:00 PM ,
Wednesdays: 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM, and
Thursdays: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM.
Office hours are Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, excluding public holidays.
Appointment Duration and Frequency
Sometimes people don't know what to except in terms of the duration and number of appointments that will be needed, and over what period of time these will be required, to resolve their problems and struggles. This is often hard to judge and is dependent upon a variety of factors. The specifics of this will be discussed during your initial consultation and reviewed with you over time. However, to give you a broad idea, the commentary below aims to describe some principles and ideas of what to expect for couple and separately, individual work.
First Consultation: Although appointments are typically of 50 minutes' duration across the sector, it is strongly recommended that the initial consultation for couples be a 'double' appointment of 1 hour and 50 minutes' duration. This will ensure adequate time:
for each person to share their perspective and to feel fully heard,
to discuss and agree a plan forward, including a discussion regarding overall treatment duration, and
to start putting the plan into action, thus taking the first steps toward each person's goals for both themselves and the relationship.
A 'single' 50 minute appointment is possible, but will feel less effective than a 'double' and may delay the process of getting movement toward the couple's goals.
Second and Subsequent Consultations: The duration and frequency of the second and subsequent appointments will be discussed and agreed in the initial consultation and as a part of the ongoing review process as appropriate. The ongoing duration and frequency will be informed by, among other things, the level of distress each person is feeling and the level of strain on the couple and possibly the wider family. As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that longer consultations spaced further apart will likely be more effective than shorter consultations timed to occur closer together. This strategy also capitalises on the time and effort it can take to travel to and attend appointments and reduces the effort required to make the supportive arrangements sometimes necessary for existing work and home commitments. It is likely that the initial work will need to be more intensely scheduled, easing off as traction is felt and distress eases. The overall aim is to reduce both the duration and frequency of consultations over time.
Final Consultation: At the point where the couple is able to maintain it's outcomes without ongoing support, a final follow-up consultation will be scheduled, likely after six-months' time. If at this consultation the couple has continued to maintain its successful outcomes, the counselling would be deemed complete and brought to a close.
First and Subsequent Consultations: Typically, 'single' 50 minute appointments will be appropriate for the initial and subsequent consultations for individuals. This will typically allow sufficient time to discuss the goals to work toward, a plan on how to achieve the goals, and discuss some initial first steps. As described for couple appointments above, typically the scheduling will be more intense, depending upon distress levels etc., with the aim that appointments become increasingly spread out over time in parallel with the individual increasingly achieving and maintaining his or her initial goals.
Final Consultation: At the point where the individual is able to maintain her or his outcomes without ongoing support, a final follow-up consultation will be scheduled, likely after six-months' time. If at this consultation the individual has continued to maintain the successful outcomes, the counselling would be deemed complete and brought to a close.
Consultations: The cost of a standard 50-minute consultation is:
$250.00 for appointments starting at or after 9:00 AM and with a scheduled finish before 5:00 PM.
$285.00 for appointments starting before 9:00 AM or with a scheduled finish after 5:00 PM.
Consultations booked for longer will be charged on a pro-rata basis. Consultation over-runs will be agreed at the time and charged on a pro-rata basis in 15-minute increments.
First Appointment Holding Deposit: A $50.00 holding deposit will be required to secure your first appointment, which will in turn be deducted from your first appointment consultation fee so that you need only pay the difference. This deposit is non-refundable if you decide to cancel your first appointment and not re-book an alternative.
Payment Terms: Consultation fees are due immediately after your appointment and can be paid using cash, EFTPOS or a credit card. Telephone-based and internet-based consultations require payment using a credit card. If, for some reason, payment is not processed immediately after the appointment or scheduled service in the case of a cancellation, and the invoice remains unpaid despite our payment requests, we reserve the right to engage a debt collection agency to recover outstanding funds.
Cancellations: We are motivated to help you achieve your therapeutic goals and as such, sincerely hope that you will attend your appointments as scheduled. Cancellation fees are neither pleasant to receive nor pleasant to administer. Despite this, we apply them for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is to motivate you to prioritise yourself and therefore your appointments. This policy, as a motivator to proceed, has consistently proved itself to be useful over the years.
If you need to cancel or postpone your appointment, we require that you give us at least 48 hours’ notice. If you can reschedule within the same calendar week, then we will waive the fee. But if not, it will be applied using a sliding scale from 50% to 100% depending upon the time during business hours (Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, excluding public holidays) we receive your notification. Cancellation notifications provided during non-business hours that have been sent, say via email, will be deemed received at 9:00 AM the next business day. To streamline this process, we will require you to sign an authorisation to this affect prior to your first appointment. Note that any fees associated with cancelled appointments cannot then be claimed from Medicare or private health funds.
Other Services: Services such as the provision of reports and written correspondence, and attendances at meetings and legal hearings etc. will be quoted, and in some cases charged, prior to commencement.
Medicare rebates, currently $87.45 per day for the base rebate level (higher if you have reached the Extended Medicare Safety Net threshold), can be processed on the spot for face-to-face consultations provided you bring a referral from your GP (called a Mental Health Care Plan) and your Medicare card with you to your appointment. Note that cancellation fees cannot then be claimed from Medicare. The Department of Health web page Better access to mental health care: fact sheet for patients offers more information about Medicare rebates. Telehealth and telephone-based consultations are generally not eligible for Medicare rebates unless you have a GP referral for telehealth services. These referrals target people who live in rural and remote areas of Australia. The fact sheet Psychological services via telehealth (videoconference) offers detailed information about telehealth services.
Most health fund rebates can be processed on the spot for face-to-face consultations provided you bring your health fund card with you to your appointment. Otherwise, you can use your receipt to claim your rebate directly from your insurer. Telehealth and telephone-based consultations are generally not eligible for health fund rebates and nor are cancellation fees. Your insurer will be able to confirm the exact conditions of your particular policy and extras cover.
Claiming during the COVID-19 Pandemic
On 13 March 2020, new COVID-19 Medicare items were introduced to allow clients to access up to 10 psychological services delivered by telehealth (i.e., video conference or phone) in a calendar year.
The Government further announced that from 7 August 2020 an additional 10 Medicare subsidised Psychological therapy sessions would be provided to those people who have used their 10 initial sessions and are in states or territories where there are public health orders restricting their movement and/or have been required to isolate or quarantine.
Following this, the Government announced in the federal budget on 6 October 2020, that the additional 10 services (sessions 11-20) will no longer relate to public health orders. This means that at the completion of 10 Better Access services, following review by the referring medical practitioner, a referral for an additional 10 sessions can be provided. The Government also announced that these services could continue to be delivered using telehealth until 30 June 2022.
More recently, on 13 December 2021, the Government announced the following:
Medicare-subsidised telehealth sessions made permanent - Australians will be able to continue to access telehealth services (telephone or online) through Medicare for the next four years, with a commitment of $106 million funding. This extension includes telehealth psychology sessions.
The additional 10 sessions under a Medicare mental health treatment plan have also been extended to December 2022 - Under a $58.8 million commitment, eligible clients who have used their existing 10 individual sessions in a calendar year will be able to continue to access an additional 10 sessions under their existing mental health treatment plan. This extension applies until December 2022.
Additionally, where face-to-face services were subsidised by health funds, most now additionally subsidise telehealth and telephone consultations.