FAQ Psychology Sydney

These Frequently Asked Questions contain general information only and do not take into account your personal health, fitness or wellbeing circumstances, needs or objectives. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement by Avaana and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare, fitness or wellbeing professional. All site users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their health, fitness and wellbeing questions.

Are psychology appointments in Sydney covered by Medicare?

You are entitled to Medicare rebates for up to 10 individual or group consultations if you have been referred to a psychologist by your general practitioner under a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP).

What is a Mental Health Care Plan?

A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is a plan for individuals who have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. Your general practitioner will decide if you are eligible for a MHCP and will refer you to an appropriate healthcare provider so that you can receive the mental health care you require.

Having a MHCP entitles you to Medicare rebates for up to 6 psychology appointments. If you need more sessions, you will need to be reassessed by your general practitioner to determine if you are entitled to four more sessions (maximum of 10 sessions of counselling per year).

Do I need a mental health care plan to see a psychologist?

No, you do not need to have Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) to see a psychologist. You may contact your preferred psychologist at any time to make an appointment. However, if you have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder (such as stress, anxiety, or depression) your doctor may deem you eligible for a such a plan. In that case, we recommend you consult with your general health care practitioner (GP) to discuss whether you are entitled to a MHCP.

Are psychology services covered by my private health fund?

Many private health funds in Australia provide partial rebates for psychological services. This will depend on your level of cover and choice of fund. If you are planning a treatment for which you anticipate a private health cover, contact your private health insurance company in advance to confirm your benefit entitlement and to enquire if any waiting periods apply.

What should I expect during my first psychology session?

Going to a therapist for the first time can be scary. This is completely understandable, especially if you are unsure about what to expect during the first consultation.

The approach taken by your psychologist during the first session can vary from therapist to therapist, and from practice to practice. Your initial appointment will primarily focus on necessary formalities, introductions, and history taking.

We recommend that you arrive early for your first appointment. Give yourself enough travel time to locate the office, find parking, and relax in the waiting room. This may help relieve any additional anxiety you may have in regard to the first session. This will also give you time to read through any paperwork you may need to complete (such as confidentiality forms, cancelation policies, and your billing information).

Your psychologist will typically meet you in the waiting room and will introduce him or herself to you. They may briefly run through important paperwork with you in the consultation room and answer any questions you may have regarding the forms. They will also talk to you about confidentiality (your right to privacy) and other information about how they’d like to run their sessions. If you have been referred by a general practitioner or psychiatrist, they will discuss the details of your Mental Health Treatment Plan at this point.

Once all the logistics are covered and general introductions are complete, the remainder of the session will be spent discussing the issues that have brought you to therapy. The psychologist will explore these concerns with you by discussing the origin of the problem, how it is exacerbated or alleviated, and how it impacts your life. In order to better understand the issues in the context of your life, the therapist will also ask you questions regarding your personal history. This can include questions about your family, childhood experiences, social relationships, education and work history, and any prior experiences with therapy.

This information-gathering phase can take one or more sessions and may be supplemented by the use of psychological questionnaires.

Remember, your psychologist is there to support you and guide you through the sessions in a safe and confidential environment. Your role is to be as honest and open as you can to reap the most benefits out of the therapy as a whole. Bear in mind that if you are uncomfortable answering a question at any point, just say so. They will not take offense and will know that that is a sensitive area that may be better explored at a later stage.

Your therapist will typically spend the last few minutes of the session summarising their understanding of your main concerns in the context of your personal history. This is a great way to make sure you are both on the same page. They may also ask you if you have any particular goals for your therapy. If time allows, your therapist will work with you to develop a collaborative and flexible plan of action for future therapy sessions.

I’m nervous about opening up to a stranger. What if I dislike my psychologist?

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous or unsure about opening up to your psychologist, especially during your first session. Your therapist knows this, and a good therapist will help you feel relaxed by being warm and compassionate. If you are particularly nervous or concerned about opening up to your psychologist, it is important that you let them know from the outset. They may take some time to discuss confidentiality with you and will try to make you comfortable.

It may take a session or two before for you start feeling comfortable with the idea of opening up to your psychologist. Every person has different boundaries and your feeling of apprehension is completely normal. Having said that, it’s understandable that you feel more comfortable with someone else. If you have gone to a couple of sessions and still feel like your psychologist is not the right one for you, you may want to consider seeing a different practitioner. If you have a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP), ask your doctor to help you find a different psychologist.

Do I need a referral to see a psychologist?

No, you do not need a referral to see a psychologist. You may contact your preferred therapist at any time to make an appointment with any of the Sydney psychology professionals listed on the Avaana site.

You only need a referral if you are under a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) and wish to access Medicare rebates for your appointments.

How long is a psychology session?

The length of your consultation will depend on the preferences of your psychologist. Most sessions are, however, 45 to 75 minutes in length.

For more information on appointment lengths, consult the Sydney listings on this page.

Are there psychologists for couples?

Couples therapy is something that some psychologists specialise in. During these sessions a psychologist will help two people involved in a romantic relationship gain insight into their relationship, resolve conflict, and improve their overall relationship satisfaction. This is achieved through a variety of therapeutic interventions.

In many cases the best treatment outcome is achieved when both parties are present in the same sessions. If you are looking for couples therapy, be sure to specifically book into a couple’s session using the listings above.

Do psychologists provide treatment for postnatal depression?

Yes, psychologists can help Australian women suffering from symptoms associated with postnatal depression, such as hypersensitivity, insomnia and anxiety about their newborn’s health. If you think you may have postnatal depression, or if your partner or family members are concerned that you do, it is important to consult your general health care practitioner, midwife, and psychology provider as soon as possible to help you receive the best care.

 Are there psychologists for children and young adults?

Many behavioural problems or mental health difficulties can keep children and adolescents from leading happy, successful lives. Some psychologists primarily focus on child and adolescent therapy. Avaana lists the different therapy session types and specialties offered by Sydney psychology providers to help you easily select the right psychologist for you or your child.