What's the difference between a psychologist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor and psychotherapist?
Psychologists are trained in a wide variety of psychological theories that relate to understanding, managing and changing the behaviour of individuals and groups. A psychologist's training also involves expertise in administering and interpreting psychological tests, and in psychological research. Some psychologists have post-graduate training (master’s degrees), and some do not hold post graduate qualifications. In order to practice as a psychologist in New South Wales, by law you need to be registered with the NSW Psychologist's Registration Board. You can check out the Registration Board's website at www.psychreg.health.nsw.gov.au
Clinical psychologists have an Honours degree in psychology and have undertaken additional studies at master’s level specializing in particular treatment modalities (such as cognitive behaviour therapy). Many clinical psychologists are members of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), which sets stringent criteria for registration, professional development, and ongoing training. If you see a psychologist with "MAPS" after their name, this means that they are a member of the Australian Psychological Society. You can access the APS website at www.psychology.org.au
Psychiatrists have trained as medical doctors and then train as specialists of psychological medicine. They can prescribe medication which can assist with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, as well as problems such as clinical depression. Psychiatrists are commonly consulted by other professionals who have concerns about their patient's mental health or safety. They assist in making decisions about treatment, admissions & discharges from hospital, as well as referral to other medical specialists. Psychiatrists are also often found working in the medico-legal field, preparing assessment reports and expert opinion. While some psychiatrists work exclusively through prescribing medication, some psychiatrists choose to work exclusively as therapists, and may not prescribe medication at all. If you are thinking of seeing a psychiatrist for therapy, it is a good idea to see if they provide mainly medication, or if they specialize in therapy as well.
The terms Counsellor and psychotherapist have a much broader meaning than psychologists or psychiatrists. Counselling usually addresses issues or concerns for an individual, couple, or family. The counsellor will focus with the client on dealing with the feelings and reactions experienced and will assist the client in developing their own resources to move forward. Psychotherapy is generally a long-term process that focuses on the conscious & unconscious self. Issues of personal meaning, relationship to self, and the impact of past trauma are dealt with. Training pathways to become a counsellor or psychotherapist are varied, including university degrees and private courses. Unlike psychologists, you don't need to be registered with any governing body in order to practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist, and there is no government legislation which governs the use of the title counsellor or psychotherapist. If you are looking for a counsellor or psychotherapist, it's a good idea to look for someone who is registered with an organization such as the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association Australasia (PPAA) or the Counselling and Psychotherapy Association of Australia (CAPA).
Do I need a referral from my GP?
No, you don't need a GP referral before coming to see a Treat Yourself Well Sydney psychologist or clinical psychologist. Just pick up the phone and make an appointment. However, if you wish to claim the Medicare rebate you will need a doctors referral and a Mental Health Care Plan (see our Fees for further information regarding Mental Health Care Plans).
Do we see children?
Yes, our psychologists have experience working with children from 8 years old, teenagers and young adults and the practice environment ensures they feel very welcome.
How do the sessions work?
Each individual session is one hour long. Couples sessions are also one hour long. It is important that you arrive on time for your appointment, as Treat Yourself Well Sydney is unable to extend sessions past the pre-booked hour. You will be in session for 50-55 minutes, with the 5-10 minutes given over to payment processing and clinical note taking.
What happens in therapy?
If you wish to claim a rebate through Medicare, you will need a referral letter and a Mental Health Care Plan from your GP. Make an appointment with your GP to discuss the issues you have been facing. Your GP will then raise a Mental Health Care plan with Medicare. Please make sure you bring to your first appointment the referral letter and Mental Health Care Plan so that you'll be able to claim the rebate. After the Mental Health Care Plan has been raised, you will be eligible for up to 10 psychology sessions per calendar year under the Care plan.
How do the sessions work?
Initially, a Treat Yourself Well Sydney psychologist or clinical psychologist will conduct an assessment with you. The assessment phase usually goes for one session but can sometimes extend to two. During this time, you will tell your therapist about the issues you have been experiencing. Your therapist will ask questions and gain an overall understanding of the types of things you have been experiencing. In return, your Treat Yourself Well Sydney psychologist or clinical psychologist will talk to you about their training, background, and experience, and will talk about their treatment plan and approach to ensure it is right for you. We are happy to answer any questions you may have. If you don't think it's right for you, that's fine! Treat Yourself Well Sydney will help you to continue your journey to finding the right type of therapy for you.
If you are coming as a couple, it's usual that Treat Yourself Well Sydney will conduct an initial interview with both of you, and then have an individual session with each of you alone. This is done in order to gain an understanding of you both as individuals, to gain a comprehensive relationship history, and to address any issues or concerns that the partner may not feel comfortable discussing in front of their partner.
Towards the end of the assessment, you will be asked about your goals. What do you want to gain from coming? This helps your therapist to understand how best to target the intervention so that you are getting what you want out of treatment. It may be a good idea to have a think about your goals before you arrive for the first appointment.
After goals have been set, the intervention phase will begin. Exactly what happens here will vary according to what the issues were and what goals you identified. Your therapist will give you an estimation of how many sessions may be required for you to reach your goal. Most cognitive behavioural interventions are quite brief, with an average of somewhere between 6-12 sessions. Sometimes change can take longer - it is a very unique process, and we take care to tailor our approaches to your needs.
Whatever issue you are working on, expect homework! Working on tasks in between sessions is a fundamental aspect of our approaches. It helps to bring the work you do in sessions into your day to day life.
In the first stages of treatment, people usually come on a weekly basis. As you progress, sessions are spaced further apart, so that you may come in each fortnight. This is because a lot of therapy is based on you applying the skills you are learning in your everyday life. So, having more time in between sessions allows you enough time to practice your new skills and get a handle on how well they fit you.
Appointments are available from Monday to Fridays, from 9am to 7pm. Saturday appointments are also available.
If you need to cancel or re-schedule an appointment, Treat Yourself Well Sydney asks that you do so more than 24 hours before the appointment. A 100% cancellation fee will apply if these criteria are not met.
Legal & Ethical Information for Clients
Professional Responsibility - Treat Yourself Well Sydney psychologists are registered clinical psychologists who are licensed by the NSW Psychologists Registration Board. We are required to abide by the guidelines of ethical conduct, as recommended by the Board. Treat Yourself Well Sydney psychologists are also full members of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), a governing body for professional psychologists. As members of the APS, psychologists are required to abide by the APS Code of Ethical Conduct.
Treat Yourself Well Sydney are committed to maintaining the highest possible standard of psychological services. In line with that, with your written consent, it is part of your psychologist's professional responsibility to provide short written communication with your treating physician and/or general practitioner, that includes:
The nature of the difficulty that lead to your contact with the psychologist
The services being provided by your psychologist
Please remember that if you do not provide written consent to release information to your treating physician and/or General Practitioner, no correspondence will be entered into.
Release of Client Information - All psychological sessions are confidential, and all client records are confidential. Client files remain the property of Treat Yourself Well Sydney and are always kept in a locked filing cabinet.
Should it be necessary to discuss your case with another professional, family member or other person, Treat Yourself Well Sydney will ask you to complete a Client Release of Information form. Under no circumstances is information released to any individual without having first obtained written authority from you.
Legitimate Breach of Confidence - There are at least 3 exceptions in which Treat Yourself Well Sydney can breach confidentiality without your permission. These are:
Any disclosure which suggests that a child is at risk
Any disclosure indicating that an individual is at risk of physical and/or criminal harm
A notarised subpoena from a Court to supply information
In the event of any of these issues arising, Treat Yourself Well Sydney will contact you before acting with the relevant authority.