I am an accredited Mental Health Social Worker which allows me to provide counselling sessions for which you can claim a cost rebate under Medicare.
The Federal Government enables psychologists and accredited Mental Health Social Workers, (together known as Allied Health Providers), to provide up to 10 face-to-face sessions to individuals per calendar year for which clients can claim a rebate. A few Allied Health Providers bulk bill but otherwise set their own fees so you would need to check with each individual practitioner what the gap fee to you would be. Your rebate if you see me for appointments is currently $74.80 per session.
Below are 5 key steps in order to be able to claim a rebate for sessions with me.
1. You will need to obtain from your GP (or a psychiatrist) a referral letter and a Mental Health Care Plan prior to attending for counselling. The Care Plan is a simple document outlining some very basic background information about you and stating issues you are wanting help with (for example anxiety symptoms, depression, etc).
Your GP may suggest you go to see a particular social worker or psychologist but you are free to choose who you wish to see for sessions. The referral letter does not need to specify the name of the person you will be going to see and if a name is specified you are still free to see a different person if you choose to using the same referral letter.
2. You need to bring the referral letter and Care Plan when you attend for counselling.
3. If you have already had sessions with someone under your current Care Plan and referral you are free to change to a different Allied Health Provider if you wish and do not need a new referral to do so. You will only need a new GP referral if you have already had 6 sessions in that calendar year. A Care Plan remains current for a maximum of 2 years.
It is a good idea then for you to retain a copy of the plan and referral.
4. After your first 6 sessions, I am required to provide a written report to your GP. Reports I provide are usually short and give general feedback on progress – they would not normally contain specific details of what you have been talking about in sessions, that information remains confidential. I am happy to discuss a draft of the report with you before sending it if you wish.
5. You would then need to re-visit your GP for a new referral letter before you can claim a rebate for a further 4 sessions making the total of 10. I am then required to provide another report to your GP.
The government has set a 10 session limit for funding assistance to help address a range of mental health issues. Whilst it depends on your particular issues, you are likely to benefit from this amount of counselling. 10 sessions (or less) may be sufficient to address your needs. You also have the option to seek a further 10 rebateable sessions in a subsequent calendar year should you want to do so.
You may feel you would like to continue with the therapy beyond 10 sessions to build on the gains you’ve made or to address the issues more deeply. There is often benefit in engaging in a longer process and many issues cannot realistically be adequately addressed in only 10 sessions. Some Allied Health Practitioners would refer you onto someone else for any longer-term therapy. I am able to provide longer-term therapy so, as long as you were wishing to continue sessions with me, I would not end our therapy process after the initial 10 sessions and would continue to see you for as long as you wanted and needed. This might be say, for an additional few weeks or months to build on the gains made in the first sessions, or more ongoingly to engage in longer-term psychotherapy.
You can elect to attend therapy sessions outside of the Medicare system (ie without a Care Plan and the process of GP visits, reports etc). You do not need a referral to attend in this case – simply contact me to discuss making an appointment.