Q: What is psychology?

A: Psychology is the study of human behaviour and includes the broad spectrum of what it means to be human such as: emotions, habits, thoughts, responses, development, memory, performance, attention, intelligence, as well as interaction and relationships with others.

There are many specialty areas of psychology. Some of specialties are as follows:

  • Clinical
  • Counselling
  • Sport and exercise
  • Forensic
  • Clinical neuropsychology
  • Educational and developmental
  • Organisational

Q: What benefits can I expect from working with a psychologist?

A: Working with a psychologist can provide insight and new perspectives into life’s challenges and can help create solutions to difficult problems and experiences. Working with a psychologist can be particularly helpful when a person is experiencing clinically significant mental health problems (for example depression or anxiety).

Typically people find that working with a psychologist can enhance personal development, improve relationships and family dynamics, and can ease the challenges of daily life.

People who come to therapy either as an individual, couple, family or group, report an overall improvement in their quality of life, a decrease in stress, pain, anxiety and depression and the resolution of specific issues/concerns.

Q: What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

The main differences are around education and training, therapeutic models, the use of prescription medicines and the types of illnesses that people have.

Psychologist:

  • A psychologist studies human behaviour in their undergraduate degree, then studies for a minimum of two more years for further postgraduate qualifications such as Masters or PhD.
  • During the years of further study they must do extensive research on their specialty area. It is this focus on research and the applications of the clinical outcomes that most distinguishes psychologist from other mental health providers.
  • Psychologists do not prescribe medications. They use other effective treatments to manage common psychological problems and to help people realise their potential.

Psychiatrist:

  • A psychiatrist studies medicine and then goes on to specialise in mental illness.
  • Psychiatrists are often involved more in assessment of mental illness and the pharmacological management of it. For example, psychiatrists often prescribe medications such as mood stabilisers or anti depressants to affect a chemical change in the brain.
  • Psychiatrists are often more involved in seeing people in acute states of mental illness such as during periods of psychosis.

Q: Do I need a referral to see a psychologist at Wisdom Health?

A: You are welcome to see one of our psychologists without a referral. If you have private health insurance you may be eligible for a rebate for the session fee. It’s a good idea to check with your insurer to find out your level of cover.

If you are referred by your GP through a GP Mental Health Care Plan (item 2710) or referred by your Paediatrician or Psychiatrist you will be eligible to claim a Medicare rebate for up to 12 sessions per year.

If you are referred by a third party, such as an Insurance company, WorkCover, Solicitor or rehabilitation program, referral information must be made available at the time of making the appointment.

Q: Are my sessions confidential?

In general, the content of your sessions will remain strictly confidential. Psychologists are bound by the legal requirements of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 and follow strict guidelines for professional conduct that include confidentiality. Any information disclosed to your psychologist in sessions remains confidential. The bounds of confidentiality will be explained in your first session and follow the guidelines contained in the Australia Psychological Society Code of Ethics.

The only time we would release information is if we are subpoenaed by a court or if our failure to disclose specific information places you or another person at serious risk of harm. For example, we may contact someone identified as an emergency contact person if a client indicated they were going to kill themselves after leaving the office. However, we would always discuss this breach of confidentiality with the client first.

Relationship counselling – common questions

Q: I really want my partner to come but he/she won’t?

A: We suggest that you come on your own first. Sometimes the time and space to discuss the issues with an unbiased professional and find some new strategies for change can really help. From this first appointment you can then decide if you want to continue on your own or try a new approach with your partner.

Q: My partner is so dominating I’m worried I won’t get a chance to speak?

A: Our psychologists have years of experience in dealing with all sorts of relationship dynamics and have the skills to structure the session so both parties can be heard equally.

Q: I’m coming because my partner wants me to but I’m worried about my partner and the psychologist ganging up on me?

A: Our psychologists are unbiased, independent and hold both parties in equal regard. One partner will not be favoured over the other, with equal time being allocated to both partners.

Child & Adolescent counselling

Q: Something seems not quite right. Should my child see a psychologist?

A: If you suspect that your child might have an emotional or behavioural problem or needs help coping with a difficult life event, it is important to trust your gut instinct and discuss your concerns with trusted friends, family and health care providers.

Just like adults, children and adolescents are affected by major life changes, events or incidents and the stress from those experiences might lead to problems with behaviour, mood, sleep, appetite, and academic or social functioning.

Your child or adolescent may benefit from seeing a psychologist if they have experienced or are experiencing any of the following (this is a guide only and a psychologist can help with many other issues):

  • learning or attention problems
  • behavioural problems (such as excessive anger, eating problems, sexualised behaviour)
  • sexual, physical, or emotional abuse or other traumatic events
  • stress related to study or exams
  • feeling stuck and unable to reach their potential
  • the victim of bullying or the perpetrator of bulling
  • grief from the loss of a family member or friend
  • parent absence due to military service or adjustment when the veteran returns home
  • serious, acute, or chronic illness
  • sadness, tearfulness, or depressive periods
  • social withdrawal
  • mood swings

Q: How long will it take for my child/adolescent to start feeling better?

A: We all wish for the fastest way possible to happiness for our loved ones, but this really depends on many factors, many of which are unknown at the outset. Some problems resolve quickly in just a few sessions, whereas other problems require a longer approach. Most problems are somewhere in between and significant gains can often be made within 8 to12 sessions. For more complex issues the treatment may take much longer.

Q: It’s been recommend that I medicate my child/adolescent for their behavioural problems but I really don’t want to, can counselling without medication really help?

A: The extensive research on psychological counselling shows significant improvements for children and adolescence across a range of emotional, mental and behavioural symptoms.

We appreciate that every individual is different and sometimes a collaborative approach combining medication and counselling may be required at specific times of crisis.

The benefits of a counselling approach include: gaining insight, building new coping, communication and social skills, developing confidence and resilience, with no dependence on medication and its associated side effects. One of the benefits of psychological therapy is that it involves learning new skills for self-management. Research shows that this often results in lower rates of relapse for psychological therapy compared with drug therapy alone.

We highly recommend that you discuss your specific concerns with our psychologists specialising in Child and Adolescent mental health as well as other health providers such as your GP.

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