Get What You Pay For?

Many of our clients access funding via the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We partly base our fee schedule on this model, which is lower than the recommended fees of the Australian Psychological Society. However, we are Counsellors and Psychotherapists. We are not psychologists.

Many people are surprised to learn there is a difference between counsellors and psychologists. Our registration body is the Australian Counselling Association (ACA). Under the ACA Scope of Practice, Counsellors and Psychotherapists in Australia do much of the same clinical work as psychologists. However, in distinct ways counsellors are trained differently than psychologists. Counsellor training is traditionally based in advanced graduate clinical counselling and communication skills. These skills are hands-on from day one. A psychologist does not tend to practice clinical skills until after they graduate from a clinical masters degree.

Added to this, most graduate trained counsellors receive advanced psychotherapeutic skills that are tailored to help people with specific issues. These are advanced therapeutic, healing, and change skills usually left for after postgraduate and doctoral level training in other fields. Counselling therapists with post graduate degrees generally have advanced therapeutic skills.

The last note is that we often hear the words, ‘We had no idea you would do that too…’ referring to people’s surprise of the range of services and tasks accomplished by a Counsellor or Psychotherapist with specialist training and experience. People often say ‘We think of psychologists, and you are different.’ Well yes, we are not all psychologists and we are different in some ways. We often work with and refer cases to psychologists. We all have something valuable to offer. We view clients as having the most expertise on your own life – so we work together toward your goals and aspirations.

In the therapy field, people do not always ‘get what you pay for’ because therapists charge per hour regardless whether they are effective or not. We base our practice on effectiveness and client satisfaction. Only people who are happy with our work decide to work with us again. If you are happy you might refer your colleagues, friends, or family. Our work is ideally based on positive outcomes, finding solutions, and moving things forward.

Fees… and Psychologists compared to Counsellors and Psychotherapists

Due to Australian industry and governmental politics Counsellors and Psychotherapists do not have fees covered under the Better Access to Health Care Program released by the government during 2005. This program has the purpose of assisting access to mental health supports under a Mental Health Plan.

This said, our fees are set knowing that if you see a psychologist under the Medicare Rebate scheme, unless they bulk bill, you may face a gap payment out of pocket something similar to our standard fee.

The devil is in the detail. What most people do not realise is that under the Medicare Rebate scheme you may find yourself limited to a certain number of sessions per year. This may not be enough. You may then need to continue therapy and you may end up paying considerable fees out of pocket. Once you are paying out of pocket, you might start to look around for other therapists. In fact there are many options, as many therapists are not registered under the Allied Health and Medicare Rebate programs that are limited to psychologists.

For comparison sake, as far as we know, the Australian Psychological Society fee schedule for 2018 is $241.00 per hour. This appears to apply for all psychologists including clinical levels. Certain psychologists in Armidale and region are known to charge between $260 to $295 per hour. With a Rebate you may face a gap of around $120.00 or higher.

In addition, people using the Medicare Rebate system need to decide if you want to lodge a Mental Health Plan. For many, the prospects of keeping this level of personal information in the health care system is daunting. Plus once you have lodged this information, it may stay on your file for long periods of time. You also need to consider that your psychologist under the Rebate program is obligated to report back to your GP and that reports and information may be exchanged. In an age of information security, knowing what happens with this degree of personal mental health information is an important part of informed consent. We recommend talking through the pros and cons of Rebate verses private consultation with your GP before making a decision.

Our Fees

Again by comparison, our standard fee for private clients is $160.00 per hour, with Concession 1 at $140.00 and Concession 2 Senior at $120.00. People who see us may not pay a lot more than under the Rebate program, unless you can find a psychologist who bulk bills which is a challenge. And you may face long waiting lists.

Certain private insurance programs cover counselling. You may or may not have cover for a certain number of sessions. You may need to look at your plan and contact your insurance provider.

NDIS fees are paid by the Scheme, and the fee schedule is taken from their policy and tends to be set at higher rates than our private rates. In our experience the amount of administration and costs to provide service to NDIS clients is at least 32% more than private clients.

Unlike many, we do not charge double for couple and family counselling as we consider this part of our core practice. This being said, couples often need sessions up to the two hour window.

Fees for psychometric and educational testing may be set at the relevant hourly fee and/or in some cases a quote may be given after an initial assessment of what tools and time are needed to complete the testing. Certain assessment tools often have access fees that we must pay to the company that manages copyright and access, additional fees may apply although we try to limit this as much as we can. Clients can also verify our costs to these tests online, and we readily provide this information.

We do consider requests from clients who ask for a quote for a block of pre-paid sessions with a discount on fees. This can be extremely helpful at times where no other funding source is available. However, most private clients pay on the day after the session. NDIS clients pay after a service is provided via the Scheme, and depending on how their NDIS Plan is set up.

No referral is needed to access our service. You can book a session at any time. Many clients see this as a distinct advantage. To contact us please visit our Contact Page for information. We wish you every goodness and peace, in heart and life. To you and yours.