life’s changes are not supposed to paralyse you; they’re supposed to help you discover who you are
Bernice Johnson Reagon
- What do Psychologists Do?
- What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
- How can a Psychologist help me?
- Will my information be confidential? / What is Confidential?
- How do I access a psychologist? Do I need a referral?
- How does the Medicare Mental Health Care Plan work?
- How does EAP work?
- What training is required to become a Psychologist?
- How long does it take to get well/ feel better/ resolve a problem?
- What do Dietitians do?
- What do Occupational Therapists do?
- What do Speech Therapists do?
Psychologists engage in research, practice and teaching across a wide range of topics having to do with how people think, feel and behave. Their work can involve individuals, groups, families and as well as larger organizations in government and industry.
Psychologists in Private Practice generally assist people with the management and treatment of personal, psychological and relationship difficulties. Here are some of the kinds of topics towards which psychologists focus their research and practice:
- mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, phobias, stress, anger
- personal issues such as relationships, self esteem and confidence.
- neurological, genetic, psychological and social determinants of behaviour,
- brain injury, degenerative brain diseases,
- the perception and management of pain,
- psychological factors and problems associated with physical conditions and disease (e.g. diabetes, heart disease, stroke),
- psychological factors and management of terminal illnesses such as cancer,
- cognitive functions such as learning, memory, problem solving, intellectual ability and performance,
- developmental and behavioural abilities and problems across the lifespan,
- criminal behaviour, crime prevention, services for victims and perpetrators of criminal activity,
- addictions and substance use and abuse (e.g. smoking, alcohol, drugs),
- stress, anger and other aspects of lifestyle management,
- court consultations addressing the impact and role of psychological and cognitive factors in accidents and injury, parental capacity, and competence to manage one’s personal affairs,
- the application of psychological factors and issues to work such as motivation, leadership, productivity, marketing, healthy workplaces, ergonomics,
- marital and family relationships and problems,
- psychological factors necessary to maintaining wellness and preventing disease,
- social and cultural behaviour and attitudes, the relationship between the individual and the many groups of which he or she is part (e.g. work, family, society),
- the role and impact of psychological factors on performance at work, recreation and sport.
Education and Training
Psychologists study human behaviour in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience and gaining professional registration. Psychologists do not have a medical degree. Studying to become a Psychologist involves a minimum of six years study at University.
Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree. A Psychiatrist has completed an approved course of study to become a medical practitioner before completing further qualifications in the medical treatment of mental illness.
A Psychologist cannot prescribe medication. A Psychologist will often work in conjunction with a Psychiatrist or G.P if medication is part of a client’s treatment.
A Psychiatrist prescribes and monitors medication for mental illness.
A Psychologist focuses on addressing the Psychological aspects of mental health conditions through therapy. Psychologists aim to assist the client improve coping, develop insight, reduce symptoms, improve thinking and improve mood by exploring personal and psychological issues.
A Psychiatrist focuses on the medical/chemical aspects of mental health issues and aims to improve symptoms using specific medications. Psychiatrists may also utilise ‘talking’ therapy as well.
Psychologists are experts in human behaviour. Psychologists can help mentally healthy people to find ways of functioning better. For example, they train people to handle stress and family problems. Psychological therapies are also widely used by groups and organisations. Psychologists also help people with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety to improve functioning and thinking styles. Psychologists help people equip themselves with the skills to improve mood and prevent problems becoming bigger.
Psychologists can help you in many areas, including:
- Marital, family and relationship problems
- Stress or pain
- Fears, phobias, anxiety and panic attacks
- Loss and grief
- Sexual difficulties
- Sleeping difficulties
- Eating and weight control problems
- Children's learning, behaviour and management problems
- Improving relationships
- Becoming better parents and teachers
- Personal growth
- Career planning
- Improving workplaces
- Enhancing sports performance
- Training and developing staff
- Employment selection
- Reviewing organisational structure and practices
- Industrial relations and occupational health and safety
- Studying consumer needs
Generally, all information gathered by your psychologist during the provision of psychological services remains confidential. This means that the private information you share with the Psychologist will not be shared with anyone else.
There are some important exceptions to Confidentiality. This means that the Psychologist may be forced to break confidentiality under the following circumstances:
- If your information was subpoenaed by a court;
- If failure to disclose information would place the client or another person at risk;
- Or the client has provided specific and written consent to disclose information in any format to a third party.
Your Psychologist will discuss confidentiality with you in more detail during your first session.
You may access information recorded on you file upon request subject to the exceptions in National Privacy Legislation Principle 6.
You do not need to have a referral to access a psychologist. You may self-refer to a Psychologist simply by calling the Practice and booking an appointment. However, in order to be able to claim a Medicare rebate for your Psychological treatment you must see your G.P and request a referral to a Psychologist. See below for more details You may also claim Psychology visits under private health insurance if your health provider covers this service.
A Medicare mental health care plan is a plan that is developed between clients and their GP’s. Clients that obtain a mental health care plan from their GP prior to seeing a psychologist are eligible for up to 12 Medicare rebated sessions per calendar year. This does not mean that your sessions will be free or bulk billed it just means that you are able to claim a Medicare rebate of $78.40 per session.
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are offered by many employers, typically in conjunction with a health insurance plan. EAPs are intended to help employees deal with personal problems that might adversely impact their work performance, health, and well-being. EAPs generally include assessment, short-term counselling and referral services for employees and their household members.
Check with your employer prior to booking a consultation to see if you qualify for a EAP and how you would access it as all accounts will be sent to your EAP provider and you will have no out of pocket expense.
As well as obtaining certified University qualifications in Psychology and completing supervised training (minimum 6 years), to work as a psychologist in Australia you are legally required to be registered with the Psychology Registration Board in your state. This is much the same registration system which applies to medical practitioners or solicitors. In Queensland, a Psychologist is required to meet registration requirements with the Psychologists Board of QLD to able to practise as a Psychologist.
The APS (Australian Psychological Society) is the name of the professional body which supports Psychologists in Australia. Being a member of the APS is not the same is being registered with the Psychology Board of QLD.
This is different for each person and depends on the issues and the severity of the problem. Most people find that they begin to feel a little better as soon as they make the decision to seek professional help. Some clients will need ongoing weekly sessions for a while, other people will only need a few sessions to obtain some coping skills or strategies to start to see improvement. The time that you spend working with your health professional to resolve your issues will allow you to learn valuable skills for improving your overall health, coping skills, thinking and behaviour which you can continue to use in the future, far beyond the time that your sessions cease.
Dietitians use scientific knowledge of human nutrition to help people understand the relationship between food and health. They provide practical advice to healthy eating helping people to make informed dietary choices and better manage their lifestyle and health.
Occupational therapists assess, adapt everyday activities to improve function, boost performance, promote health, prevent illness, and increase independence in those persons to whom they provide services. They work collaboratively with their clients to identify areas of need and to develop creative solutions to address these areas while respecting clients' background and culture and valuing their quality of life.
The role of a speech and language therapist (SLT) is to assess and treat speech, language and communication problems in people of all ages to enable them to communicate to the best of their ability. They may also work with people who have eating and swallowing problems.
SLTs assist children and adults who have the following types of problems:
- difficulty producing and using speech
- difficulty understanding language
- difficulty using language
- difficulty with feeding, chewing or swallowing
- a stammer
- a voice problem
SLTs will also work with people who suffer the following problems:
- learning disability
- physical disability
- neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
- cancer of the mouth and throat
- head injury
- hearing loss and deafness
- cleft palate
- psychiatric disorders
SLTs work in a variety of settings, these include:
- hospitals (both inpatients and outpatients)
- community health centres
- mainstream and special schools
- assessment units and day centres
- clients homes