The good news is that if you live in Australia, there are various pathways which assist in making it possible to afford the fees – at least for ten sessions.
How do I acquire affordable counselling?
If you live in Australia and have a Medicare card, you are entitled to a Medicare rebate for up to ten sessions every calendar year. However, in order to access the Medicare rebate, you need to consult with your GP. Your GP will assess your mental health to see if you meet the relevant criteria to warrant a mental care plan. If you do, he/she will write out a mental care plan specifying the number of psychology sessions you can have which will attract the rebate. The maximum number of sessions is ten but sometimes a GP may only prescribe 4 or 6.
As it can feel quite overwhelming, we have prepared an 11 step guide to help you through the process of accessing a mental care plan.
Psychologists and counsellors have no influence in the matter. It is entirely up to your GP to determine whether you qualify for a mental care plan or not. When you bring your mental care plan to your psychologist, you will receive a receipt for payment with the relevant Medicare codes so that you can receive your rebate.
There are 2 Medicare rebates:
- The fee that a registered psychologist charges receives a rebate of $84.80 for a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year.
- The fee that a clinical psychologist charges receives a rebate of $124.50 for a maximum of 10 sessions per calendar year.
If you do not have a Medicare card but belong to a private health fund, you may be eligible for a rebate as well. It is entirely dependent on your fund and your level of cover. You will need to call your private health fund yourself and find out what your rebate will be so that you can determine if your out-of-pocket expense is affordable or not.
There are some private health funds that will give rebates for a number of extra sessions when you have completed your ten Medicare sessions. Again, you need to find this out for yourself from your specific provider.
How do I calculate if my psychology treatment is affordable to me?
Work out your finances. How much can you afford on a weekly basis? For how many weeks could you afford that amount?
Knowing your income, go ahead and choose the psychologist or counsellor that you believe will meet your needs. Do not make an appointment and meet up without first clarifying the fee. Be aware of the costs. Are they affordable?
- If you have no disposable income, then you need to make sure that your psychologist bulk bills. If she does, then you could have ten free counselling sessions as Medicare is paying the psychologist directly and you do not have to chip in. If your proposed psychologist does not offer bulk billed psychology sessions, then look for a private psychologist elsewhere who does. There are many psychologists in Sydney and the Eastern Suburbs who do bulk bill. Some bulk bill automatically and others will bulk bill if you ask. There are also some NGO’s that offer free counselling.
- If you have some money for therapy, go through the same process. Choose a psychologist or counsellor that will meet your needs and find out what their fee per session is. Calculate the difference between the fee and your rebate. That difference will be your expense for ten sessions. You may be surprised at how affordable counselling can be when the gap is small and manageable. If you require more than ten sessions, then the remaining cost per session will fall on you.
For example, let us say that your psychologist of choice charges $190 per session. Your Medicare rebate will be $124.50 for a clinical psychologist. That means your out-of-pocket expense is $65.50 per session.
- Some psychologists are negotiable and will find a fee that works for you. It is vital that counselling will not increase your stress levels by creating financial hardship.
Please bear in mind that therapists in private practice, including psychologists and counsellors, do not earn salaries and rely on fees from clients to pay their bills.
Affordable counselling at Anxiety Solutions CBT
Anxiety solutions CBT is a psychology practice that is dedicated to helping individuals, couples and families in need. Our policy is to be flexible and to strive to work out a win/win solution for us and our clients.
We do offer bulk billing for clients who are on a Centrelink card which essentially means a free counselling service for ten sessions only. We will refer you on to a public agency if we believe that you need ongoing treatment and want to access free treatment.
Our psychologists are always open to discussing fees so do not feel shy or embarrassed to talk about them. Money can be a difficult topic but it is a necessary part of us working happily together. We cannot promise to always give you what you want but we will endeavour to give you affordable counselling. That is one reason that we have developed a ten session program so that there can be minimal out-of-pocket expenses.
Another way we provide affordable counselling is to offer group sessions. These also attract a rebate with a mental care plan. Our CBT program is especially suited to group work.
A third way that we provide affordable counselling is to offer a “package of sessions”. In other words, you can pay for a number of sessions up front and receive a discount. Practically this means a long term saving but a larger investment upfront.
Additional remarks about “cheap counselling”
Psychological therapy, psychotherapy and counselling is a skilled occupation delivered by professionals who are highly trained and have spent years studying at university and accumulating practical clinical hours. . That is why Medicare recognises that the minimum a clinical psychologist should earn for an hour is $124.50. You will get more out of your therapy if you recognise the value that psychological therapy offers and the skill level of your counsellor.
You want to be sure not to let the need for cheap counselling lead you to someone who is not adequately trained or who does not belong to a professional association and subscribe to a code of ethics. Sometimes “cheap is expensive”. All psychologists at Anxiety Solutions CBT are members of the Australian
Psychological Association and subscribe to their code of ethics.
Secondly, mental health concerns may be complicated and/or long standing. Therefore, ten sessions may not be enough to get a good result. Look at your therapy as an investment in yourself, your future and your family.
Do not confuse a bulk billing therapist with an incompetent therapist. Every psychologist and counsellor determines the fee they prefer to charge for a multiple number of reasons which has nothing to do with competence.
In sum, there are many options for you to obtain free and affordable counselling. If you would like to discuss it further or gain more clarity, call 02 9328 5899.
We welcome all inquiries from individuals looking for high quality, affordable therapy.