Questions About Counselling
Q. How long does counselling usually take?
A. The counselling process differs for each individual and the number of sessions required will depend upon your unique circumstances and goals. Some people resolve particular issues in a small number of sessions, while others prefer to work on their emotional development on a longer term basis. Research suggests that 50 percent of clients make some level of improvement in their area of concern within eight sessions.
Q. How do I find the right psychologist for me?
A. Psychologists vary a lot in their type of training, experience, area of expertise and style of counselling so it is important to find someone who is the right “fit” for you. A good psychologist will:
• Be warm, genuine and respectful
• Be trustworthy and non-judgemental
• Have faith in your ability to work through your issues
• Encourage you to make your own choices
• Respectfully challenge your viewpoint when it is helpful to you
• Work with you in a way where you can see progress toward your goals
Trust your instinct. If you have any concerns, you are entitled to raise them directly with the psychologist or ask for a referral to see someone else.
Q. What is the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a psychotherapist?
A. Psychiatrists have completed a medical degree and have undergone extra training in order to be licensed to diagnose mental illness and prescribe medication, often for people who are experiencing very debilitating symptoms. A psychiatrist also monitors the effects of medication and mental illness on physical health.
Psychologists have professional training in human emotions and behaviour and are licensed to conduct assessments and use counselling and psychotherapeutic approaches to help people to cope more effectively with their life issues and mental health problems.
Psychotherapists have undergone a range of possible training programs that are regulated under PACFA (Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia). Psychotherapists tend to work on a more long-term basis to assist clients to learn about their patterns of relating to the world of which they may not be fully aware, and thus to develop richer, more flexible ways of thinking and interacting in life.
Although the terms counselling and therapy are often used interchangeably, counselling tends to focus on specific short term issues such as problem solving or learning specific skills for coping with particular problems, whereas psychotherapy usually refers to more long-term work.
Different Therapeutic Approaches
Q. What is Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)?
A. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a relatively short-term, focused approach to manage a variety of emotional concerns. CBT can be particularly useful in treating some difficulties where you are looking for some practical tools to assist you to manage a particular problem such as anxiety or depression. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy examines a person’s pattern of thinking and its associated feelings and behaviours and seeks to challenge any unhelpful thought patterns while supporting positive behaviours that are helpful to the client.
Q. What is Gestalt Therapy?
A. Gestalt therapy is a phenomenological-existential therapy that focuses on enhancing awareness to promote change and growth. In Gestalt therapy, feeling, sensing and acting are distinguished from interpretations and explanations of events. Clients and therapists in Gestalt therapy communicate about their unique perspectives and these differences in perspectives become the focus of experimentation and continued dialogue. The goal is for clients to become aware of what they are doing, how they are doing it, and how they can try new behaviours, while at the same time, to accept and value themselves (Yontef).
Q. What is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
A. ACT is a psychological approach to counselling that incorporates mindfulness and values-work to enhance psychological flexibility. Psychological flexibility is said to be the ability to contact the present moment with full awareness and act in a way that is consistent with one’s chosen values (Hayes). Psychological flexibility has been found to be inversely related to general psychological distress and a range of psychopathologies (Ruiz). In order to promote psychological flexibility, ACT has two main goals: 1) commitment and action toward living a life according to an individual’s chosen values, while at the same time 2) fostering acceptance of unhelpful thoughts and feelings that cannot and may not need to be controlled.
Q. What is mindfulness?
A. Mindfulness involves consciously bringing awareness to your here-and-now experience with openness, interest, and receptivity. Mindfulness forms the basis of many ancient Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism and Yoga but has only recently been embraced by Western psychology as it is acknowledged to be a powerful tool to enhance psychological and emotional wellbeing and increase life satisfaction. Jon Kabat-Zinn, a world leader on the use of mindfulness training in the management of clinical problems, defines it as: "Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally."
Q. What if I need to cancel an appointment?
A. That is not a problem as long as you provide at least 24 hours’ notice via phone or email. The full fee is payable where notice of less than 24 hours is given. For more information about bookings policies, go to Bookings.
Q. Is the information I provide confidential?
A. Communication between psychologists and clients is confidential and is protected by law, but there are certain exceptions. For example, if they learn that a client plans to harm themselves or another person then they have a duty of care to inform someone and will let the client know before they do so. Courts can subpoena psychological records if a crime has been committed. In all other situations counsellors do not discuss the content of counselling sessions with anyone else unless a release of information form has been signed (except with GPs in the case of a Mental Health Plan).
Q. Can I claim any rebates through Medicare?
A. Anna is a provider of focused psychological strategies under the Better Access to Mental Health Care program. Therefore, Medicare rebates are available for those people who are assessed by their GP as being eligible under a GP Mental Health Treatment Plan. For more information on how this program works, go to Medicare Rebates. Counselling sessions are available via online video, though please note that Skype sessions are currently not refundable through Medicare. For more information on Skype sessions click here.