Do I need a referral to make an appointment?
No. You do not need a referral to make and attend an appointment with Dr Torres. However, without a Medicare Mental Health Care Plan referral you will be responsible for paying the full fee for each consultation, without receiving a Medicare rebate. The exception to this is where your assessment and/or treatment is being funded by a third party such as an insurance company, or Comcare, for example.
How long will a session last?
Traditionally a session involves the ‘therapeutic’, or ‘consultation’ hour. The length of this face to face component of the session is approximately 51 minutes. Your clinician will use the remaining time after you have left to plan your treatment and complete your clinical record.
What will happen at my first session?
Your first session with a new psychologist will involve a ‘clinical assessment’. With Dr Torres, this clinical assessment will comprise two phases – completion of questionnaires & consent form, followed by a clinical interview (discussion).
…at the beginning of your first session, you will be asked to complete some pencil and paper questionnaires, and read and sign a consent form explaining important issues such as client confidentiality, fees, your psychologists availability, and so on.
The questionnaires are not diagnostic, but do provide a ‘psychological snapshot’ of your mental health at the time, and are a good a starting point for the assessment. This is an important baseline measure that can be used to evaluate treatment gains.
Once you have discussed your consent form and questionnaires, and any questions have been answered to your satisfaction, you and your psychologist will have a discussion (called a clinical interview) where you discuss your concerns with the psychologist.
…at the end of this clinical assessment, your psychologist will be in a position to provide you with a formulation of the problem – that is, they will explain what they believe is ‘going on’ from a psychological perspective, may provide you with a formal diagnosis if one is applicable, and will also suggest a treatment plan for your concerns.
The clinical assessment is a critical element of the work that a clinical psychologist does with you. This assessment informs any diagnosis and treatment that may follow. The assessment can take place over a number of sessions as new information you provide is incorporated into clinical decision making. This can lead to changes in the formulation of your problem, changes in the diagnosis you receive and to changes in the treatment plan that you are offered.
How much will I actually need to pay?
You should ask about the current fee at the initial contact, ie when you make your first appointment over the phone. This fee is payable by you at the end of each consultation.
If you are on a GP Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) you will receive a Medicare rebate of $124.50 per session attended.
You will be ‘out of pocket’ for the difference between the Medicare rebate and the prevailing consultation fee. The amount of this gap fee will depend which fee (rate) you are elligible for: ie Full Consultation Fee (highest gap) or Reduced Consultation Fee (eg pensioners). If you are being bulk-billed you will not have to pay a gap fee. Note that bulk billing appointments are limited and reserved only for clients who are unemployed, on benefits (eg Health Care Card holders) or in some way experiencing significant financial harship.
How do I pay for my sessions?
The practice has a HICAPS terminal to process client payments. This means that you can easily and conveniently pay for your consultations using your EFTPOS or credit card. If you have private health fund coverage, you can also claim your eligible rebate (from participating health funds only) ‘on the spot’ through the HICAPS terminal – you’ll need your health fund card for this. Please let us know on arrival if you have private health coverage. We are also able to process your Medicare rebate on the spot, which means you no longer have to wait in line at Medicare or Health Fund branches for your rebates. These are deposited into your account immediately.
How do I get a GP Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP)?
You need to make an ‘extended’ appointment with your GP, who will discuss your circumstances with you and assess you for a MHCP. If you qualify, the GP will prepare a MHCP for you. You will get a copy of this plan and you need to bring this copy to your first session with Dr Torres.
What do I need to bring to my first session?
You should bring a copy of your MHCP if you have one, as well as any referral letter from your referring practitioner. If you are being bulk-billed, or wish to claim your Medicare rebate at the clinic, you should also make sure you have your Medicare card.
How many appointments will I need?
The number of sessions required will vary according to the individual, as well as the issues involved. Generally, 4-10 sessions is reasonably standard, some individuals may only require one or two sessions on top of the assessment, where others may benefit from ongoing assistance over a longer period of time. More complex problems are likely to require more sessions.
How often will I need to attend sessions?
Mostly sessions are held on a weekly basis. This is preferable, especially initially, in order to gain and maintain momentum with therapeutic gains. However, this can be discussed with your clinician and the frequency of sessions is likely to change over time to fortnightly, or even monthly sessions. This will depend on the nature of the issues involved and the stage of therapy.
Can I be bulk-billed?
As a service to the Canberra community Dr Torres is committed to bulk-billing a percentage of his clients – currently approximately one third of all clients. The number of bulk-billed sessions available are limited, so you should discuss with Dr Torres whether or not you can be bulk-billed at your initial contact. Note that in order to be bulk-billed by Dr Torres you MUST bring a copy of your GP MHCP. If you do not have a GP MHCP, you cannot be bulk-billed. In order to qualify for bulk-billing by Dr Torres clients must hold a pension card, be unemployed, or in some way be financially disadvantaged.
Note that not all psychologists working at Capital Clinical Psychology (Deakin and Phillip clinics) necessarily bulk bill. New clients should check with their psychologist at first contact to clarify billing arrangements.
What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
A psychiatrist is a ‘medically’ trained specialist in mental disorders. A psychiatrist works using the medical model, and as such, the primary mode of intervention is pharmacology or medication. A psychologist is not a ‘medical’ specialist, and does not prescribe medication.
…clinical psychologists are specialists in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders from a psychological perspective.
This means that clinical psychologists use psychological therapies like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Schema Therapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, etc.