Reasons to think outside mental health plans for therapy

Life is hard. Let’s face it, even at times, it’s downright dreadful! It has this way of throwing everything at us all at once. We try and lean sideways to dodge it. Sometimes we are winners, and other times, it hits us like a pie in the face.

We are constantly told talking about our emotions and feelings is normal and important. There is truth in that, and we must be okay with expressing what hurts us. We know who we talk to makes all the difference.

The most used option is a trip to your GP to request a mental health plan under the better health scheme. Realistically, why not? You are eligible for a few free or cheaper sessions. It’s a no-brainer, right? Sometimes though, it’s not always the right choice.

When you have a persistent sense of heartbreak and gutwrench, the physical sensations become intolerable and we will do anything to make those feelings disappear. And that is really the origin of what happens in human pathology. People take drugs to make it disappear, and they cut themselves to make it disappear, and they starve themselves to make it disappear, and they have sex with anyone who comes along to make it disappear and once you have these horrible sensations in your body, you’ll do anything to make it go away.

Bessel A. van der Kolk

What are your options?

Currently, under the medicare scheme in Australia, psychologists and mental health social workers can accept a mental health plan entitling you to 10 sessions per calendar year. Predominately, there is a gap fee and a waiting list to see a psychologist.

The alternative is you can access counsellors or psychotherapists. If you are concerned about qualifications, this is displayed on their website, or you can ask. Many counsellors and psychotherapists are highly trained and have similar qualifications to registered psychologists, and most are trained in specialist fields instead of generalists.

Before getting a mental health plan, there is information you need to be aware of.

The medical model

For a psychologist to obtain payment for your session from the government, they are usually required to list a code for a diagnosis. Under the scheme guidelines, the diagnosis will stay on your case file with Medicare. This is problematic as you may not need a diagnosis.

Sometimes we are going through a few things and need some help to process them or move forward. Big feelings or emotions are normal when experiencing grief, loss, relationship stress, work stress, or illness. These emotions will be anxiety, sadness, anger, fear, hopelessness, and depression. It is important to understand these feelings are expected and come and go with what is happening in our life. They do not always mean you have a mental illness or need to be diagnosed with one to get help from a therapist.

Your treatment plans are limited

The treatment choice under a mental health care plan is CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). For some people, this works well; for others, it doesn’t. Therapy is not a one size fits all model.

Psychotherapists and counsellors are trained to look beyond the here and now. They will listen to your health concerns and rule them out first or work with them on a mind, body, and soul treatment plan. It is important to look at everything around you, even to travel back in time and explore your childhood or how trauma is passed through the generations.

There are many other treatment styles available. Psychotherapists and counsellors are trained to explore many of them at once. Furthermore, YOU are in control of your treatment. We will work with you and give you options for your treatment.

Registration with the Australian Counselling Association or PACFA requires ongoing clinical supervision and training. You can be confident your psychotherapist or counsellor is well prepared and highly trained.

Duty to disclose

Your diagnosis will be permanently stored on the Medicare database. Insurance companies can access your records and adjust your premiums if requested.

Working outside the medical model means your information is bound under the client-therapist confidentiality agreement. We do not report to anyone outside of our practice unless court-ordered.

You can choose your therapist

Research shows the relationship between client and therapist is the most important aspect of your therapy. Having a chat with a potential therapist allows you to feel confident in who you will be working with before you commit to sessions.

You can email, look at their website, check their socials, or even ring for a quick chat before booking an appointment. If you feel a little nervous about your session, this can assist in minimising any discomfort.

Relationship and marriage counselling

Relationship or marriage counselling is currently not available under a mental health plan. Therapists must be trained to work with couples, and doctors are more likely to refer to psychologists trained for individuals.

Therapy is a personal journey. Exercise your right to choose what that therapy looks like. It can be the difference in how your healing looks. Find a therapist who you feel comfortable with and who aligns with your values. You have the choice.

If you would like more information, reach out today.

Kellie Payne Psychotherapist and Counsellor, Midland, Perth

About the author

Kellie Sheldon is the owner and operator of Kellie Sheldon Trauma and Sex Counselling in Midland, Western Australia. She holds a Master of Counselling Practice from Tabor College in Perth. Specialising in trauma and sexual therapy, she focuses on aiding adults in forming secure connections. With a particular interest in kink, BDSM and trauma, she is adept in techniques like EMDR to assist clients in processing negative and traumatic memories. Kellie is a firm advocate for therapy's potential to alleviate symptoms stemming from childhood or relationship trauma. Her primary goal is to accompany her clients on their journey toward healing, recognising that healing involves not just addressing past events but also acknowledging what hasn't occurred.

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