some questions answered…

Do I need a referral?
No, you don’t need a referral - isn't that great! You simply contact me to book an appointment - you can ring, text or email - it’s that easy.

How long is a ‘session’?
Allow an hour for your individual counselling session. Sometimes my clients prefer 90 minute or even 2 hour sessions - I always try to make therapy fit my client’s needs and not the other way round! However I find it usually best to allow 90 minutes for all couple sessions so that both parties can access and voice their feelings and needs in a safe, empathic and supportive space.

How many sessions will I need?
No two people are the same - nor are their issues. As a rule of thumb, most people require at least 3 - 6 sessions but I have known some people to gain immediate relief and change from just one counselling session. If the problems are serious, complicated or entrenched ways of being, counselling may occur over several months. But together, we look at this after a few sessions. I shall always be transparent with you about what I believe is playing into a situation and what is required to relieve that problem. It is then your choice how we structure the counselling to help create the changes.

Do you have ‘after hours’ appointments?
Yes, I try to have a variety of session times to accommodate a variety of client needs. I also work Saturdays. If clients are extremely busy and time poor, I offer intensive weekend therapy, either in my home, their home, or at a relaxing destination of their choice.

Does it mean I am weak if I need counselling?
Do you know anyone who hasn’t needed some help, advice or support sometime in their life? Neither do I! It can take a lot of courage to admit you have a problem and even more to seek help for it. So if you are seeking counselling it means you are not only brave but also wise enough to ask for help - something to be proud of, don’t you think?

I’m scared I’ll break down if I start talking about all this stuff …
Lots of people are scared to be vulnerable and to talk about what’s bothering them. They often think something must be terribly wrong with them. Others just blame everyone else for their hurt rather than cry their tears of pain and frustration. We have all learned ways to cope with difficulties and not crying may be one of yours. But if you knew just how many people finally feel safe enough to let it all out in my counselling room … and just how better they felt for those tears shed … well if you knew that, you wouldn't be worrying at all about a few tears that speak what words can’t say.

What if I don't know what to tell you or have trouble talking?
That’s totally ok - I know this can be a huge step. It’s my job to help you understand what might be playing into your problem, to ask the questions so that we both feel sure we understand what is going on. When talking is just too difficult, I can use other therapies that allow you to express your feelings and needs clearly. Sometimes this might be the first time a client truly sees what the problem is - all they knew when they sought counselling was that they didn't want to feel like this any longer.

Do I need to bring anything?
No … just bring yourself. However if there are things you think are important for me to see, and that pertain to your issues or problem, by all means, bring them along. 

What if I can’t get to see you face to face?
Many people look forward to the quiet space of a face to face session in my counselling room. but for others this is not the best option. Perhaps they can’t easily get to my room, perhaps they have young children or a baby or are caring for a loved one and can’t so easily leave the house. Perhaps they are in rural or remote Australia, interstate, or overseas. Or perhaps they just feel terribly shy or are house bound. In these circumstances online video link sessions are a wonderful alternative. So many first time online clients are surprised and comment on just how warm they felt our online connection was. So face to face, video link and even online chat or email counselling all have their place in supporting my clients. I have used all of these modalities with wonderful therapeutic outcomes. I can also, in special circumstances, offer home visits.

We live in rural Australia and getting regular good counselling is impossible … can you help us?
Yes, I can ensure you have access to good quality counselling. Sometimes it is easier and cheaper for me to fly to your family rather than everyone trying to come to me. This means you pay for my travelling and accommodation costs (I have lived in the bush and can handle most situations!) and that way I can work with several family members intensively. After the initial visit I can usual support change via online, phone or email counselling.

Does anyone else see the notes you take?
Confidentiality is pivotal to successful counselling and that includes the notes of your session. I do not share your notes with anyone unless you request that I liaise with other medical practitioners to help you achieve optimal mental and physical health. On rare occasions my notes may be subpoenaed by a court. I am always mindful of what and how I write in my notes, protecting the welfare of my clients.

Do you offer Mental Health Plans or rebates from private health insurers?
I hold Provider Numbers with the following private health insurers:

Medibank : A113581K

BUPA : J115023

Doctor’s Health : no number required

Police Health : AC02422T

However, it is still really wise for you to check with your provider that they do cover ‘counselling sessions with a Master’s level counsellor’, not just sessions with a psychologist. If your private health provider is not on this list, it is still worth contacting them to see if your level of cover provides a rebate on counselling as many do without requiring a specific provider number. (May I also suggest, that if your provider doesn’t offer a rebate, question them as to why not? Or you can simply vote with your dollars and shift to a provider that does cover counselling.)

Unfortunately my fees are not eligible for a Medicare rebate. You can gain 6 sessions for specific psychological therapies (such as CBT) after gaining a GP referral to a psychologist for your diagnosed mental illness. You may receive a further 4 sessions by revisiting your doctor but from there on, you will be charged higher psychologist fees to continue counselling with that provider. Relationship counselling is not recognised within the medicare rebate scheme - My therapeutic focus is not on a mental illness but rather on holistic mental and relational wellness. We hope to soon also have the government on board with this wellness, rather than illness, mental health viewpoint!

How do I make a complaint if there is something troubling or upsetting for me in my counselling experience?

This is a really important question. I want your sessions to professionally and ethically meet your needs. That’s why, from the very first session, I am regularly checking on your welfare. As well as observing your body language and listening to how you are verbally responding in session, I also will directly ask you what you liked, and more importantly, what you didn’t like about your session. I totally welcome any negative feedback, because it allows me to provide the best counselling I can to suit your needs. I also encourage every client to text or email me, if giving negative feedback face to face is challenging for them.

However, I also want you to know that your rights are protected and you can contact the Health Complaints Commissioner via email http://www.vic.gov.au or via phone 1300582113.

You can also contact The Australian Counselling Association at https://www.theaca.net.au/contact.php or 1300 784 333 to discuss your issues. My practitioner ID number is 2422.

Of course I’m really hoping you and I can discuss things to get your needs best met. Whilst none of us welcome a break down in therapeutic relationship, the reconnection of that relationship can provide pivotal therapeutic healing for a client. So please don’t stress about it too much … tell me what’s troubling you, so together we can fix it.