Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
In general terms, a psychiatrist is a doctor of medicine who has completed a medical degree as well as additional training to specialise in mental health. Like a GP, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication, however given their additional expertise in mental health, are often required to manage medicinal treatments in more complex mental health conditions, such as ADHD and Bipolar Disorder.
A psychologist is also a health professional, and also works with these complex mental health conditions, however they cannot prescribe medication. Their expertise lays in psychological assessment, formulation and intervention. For some clients, psychotherapy can be the most useful intervention.
Q. What is the difference between a clinical, general and provisional psychologist?
All of our psychologists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Australian Psychological Society (APS) as a practicing health practitioner. AHPRA oversee the training and professional practice of psychologists in Australia, ensuring a high standard of care is provided by their registered practitioners.
Becoming a Generally Registered Psychologist with AHPRA, involves the equivalent of 4 years of accredited full-time study at university and 2 years of practical training, either at university or in an approved work role.
A Clinical Psychologist has undergone additional study, training and supervision to gain an area of practice endorsement in clinical assessment and intervention. Learn more about these on the APS website.
A Provisionally Registered Psychologist has completed their accredited university study and is now working through their 2 years of practical training to attain general registration with AHPRA. This means they are closely supervised by a more experienced psychologist and undergo a series of assessment tasks, including the National Psychology Exam.
Q. Are sessions confidential?
Yes. Psi Balance Psychologists have the utmost respect for your privacy and are ethically obliged to provide confidential services. This means that if anyone enquires whether you are attending the clinic or any details about your sessions, neither Psi Balance psychologists nor reception staff will disclose such information. Written records of sessions, correspondence with doctors, psychological assessments and therapy notes are also confidential. There are limits to confidentiality, however. This means that there is a court subpoena, if you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else or have immediate suicidal intent, your psychologist may need to release information to somebody else to ensure your safety. Your psychologist will explain this at the beginning of your first session, and will answer any additional queries you have about confidentiality.
Q. Does confidentiality apply to children and adolescents?
In general terms, yes. Young people who are mature enough to provide informed consent to participate in psychological therapy are generally considered mature enough to receive a confidential service. Disclosure to a parent or legal guardian would occur only if there is a risk of harm or a court subpoena. The psychologist will explain this clearly to both the young person and their parent or legal guardian at the beginning of the first session.
Q. Can I bring my spouse, parent or friend to my consultations?
Yes. It can be reassuring to have a trusted support person present at the outset of therapy, because you may feel nervous about seeing a psychologist for the first time. As sessions progress, you will most likely feel more confident and will have developed a relationship with your psychologist. Then, it is preferable to attend sessions on your own so that you can express yourself freely and focus on your own thoughts and feelings.
Q. Can I bring my children to my therapy sessions?
We understand that having children in your care can be a barrier to attending therapy. We have no set "rules" for bringing children to the clinic or into sessions, however we do find that they can cause a distraction in sessions. Sometimes the presence of children can prevent deep sharing and emotional engagement. Therefore, we recommend attending the clinic alone, or taking advantage of our Telehealth service. We do not take responsibility for children left unattended in our waiting area.
Q. How many sessions will I need?
Seeing a psychologist is quite different to seeing many other health professionals. As a general rule, we recommend at least 6-8 sessions for new clients. This allows us to our empirically supported methods from beginning to end, which ensures you receive an "adequate dose" of therapy.
Identifying problems of the psyche is much more complex than doing a simple diagnostic assessment. Your first and likely second sessions will involve a lot of information gathering in order to formulate a picture of the problem and determining how best to intervene to elicit lasting relief. Some clients may experience a sense of relief after only a few sessions, however, for complex problems, this feeling may not be long-lasting. Therefore we recommend preparing to attend regularly over the short-term rather than sporadically so that you can experience consolidated therapeutic gains.
Q. How regularly will I attend?
Usually, clients come to sessions once a fortnight, but you can attend on a more or less frequent basis depending on your individual needs and circumstances. We do recommend booking a number of sessions in advance after your first appointment, at intervals agreed between yourself and you're clinician. This will ensure you can secure appointment times to suit your individual schedule.
Q. Do I need to take any medication?
Some people find medication is useful as part of a treatment plan that also involves psychological therapy. Others, however, find it is not useful or have a preference not to take it. Both these perspectives are fine and your psychologist will be happy to work with you, whether you are taking medications or not. There are many empirically supported medications available for the treatment of mental health conditions. The discussion about which ones to take is best had with your doctor, who will work in consultation with your psychologist. Psychologists alone are unable to prescribe medication.