Frequently Asked Questions

WHAT IS TELEHEALTH?
Telehealth is a method of distance therapy delivered using the Internet. Telehealth that is now covered under Medicare includes videoconferencing and phone calls.

Your psychologist will conduct the telehealth session in the same confidential way as face-to-face session by using a private location and using headphones. No voice or videorecording of the session is allowed to protect confidentiality.

WHAT IS TELEHEALTH SUITABLE FOR?
Telehealth is suitable to help clients with difficulties relating to mood disturbances, stress management, anxiety, trauma, addiction, grief and loss and adjustment to life transitions.

Telehealth is NOT SUITABLE if you are in crisis, or if you are suicidal, actively self-harming, dissociative, experiencing psychosis, or have severe eating disorders. Safe Haven is not a crisis service and will not be able to respond to needs of clients in cases of emergency. Please see bottom page ‘Quick Links’ Emergency Contacts for appropriate services.

HOW DOES TELEHEALTH WORK?
Video conferencing is generally the preferred method of telehealth as it enables two-way visual and audio interactions with your psychologist. Zoom, a video communications platform will be used for the purpose of videoconferencing. Zoom is secure and compliant with all health standards (including HIPAA). A private link will be sent to your email within 24 hours of the appointment – you will not need to sign up for any account. It should load automatically with any digital device when you click on the link and it is recommended that your device has a front facing camera for video viewing (eg. smartphone, iPad/tablet, computer with a camera, microphone and speakers/earphones).

Alternatively, you can opt for phone session and your psychologist will ring you at the appointed time from a private number. In case of a technology or internet failure, the session will automatically be continued via phone session.

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT USING TELEHEALTH?

Pros of using telehealth include:

  • Access to your therapist from the comfort of your own home or office
  • Convenient as you save travel time if you have a busy schedule
  • More comfortable for those who find it confronting to meet a therapist face-to-face
  • Safe and adhering to social distancing during COVID-19 to avoid the risk of exposure

Cons of using telehealth include:

  • May find that it takes some time to connect with your psychologist compared to face-to-face
  • Technical issues may occur such as internet or computer problems which can disrupt the flow of the session
  • Clients need to discuss concerns more openly to avoid any misunderstandings as your psychologist may miss verbal or non-verbal cues as they are not in the same room
  • There is an inherent risk of using video conferencing software and Internet service, whereby someone could hack or tap into the video connection even if the program has end-to-end encryption and high-security standard as with any other Internet-related threat
  • Certain therapy techniques which require contact and real-time interactions cannot be used
WHAT IS BULK-BILLED?

Australians and Permanent Residents who have a Medicare card are eligible to get a Mental Heatlh Care Plan (MHCP) from their GP. With a valid referral letter and MHCP plan in place, you can have up to 10 sessions per calendar year with a registered psychologist and you will not be charged for your appointment – this is a Bulk-Billed session.

You must email a copy of your referral letter and Mental Health Care Plan to [email protected] before your first appointment to be Bulk-Billed.

HOW DO I CANCEL MY APPOINTMENT?
You may reschedule or cancel your appointment for any reason with 24 hours’ notice at no cost to you by emailing [email protected]

Late cancellations or no show will incur a charge for session to your credit/debit card details taken at the time of booking.

WHY DO I NEED A GP REFERRAL?

No, you do not need a referral to have an appointment with your psychologist. However, you will need to consult your GP to get a valid referral to a psychologist if you wish to receive the Medicare rebate ($128.40) or if you are Bulk-Billed as part of the Medicare requirement. You do not need to consult your GP if you are a Private Paying Client or if you choose to use your Private Health Fund cover. 

Please note that you cannot claim BOTH Medicare and Private Health Fund for the same session. Most clients may choose to use all 10 Medicare sessions and then claim subsequent appointments via private health funds.

HOW MANY SESSIONS DO I NEED?
You can access up to 10 sessions per calendar year under Medicare. The first referral covers 6 sessions and you will do a review with your GP should you choose to continue with further 4 sessions. Each clients’ needs are different and your psychologist will be able to discuss session planning with you according to your therapy goals.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR A SESSION?

The usual cost for a 60-minute online consultation session is $150. If you are Bulk-Billed, there is no cost to you.  

Standard face-to-face 60-minutes consultations are now available for $180. After hours appointments incur a surcharge of $200. Extended 90-minutes consultations are also available upon request with your clinician. 

Active session time generally runs for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, the remaining time is taken to prepare for your session and update progress notes after the session.

WHY DO I NEED TO GIVE MY CREDIT/DEBIT CARD DETAILS?

Your credit/debit card details is taken at the time of booking to ensure that clients are accountable for their sessions and will not be used for any other reasons other than:

  1. If you are a Bulk-Billed client and Medicare finds you are not eligible for the service as your GP has not lodged your Mental Health Care Plan, your credit/debit card will be billed the amount for the appointment ($128.40),
  2. For any late cancellation charges with less than 24 hours’ notice prior to the appointment time, the full amount for the appointment will be charged which is not claimable with Medicare.
WHAT IF I AM CONCERNED ABOUT USING THE VIDEO COMMUNICATION SOFTWARE?

Zoom is the option that Safe Haven is currently using and we have had no issue with confidentiality and security thus far. There is a risk to using  any technology or software and we appreciate that clients want the best option for them.

To read more about Zoom’s privacy and security policies, please see here.

Alternatively, clients can opt for a phone session until they are more familiar with the program and the risks associated with the program.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM MY INITIAL APPOINTMENT?

It is very normal to feel a bit nervous and unsure about how the session will go. Your psychologist is trained to make you feel comfortable and you will generally warm up after introductions, and discussion about consent, confidentiality and privacy agreements. 

The first session is known as the ‘initial assessment’ appointment whereby the psychologist will ask you about your reason for seeking therapy, presenting complaints, background history, and the goal of therapy to understand your therapeutic needs. Towards the end of the session, the psychologist will present to you their formulation of the treatment plan and discuss options that will be suitable for you. It is also very common for some people to feel that they have not been able to talk about all the problems in detail, but you will have the opportunity to cover them in subsequent consultations. 

HOW CAN I GET STARTED?

If you are new or visiting our website, we welcome you to Safe Haven Psychology.

There are 5 simple steps for you to understand how we can arrange a session in our Getting Started page.