What is a Psychologist?
Psychologists are experts in human behaviour, having studied the brain, memory, learning, human development and the processes determining how people think, feel, behave and react at Universities for 4 to 7 years. Psychologists apply their expertise using reliable and scientifically supported methods. Psychological therapies are widely used to treat individuals and families and can also be applied to groups and organisations. There are many reasons why people consult a psychologist.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists and psychiatrists both work in the area of mental health, and often work together. However, there are some significant differences between the two professions in qualifications.
Psychologists study human behavior in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience and gaining registration. They do not have a medical degree; however, many have postgraduate qualifications to specialise in various aspects of psychology, including mental illness.
Psychiatrists have a medical degree, which involves six years of studying general medicine, followed by further study to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and emotional problems.
To learn more about Psychologist you can go to the Australian Psychological Association.
What is a Registered Psychologist?
To call yourself a ‘Psychologist’ in Australia you are required by law to be registered (in the same way that medical practitioners or solicitors must be registered). The organisation that oversees this process of registration, and keeps a register of psychologists, is the Psychology Board of Australia.
The Registration Board consider all relevant education, training and work experience for approval of registration. The minimum requirement is an accredited four-year undergraduate course majoring in psychology. To obtain a registration as a Clinical Psychologist you need to have obtained an accredited two year Master of Psychology degree or 3-5 years of doctoral level professional postgraduate program.
In addition to maintain the registration, every year you need to have accumulated 30 hours of additional accredited training and supervision to further knowledge and skills.
All psychologists are legally required to register with the Psychologist Registration Board in Australia, in the same way medical practitioners must be registered. This means that they must be competent and follow a strict Code of Conduct.
Not all counselors or therapists are registered psychologists. Seeing someone who is registered ensures you receive high quality ethical treatment.
Does the Medicare Safety Net apply to my out-of-pocket expenses under this initiative?
Yes. You are responsible for paying any charges in excess of the Medicare rebate for treatment under this initiative. However, these out-of-pocket expenses will count towards the Medicare Safety Net. The Medicare Safety Net is designed to protect high users of health services from large out-of-pocket expenses.
For more information on the Medicare Safety Net, go to www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.
What about my private health insurance?
You cannot use your private health insurance ancillary cover to top up the Medicare rebates for these services. You need to decide if you will use Medicare or your private health insurance ancillary cover to pay for psychological services you receive. You can either access rebates from Medicare by following the claiming process or claim where available on your insurer’s ancillary benefits.
- More about Psychologists
- Psychology Board of Australia (AHPRA)
- Medicare Rebate Fact sheet
- Medicare Australia Website