Counselling, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy can seem scary for anyone, and its common to be unsure about how the process works and what to expect. This FAQ answers some of the most common questions people ask, and we hope it answers yours.
But, if you still have questions, or would like to know more about our counselling services, please feel free to contact us.
What does therapy cost?
- Individual counselling, hypnotherapy and psychotherapy services are 50 minutes long at $140 per session.
- For couples counselling, sessions are 55 minutes and cost $150 per session.
Is Medicare or private health rebates available?
Our services do not include Medicare rebates. However, we believe this actually frees us to be more flexible with the counselling methods we can practice (we are not limited to providing only the psychological approaches Medicare will fund which isn't necessarily the best intervention for each person). Instead, we tailor psychotherapy methods that we believe will help each individual achieve long term improvement, symptom relief and deep self-understanding. Further, the existing Medicare scheme offers very limited rebates, rarely adequate to treat longstanding issues.
If you need financial assistance, check your private health coverage. Some private health rebates may be available depending on the level of health coverage you have and the professional you see. You may also be eligible for tax relief after exceeding a certain threshold, if you have a doctor's referral; check with your accountant. Because we understand that long term change takes persistence, we do our best to keep our rates affordable.
In some instances, depending on the therapist you see, your circumstances, and how much commitment to therapy is demonstrated, a negotiation of the standard fee might be possible after a number of preliminary sessions.
Do you charge for missed sessions?
Yes. Sessions need to be regarded with priority from both participants in order to be of lasting value. Cancellations and no shows are not respectful to the therapists time, result in decresed treatment effectiveness, and deprive other patients. Our cancellation policy is based on years of experience in the field, which of course differs from how other professionals operate (GPs, accountants, lawyers etc), who may be able to be flexible with cancellations. We can only work effectively with people who value our time and take responsibility for any time set aside. Full session fees are payable for cancellations made within three full business days of a booking. We reserve the right to increase the minimum notice period on a case by case basis or as a whole.
We appreciate, especially with psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, that the length and frequency required is quite a financial investment. However it's striking how frequently people spend money on items they call 'wasteful' or 'excessive' yet are reluctant to invest in themselves in a meaningful way. As Freud explained, there's nothing so expensive as (psychological) illness. Put differently, the costs of continuing to suffer in the same way are often a lot higher compared with the advantages of engagement in treatment. Counselling or psychotherapy is an investment in yourself (which for some, is no easy proposition!), and if necessary, for those with a genuine desire to engage in treatment, fees may be negotiable. It never ceases to amaze us though how stringent some people are about therapy fees yet think less cautiously (if at all) about spending on items which they don’t necessarily want or that actually cause harm.
Are you qualified to provide counselling?
Yes. Each therapist at Bayside Psychotherapy has both a university degree and extensive experience working with a wide variety of conditions. You can visit our staff page to find out more about our Melbourne psychotherapists and some of the techniques and methods they use. Each counsellor has access to a network of mental health specialists for purposes of making referrals where applicable. All of our counsellors undergo regular supervision which is a requirement for them to maintain their registration to practice.
Can you help me?
More often than not, we can help. While we'd like to help everyone, we assess people's suitability for counselling and psychotherapy during initial sessions. If we don't take you on, we will help you find someone better suited to help you. Remember: it's not because you're not intelligent enough, or are unworthy of our help. It's because we want what's best for you.
We also know it can be hard to get help if you live outside the local area or find it difficult to travel, but we'd still like to help. If you meet our criteria for treatment, but can't attend counselling services in Melbourne, you can qualify for our Skype counselling services.
What about confidentiality? Are the things we talk about kept private?
Everything said during your counselling sessions is held in complete confidence. We will never share information about you with others unless we absolutely have to. (We must report risks of suicide, homicide or incidents of child abuse.) We also can't guarantee the security of the connections during Skype counselling sessions.
If a family member asks about your therapy, we will speak to you before talking to them. You decide what or how much we should tell them. And if you don't want them to know anything, we won't tell them anything (unless there's a risk of suicide, homicide or child abuse).
There's also no mandatory reporting to your GP (with extreme exceptions, of course). This means people can engage in a process of therapy without the demand to have a GP diagnose them with a mental illness, documented in their medical record.
Will I be criticized, judged or forced to talk about things I don't want to discuss?
Our role as your Melbourne counsellor is not to judge you or force you to talk about anything you don't want to discuss. You're free to share whatever you like, and whatever the topic is you can be assured it will be discussed in a healthy and helpful way.
Treatment isn't always an effortless or easy process. Anxiety, painful thoughts, sensitive feelings, and relationship patterns will surface, but these generally indicate progress and are not something to worry about. If painful feelings do surface, we can teach you a special mindfulness meditation technique to help you manage your feelings, and in turn, encourage you to explore them. Besides, as the famous analyst Carl Jung says, 'you can't defeat an enemy you don't know exists.'
How many sessions of psychotherapy or counselling will I need?
In general, it depends how ingrained problematic patterns are, and which therapist you see. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know beforehand and it can take one or a few sessions to get a realistic idea of how much time treatment will take. Each case is considered based on its specificity of the individual rather than specific symptoms. It depends on many variables, such as how willing people are to work on their issues, how ingrained the issues are and more importantly, how curious people become in their own minds. It's understandable why people want their symptoms to go away quickly - as human beings we are designed to avoid pain and seek things that make us feel good. But, pressure to change is more likely to add frustration rather than help your cause. Healing and growth happen at their own pace and it can be unproductive to try and speed up the process.
In our experience, some patients who only receive short-term care can relapse in the future, especially if their symptoms and problems are longstanding. We may not be the cheapest or recommend the shortest treatment times, but we are completely committed to providing thorough, quality services. We are with you for the whole journey, for however long it takes. All you have to do is keep turning up and we will be there for you. Many people continue after 10 sessions. That being said, there's nothing wrong with shorter-term treatment if you can't afford longer term psychotherapy. And of course, some people do not require longer term therapy either.
How often do I have to participate in therapy in order to benefit?
It depends on the therapist. The average is weekly, yet some people attend more frequently than that. Others fortnightly. The question of frequency will be thought about together with your therapist based not on what is average but rather your unique circumstances. It's a collaborative consideration, rather than prescriptive. We believe lasting change and deep improvements in self-esteem (not some fleeting 'self-help' kind of band-aid) generally arises from engaging with frequent, consistent sessions. In general, the more seriously you take the treatment, the more priority you ascribe, the more you will benefit.
Isn't therapy just talking? How does that help me? I already know everything about my childhood.
Do you? Are you sure? People who think they know all about a specific problem or condition have generally gone through counselling before. They've probably pondered, dwelled, and repeatedly analysed their situation. Unfortunately, it often also means they haven't uncovered or dealt with the core issues. It doesn't mean that what you've done in the past hasn't been important or useful. But what if there is more to add to the story?
Psychotherapy sessions might seem like nothing more than a casual chat, but it's actually what Freud called 'the talking cure' (psychoanalysis). This is nothing like chatting with family or friends. Instead, your psychotherapist will look for clues that can only be found through language. Having your deepest thoughts understood, validated and interpreted in a safe and healthy environment can also enhance your feelings of security and self-worth.
In short, the family and culture of language that surrounded you while growing up may have made you ill, but it is also through language, that is, speaking freely, that can help you get well.
Can my friend or partner be with me during the sessions?
That is completely up to you. However unlike couples counselling, individual Psychotherapy generally works best when no one else is in the session. We prefer to focus on you as an individual, and that means being as free as possible from other's expectations, desires or demands (regardless of how helpful the other's contribution might be, personal space and boundaries are critical in psychotherapy).
Despite your conscious intentions, having a partner or friend present could influence what you disclose and censor and lead to subtle (or not so subtle) attempts to please or frustrate the other person (instead of engaging in real therapeutic work), ensuring that the therapy is defeated and you remain stuck, unwell and unhappy.
However should you wish to bring someone to one or more of your counselling sessions, please discuss this first with your therapist.
If you need (or want) to speak to a couples or marriage counsellor in Melbourne, we have therapists who specialise in those methods. Check availability for relationship therapy with us by calling 9557 9113.
What about medication or seeing another counsellor?
You're in complete control of the treatment process. Some people choose to combine medication and therapy, and that's okay, as long as it's been carefully considered with your GP or psychiatrist. But, we don't support or advise against medication -- we feel it's something you should discuss with your doctor or psychiatrist.
You're welcome to see another therapist or professional while receiving treatment from Bayside Psychotherapy. However, be aware this isn't always helpful. Professionals can have different philosophies and theoretical orientations that don't always work well together, even if both methodologies are effective. In fact, it could actually slow down your progress.
This is an emergency. Can you help?
We are not a crisis clinic, and therefore, can't help you in an emergency. Contact Lifeline for free 24 hour emergency support.
Ready to get help? Have more questions for us? Contact us now to learn more about the services offered by Bayside Psychotherapy. Bookings do not require a referral. Please call us on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if we can help. Your call is completely confidential, and there's absolutely no obligation.