As much as half of all Australians have suffered from a mental health issue during their lifetime. Today, psychological care is considered an integral part of the basic healthcare that everyone should be able to receive when they need it. However, the costs of psychological care do concern some people. A lot of us tend to ask “how much does seeing a psychologist cost?” rather than going to see one straight away.
How much does seeing a psychologist cost in Australia?
The cost of seeing a psychologist varies between individual psychologists. For private psychologists, the Australian Psychology Society (APS) recommends that professionals charge $280 per 46-60 minute session for the year 2022-2023. Of course, this is just a recommendation – psychologists that have their own practices can choose their own rates.
There are many available psychologists that charge differently, and you will no doubt see a wide range of professional fees if you decide to explore your options. There are practitioners that charge as low as $150 or less per hour, but others that can charge $400 or more per hour as well.
All psychologists must meet the standards set by the Australian Board of Psychology. Each one is registered with the Board and has an obligation to keep up with the guidelines that it sets. You can rest assured that no matter who you go to, they will deliver ethical mental health care that is on par with the country’s standard quality of care.
Medicare Rebates for Psychology Sessions
Can you get Medicare rebates for sessions with a psychologist? You most certainly can! Under the Better Access initiative, psychological treatment from registered professionals can be partially or fully covered by Medicare.
Originally, you could get 10 sessions with a psychologist per year. In response to the rising need for mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of sessions that you can access Medicare rebates for was raised to 20, effective until the end of 2022.
Registered psychologists can determine their own fees. The rebates provided to you may or may not cover the cost of your sessions. It is more common that Medicare will cover a large portion, but not the total amount. Most often, you will only have to pay a manageable fee for your sessions if you are getting them through a referral from your GP.
How to Get Medicare Rebates for Seeing a Psychologist
Getting Medicare rebates starts with seeing your general practitioner, paediatrician, or psychiatrist. Like any consultation, they will ask you how you are feeling and why you came to see them. It is important to be as open as possible with your doctor so that they can get an accurate picture of your current psychological health.
To that end, they will conduct a thorough interview with you. In order to make the right diagnosis and later prescribe the right treatment, they will ask questions about the different aspects of your life. Because they will most likely want to look into the nature of your mental health concerns, the nature of their questions can be a bit personal.
After completing their assessment, they can recommend one or any of the following:
- Further psychological assessment
- Creation of a mental health treatment plan together
- Referral to a psychologist, counsellor, or other mental healthcare practitioner
- Lifestyle changes or prescription drugs to treat your assessed condition
If your doctor decides to refer you for allied mental healthcare, you will actually have to work with them to create a mental health treatment plan together. This will contain input from both you and your doctor and consists of a management plan for your mental health. Although you will usually be referred for a maximum of 6 sessions at a time, the plan entitles you to rebates on up to 20 sessions with a registered mental health professional.
Who can avail of Medicare rebated healthcare services?
Anyone that has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder will be able to get a referral from their doctor.
Some of the mental health disorders that people receive psychological care for include but are not limited to:
- Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance abuse disorder and other addiction disorders
- Eating disorders
- Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
- Phobias and panic disorder
- Sleep and sexual disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Some of the other afflictions that may make people eligible for Medicare rebates on psychological care in a similar manner are:
- Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Children with a disability
- Women worried about a current pregnancy
- People with a chronic disease
If you or anyone you know is experiencing any of these things, it would be best to consult your doctor. They will also be able to tell you more about your eligibility for Medicare rebates and the process of how you can claim them.
Other Options and Psychologist Costs
If you are planning to see a private psychiatrist and pay fully out-of-pocket, it would be best to be prepared to spend $280 per session – the price recommended by the APS. However, there are many other options that make psychological care more accessible. Aside from Medicare rebates, you may also want to look into your local community health centre, or review the coverage of your health insurance if you have purchased a plan in the past.
Mental health care is now considered an essential part of healthcare as a whole. If you or one of your loved ones is in need of psychological care, we encourage you to seek help as soon as possible.
How much does seeing a psychologist cost? How much does seeing a psychologist cost? | APS. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://psychology.org.au/psychology/about-psychology/what-it-costs
Better access to mental health care: Medicare funded services. Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative under Medicare | APS. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://psychology.org.au/psychology/medicare-rebates-psychological-services/medicare-faqs-for-the-public
Mental health care and Medicare. Mental health care and Medicare – Medicare – Services Australia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/mental-health-care-and-medicare?context=60092 Woods, J.-B., Greenfield, G., Majeed, A., & Hayhoe, B. (2020). Clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of individual mental health workers colocated within Primary Care Practices: A Systematic Literature Review. BMJ Open, 10(12). https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-042052