Mental Health and Substance Use Support

Frequently Asked Questions...

  • I used to see a psychologist at the Richmond Office, what should I do now?
    The Richmond office for Choices Mind & Body will be closed permanently as of 31st March 2015. You can continue to work with Dr Sonia Zammit if you are able to travel to the deer park office. If this is not convenient for you, it is recommended that you speak to your GP or contact Dr Sonia Zammit to obtain information for alternate referral options which may be more convenient. Once you have obtained an appointment with a new psychologist you can also contact your psychologist directly, (or Dr Sonia Zammit who can assist to contact your prior psychologist) to request transfer of relevant information to your new psychologist. We apologise for any inconvenience which may be caused due to the closure of the Richmond office. For further referral and support options, including for any crisis support see Here
  • What if I need to reschedule an appointment or can no longer attend
    Please contact either the office you are planning to attend, or your psychologist by mobile, text message or email as soon as possible. We will be able to help you to reschedule your appointment and find a more appropriate time. However please remember there are cancellation /non attendance fees of 50% of your full consultation fee with less than 48hrs notice. If it is an emergency or extreme circumstances please ensure you discuss these with your psychologist.
  • Can I still attend if I have an outstanding fee
    Yes, please do not let outstanding cancellation or non-attendance fees prevent you from accessing support. Your psychologist can help develop an achievable payment plan if this is necessary as you continue to attend treatment. However please note that if you have rescheduled with less than 48hours notice or not attended for 3 sessions in a row or this occurs regularly, your psychologist may discuss alternate treatment options which may improve your access to support and help you avoid accumulating large debts.
  • What shall I bring to the first session?
    Please bring any referral information to your first session, and the means to make full payment for your consultation (unless bulk billing or other means of payment has been already arranged)
    To claim a Medicare rebate for the sessions - letters of referral, a copy of your mental health care plan and your Medicare card is necessary.
    Details of your TAC or work cover claim and number if these are relevant to you.
    It can be helpful to think about what you would like to achieve from the sessions – your goals and how you would like your life to be different. Feel free to make some notes and bring these along to the first session.
    It may be helpful to bring past support letters or reports from prior treatment or assessments as they will support your psychologist to develop an appropriate treatment plan.
  • What happens at the initial assessment session?
    You will be asked to complete a patient registration form with general demographic details. You will also be provided with forms detailing how your personal information is held, privacy information, and confidentiality agreements. You will also be given some brief questionnaires which may help the psychologist understand the difficulties that have brought you to the session. You will have an opportunity to discuss these with your psychologist.
    Your psychologist will review any referral letters you have, and will require a copy of your mental health care plan, chronic disease management plan, TAC or Worksafe claim number if you would like to claim associated rebates or funding.
    The main aims of the initial assessment session are to: discuss the issues that have brought you to seek support, to explore how we can support, and to give you an opportunity to see if you feel personally comfortable with your particular psychologist. You will likely be asked a series of questions about the main problems that you have been experiencing including your feelings, physical symptoms, thoughts, and what you have been doing to cope. We will likely discuss the impact on your daily life and what stressful events you may have experienced in the years prior to the problems developing. We will also attempt to cover your family and medical history, your relationships, your interests and any past support you have received. At the end of the session there will be a brief discussion of the a general treatment plan and to check that you feel your psychologist has identified a helpful approach for future sessions. Depending on how things go, some of the above information may be collected across a number of sessions.
    You will be asked to finalised the payment for the consultation at the end of the session and offered your next appointment time if you would like to book another appointment.
  • How long are the sessions?
    All sessions, including the initial assessment, are 50 minutes duration.
  • How many sessions will I need to attend?
    It depends on the complexity of the problems that you are experiencing as well as how chronic the issues are. Following an initial comprehensive assessment your psychologist will aim to develop an individual treatment plan which can assist them to guide treatment sessions to meet your priorities and goals. Your psychologist can discuss the length of treatment or number of sessions based on this plan. The number of sessions may also be influenced by the type of referral you have received to help you pay for consultations. While you are welcome to continue to attend private consultations, we understand that due to financial limitations you may need to based attendance to treatment on accessibility to rebates and funding sources. Your psychologist will help develop a plan that sets reasonable treatment goals based on the number of sessions you can access.
  • How is the information I disclose in session kept private
    For a copy of our forms which further explain our Policy for management of Personal information and confidentiality agreements please see below. They will be adapted slightly for your specific psychologist or if you receive services using TAC or Workcover funding. You will be asked to view and sign the confidentiality form on your first visit along with some other forms. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us or please ensure you discuss these with your psychologist. Your psychologist will also generally seek written consent to speak with another person, including your GP. Please note that many referrals which assist access to medicare rebates or funding via TAC or work cover immediately provide consent for communication with referral and funding sources.

    For further information regarding how psychologists are required to handle your personal information, as well as your rights as a mental health consumer the following links may be of assistance

    Victorian Privacy Act and Principles - http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/privacy-act/the-privacy-act
    Mental Health Act - http://www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/mhactreform/
  • Is there any circumstance where a psychologist would speak with someone without my permission.
    Your psychologist is bound by strict confidentiality and privacy laws. Generally they will not speak with anyone without your permission, and will often obtain written consent to do so. Please note that many referrals which assist access to medicare rebates or funding via TAC or work cover immediately provide consent for communication with referral and funding sources. For any concerns speak with your psychologist. Psychologist also have an ethical obligation to protect an individuals and the communities safety. Therefore there may be some extreme circumstances when they may have permission to breech your confidentiality without your full permission. For details of these circumstances see forms above detailing how your personal information is held.
  • How do I know it will be helpful? / what if I’m not finding it helpful or I don’t like my Psychologist?
    It is hard to know if treatment or a particular Psychologist’s style will be helpful for you until you attend treatment. After all we are all human and we don’t feel comfortable with everyone we meet. Psychologist at Choices Mind & Body use evidence based treatment approaches, which means there has been research indicating the particular therapy style is more likely to be helpful for particular difficulties. However it is important that you feel comfortable to tell your psychologist if you do not feel your treatment is helping, if you do not like something that is occurring in treatment, or do not feel comfortable working with your psychologist. Your psychologist will not be offended by this conversation. Rather they will discuss with you options to change the particular approach being utilised to better meet your needs. Or alternatively they may discuss referral to alternate services which may better meet your needs and help facilitate these.