What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?

Psychiatrists are medical specialists, just like obstetricians, paediatricians or dermatologists. They study for six years to obtain a general medical degree, and thenundertake a compulsory period of general medical and surgical practice before completing further study to gain additional qualifications in the area of mental health. They can prescribe medication and use therapy-based and other psychosocial strategies to treat mental illnesses and other mental health problems. Psychiatrists, like other medical specialists, can only take patients on referral from another medical practitioner and their fees are partially subsidised by Medicare.

Psychologists receive graduate training in psychology and have expertise in the area of human behaviour. They do not have medical degrees and are unable to prescribe medications. Their treatments are based on changing behaviour and thinking styles and developing improved strategies for dealing with problematic situations.

Psychiatrists and psychologists often work closely together, depending on the patient’s needs.

How do I make an appointment?

You will need to consult with your general practitioner to obtain a referral. Your GP will be able to assist you in deciding which doctor best suits your reason for visit or they can make an open referral to our clinic.

We ask that you, or your GP, send your referral to the clinic, by post, fax or email for consideration prior to being offered an appointment. This ensures you are matched with an appropriate doctor to attend to your treatment needs.

Should an individual's reason for referral lie outside the doctor’s particular skill base, this process provides the doctor the opportunity to refer onto a colleague with specialty knowledge in that area and also allows them to triage people in terms of urgency of their review.

When sending your referral to the clinic, please ensure your contact details are clearly marked so reception staff can contact you to make an appointment once it has been reviewed and signed off by a doctor.

Please note, due to the recent increased demand for mental health services, the submission of a referral does not always guarantee an appointment and some waiting times are lengthy. In the event that none of our doctors are able to accept your referral, we will advise your referring GP so that alternate arrangements can be made with them.

Why do I need a referral?

Referrals are an important information source that assist us by outlining the reasons for an appointment, indicate which treatments may be required, whether the referral is appropriate for the clinic and whether the doctor has the capacity to provide ongoing treatment if required.

Should an individual's reason for referral lie outside the doctor’s particular skill base, the review process provides the doctor the opportunity to consider the treatment requirement, minimize the delay until an appointment can be made and triage the urgency.

Also, in order to be eligible to receive a rebate from Medicare for your appointments with our doctors, a valid referral must be provided, and may need to be repeated throughout the course of treatment. Please note, it is the patient’s responsibility to ensure referrals are valid and up to date for claiming purposes.

For Referrers of New Patients

Where possible, we prefer referrals to be sent through Medical Objects.

Please note for privacy reasons, if your referral is addressed to a specific doctor and this doctor is unable to accept the referral, we will seek to gain consent from yourself or the patient prior to the referral being passed to any other doctor within the clinic. If you wish for your referral to be passed onto available doctors within the clinic, please ensure you notate this on the referral.

What do I need to bring to the first appointment?

Please remember to bring your doctors referral letter if it has not already been received by the clinic. This referral enables you to claim a rebate from Medicare.

Please bring our Medicare card with you to your first appointment and ensure your bank account details are registered with Medicare if you wish for us to claim your Medicare rebate for you.

If you are already prescribed any medications, or take non-prescription preparations, it might be helpful to bring a list or even the medications along as well, regardless of whether or not they appear to be related to your mental or emotional state.

If you have a lot to talk about, or have a lot of questions to ask, it may help to jot them down before the first (or any subsequent) session and bring them along.

What can I expect at the first appointment?

It can be a bit intimidating for most people to come to see a psychiatrist for the first time, but you probably won’t find it as daunting as you might think. We ask that you arrive 5 - 10 minutes before your appointment time to complete a small amount of paperwork. In most instances, the first appointment usually lasts up to 60 minutes and you will receive feedback at the end of that session regarding moving forward.

What are the treatment costs?

This practice sets its fees based upon the recommended rates published by the Australian Medical Association. Some consultants in the clinic work with their own fee structures and may grant a concession for health care card holders. Any variation or discount on the AMA rate will need to be discussed directly with your doctor at the initial appointment. All fees are recalculated on the 1st November each year, in line with the AMA fee indexing.

Please note: This is not a bulk billing practice and payment is required to be made in full on the day of each appointment. This practice accepts cash, cheques, EFTPOS, as well as Visa and Mastercard. A fee is levied for dishonoured cheques.

Current AMA initial appointment costs to see a consultant psychiatrist are $445 with a Medicare rebate available of $237.45. Follow up appointments are all time based and depend on patient need. As a general guide, a standard 30 minute follow up appointment costs $305 with a Medicare rebate of $121.40.

After receiving your payment, the reception staff can issue you with a receipt, which you may then either post, lodge with the MyGov app or take to a Medicare office to receive your rebate.

Alternatively, the clinic uses Medicare Online where we can send your claim online after the consultation. The refund will be paid by electronic funds transfer to your nominated bank account within 3 working days. You simply need to register your banking details (i.e. that is BSB and account number) with Medicare for this process.

Importantly, the Medicare Safety Net provides families and individuals with financial assistance for out-of-pocket costs for out-of-hospital Medicare Benefits Schedule services. Once you meet a Medicare Safety Net threshold, you may be eligible for additional Medicare benefits for out-of-hospital MBS services for the rest of the calendar year. For more information on this scheme, please contact Medicare on 1800 011 163, or visit their website at www.medicareaustralia.gov.au.

Please note, fees for our Senior Registrars on our Improved Access Program differ. Please see the IAP page for further information.

What about confidentiality and privacy?

The Federal Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Act 2000 legislates requirements for the personal and health information that anyone holds about you. In essence, it makes into law the ethic of confidentiality that doctors have long held and states that doctors will not seek or divulge information from you or about you without your consent (except in rare or emergency situations if necessary).

At Toowong Specialist Clinic we hold the confidentiality of your information to be of the greatest importance whether or not a law is passed about it, and all information gathered over the course of your treatment will be used in an appropriate and secure manner and strict confidence will be maintained.

Further Information on this law can be obtained from www.privacy.gov.au.


Beyond Blue

beyond blue is an Australian organisation that was established in 2000 in order to provide a national focus and community leadership for the prevention and effective treatment of depression.

Beyond Blue

Black Dog Institute

The Black Dog Institute is an educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility dedicated to improving the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders.

Black Dog Institute

Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) is the principal organisation representing the medical specialty of psychiatry and is responsible for training, examining and awarding the Fellowship of the College qualification to medical practitioners.


Medicare Safety Nets

Information regarding Medicare Safety Net thresholds, what services are covered and how the Safety Net works.

Medicare Safety Nets