We understand that the referral process to see a Counsellor can be confusing. You may be wondering; Why do I need a referral? How do I get a referral and what happens if I don’t have a one?
We are here to answer all your questions.
Firstly, you don’t need to have a referral to access our services. You can self-refer by contacting us directly and requesting an appointment. By self-referring, this means you will be paying out of pocket for your sessions.
What is the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative?
Under the Better Access to Mental Health Care initiative, a referral to Okay Counselling can occur through your GP, psychiatrist, or paediatrician.
If referred by a GP, they must complete a detailed assessment and diagnosis as part of preparing a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP). A MHCP enables you to claim rebates from Medicare for up to 10 individual and 10 group sessions with a Psychologist, Mental Health Social Worker, or Occupational Therapist every calendar year under the Better Access initiative.
This MHCP will document your GPs assessment, your needs, goals and actions, and services to be provided. Completing one of these can be a lengthy process, therefore you may need a longer appointment with your GP.
The MHCP is not a referral and alone is not sufficient for our counsellors to provide a service. A referral letter requesting services must also be provided by your GP and is usually attached to a MHCP.
When we receive your referral, we will contact you to schedule a session time with you and answer any questions you may have. Alternatively, you can contact us once you have seen your GP for your MHCP to schedule your first session.
What happens when I see my doctor for a MHCP?
Each GP will have their own process and way of doing things. Usually, the GP will usually ask you for a brief overview as to why you are wanting a MHCP done, and some other basic questions that are a requirement for Medicare.
How long do I have to use my MHCP?
A MHCP is valid for 12 months from the date of completion, this means you have up to 12 months to book in your first session with your chosen practitioner. However, it is important to note that the provision of mental health services do not have an expiry date, your referral is valid for the stated number of services on the referral rather than a period of time.
GPs usually refer for an initial 6 sessions, and once completed you will need to return to your GP for a review and an updated referral which will provide you with an additional 4 sessions for the calendar year. However, if you do not attend an initial 6 or a total of 10 sessions in a calendar year, your sessions can be rolled over into the next year and will count towards the total ten sessions you have available the following year. You will not need a new referral if you roll over your sessions into the next year, however once your 6th or 10th session is completed you will need to return to your GP for a review.
We understand that this can be a confusing concept and we are happy to answer any questions that you may have.
What happens if I want to change counsellors?
If you have had a MHCP completed, and for example, used 2 appointments with a counsellor but decided that you want to see someone different, you don’t need a new plan MHCP. However, you will need to revisit your GP to organise a letter of referral to a different practitioner.
What other kinds of referrals are there?
You can also be referred to us by a third party, such as a government or workplace agency (EAP) or access our services through the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Okay Counselling is not a registered NDIS provider; however, we can see Plan Managed or Self-Managed NDIS clients for counselling. If you would like to use your NDIS funding, we require you to have an established NDIS Plan.
Likewise, if a third party will be covering the costs of your sessions, we need written confirmation of this before we can schedule your first session. This is to avoid you from being liable for the cost of the sessions if the third party does not pay the accounts. Please contact us if you would like further information in this regard.
What about Private Health Insurance?
Depending on your level of cover you may be able to claim a portion of your fee through Private Health Insurance.
However, you cannot use your private health insurance to pay the gap between the Medicare rebate and the charge for counselling services. If you are eligible for cover through your private health insurance, you will need to decide whether you will use Medicare or Private Health Insurance – you cannot use both at the same time.
Some private health insurance companies require individuals to use the 10 sessions under Better Access prior to accessing services under their private health insurance. It is best to check with your provider for more information prior to taking out insurance and/or booking an appointment.
If you have any questions, please contact us and our friendly administration team will be happy to answer any enquiries you have. You can contact us by filling out a contact form here, calling us on 0478 437 776, or emailing us at email@example.com