Important information about COVID-19
For the safety of our clients and team, from Monday 13th July we will return to providing all of our services via Telehealth only.
Why are we using Telehealth?
Inner Melbourne Clinical Psychology has decided to conduct sessions via Telehealth (phone or video consultations) as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. By moving to Telehealth sessions we can help decrease the risk to our clients and psychologists of being exposed to the virus.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth includes telephone and online video technology such as Skype, Zoom and Coviu. Our preference is to use online video because this enables our psychologists and clients to see one another. Given that an estimated 60-65% of communication is non verbal, we feel that this is an important benefit. That said, sometimes because of technical glitches with software or issues with internet connection telephone is the best option.
How does it work?
If you are a current client, your psychologist will touch base with you about making arrangements for Telehealth for any upcoming appointments. If you haven’t heard from your psychologist yet, or have questions or concerns, you can also get in touch with our Support Team here.
If you have an online video session booked in, before your appointment your psychologist will email you with a link that you can click on at the time of your appointment to begin your session.
If you have a phone session booked in, your psychologist will call your mobile phone from a private number.
You will receive the same reminder for your appointment that you always do. We’re asking people to be particularly mindful of giving us at least 48 hours notice if you need to cancel or reschedule your appointment. This means that we are more likely to be able to offer your time to someone else who is waiting to be seen.
What do I need?
You’ll need either a smartphone, tablet or computer with an internet connection, camera and microphone (these are built into most modern devices). Headphones can also help with audio quality. We also encourage you to find a private room at home so you can speak freely and won’t be interrupted. A bedroom with a door you can close works well but you can even sit in your car if that feels more private! Please ensure your phone or computer is fully charged and has adequate internet speed.
Is Telehealth effective?
Research studies have found that seeing an online psychologist is as effective as face to face treatment. A systematic review (Backhaus et al., 2012) of 42 studies found that online psychology was as effective as in person treatment for a range of different client groups (e.g. children/adults, gender and ethnic background) and a range of different issues (e.g. trauma, depression and anxiety). This review also found that clients reported high levels of satisfaction when seeing an online psychologist, comparable to satisfaction levels with face to face sessions.
Another study reviewed 23 research papers to see whether the connection between the client and the psychologist (sometimes called “the therapeutic alliance) was the same via online psychology (Simpson & Reid, 2014). Client ratings of the bond between themselves and their therapist was at least as high as face to face therapy. This study suggested that clients may feel safer to speak more openly with an online psychologist, with some reports of reduced shame and embarrassment when discussing challenging issues.
What if I’m not sure if Telehealth is for me?
We understand that the idea of Telehealth can be daunting. Your psychologist will be more than happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. If you’re not sure if Telehealth is for you, we’d encourage you to give it a try and see what you think. Lots of people are surprised by how similar it is to face to face.
When will face to face sessions resume?
We will reconsider face to face appointments again when the rates of community transmission begin to decrease.
How long are Telehealth sessions?
Sessions are the same length as regular sessions, approximately 50 minutes. If you are having an initial couples therapy session it will be 90 minutes (unless you’ve arranged otherwise).
How does Medicare work with Telehealth?
If you have a Mental Health Treatment Plan/GP referral your psychologist will be able to process a rebate for you after each of your sessions. This means that you will need to pay for your session in full and your psychologist will arrange for Medicare to send a rebate to your bank account, reducing your out of pocket costs significantly.
All clients with a Mental Health Treatment Plan have access to at least ten Medicare subsidised sessions per calendar year. From 7th August 2020, if you have a Medicare referral all Victorians and in some circumstances, clients from other states, will have access to an additional ten sessions per calendar year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
*FAQs regarding eligibility for additional ten Medicare subsidised sessions due to COVID-19*
Do I need to currently have a Mental Health Treatment Plan to be eligible for this scheme?
If you don’t currently have a Mental Health Treatment Plan you can speak with your GP about whether you are eligible for one. If you’re eligible and you are in an area with public health orders that restrict movement (e.g. lockdown or stay at home orders) any time from 1 July 2020 to 31 March 2021, or you are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders you will be eligible to receive up to 20 Medicare subsidised sessions per calendar year.
Am I eligible for these additional ten sessions if I live outside of the areas where restrictions are in place?
If you are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders, even if outside of the areas where restrictions are taking place, you would be eligible for these additional ten sessions (assuming you had a Mental Health Treatment Plan). You will need to provide relevant documentation for us to put on your client file in case we are audited by Medicare so that we can provide proof of your eligibility.
To find the public health orders or directions for each state and territory, please refer to the relevant Government website of each state and territory.
Do I need to provide any proof that I reside in an area that is impacted by lock down or stay at home orders?
In order to set up your medical file we require a current address. Assuming your current address falls within one of locations impacted by lock down or stay at home orders, this is ample proof of your eligibility.
Do I need to return to my GP to get access to these additional ten sessions?
If you have already used your ten sessions this calendar year, you will need to make an appointment with your GP to gain access to these additional ten sessions. If you have used less than ten sessions per calendar year so far, your psychologist will let you know if you are required to return to your GP.
Can I gain access to these ten sessions before I finish my initial ten sessions for the calendar year?
No, you cannot. In order to be eligible for a further ten sessions you first need to have completed your initial ten sessions. At this point your psychologist will then write to your GP requesting permission for you to access the additional ten sessions, allowing you to access a total of up to 20 sessions per calendar year.
If my region becomes impacted by lockdown restrictions in the future will I be eligible?
Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated that if other regions are subjected to further restrictions, they will also be granted this increased mental health support.
If restrictions are lifted will I still be able to access these ten sessions?
Once you are deemed eligible, you will be able to access these additional sessions even if public health orders are lifted.
Self-Help Resources for Coronavirus
The coronavirus crisis is creating uncertain and challenging times for us all. Now more than ever we need to look after our mental health. We’ve got plenty of evidence-based, practical resources to help you through. Click here to take a look.
Things are changing fast around here, so this page will be updated as more information comes to hand and as new questions arise. If we haven’t answered your question here though, get in touch with our Support Team here. We’re here to help.