Frequently Asked Questions
what is a psychotherapist?
Psychotherapy is a kind of talk therapy that helps people understand their inner world. It aims to help us understand and come to know ourselves through the prism of a therapeutic relationship. This understanding allows us to make good choices, have better relationships, adapt to life’s ups and downs and lead a more fulfilling life.
A psychotherapist is someone who practices psychotherapy. They might be trained in social work, psychology, psychiatry, mental health nursing or in counselling, but psychotherapy is what they do in their practice.
In choosing a psychotherapist it is wise to ask about their qualifications and membership of professional associations as this will help ensure you are protected and that they are well-trained and up-to-date when you consult with them.
Although I use the terms “counselling”, “psychotherapy” and “therapy” interchangeably in my blog, psychotherapy is generally understood to be associated with deeper and longer term work.
what is psychodynamic psychotherapy?
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is a kind of talk therapy which explores the dynamics between therapist and client to learn about the client’s inner world. It is based on psychoanalysis but also incorporates contemporary research into attachment and infant development. Exploring the relationship between client and therapist helps us understand your assumptions, “working models” and thoughts and feelings about relationships. This kind of therapy is based on the idea that our early experiences (and particularly our attachment experiences) will influence our emotional lives into adulthood.
what is an accredited mental health social worker (AMHSW)?
An AMHSW is someone who has completed their social work training (either a 4 year BSW or a 2 year Masters of Social Work) and has worked as a social worker in mental health for the equivalent of 2 years full time after graduating. They will have had experience working directly with families and individuals in an agency or in public mental health. In order to achieve the accreditation they must also be receiving ongoing supervision and be able to demonstrate that they maintain their professional development through extra training in mental health every year.
But more than this, someone who is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker will take an holistic approach to your mental health.
Social workers view people in context.
This means that in working with you, I will look at your relationships, your connections, your physical health, your spirituality, your values and your social experiences.
As a social worker my aim is to empower my clients and to understand their experiences rather than labelling or pathologising them.
From Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, Cathie Hutchinson.
“AMHSW are amongst a number of professions including mental health occupational therapists, Aboriginal mental health workers and psychologists who are qualified to provide mental health counselling under Medicare. AMHSWs work with clients experiencing depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, relationship problems, life crises, grief and loss, trauma and family conflicts. In addition, AMHSW are wholistic in their approach and experienced in working with complexity.
“Like Accredited Social Workers, AMHSW complete an initial AASW accredited Bachelor of Social Work four year degree that includes psychology units and 1000 hours of supervised practice. Social Work is a broad based profession that prepares individuals to work in a range of settings that include working with families, children, older Australians and people with disabilities. Social Workers are skilled at policy development as well as facilitating group work and case management. AMHSW are experienced and knowledgeable about mental health and illness. Mental Health issues cross over many settings.
AMHSW complete a rigorous accreditation process following experience in the mental health field. Many AMHSW have a Social Work degree at Masters or higher level. The Social Work profession attracts people with a wide range of experiences, including life experience and work experience in different professions. These rich and varied experiences inform their work with clients.
The Australian Association of Social Workers is the self-regulating body for all Accredited Social Workers and Accredited Mental Health Social Workers. AMHSW are bound by a comprehensive code of ethics. When doctors refer patients to an AMHSW, they can be confident that their patient will be met with respect and empathy. Social workers are skilled at forming strong therapeutic alliances with clients.
To maintain accreditation, AMHSWs complete 50 hours of continuing professional education that includes maintaining current knowledge about mental health and trauma.
AMHSW view client challenges through a bio-psycho-social lens. This means that they take a wholistic approach to working with clients. Historically, social work has always taken account of the significance of social determinants of mental health.
As social workers, we focus on what has happened to, rather than what is wrong with the client. We also embed social justice and human right values into our practice.
Do you see adults?
Yes! I see teens, young adults and older adults.
How much does it cost?
Prior to a booking being made you will need to pay a booking fee of $50 which will be redeemable at the final session. Sessions are normally for 50 minutes and cost $120 with a Medicare rebate of 74.80 available to eligible clients.
The Mental Health Care Plan includes 10 sessions per calendar year. Most trauma therapy will require more sessions than this. Therefore, it is wise to factor the costs of ongoing sessions into your thinking. In general, I advise people with a history of trauma (especially where a diagnosis of BPD or Complex trauma is present) to allow for ongoing weekly sessions for a period of 1-2 years. Unfortunately, at present, Medicare will not cover this number of sessions.
Given that therapy needs to work in the context of a therapeutic relationship, it is better to remain with a single practitioner to allow the therapy to work properly, and this is particularly true for people with BPD and Complex Trauma. Should you wish to undertake ongoing trauma therapy then we can make a financial arrangement to suit this extended commitment.
I realise that 1-2 years of weekly sessions seems like a lot - and a big investment (in terms of both money and time) however I believe that making this investment in your health and wellbeing will reward you with a richer, more fulfilling and more joyful life.
If you are registered with the NDIS, you can arrange to have therapy included in your plan.
I also offer recovery coaching packages via Zoom for people outside Melbourne. These start at $480 for a 6 session start-up package.
How long do I need to keep coming?
That depends on the nature and complexity of the problems you bring to therapy. The kind of psychotherapy I do normally incorporates deeper work to help release trauma - this can take ongoing sessions over a longer period. In general, the more serious the trauma, the longer the work needed to safely address and resolve it.
For people with BPD or Complex Trauma, it can require 1-2 years of ongoing work to recover. (See above.)
I would like my parents or partner to come along to therapy, can you also see them?
As a general rule, I don’t do family or couples therapy, but if therapy with a young person requires consultations with parents, then I will usually see the parents either individually or with the young person (with the client’s consent).
Do you do dbt?
Whilst I believe that DBT is a very useful treatment for BPD, I presently do not have capacity to provide DBT treatment. However, I do use strategies and modalities from DBT and am happy to see people who are undertaking group treatment as part of a DBT program.
do you do EMDR (Eye Movement desensitisation and reprocessing)?
No. I believe that treatment for Complex Trauma requires deeper emotional, spiritual and somatically based work to truly resolve the trauma. Although EMDR can help with discrete episodes of trauma, the chronic interpersonal and relational trauma at the heart of CPTSD cannot be treated with EMDR.
Do you do CBT?
Not exclusively. Although I may incorporate aspects of CBT in the work I do, my approach on the whole is more relationship and emotion-focussed. I work in a psychodynamic way which means that I look at how you and I relate to one another and the feelings that come up for you in each session. These things will tell us about your inner world and how that might be affecting your thoughts, behaviour, relationships and your feelings about yourself. The aim is to develop self-awareness and integrate the parts of you that might be unacknowledged and unconscious, but that are still influencing your feelings, thoughts and behaviours.
I AM NOT IN AUSTRALIA CAN I STILL WORK WITH YOU?
My practice is based in Melbourne. At the moment, I do not have capacity to consult via video-link for trauma therapy. This is because the kind of work that I do involves a deep empathetic connection which is partly somatically based. For trauma work, I believe that the presence of both parties in the room together at the same time is necessary for the connection that helps the healing process. It is possible that once the connection is formed through face to face sessions, video link sessions can be used as a continuation and adjunct, but at present I do not have capacity to provide this. I do offer Recovery Coaching via video link (as below). This is different and is not the same thing as therapy.
What is recovery coaching?
Recovery coaching is a special kind of coaching designed to support and enhance your recovery journey. It involves an initial assessment of where you are in your journey, and an analysis of the steps that need to be taken for you to progress. In my coaching, I will work with you on your recovery goals to implement achievable and concrete changes in your life. Recovery coaching is normally seen as an adjunct or supplement to face to face therapy.
Recovery coaching helps with
social and emotional functioning
direction and purpose
vocational and educational pathways
self-soothing and self-talk