Top Tips for Making Therapy work with a Psychologist Melbourne

Are you seeking a Psychologist in Melbourne? You’re likely looking for guidance through personal challenges or aiming to optimise your mental health. This article hones in on the process of starting up therapy and explores how to set yourself up for success. We cover how to choose a psychologist, what to expect in therapy, and how to navigate potential difficulties, so you’re all ready to hit the ground running by the time of your initial consultation.

Key Takeaways

  • Choosing the right psychologist involves considering their areas of expertise, therapy methods, location, availability, costs, and professional registration.
  • Create an open, communicative relationship with your psychologist, where you can express concerns and adjust therapy as needed; remember, finding the right psychologist may sometimes require trial and error.
  • Engage openly in the therapy process, create a safe space for discussion, and manage your expectations, as therapy is a journey tailored to your individual needs.

Table of Contents

Factors to consider when choosing a psychologist

Your journey of healing and self-discovery greatly depends on selecting the right psychologist. One of the foremost factors to consider is to explore the expertise areas of the psychologist. Their expertise could range from dealing with stress and navigating life challenges to more complex issues like depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or eating disorders.

The therapies used by the psychologist also play a pivotal role. Different therapists employ different methodologies, from traditional talk therapy to therapies designed to treat trauma and PTSD, such as Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR).

Logistics are equally important. Consider the following factors when choosing a psychologist:

  • Location: Can you easily commute to their office?
  • Availability: Does their schedule align with yours?
  • Cost: Is the cost within your budget?
  • Registration: Ensure they are registered with AHPRA (Australia Health Practitioner Regulation Agency) and a member of an Australian association to guarantee their credibility and adherence to professional standards.

Top tips for the first session

Entering the first session of counselling with a psychologist may seem intimidating. Being familiar with what lies ahead may assist with managing any anxiety you might feel. The initial meeting will typically involve the psychologist dedicating time to learn about you, understand your issues, and delve into your history. This lays the foundation for devising a customised therapy approach that aligns with your specific circumstances.

Your input is crucial throughout this process. A robust therapist-client relationship relies on transparent communication. Should anything happen during therapy that does not sit well with you, don’t hesitate to communicate that unease to your psychologist. They are there specifically for support and are usually able to modify their methodology according to what works best for you.

It may take some time before finding a psychologist who feels just right—a few attempts aren’t uncommon—and if after several sessions, your therapist still doesn’t resonate with you, remember it’s perfectly acceptable to seek out alternatives. Whether you’re wanting individual therapy or couples counselling, finding someone whose style aligns closely with yours so that in therapeutic sessions you feel at ease and understood is key.

Making therapy work ongoing

Engaging in therapy is a unique and personal experience, tailored to meet individual needs. It’s an evolving process that benefits from dedication, persistence, and mutual trust. Central to this therapeutic journey is the establishment of a safe and compassionate therapeutic relationship, conducive to recovery. Your sessions with your therapist feel liikea sanctuary where you are free to express yourself openly and honestly, without fearing judgement. It’s important that you are able:

  • To voice your inner thoughts and emotions without trepidation of being judged.
  • To reveal intimate fears and vulnerabilities.
  • To delve into historical events and traumas shaping who you are.
  • To acquire techniques for coping with stressors and bouts of anxiety.
  • To cultivate a trusting and safe therapeutic relationship with your therapist.
Therapists at Cova Psychology

Therapy is a place where self-improvement and healing become possible, often through exploration of sensitive topics. Whether one is discussing trauma or anger management, a sense of safety, honesty, and compassion is required in the environment so that you feel comfortable enough to open up.

Lastly, it’s important to have realistic expectations about therapy. Everyone is different in terms of how fast progress is made, and also the unique therapeutic journey. Progress is also often not linear, there are ups and downs along the way as you learn more about yourself, and take time to break old habits and create new and healthy ones. Setbacks are not uncommon, and it’s important that you are prepared for them. Setbacks are a normal and critical part of the therapeutic process, offering valuable learning experiences that contribute to long-term growth and resilience.

Troubleshooting: Therapy with a Psychologist

The journey of therapy is intrinsically personal and can often leave you feeling like progress isn’t happening as expected. You may feel not always feel understood and may even question if there’s a correct way to engage in therapy. 

It’s important to understand that therapy adapts to your unique situation, and in practice it has no predetermined right or wrong approach. If at any point you sense yourself hitting an impasse or experiencing frustration, it’s essential that you share these concerns with your psychologist who can assist in guiding you through such challenges and refine the course of your therapeutic plan.

During your treatment journey, you might encounter moments of confusion or conflict. These instances, while potentially uncomfortable, offer valuable opportunities for growth and learning. If something your psychologist says doesn’t feel OK for you, it’s important to bring up this concern at the next available opportunity. Maintaining clear and honest communication during your sessions is key to deepening mutual understanding and repairing any tension that may arise in the therapist-client dynamic.

Despite the effort invested in building a therapeutic alliance, sometimes things just don’t click. It’s crucial to recognise when it may be necessary to switch to a different psychologist for the sake of your healing journey. If you consistently leave sessions feeling misunderstood, and especially if you have raised your concerns and there doesn’t seem to be any change, it might be a sign that it’s time to seek a new professional. 

Your options here are to either let the psychologist know directly, or, if you are seeing a psychologist who works in a group practice, you could escalate your concerns to management. The psychologist or management could support you through the process of ending your relationship with your therapist and finding a new one.

Medicare Rebates: Navigating the Mental Health Care Plan Process

Initiating the Mental Health Care Plan journey can seem complex at first, but with the right information, it becomes quite manageable. This process involves obtaining a referral, taking advantage of Medicare rebates to ease the financial burden, and scheduling the necessary sessions.

Obtaining a Referral

To initiate the process of obtaining psychological services in Melbourne, a referral from a General Practitioner (GP) required (or from a psychiatrist). During this appointment, your mental health needs will be evaluated by the GP as you discuss any emotional or psychological difficulties that may have arisen.

During your consultation, the GP can create a customised mental health treatment plan for you, which may refer you to psychiatrists, psychologists or other specialised health professionals. This personalised approach ensures that care is optimised based on your unique circumstances and requirements. This treatment plan is called a Mental Health Care Plan.

A range of individuals might qualify for Medicare benefits when it comes to receiving these psychological services.

  • Adults diagnosed with mental health disorders
  • Children affected by autism or other disabilities
  • Pregnant women dealing with pregnancy-related issues
  • Persons coping with chronic medical conditions
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people in need of additional allied health follow-up services.

Accessing Medicare Rebates

After receiving a referral and establishing a Mental Health Care Plan, you are eligible to receive Medicare rebates for psychological services. You have the opportunity to get up to 10 individual and another 10 group therapy sessions within each calendar year reimbursed through this scheme. Initial, coverage is available for six sessions, with potential referrals enabling access to more if necessary.

For new clients intending to visit psychologists, there are several points they must be aware of:

  • Some clinics require pre-payment for the first session (this is to value the time of the psychologist being booked).
  • Clients need to check both the costs associated with their upcoming session and how much will be covered by Medicare beforehand. Generally the Medicare rebate will not cover the full cost of the session.
  • Clients need to understand that any late cancellations could lead to being charged the full fee of the session. Most psychologists will charge the full fee if their client cancels on the day of the appointment.

Scheduling Appointments

Many clinics require you to book your first appointment over the phone, however, following this, many practices will allow you to book online. If you find yourself needing urgent assistance, it’s worth calling the practice and enquiring about the possibility of emergency appointments or the option to be placed on a cancellation list, which might allow for a sooner session.

Make sure you’re familiar with the policy for cancelling an appointment and any fees involved in doing so to avoid surprise expenses. It’s also useful to check if your psychologist’s practice sends out reminders via calls or messages for upcoming therapy sessions which can help keep track of them.

To get the most from each therapy session:

  • Plan on arriving early enough before your scheduled time so that you have a few moments to compose yourself.
  • Schedule some personal time post-session for reflection in order to assimilate what has been discussed during therapy.
  • Choose times for appointments that fit in smoothly with your daily routine. This helps reduce stress levels and heightens the therapeutic experience as part of effective stress management strategies.

Sticking to these suggestions and practices will enhance the benefits gained from attending regular psychology consultations.

Online Therapy Options

With the Covid-19 pandemic, telehealth use for psychology sessions became widespread. Online therapy options have continued to become increasingly popular, offering an alternative to face-to-face interactions with psychologists.

Weighing Up Online Sessions vs Face to Face

Telehealth has transformed mental health care by enhancing the healthcare for a whole range of people, many of whom struggle to access support face-to-face. Telehealth’s contribution to mental health services is significant, as it breaks down geographical barriers, allowing individuals in remote or rural areas to connect with mental health professionals they would otherwise not be able to see.

This method offers more flexibility for clients and therapists. Telehealth may allow for appointments outside of typical office hours, which is convenient for those with tight schedules or who can’t easily travel for sessions. It also lets people have their sessions in a place where they feel most comfortable, which can help make therapy a more natural part of their daily lives.

Moreover, telehealth sessions may reduce the anxiety some clients feel when attending in-person sessions, particularly those with social anxieties or phobias. Being in a familiar, safe environment can help individuals open up more freely and engage more deeply with the therapeutic process.

While telehealth offers numerous benefits, it may not always be the ideal choice for every individual or situation. In-person therapy can be more effective for those who require the physical presence of a therapist to feel fully engaged or for those whose home environment is not conducive to privacy and concentration. Additionally, certain therapeutic interventions, particularly those that rely on non-verbal cues and physical interactions, may not translate as effectively through a virtual medium. 

For individuals with severe mental health conditions, direct and immediate access to healthcare resources and crisis management may be necessary, which telehealth cannot always provide.

Many psychologists will offer a hybrid model where some sessions are face to face while others are held online. Often telehealth may be used as a last resort, when schedules become tighter at the last minute, or when therapist or client may be unable to attend the clinic in person.

If you’re unsure whether to engage via face to face or telehealth, raise this with your psychologist or the psychology practice you’re enquiring with.


In summary, the pursuit of therapy signifies a positive move toward enhanced mental wellbeing. It’s important to choose an appropriate psychologist and enter therapy with realistic expectations about the process and how it works. Working with your doctor or psychiatrist can be an important step to set up Medicare rebates as part of a Mental Health Care Plan. 

Considering telehealth and other online therapy alternatives can provide convenience in accessing mental healthcare services. As you proceed with your therapy journey, it is important to recognise that support is available and every step taken is a step closer to your improved mental health issues, relationships and happiness.

Therapists at Cova Psychology

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a referral to see a psychologist in Melbourne?

In Victoria, seeing a psychologist does not require a referral. But if you intend to receive a rebate via Medicare for your visits, it’s essential that you obtain a Mental Health Care Plan from your general practitioner (GP).

How do I start seeing a psychologist in Melbourne?

In Melbourne, if you’re considering consulting with a psychologist, you have two routes to begin. You can obtain a referral and a Mental Health Treatment Plan from your general practitioner (GP), or independently locate a psychologist and then seek out a GP’s referral for counselling for the purpose of receiving Medicare rebates.

For assistance in finding an accredited psychologist nearby, the directory provided by the Australian Psychological Society serves as an excellent tool.

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Dr. Chris Coleiro

Chris is a co-director of Cova Psychology, where he provides supervision to psychologists whilst cultivating a supportive culture within the Cova team. Chris has worked extensively in the assessment and treatment of trauma, PTSD, and Borderline Personality Disorder. He combines a range of therapies in his approach including CBT, Schema Therapy, EMDR and IFS.