What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?
Psychologists and psychiatrists both work with people experiencing stress, anxiety or depression, or coping with other aspects of mental illness. However, their training is quite different.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a medical degree. Being doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication, refer a patient for blood tests or x-rays, and also refer a patient to other specialists or health care providers.
Psychologists also have university degrees, but are not medical doctors, so cannot prescribe medication. Often psychologists and psychiatrists will work together as part of a team.
How did you become a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors, so all psychiatrists have medical degrees. This usually takes 5- 7 years of university study, made up of an undergraduate degree followed by 4 years of medical school.
Following medical school, all doctors must complete 1-2 years of further hospital-based training. This is to ensure doctors have a wide range of experience including emergency medicine, surgery, and other areas such as paediatrics or obstetrics.
Once they have served this 1-2 year “intern” period, most doctors start specialty training. In psychiatry, this takes a further 5 years. During this time a doctor is called a “registrar”, and will work in different settings including hospitals and community clinics, in both metropolitan and regional areas. During this process doctors complete numerous examinations and other assessments. Once the training requirements are completed, a doctor is known as a consultant or specialist. From the beginning of university to completion of specialty training usually takes a minimum of 13 years.
Do I need a referral?
Yes. You should see your GP for a referral if you want to access medicare rebates.
How much will it cost me?
Our psychiatrists charge a set fee (AMA recommended fees) for the initial assessment session. For most people there will be an out of pocket gap of around $180. Ongoing fees depend on the appointment length (15-60 minutes) but all attract medicare rebates. Our psychiatrists also offer concessions at their discretion after the initial consultation. This will be by negotiation and will need to be discussed with the individual doctor at your appointment.
Full fees (including Medicare component) are payable at the time of appointment by EFTPOS, Credit Card or cash, AND instant online Medicare rebating of the fee (except the “gap”) is available at the clinic.
For patients covered by DVA, WorkCover or other 3rd party insurers there are no out of pocket expenses to pay and we will bill the 3rd party directly.
Please note that we charge a cancellation fee of the full amount for cancelling the initial appointment. We also charge a non-refundable cancellation fee for on the day cancellations or no-shows.
Please call our friendly receptionist on 07 4046 4900 with any queries.
How long will I have to wait?
Waiting times vary dependent on the number of referrals. Our psychiatrists triage all referrals and prioritise those they consider more urgent.
Please call the clinic to speak to our friendly receptionist on 07 4046 4900.
How long will I need to see a psychiatrist for?
Many people will only need to see the psychiatrist for 1 or 2 sessions and then return to their usual GP for ongoing management.
More complex issues might require regular follow-up with the psychiatrist over a number of months.
People having “talk” therapy may attend weekly, fortnightly or monthly on a longer–term basis.
I need a report for work or legal reasons – do I need a referral?
Medico legal reports do not need a referral from a GP but the referral will need to come from a legal representative or other 3rd party who will be responsible for the cost of the report.
I saw a counsellor in the past and it didn’t work. Why should I try it again?
A counsellor is a general term which can cover anyone who does counselling- from school guidance counsellors to support workers or phone counsellors on helplines. Counsellors do not necessarily have university degrees, though most will at least have diplomas or certificates.
A therapist is another broad term referring to anyone who does “therapy”. This can include a wide range of therapies such as general counselling and supportive therapy, to more formal therapies like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or Narrative Therapy. Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors usually all practice some sort of therapy, so all could be considered “therapists”.
All therapists are different, and there are lots of different types of therapy. Maybe the therapist you tried before just wasn’t right for you. Or perhaps you weren’t in the right frame of mind for therapy to be successful. Just like you sometimes have to try a few different medications to find the one that works best, sometimes you have to try a few different therapists to find the one that’s right for you.
It can be useful to think about what you liked/didn’t like about therapy in the past. Talk about this with your new therapist, and keep an open mind about trying another time.