That’s not strictly true. There are definitely a lot of amazing therapists referred by General Practitioners.
However, almost without exception in Australia, GPs refer only to mental health professionals who are eligible to work with Medicare. This includes Psychologists, Occupational Therapists and Mental Health Social Workers, leaving out an entire field of highly trained, skilled, experienced and specialised therapists who do not fit the above categories.
That’s great if your concern involves a diagnosis, or some guidance in managing unhelpful thoughts or behaviours; or if your psychologist has chosen to do further training in areas such as attachment theory, trauma, body work or depth psychotherapy.
Choosing to work with the therapist your GP refers you to, could be the best thing you’ve ever done. It also means you’ll get a partial rebate for your first 6-10 sessions. If you’ve used this system and been happy with it, then that’s fantastic.
The Mental Health Care Plan Has Its Limits
As Jodie Gale, Soul-Centred Psychotherapist, Counsellor and Eating Disorder Therapist states, “Mental health treatment in Australia is dominated by the medical model via the Medicare Better Access Mental Health Care system.”
This system has allowed thousands upon thousands of Australians who could not afford counselling, to receive subsidised sessions. From a social justice perspective, this is a brilliant thing.
However, what this system leaves out, are all the exceptional, professional therapists who have trained long, hard and well in areas other than the narrow disciplines of psychology, occupational therapy or mental health social work.
Beyond Your GP’s List
The purpose of this article is to let you know that your choices go far beyond the limited list of your GP.
Maybe the therapist who is the right fit for you, is a highly regarded professional with extensive training in Psychotherapy, who specialises in exactly your area of struggle. Unless they have qualifications supported by Medicare, you are unlikely to hear about this therapist through your GP.
In most cases, such therapists have been required to complete years of their own personal therapy, alongside their extensive professional training. This means they are more likely to be in touch with their own feelings and responses and more open to support you with yours.
Depth psychotherapists are able to work with you not only on strategies for coping with daily struggles, but with untangling the roots that got you here in the first place. Such creatures are often a soulful, empathic breed, able to work alongside you in ways that can profoundly change the way you see yourself, your relationships and the world around you.
Who Are These Psychotherapists?
A depth psychotherapist may have significant training in areas such as:
- Trauma & Body-based therapies – Somatic Experiencing, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Hakomi
- Childhood Attachment
- Art Therapy – visual art, dance, movement, drama
- Family Therapy
- Gestalt Therapy
- Jungian Analysis
- Object Relations Therapy
- Buddhist Psychotherapy
The above is far from an extensive list, but gives you an idea of the great range of therapies and therapists available, outside of those included in the Medicare scheme.
How To Find Your Ideal Psychotherapist Or Counsellor
If you are interested in doing some of your own research to find a therapist who is a good fit for you, following are some suggested avenues:
Search Engine Key Words
Do internet searches for particular therapy modalities such as:
- Art Therapist
- Trauma Counsellor
- Couples Therapy
Additionally, include key words in your internet search that fit with your specific circumstance, such as:
Anxiety, depression, sexual abuse, trauma, eating disorders, grief, same sex relationship, adolescent, feminism, body image, fat stigma, parenting
Research online directories such as:
- Psychology Today
- Good Therapy
- Australia Counselling
- Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia
- Australian Counselling Association
- Health At Every Size
- Australia & New Zealand Academy of Eating Disorders
- Eating Disorders Resource Directory – Women’s Health & Family Services (WA)
- Somatic Experiencing Practitioner Directory
- Sensorimotor Psychotherapy Practitioner Directory
Word Of Mouth Referrals
Often a great therapist can be found through a recommendation from a friend. However, sometimes, a therapist’s approach or personality works brilliantly for one person and not another. Go with what feels right for you.
Check Psychotherapist & Counsellor’s Qualifications
Checking what kind of training, experience and qualifications a therapist has and whether they are a member of any professional associations will give you some information about their professionalism and ability to provide you with a professional quality service.
This information may be available on their website or online profile, or you may need to ask them.
Relying on your GP to find a psychotherapist or counsellor who is right for you is in some ways akin to letting the clothing store assistant decide what you should wear. They may have a good knowledge of their stock, but they don’t know you and your personal style or comfort levels.
If you’d like to take control of your own mental wellbeing and find a therapist who fits your particular interests, needs and goals, then research, ask, try one on and trust what feels right for you.
Do you need support with Anxiety, Depression, Body Image or Trauma in Perth, Western Australia or online?
If you need support with anxiety, depression body image or trauma, please contact Toni Jackson for enquiries and appointments via the contact form below.
For a free 15 minute phone consultation, to discuss your situation and see how Toni can support you, please phone 0439 995 302 (Australia only).
Toni Jackson is a Psychotherapist, specialising in trauma, anxiety and body image. She is a Gestalt Therapist, body-centred psychotherapist, creative (art) therapist and HAES practitioner. Toni works in Fremantle and Mundaring, Perth, Western Australia, and also provides online counselling.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash