Frequently Asked Questions


All our Psychologists and Allied Health clinicians hold tertiary qualifications in their chosen discipline. In addition, they undertake continuing professional development and clinical supervision which ensures we are able to provide you with the best and latest treatment approaches. All our clinicians are also fully registered with their Regulatory Agency.

Before your therapy session begins, we may ask you to fill out administrative forms in order to properly record your information. You may also be asked to complete some assessment forms to establish a starting point from which our clinicians can work, this may vary depending on what discipline you will be working with and what you are hoping to achieve from your time with us. During the first session the clinician will endeavour to firstly understand your personal circumstances, difficulties, challenges and what you are hoping to achieve from therapy, prior to working out your unique treatment plan. We do this in a safe, relaxed and confidential environment. We advocate evidence-based principles within our consultations. You can expect to be treated with compassion and respect.
Our appointment times are variable depending on the clinician and whether the appointment is for an assessment, therapy or a review. Assessment and therapy appointments normally lasts for 50-60 minutes. Depending on the nature and severity of the issue that you are experiencing and the recommendations from the evidence-based treatment you will work within. Simple issues may take less time to resolve, more complex issues will necessarily require more sessions. As there are many different referral pathways into PHaWS, there will also be a difference in the number of sessions supported by these pathways. After your initial assessment it is important that you and your clinician consider how you will fund ongoing treatment when your approved sessions are used or if you will need to amend your treatment goals. It may also be the case that individual and/or group sessions will best suit your needs. The clinician will discuss this with you after your assessment and if you both agree to work together then you will make a plan together and build in reviews of your progress along the way.
You do not need a referral to see our clinicians. However, in order to access Medicare Rebates a General Practitioner, Psychiatrist or for children a Paediatrician referral is required. If you are referred by a third party (e.g. WorkCover) referral information and approval from the Insurer must be made available at the time of making the appointment. Please see our web page on Types of Referrals for more information or feel free to call us on 02 4037 5811 to discuss this further.
There are several initiatives that can be accessed to partially or completely fund your appointments with us. As part of the federal government’s Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative, eligible clients can receive a rebate from Medicare for Psychological, Medical and Allied Health services. In order to obtain a rebate from Medicare, your General Practitioner or Psychiatrist must assess you as eligible to receive a Mental Health Care Plan following which you can be referred to a clinician. Once a Mental Health Care Plan has been completed by your doctor, you will be able to obtain a Medicare rebate for up to 10 individual and up to 10 group appointments per calendar year.
We understand that clients are often concerned about their privacy and confidentiality. Any information disclosed to us (including case notes, records, and psychological test results) is confidential and cannot be disclosed without the client’s consent. The only time this is overruled is if the clinician believes that there is a danger to either yourself or the public. If there is any need to disclose information from files with another professional (for example a medical doctor, lawyer, or third party billing source), the client will be consulted first and asked to sign a release of information document. If you are referred under the Better Access initiative clinicians are required to provide a report to your GP, this allows them to discuss your progress and the need for further sessions. There are some legal limitations to confidentiality, such as danger to self or the public, including concern about the wellbeing of a child. Your clinician will discuss confidentiality with you during your first session.

To help with communication and as a gentle reminder we will try and send you an SMS reminder of your appointment the three days prior to your appointment. It will prompt you to call and let us know if you are unable to attend. (There may be occasions due to staffing that we are unable to do this and it remains your responsibility to attend or cancel your appointment)

If, for some reason an appointment needs to be changed or postponed, at least 48 hrs notice is required. We do understand that emergencies and unplanned events occur but unfortunately if we are unable to reallocate your appointment the fee will be charged for the session.

Providing us with 48 hours notice allows us to try and contact other clients from the waiting list who may be interested in attending at the scheduled time. Due to the short notice this can not be guaranteed.

If a late notice fee is required, (100% of the fee if less than 24 hours notice is given and 50% if 24-48 hours notice is given) we will advise you that we will be debiting your debit/credit card, as per the original agreement and provide you with a receipt. We will be able to offer you a further appointment.

We take an $80 deposit to secure your appointment. This is deducted from your first appointment and is not required to be paid again, unless the late notice policy is applied to you. This is necessary because on occasions people do not attend or change their appointment at very short notice and we are unable to reallocate the appointment and like everybody else our clinicians need to be paid.

Yes, to help us ensure that our contact with you is focussed on you, please bring the following when you come for your appointment:

    • Your referral letter, if you have one, including your Medicare number
    • Your claim number or approval letter from your insurance company or organisation paying for the service.
    • Any other relevant reports or paperwork

Tea, coffee and water is available for your comfort

Yes, we do have a Privacy Policy for Management of Personal Information. We also provide you with a copy of this at your first visit with us. The document describes the privacy policy of the Psychological Health and Wellbeing Services’ (PHaWS) for the management of clients’ personal information. The service provided is bound by the legal requirements of the Australian Privacy Principles set out in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).

  • Personal information

Client files are held in a secure filing cabinet and electronic document management systems accessible only to authorised employees. The information on each file includes personal information such as name, address, date of birth, contact phone numbers, medical history, clinical notes collected during clinical sessions, billing information, Medicare number and other personal information collected as part of providing the service.

  • How clients’ personal information is collected

A client’s personal information is collected in several ways during a consultation with PHaWS. This includes: when the client provides information directly using hardcopy forms, correspondence via email, when the client interacts directly with PHaWS staff such as the receptionist, and when other health practitioners provide personal information to PHaWS via referrals, correspondence and medical reports.

  • Consequence of not providing personal information

If the client does not wish for their personal information to be collected in a way anticipated by this Privacy Policy, PHaWS may not be in a position to provide a service to the client. Clients may request to be anonymous or to use a pseudonym, unless it is impracticable for PHaWS to deal with the client or if PHaWS is required or authorised by law to deal with identified individuals. In most cases it will not be possible for the client to be anonymous or to use a pseudonym, however if PHaWS agrees to the client being anonymous or using a pseudonym, rendering them unable to claim rebates from third party funders, such as Medicare, then the client must pay consultation fees at the time of the appointment.

  • Purpose of holding personal information

A client’s personal information is gathered and used for providing services, which includes assessing, diagnosing and treating a client’s presenting issue. The personal information is retained to document what happens during sessions and enables the clinician to provide a relevant and informed service.

  • Disclosure of personal information

Clients’ personal information will not be disclosed except under the following circumstances: 1. The client’s prior approval has been obtained to: a) provide a written report to another professional or agency, e.g., a GP or a lawyer b) discuss the material with another person, e.g. a parent, employer or health provider c) disclose the information in another way 2. Where you would reasonably expect your personal information to be disclosed to another professional or agency (e.g. your GP) and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose which is directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected 3. Failure to disclose the information would in the reasonable belief of the PHaWS clinician place a client, another person or the public at large, at serious risk to life, health or safety. 4. It is subpoenaed by a court; or 5. disclosure is otherwise required or authorised by law. A client’s personal information is not disclosed to overseas recipients, unless the client consents or such disclosure is otherwise required by law. Clients’ personal information will not be used, sold, rented or disclosed for any other purpose.

  • Requests for access and correction to client information

At any stage clients may request to see and correct the personal information about them kept on file. The clinician may discuss the contents with them and/or give them a copy, subject to the exceptions in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). If satisfied that personal information is inaccurate, out of date or incomplete, reasonable steps will be taken in the circumstances to ensure that this information is corrected. All requests by clients for access to or correction of personal information held about them should be lodged with Debbie Duke, Director, PHaWS. These requests will be responded to in writing within 21 days and an appointment will be made if necessary for clarification purposes.

  • Concerns

If clients have a concern about the management of their personal information, they may inform Debbie Duke. Upon request they can obtain a copy of the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe their rights and how their personal information should be handled. Ultimately, if clients wish to lodge a formal complaint about the use of, disclosure of, or access to, their personal information, they may do so with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by phone on 1300 363 992, online at or by post to: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001.

Registered Psychologists are health professionals who have studied in University and have supervised practice for a minimum of six years. Some Psychologists undertake two further years study and supervision in a specific area and go onto receive an ‘endorsement’ indicating that they have qualifications in a particular area of practice (such as clinical psychology, health psychology or sport and exercise psychology) and an additional two years or more of supervised experience in that area.

Further information about the skills the different psychologists have can be found here. Read More


Psychiatrists are doctors who have undergone further training to specialise in mental health. They can make medical and psychiatric assessments, conduct medical tests, provide therapy and prescribe medication.

A psychiatrist is a doctor who specialises in psychiatry, the branch of medicine devoted to the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors, unlike psychologists, and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental ailments, or strictly psychiatric.

As part of the clinical assessment process, psychiatrists may employ a mental status examination; a physical examination and possibly some tests. Psychiatrists prescribe medicine, and may also use psychotherapy, although the vast majority do medical management and refer to a psychologist or other specialist to deliver the therapy.

You can read more about Psychiatry here. Read More

Social Workers initially need to undertake and complete an accredited university degree level qualification, or overseas equivalent, in social work. Accredited Mental Health Social Workers status is awarded when the social worker meets additional criteria and passes a formal assessment by the governing body the Australian Association of Social Workers.

You can read more about Accredited Mental Health Social Workers here. Read More

They help individuals to resolve presenting psychological problems, the associated social and other environmental problems, and improve their quality of life. This may involve family as well as individual counselling, and group therapy. Social workers recognise the broader implications of an individual having a mental illness and the impact on friends, family, work and education.

Occupational therapists in mental health help people who have difficulty functioning because of a mental health condition to participate in normal everyday activities. Like the Registered Psychologist, Accredited Social Worker some can also provide focussed psychological strategies.

Accredited Practising Dietitians (APDs) are university-qualified professionals that undertake ongoing training and education programs to ensure that they are your most up-to-date and credible source of nutrition information.

APDs help treat a wide range of conditions including diabetes, heart disease, cancers, gastrointestinal diseases, food allergies, food intolerance’s, disordered eating as well as overweight and obesity.

They consider the whole person – that is, each person’s unique profile, such as their medical history, as well as their needs, goals and lifestyle. They also assess the body of scientific evidence, and are flexible with the advice and support they offer, on a case-by-case basis.

Being able to tailor nutrition advice to find the best approach for each person is the cornerstone of ‘Medical Nutrition Therapy’ – it’s what APDs are qualified to do.

APD’s also have a role working with people who are experiencing an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, Anorexia Bulimia and Binge Eating Disorder.

You can find more information here. Read More

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