Telehealth – Online Therapy Sessions

Attuned Psychology has been delivering therapy via video conferencing (known as Telehealth) for some time to remote and rural parts of Australia but now, in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the wake of recent bushfires, we can extend this offering due to recent Government changes.

The difficulty for our clients historically has been the lack of Medicare or private rebates associated with these services. We are now facing a new exciting era in psychological services as we embrace the use of telehealth as well as face to face therapy to increase access to services to the entire community.

It is heartening to note that research shows online sessions can be as effective as face-to-face sessions to achieve change, which is important to know during this time of social upheaval. Although it may feel awkward or a little anxiety provoking at first, we have found that clients adapt and find the opportunity to connect with a video/audio link or telephone extremely helpful once they try it out the first time.

Sometimes we find that if there is reticence to move to telehealth sessions, committing to a 30 minute session initially allows you and your practitioner to assess whether this feels like a comfortable and workable fit for you.

Our experience is that many people are pleasantly surprised at how helpful it is to maintain a connection in this way and allows them to understand that in times of crisis when support is needed, the benefits of maintaining that therapeutic relationship in difficult times soon shows up in their progress over time.

In the end, we will always work with you to access services in whatever way most works for you to achieve the outcomes you desire, whether through video, phone or face to face, using our clinical judgement also as to what will work best for the issues you face and your particular circumstances.

Having options allows for flexibility according to your circumstances and we are pleased that the Federal government has recently recognised the importance of increasing access via telehealth across the community and responded to this COVID-19 crisis by creating new item numbers for use with Medicare until Sept 30,2020 at this stage.

We are also pleased to announce that private health funds have also joined this trend and 90% of them are now offering rebates for telehealth for either video or phone counselling.

The Federal Government over time has announced that Telehealth may be used with our psychologists in five different ways, four currently with rebates attached:

  1. COVID-19 Telehealth for allied health – Telephone or video links are used for consultations with both psychologists and our clinical mental health social worker entitled to conduct sessions until Sept 30, 2020. These items are accessible to the entire community to address the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and if accessing these services you will be billed for 30 mins or 50+ minute consultations depending on your needs and circumstances. You must have a mental health care plan in place to be able to access services and are able to use video/audio link (preferred) or telephone if more appropriate or you do not have the technology. If you have already accessed services under a mental health care plan with face to face sessions, you will be automatically able to use your plan to access sessions using Telehealth as an alternative. You will still have access to 10 sessions in a calendar year whatever way these consultations are delivered giving options for you to continue your care online or face to face.  If you have not accessed our services before talk to your GP who will be able to refer you under a Mental Health care plan if they assess that you qualify for support, a consultation which can also be accessed via Telehealth if needed rather than face to face. Note that we are not bulk billing and are charging a gap beyond the standard bulk billing fee.
  2. Consumers in rural, remote and very remote communities (as classified under the Modified Monash Model (MMM) regions as MMM 4 to MMM 7) are eligible to access consultations via telehealth given the lack of services in specific communities.  These sessions require you to have both a video and audio link for you to be able to access services this way. Unike the No telephone allowed. If you live in a rural or remote region you may be able to access services with this government support – talk to us about where you live and we can determine if you qualify under this criteria.
  3. Bushfire Recovery items over a 2 year period until 2021- Like other previous telehealth consultations approved by the government, these require video/audio link for consultations and would allow you to access 10 consultations per year with no GP referral required. No phone calls are allowed under this scheme. These Medicare items were brought in to support anyone who was affected by the bushfires in 2019 who has been affected and these sessions are accessed are separate to the sessions accessed via the Better Access program.
  4. Private health Telehealth consultations – If you have private health cover and are covered for psychology, you may now be able to access a private health rebate if you have already been a client of the psychologist through face to face services for 6 months under private health accessing. If you are a new client, provided you have a recommendation from your GP, you will be able to access services this way. Private health clients may access services via video/audio or telephone and may have consultations of whatever length they like, usually being 60 minutes but these may be 30 minutes or 90 minutes if needed. Checking with your fund is the best way to determine whether you will be covered under your private health insurance.
  5. Private telehealth with no rebate -If you choose not to come under Medicare or private cover you may access our services via telehealth and would simply pay the full fee if you have no private health cover, accessing telehealth via video or phone links depending on their preference.

More information will be posted here as soon as we receive it so please keep your eyes on this page for more detail.

Our neuropsychologist Cate Cheetham and our practitioners that work with children and adolescents are excited to be able to bring their creativity and the latest professional development to provide high quality telehealth services.

They are looking forward to adapting some of their approach, in the case of neuropsychology for telehealth,  and to adapt working with kids and adolescents, drawing on creative ways of engaging kids online with the use of play therapy and games online. We promise that we are doing all we can to be providing high quality services in this area that work for all ages.

Also, please note that because Attuned Psychology is deemed an “essential service” we are still offering face-to-face therapy sessions following strict, safe, protocols during the impact of COVID-19. Read about our COVID-19 safety guidelines here

For more details contact our friendly reception staff on 08 8361 7008.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Frost has been interviewed by Steve Davis from Talked About Marketing about the extension of telehealth as a means for conducting therapy sessions online. We hope this addresses some of the myths and fears about Telehealth to reassure you.

08 8361 7008

Our preference is to speak with you because that helps us pair you with the most appropriate psychologist while avoiding a number of emails going back and forth. However, we are happy to communicate with you using either method. And for your convenience, we are here in person after hours until 9pm Monday to Thursday, and on Saturday until 2pm. We look forward to hearing from you.