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Accessing Psychological Support for You and Your Little One

Navigating your child’s big feelings and tricky behaviours can be a lot. And then you add on the grind of day to day life, a new transition, or maybe you’re experiencing something super stressful. It can feel hard to know how to support your child. Sometimes it can be helpful to ask for some additional help and see someone who can give you and your child some tools and strategies to get through this time together.

Where to Begin

First, you’re doing a great job! Parenting is not an easy journey and it’s ok to acknowledge you don’t have all the answers. It’s brave to reach out for help and learn new ways to support yourself and your child.

The first thing to do is to book in an appointment with your GP to organise a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP). Your GP will ask you some questions to get a better understanding of what’s going on and create your MHCP. Your GP may recommended a psychologist to go and see, or if you have a particular one in mind you can ask your GP to put their name on the plan.

What Exactly Is A Mental Health Care Plan

With a MHCP you are entitled up to 10 sessions in a calendar year with a Medicare rebate. Initially, your MHCP will be for six sessions. After you have completed those sessions you and your psychologist will decide if more sessions are needed. If you decide you would like some more sessions your psychologist will write a letter to your GP outlining that more sessions are recommended, and you will need to visit your GP to get a plan for the remaining four sessions.

If you’re looking for parenting support the MHCP can be created in your name, but if you’re wanting strategies for you and your child, then the plan can be created in their name. Under Medicare, if the plan is in your child’s name, you can have up to two parent only sessions without the child present and still be eligible for the Medicare rebate.

Do You NEED a Mental Health Care Plan to See a Psychologist?

No, but they will make sessions more affordable. If you can not access the Medicare rebate, or if you need more than the 10 sessions you can pay the full cost of the session. However, if you have private health insurance you may be entitled to a rebate.

If you are with the NDIS and have funding available within your Capacity Building Supports you can use that to access psychology sessions.

You’ve Got The MHCP, Now What?

The next step is to call and book an initial appointment with a psychologist. Waitlist times may vary between different psychologists. It doesn’t hurt to call around and to find out who may be able to see you earlier.

It’s also important to remember that not all psychologists are experts across all areas. Jump on google and read the psychologists profile to make sure they specialise in the areas you are looking for support in.

If you end up booking in with a different psychologist than who is on your MHCP you will need to revisit your GP to have the plan amended.

What to Expect On The Day

The first appointment with your psychologist will focus on collecting information to understand what’s going on for you and your child. They will ask you questions to understand your current concerns, family history, your child’s developmental history, and areas you would like support with. This information will help your psychologist develop a treatment plan to achieve your goals.

On the day it can be helpful to take along your Medicare card (to process your rebate), and any previous reports if you have them (it’s ok if you don’t have these).

Other Parenting Support

If you’re looking for support but don’t want to see a psychologist, seeing a private psychologist is not your only option. There are lots of free evidence-based programs online that can support you and your child:

  • Triple P Positive Parenting Program Triple P is free online parenting program that provides parents with a range of positive parenting skills to support parents and their children from infancy to adolescents.

  • Parentline (QLD and NT) Parentline provides free telephone counselling and support for parents and carers in Queensland and Northern Territory.

  • Movember’s Family Man Movember's Family Man is an engaging, quick, and interactive online parenting program. Don't let the name fool you - although the program was developed to get more dad's involved, this can be accessed by mums or other caregivers.

  • The Brave Program The Brave Program is a free online program for the treatment and prevention of anxiety in children and adolescents.

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