General Questions


Q. Do i need a referral to see a psychologist at westhealth?

A. You are welcome to see one of our psychologists without a referral. If you have private health insurance you may be eligible for a rebate for the session fee. It’s a good idea to check with your insurer to find out your level of cover.
If you are referred by your GP through a GP Mental Health Care Plan (item #2710) or referred by your Pediatrician or Psychiatrist you will be eligible to claim a Medicare rebate for up to 10 sessions per year.
If you are referred by a third party, such as an Insurance company, Work Cover, Solicitor or rehabilitation program, referral information must be made available at the time of making the appointment.


Q. what is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

A. The main differences are around education and training, therapeutic models, the use of prescription medicines, and the types of illnesses that people have. 


  • A psychologist studies human behaviour in their undergraduate degree, then studies for a minimum of two more years for further postgraduate qualifications such as Masters or PhD.

  • During the years of further study they must do extensive research on their specialty area. It is this focus on research and the applications of the clinical outcomes that most distinguishes psychologist from other mental health providers.

  • Psychologists do not prescribe medications. They use other effective treatments to manage common psychological problems and to help people realise their potential.


  • A psychiatrist studies medicine and then goes on to specialise in mental illness.

  • Psychiatrists are often involved more in assessment of mental illness and the pharmacological management of it. For example, psychiatrists often prescribe medications such as mood stabilisers or anti depressants to affect a chemical change in the brain.

  • Psychiatrists are often more involved in seeing people in acute states of mental illness such as during periods of psychosis.


Q. WHO are clinical psychologists?

A. Clinical psychologists are highly trained professionals who usually work in hospitals, mental health clinics, health centres, and in private practice. They are not medically trained and therefore do not prescribe medication. Inst read, they use their knowledge of behaviour, emotions and thinking to assist people who are having difficulties.

Clinical psychologists have at least two degrees. They first study for a general degree in psychology. Following graduation they are usually required to get work experience in research or clinical settings before embarking on further training. Based on their general degree results and work experience they are selected for accredited training in Clinical psychology. Clinical psychology training usually consists of a further two or three years training resulting in a Masters degree or Doctorate in Clinical Psychology. In addition, many clinical psychologists also go on to do further training is areas of special interest.


Q. how can a clinical psychologist help you?

A. Clinical psychologists provide their clients with the opportunity to talk and think about the things that are concerning and worrying them. They do not prescribe medications. Clinical psychologists also help individuals explore, understand and interpret their situation.

Clinical psychologists often work with problems such as low mood, stress, anxiety and bereavement. Psychological approaches can also offer practical assistance in building on a person’s self management skills, e.g. to increase their capacity to adhere to medical treatments or to lifestyle changes, to increase personal independence, to develop more effective social interaction skills, and to overcome fears.