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Referring Professionals

Clinical Psychologists work in a variety of roles, and in a variety of settings. They may see clients in private practice for therapeutic interventions, work in teams alongside other health professionals in hospitals or clinics, school settings, or in companies providing support for employees. All roles come under the rubric of promoting and bringing about better mental health and well being for people in the Australian community.

As well as therapy, we are trained in assessments for a variety of purposes such as education, personality, psychological issues, occupational performance, autism spectrum and ADHD. 

Clinical Psychologists play an important role in recruitment, occupational health, maximising work performance, or assistance in finding a career direction that fits an individual’s interests, aptitudes and abilities.

This breadth means individual Clinical Psychologists develop particular interests, proficiencies and capabilities. It is best to match your requirements with the proficiencies and skills of the individual with the specific needs of the client/patient. Our membership directory is designed to assist with this.   

A referral is necessary for a client to receive Medicare rebated sessions (see medicare fact sheet). It is not necessary to write a referral if you are recommending someone consult with a Clinical Psychologist, although a letter or report can be useful.    

Private Health Fund and Medicare Rebates

It is not necessary to have a referral to see a Clinical Psychologist. Private rebates are available when an individual sees a Clinical Psychologist on a private basis.

A referral is needed for Medicare rebates to be made available. General Practitioners complete a “Mental Health Care Plan” (see fact sheet). 

What is a ‘Clinical Psychologist’ and how can they help?

Clinical psychologists have advanced university and clinical training in understanding, diagnosing and treating psychological, behavioural and emotional issues and mental health problems.

Clinical psychologists assess symptoms of psychological distress and determine the appropriate psychological therapy. We work with mild as well as complex mental health issues, and may also give advice about lifestyle changes that can help improve well-being and health.

Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication.

That is the area in which medical practitioners work. Instead, clinical psychologists use psychological therapies to help manage distress and psychological issues. Clinical psychologists work in hospital settings, schools, various government agencies, community mental health settings, universities and in private practice. We work with individuals, couples, families, and groups. We commonly liaise and work alongside other health professionals, employers, and educational agencies.

Clinical psychologists have highly developed skills in diagnosing and treating mental and emotional disorders.

We have specialist skills in the area of psychology and mental health. We are trained in delivering therapy, in a variety of modalities.

We are trained in psychological assessment and can use tests, interviews and observations of behaviour to assess, interpret and form understandings about personality, thinking and emotions.

Assessment can be important for education, work, relationships and other areas where problems might arise.

We are also trained in research to understand humans and psychological processes.

Clinical psychologists can help with:

  • Adjusting to life changes through various stages of life (childhood to older age)
  • Stress, anxiety and worry
  • Trauma
  • Depressed or low mood
  • Sleep problems
  • Alcohol and drug issues
  • Addictive behaviours (e.g. gambling, gaming)
  • Memory and forgetting
  • Poor concentration and distractibility
  • Autism and neurodevelopmental disorders
  • Intellectual disability and learning difficulties
  • ADHD
  • Behaviour problems
  • Educational and work assessments
  • Adjusting after an accident
  • Adjustment after brain injury 

This list is not exhaustive.

What is their training?

Clinical Psychologists have amongst the highest level of education of all mental health care professionals.

All ICP Clinical Psychologists have either a Master’s or Doctoral degree from their university training, as well as 6 years university training in psychology, followed by up to 2 years of registrar training under expert clinical supervision.

To check the qualifications of a particular individual to see whether they are a clinical psychologist (or registered psychologist) go to then search the Register of Practitioners. Click on View Details to ascertain whether the person is endorsed as a clinical psychologist.

Only those practitioners who are endorsed as such by the Psychology Board of Australia are permitted to use the title ‘Clinical Psychologist’.

Information for General Practitioners and Specialists referring to Clinical Psychologists

Ethical duties of clinical psychologists, psychologists and general practitioners in the referral process.
  • Clinical psychologists have dedicated postgraduate university training in the treatment of mental health and relationship issues.
  • Clinical psychologists are recognised by Medicare and the Psychology Board of Australia as the professionals who can assess and formulate individualised treatment for mental health issues.
  • Clinical Psychologists are trained to take into consideration specific needs of an individual, couple, family, or group and to develop a tailor made approach suitable to the context.
  • Ethically, all psychologists are required to work within their areas of expertise and to ensure a referral is an appropriate match.
Referrals under medicare

Which classification system is used to determine of a patient is eligible for rebates?

  • To inform whether a rebate is payable, Medicare relies on the World Health Organisation, 1996, Diagnostic Guidelines for Mental Disorders in Primary Care (ICD – 10) Chapter V Primary Care Version 
  • It is important to note that Medicare makes a distinction between mental health classifications in the main ICD – 10 and the primary care version. This confuses many because the primary care version does not cover all mental health conditions that are in the main ICD – 10 classifications.
  • As such, personality disorders are not rebatable under the primary care version.  However, there is a category, Mental Disorder, not otherwise specified, which may attract rebates.
  • Medicare also excludes rebates for dementia, tobacco use disorder and mental retardation as these are not considered to be mental disorders, even though these appear in the primary care version of ICD – 10.
The referral process for medicare:

What is a referral?

  • The general referral process is described in the explanatory notes of the MBS at page 14.
  • A referral is a request to a Clinical Psychologist for investigation, opinion, treatment and/or management of a condition or problem or for the performance of specific examinations(s) or tests(s).
How to make a valid referral:

 Click here for details

In essence, the GP must:

  • Conduct an assessment/examination.  There are specific requirements that must be undertaken for the assessment, including the administration of an outcome measure.
  • Prepare a Mental Health Treatment Program.  There are specific requirements that must be met for the formulation of the Mental Health Plan.
  • Inform the patient of the Program.
  • Offer a copy of the plan to the patient
  • Place the plan into the patients notes
  • Lodge and claim for the item under which the plan was formulated or reviewed.
  • Write a letter to the Clinical Psychologist.  Provision of the Mental Health care plan is not considered a letter.  It is also not necessary for the GP to provide the mental health care plan.

Referrals under private health funds

A patient does not have to be formally referred by a General Practitioner to claim private health fund rebates.  However, it is helpful to the Clinical Psychologist if a referral letter is received because it can assist with management.

Referrals in the medico – legal context, especially workers compensation and motor vehicle insurance/ catastrophic injury claim

If a medico-legal assessment is required, the legal practitioner will often contact the Clinical Psychologist directly and outline the task with a ‘letter of instruction’.

If treatment is required, it is helpful if the patient’s General Practitioner writes a referral. The insurer will often need to be contacted, and in agreement, for payment of this treatment.

Employee Assistance Programmes

No letter of referral is required for rebates under these programmes.

Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA)

A referral to the Clinical Psychologist is required to commence treatment. There is no formal requirement for reports to be provided on the treatment progress or outcomes, although this can be useful for shared care. 


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