Psychology and Mental Health Care

Psychologist Simonette Vaja can provide the following services with recommended rebates through Medicare.

Focussed Psychological Strategies

The cornerstone of ATAPS is the delivery of approved FPS to BOMHC Program clients referred by their GPs. FPS are defined as being time-limited, evidence-based psychological treatments from an approved specified range. The standard provision for FPS covers up to six sessions by a practitioner (note that some Divisions initially provide four funded sessions, which can then be extended to eight sessions). Each session must be a minimum of 30 minutes, but is usually 50-60 minutes in length. A further six sessions (two or four in some Divisions) may be recommended following a review by the referring GP. In principle, the maximum number of FPS sessions that can be delivered under the BOMHC Program is 12 in total, but in order to distribute services more widely some Divisions have capped the total number of sessions for each client at eight.

Approved Focussed Psychological Strategies

The approved range of FPS currently covers the following psychological interventions.

Psycho-education Psycho-education usually involves giving the client information about the mental health disorder, including its prevalence, symptoms and related difficulties, aetiology, prognosis and recommended treatments.

Motivational interviewing The goal of this technique is to build the motivation for change in clients who are either ambivalent or who are reluctant to change. Discrepancies between clients' current behaviour and their goals are highlighted as a vehicle to trigger behaviour change.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) CBT has two aspects: behaviour therapy and cognitive therapy. Behaviour therapy is based on the theory that behaviour is learned and therefore can be changed. Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that distressing emotions and maladaptive behaviours are the result of faulty or irrational patterns of thinking. Therefore, therapeutic interventions are aimed at replacing such dysfunctional thoughts with more rational cognitions, which then leads to an alleviation of problem thoughts, emotions and behaviour. CBT interventions include the following:

Behavioural interventions

  • Behaviour modification (particularly for children, including analysis of behaviour and contingency management)

  • Exposure techniques

  • Activity scheduling

Cognitive interventions
  • Cognitive analysis, challenging and restructuring of thoughts

  • Self-instructional training

  • Attention regulation

Relaxation strategies
  • Guided imagery

  • Deep muscle relaxation

  • Isometric relaxation

Skills training
  • Problem-solving skills training

  • Anger management

  • Stress management

  • Communication training

  • Social skills training

  • Parent management training

Interpersonal therapy (IPT) IPT is based on the theory that interpersonal relationships play a significant role in both causing and maintaining depression. IPT aims to identify and resolve interpersonal difficulties that are thought to be related to depression. These difficulties may include conflict with others, role disputes or role transitions, social isolation and prolonged grief following loss. IPT explores clients' perceptions and expectations of relationships, and aims to improve communication and interpersonal skills.

Narrative therapy (indigenous clients only) Narrative therapy has been approved as a psychological intervention only for indigenous clients with mental health problems. Narrative therapy has been identified as a mode of working of particular value to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as it builds on the story telling that is a central part of their culture. Narrative therapy is based on the notion that people arrange their life experiences in sequences across time in order to arrive at a coherent account of themselves and the world around them (referred to as a 'self-narrative'). The role of narrative therapy is to assist clients to move away from problem-dominated stories that leave them without solutions and towards stories that highlight possibilities and opportunities.

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