Frequently Asked Questions About our Service

Cygnet Clinic was established to address the difficulties in accessing high quality Clinical Psychology services in our community. 

Q) What is Clinical Psychology? 

A) Clinical Psychology is branch of Psychology concerned with the treatment of mental health conditions by the use of psychological techniques. It is an established field based on decades of scientifically supported research. Clinical Psychologists often work in Psychiatric Hospitals and throughout the Public Health system treating patients and providing psychological assessments. In Western Australia, Clinical Psychologists & Neuropsychologists are the only types of Psychologists found in Psychiatric Hospitals. We work closely with doctors and Psychiatrists and our approach is often complementary with standard medical management of mental health conditions. There are other types of endorsed Psychologists, including Counselling Psychologists, Forensic Psychologists, Educational & Developmental Psychologists, and Organisational Psychologists. Each branch of Psychology has a specific focus that distinguishes them from other areas.  We make no claim of superiority between Clinical Psychologists and other Psychologists (in fact we have a significant number of Counselling and Forensic Psychologists on staff).  Clinical Psychologists have a different emphasis in training and qualifications, but all psychologists have their own proficiencies based on their unique skill set.  

Q) How many years to become a psychologist? 

6 years followed by a year to 2 years of supervised practice. 

Q) What is the Difference between Clinical Psychologists and Psychiatrists

A) Psychiatrists are Specialist Medical Practitioners and prescribe medications. Clinical Psychologists have studied six years at university followed by 2 years of registrarship, but are not trained to prescribe medications. Clinical Psychologists often work closely with General Practitioners, who may prescribed psychiatric medications such as antidepressants. The combination of medication and psychotherapy has been established as best practice in mental health and we emphasise a strong collaborative relationship between the referring Doctor, Patient and Psychologist as a treatment team.  Cygnet is one of the few private practices that have both Psychiatrists and Psychologists working together to improve the treatment of our clients by collaborative care (the gold standard of mental health treatment). See more about this in our video here.

Q) Why do people see Clinical Psychologists?

A) Clinical Psychologists are trained to treat diagnosable conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, however many people seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist when they are having difficulties coping with major life stressors and transitions. Cygnet Clinic Psychologists can assist with a wide variety of difficulties from learning problems in children to marriage difficulties in adults. Fortunately we have made progress in destigmatising mental health problems so that more Australian's feel comfortable about asking for help when they need it. 

Q) What is the difference between Psychologist and Clinical Psychologist?

A) The term "Psychologist" may describe professionals with at least 4 years at university followed by supervised work which has recently shifted to 5 years with 1 year of internship. The area of work is varied and these Psychologists are often referred to as "Registered Psychologists" or "Generalist Psychologists". Currently, those with endorsed "Clinical Psychologist" status have a higher Medicare Rebate than Registered Psychologists and all hold a Master of Psychology degree (as do Counselling Psychologists and Neuropsychologists to mention just a few). The Masters training in Clinical Psychology is based around the treatments for diagnosable mental health conditions.  Having a PhD or Masters degree does not indicate superiority as a therapist, but can contribute to an increased understanding of diagnosable mental health conditions such as Depression or Generalised Anxiety Disorder.   

See more in our video about Clinical Psychology here.

Q) Do I need a referral to see someone at Cygnet Clinic?

A) No, you do not require a referral and you can see one of our clinicians directly (and may be able to claim a rebate through your Private Health Insurance fund). The majority of referrals we receive, however, are from General Practitioners under Medicare (called Mental Health Care Plan). The rebate is substantial and covers the majority of our private fees.

Q) Who else can access the clinic?

A) We have substantial experience in working with patients who are referred to us under Workers Compensation or Motor Vehicle Accident Insurance. Patients who are injured at work or in a motor-vehicle access our service through insurance rather than through Medicare. We also assist organisations with their employees, providing support and treatment for a number of agencies. Normally, Workers Compensation and Motor-Vehicle Accident based referrals are made by your General Practitioner. 

Q) How many sessions do I get with a Medicare based referral (Mental Health Care Plan).

A) You receive 10 maximum sessions per calendar year (from January 1 to December 31) and under COVID changes this has been extended in 2021 to 20 sessions per year.  This change has been made permanent - and also includes Telehealth consultations

You can not carry across unused sessions from one year to the next. A referral under a Mental Health Care Plan is valid for 24 months, however your General Practitioner needs to write a referral letter for each batch of 10 sessions. There are no exceptional circumstances with referrals under the Medicare Program, and rebates can not be extended beyond the 10 sessions. You can continue to see your Psychologist after the 10 sessions are completed, however you will have to obtain your rebate from a Private Health insurer. 

Typically a review of your progress is required between the 6th and 7th session. This requires visiting your General Practitioner who may authorise and additional 4 sessions (unless the initial referral letter asks for 10 sessions specifically). It is compulsory for your Psychologist to write an update report at the 6th and 10th session mark. 

We also can accept referrals from Psychiatrists. These referrals do not require a Mental Health Care Plan but rather a signed referral letter with a date and a session number request.

Q) I have a Medicare referral (Mental Health Care Plan) does this mean I don't pay anything?

A)   No.  Cygnet Clinic is a private practice, and we do not bulk-bill.  Our concession rates are over $100 less that the Australian Psychological Society (APS) Recommended Rate.  If you are seeking help without an out of pocket cost, we suggest PORTS service which provides free counselling.  The current APS recommended rate for all Psychologists (not just Clinical) is $280/hour. 

Q) What makes Cygnet different to seeing a Psychologist in a small or solo practice?

A) There are many Psychologists available in private practice, often working alone or in small group practices. We have a model based on providing highly trained clinicians in specific areas (such as Child Psychologists, Psychologists with expertise in Eating Disorders etc.). This is based on the idea that one Psychologist can not be an expert in every area, so we have recruited a team based on their unique skills and expertise. This also provides our clinicians with the opportunity to work side-by-side with Psychologists who are experts in other areas to encourage ongoing professional development.

The other advantage of having a large practice is that we encourage patients to select a Clinical Psychologist that they feel comfortable with. If the Psychologists is not a good fit, we strongly encourage our patients to let us know so we can better meet their needs by selecting another clinician on our staff. Having such a breadth of Psychologists means that finding one that suits you is easier than if there is only one Psychologist at a solitary practice. If you feel that the level of service you receive from our clinicians is not up to our high standards, please let us know by filling in an anonymous form here.

Cygnet Clinic is one of the few clinics in Western Australia with active partnerships with Universities. We help train Masters & Doctoral students in clinical practice and provide services such as the Postgraduate Clinic at little cost to the community. Keeping close links with tertiary institutions also means that we are up-to-date with the latest research on clinical interventions.  We also have Psychiatrists onsite which means that patients do not need to visit several different practices to manage their mental health care needs. 

Q) Is Cygnet Clinic owned by a large medical group or other health corporations?

No, we are an independently established and self-organised group of clinicians. All our clinicians are independent private practitioners. We love the work we do, and we only recruit Clinical Psychologists who feel the same way. Our Psychologists have excellent reputations in the Mental Health field which is part of the reason why we have grown in size. 

Q) I've never seen a Psychologist before. What can I expect?

Cygnet Clinic offers a professional and confidential service in a safe environment that allows you to explore issues and make positive changes. Consultations usually last 50 minutes. The first consultation usually consists of a full psychological assessment with subsequent sessions consisting of individualising a treatment plan for you and implementing this plan. It's normal to feel apprehensive about seeing a Psychologist for the first time, however seeing a mental health professional is commonplace and many people from all sorts of backgrounds have sort our services.

Typically, the type of therapy offered will be Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). CBT is based on the concept that our emotions and actions are mostly influenced by our thoughts and the way we perceive and evaluate situations. Research has shown that people tend to think in unhelpful ways when they feel stressed, depressed or anxious. CBT aims to identify activities you enjoy and teach you strategies to help modify your thoughts and the way you assess things so that you can manage your emotions better. 
Other evidence-based therapies offered at Cygnet Clinic include dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), schema therapy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma-related difficulties and Interpersonal Psychotherapy (IPT). 

Throughout therapy you will be asked to do things differently. You may be asked to keep practicing the skills you learn between sessions. It can seem hard to change at first while things are difficult, however you should keep in mind two things. First, try to make small changes to begin with. Second, change is always difficult at first so it is important to keep trying; things will get easier as you keep doing them. 

Therapy is a big commitment and will require some perseverance from you. Please ask any questions or let us know if you encounter any difficulties along the way. 

Q) It can be difficult to get through on the telephone to make a booking without waiting. 

A) At times our receptionists are extremely busy and you might be required to wait on the line or leave a voicemail. If we miss your call, we do our very best to get back to you as soon as we can. The quickest way to make an appointment with our Clinical Psychologists is to use the Book Online button under each clinicians profile picture on the homepage. This allows you to book an appointment without needing to talk to our reception staff on the telephone.

Q) Aren't the best private health services located in Subiaco, West Perth or other affluent western suburbs?

A) Traditionally private health services have been concentrated in affluent areas. This has been identified by many in the health system as a problem and significantly contributes to inequity in access to effective treatments. We believe in providing high quality clinical services to all members of the community irrespective of their postcode.

Q) Do you partner with other organisations or businesses?

A) Yes. Cygnet has relationships with a number of service providers in diverse fields such as education, rehabilitation, emergency services, vocational training, employee support, drug & alcohol rehabilitation, residential psychiatric care and non-government organisations. We have a strong culture of collaboration and value working with other organisations to assist in improving psychological health. Contact Cygnet Clinic's Directors Dr Brendon Dellar and Rachael Williams if your organisation would like to work together with us.

Q) Why are some psychologists referred to as Doctor or Dr and others not?

A) The title Dr or Doctor in Psychological practice refers to individuals who have obtained a doctoral degree (such as PhD) from a recognised University. A doctoral degree is the highest level of degree offered by universities (levels include: 1. Bachelor; 2. Honours or Postgraduate Diploma; 3. Masters; 4. Doctoral PhD). A Psychologist with a doctoral degree does not mean they are better therapists than those without, and a PhD is awarded on the basis of original and substantive research rather than clinical practice. Traditionally individuals with a PhD (highest level degree) and Medical Practitioners have shared the use of the title. However in recent years, a number of other non Medical Practitioners have adopted the title "Dr" or Doctor so it is difficult to ascribe specific meaning to the title. All clinicians at Cygnet using this title have earned a Doctoral degree (Doctor of Psychology or PhD) from an Australian university. 

If you have any other questions not answered here, please feel free to contact us.

Keep in Touch

Let us update you on changes in Cygnet Clinic and new initiatives in Mental Health treatment available in Western Australia (including updates to any changes to the Better Access to Mental Health Medicare System).

If your are in need of help urgently, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14