Leisa Aitken - Christian Clinical Psychologist blog


Do I need a Doctor’s referral?

You do not need one, but there is benefit in getting a GP’s assessment to get a medicare rebate.

Medicare rebates

Most people who see me have a GP referral under the Better Access to Mental Health Care plan, which enables you to access a Medicare rebate for Psychology sessions for 6 sessions. If you think you need more, then you re-visit the GP who may approve another 4 sessions, with a cap of 10 sessions per calendar year. This rebate covers about half of the cost of a session.


What is the difference between a psychiatrist, psychologist, and clinical psychologist?

A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor specialising in mental illness who can prescribe drugs such as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics.

A Psychologist has done a four year degree and at least two years of supervised experience in order to be registered.

A Clinical psychologist is a registered psychologist with an additional Masters degree specializing in the clinical aspects of Psychology- for example, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

What type of frameworks do you use?

Psychologists use a range of different models to guide what we do. I use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and a newer type of CBT called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). These models of therapy are acknowledged by the Australian Psychological Society (APS) as being evidence based psychological interventions for most common mental health issues (you can look at APS website for more information).

I often teach Mindfulness skills – learning to slow down and appreciate the present moment, which not only helps with stress but also to calm intense emotions.

Another core framework for me is Bowen Family Systems Theory. This involves exploring the unhelpful habits that we can get trapped in when relationship systems are complex and anxious, and then working out how to stay calm and think clearly, rather than be emotionally reactive.

What happens when I see a psychologist?

In the first session you tell your story- what is happening in life that has brought you to a place of realising that something needs to change.

We spend the next few sessions applying psychological skills to these issues. It could be a total of only 2 or 3 sessions or up to 10 or more if that is helpful. There are often new ways of behaving, thinking or relating that we discuss in session that you can explore in between sessions at home in your ‘natural habitat’!

Where can I hear or read more?

I have been a regular speaker on psychological issues on radio station Hope 103.2.

To know more about Family Systems Theory you can look at www.thebowencenter.org

To know more about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy see www.thehappinesstrap.com

I have also written an article on Mindfulness on the Centre for Public Christianity- publicchristanity.org

Leisa Aitken Clinical Psychologist Northern Beaches

Phone:  0421 856 281
Email: leisaaitken@optusnet.com.au