Frequently Asked Questions

Getting Started

Do we bulk bill

No, we do not bulk bill. We also do not know any clinical psychologists who work with complex clients that bulk bill that we can refer you to, unfortunately.  We wish we did!

Are our fees negotiable?  Can I get a reduced rate?

No, our fees are not negotiable.  However, our fees are low and are established to cover the running costs for the Centre.  The Centre is not profit driven, and is a service primarily established to meet a need in the community.  Our fees and program are structured around the medicare rebate scheme for clinical psychology.

What type of clients do we see?

We see all kinds of clients, from individuals diagnosed with a formal psychiatric disorder, to people needing support, who may be having difficulties managing a series of changes or those who are needing help making decisions.  We also provide psychological testing and diagnostic services.  Generally no case will be too hard, we are quite experienced, and we are happy to work with your on whatever you need help with.  We work with Victims of Crime, TAC, Workcover, Defense Force personnel, Department of Human Services cases, and are happy to take on most cases.

If you think you need counseling, then you probably do.  We will work with you on whatever you wish to focus on in your sessions, and do our best to help you move forward to where you wish to be.

What kind of therapy do we do?

We have two arms of treatment at The Melbourne DBT Centre, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy and also general counseling.

Attending our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy program involves weekly group and individual therapy.  Sometimes people don’t want the full DBT program, and have DBT oriented individual therapy.  Please view the information on our site for a detailed description of DBT.

Our approach to general counseling involves a collaborative approach, where we work with you to identify what your goals are for your counselling.  We then identify the most effective way to help you achieve these goals, and pull from our experience and knowledge to help you get where you want to be.  We generally use empirically based approaches, which means we use strategies that have been researched and proven to be effective for your particular problem.

We also have an emphasis at the Centre on finding practical solutions that actually work for you, that make a difference in your life, rather than just talking about your problems and hoping that this will change things by itself.  We have found that talking alone generally isn’t enough, and people often need real solutions to their problems, in addition to talking things through in most cases.  Our general therapy approach works along these lines, and is essentially collaborative, supportive and focussed on helping you solve your problems using strategies or learning skills that work.  Our therapists are highly skilled and committed professional therapists, who are engaged in active supervision and ongoing professional training, and are warm and sincere about their work as psychologists.

Can I just attend the DBT skills groups on their own?

No, you are unable to attend just the DBT groups at our Centre.  There are multiple reasons for this, the most important being that we need to meet with you for an individual DBT session every week, to help you learn and apply the DBT skills you learn in the group to your particular problems.  It is important that we have this type of therapeutic relationship with you to help you master the DBT skills.

Other reasons are: DBT is designed as a comprehensive treatment package, and the most current research shows that all parts of the DBT treatment package are necessary.   We know the full package as it was originally designed works!  In addition, there is no research to support group-only DBT, and we do not want to engage in treatment that is not supported by evidence that it is helpful and works.

At the Melbourne DBT Centre, we pride ourselves on providing what is called a ‘standard’ or ‘full’ DBT program, and that our treatment program adheres to and closely follows the DBT model as designed by Dr Marsha Linehan, the originator of DBT.

I already have a therapist.  Can I just come to the groups and do the individual DBT sessions with them?

If you are already engaged in therapy with a mental health professional, you are welcome to continue seeing them while you are in treatment with us.  However, DBT is a specialised and intensive form of therapy, with specific strategies, and this is generally not recommended alongside the DBT treatment protocol.

If you are considering coming to the Centre for treatment, you should speak to your current therapist about what you want to do.  You are welcome to contact us for information about DBT and our programs to help you do this, or if you want to make a first appointment just to explore if the program and our Centre might be right for you.

Can I refer myself?

Yes, you are welcome to do so, and are free to choose your therapist.  If you wish to claim medicare rebates to assist you with your fees, then you need to meet with your GP and have them write a Mental Health Plan (item 2710).  From the date this plan is written, you are eligible to receive medicare rebates for your sessions with us or any psychologist who is registered to provide services with medicare.

Do I need a referral from my GP to come and see you?

No, you do not have to have a GP or any other referral to come to see us.  However, if you wish to claim medicare rebates to assist with your fees, you do need to meet with your GP and have them write a Mental Health Plan (item 2710) referring you to The Melbourne DBT Centre.  You should tell your GP receptionist when you are booking your appointment to see your GP that you are coming in for a Mental Health Plan, so they allow the right amount of time for the appointment.

From the date this plan is written, you are eligible to receive medicare rebates for up to 10 individual sessions and 10 group sessions.  If your GP agrees, you may also be eligible for a further 5 sessions under a Chronic Disease Management referral (formally called Enhanced Primary Care).  Obtaining any of these rebates is completely up to your GP, and will need to be discussed with them, as there are specific criteria that have to be met to receive these rebates.

I have already had some sessions with another psychologist.  Can I come and see you?

Yes, you are free to choose and change your psychologist at any time.  You must inform your existing therapist that you are concluding your appointments with them prior to commencing with us, as a professional courtesy.  You are welcome to book an appointment in advance with us for this purpose, if having continuous support is important to you.

We will correspond with your GP as a matter of regular professional communication about your change in therapist, but we will also encourage you to talk to your GP about what you want to do with your treatment.

We suggest you also call or go into a medicare office and work out exactly how many sessions you have available for a medicare rebate, so you are able to plan and be informed of the out of pocket costs of your treatment with us.  We are unable to call medicare to do this on your behalf due to privacy restrictions with medicare.

Do we know any psychiatrists who do DBT?

There are some psychiatrists who have training in DBT, but none who say they are DBT therapists that we know of.

Do we know any psychiatrists who specialise in BPD?

Yes we do.  However, they are sometimes restricted in being able to take new patients on.  Please contact us if you need this type of referral. We typically make this type of referral in conjunction with you commencing treatment with us.  It often helps the psychiatrist to take on a new referral if you are already engaged in therapy with us and there is a treatment plan in place.

Do we know any rural psychologists or psychiatrists who do DBT or specialise in BPD?

No, we do not.  Mental health professionals in rural Victoria are in high demand, and they generally have to work with a very wide range of cases in their roles and generally do not specialise for this reason.  However, there are mental health professionals in rural Victoria that have had training in DBT, and who have a professional interest in this area.

We do not have a data base of contacts of these people, unfortunately, to give you a name.  If you are seeking someone in your area, we recommend you calling all the mental health professionals in your area and asking them about their training and tell them what type of treatment you are seeking.  Keep going until you find someone that is right for you.  You can often tell by how you feel on the phone with someone, if you would be able to form a good therapeutic relationship with them.

We also have people from rural Victoria who come to see us regularly and participate in the DBT program.  We are happy to try to accommodate travel arrangements and so forth to make this possible if needed.

Do we work with people simultaneously under the care of a psychiatrist, another service, or who are recently discharged or about to be discharged from hospital?

We certainly do, this is part of our routine work.  If you do not have a psychiatrist but need one, when you come to see us, we will liaise with your GP and direct you to a suitable psychiatrist that we work with.

Do we know other DBT programs?

Yes we do.  There are several programs in the public health system, that are no cost, and also a few attached to private hospitals, in most Australian States.

To gain access to the public programs, you need to be in the catchment area for that specific service, and also, you typically need to be already receiving case management from the relevant Area Mental Health Service.  You need to check the entry requirements, as they vary by service.

To gain access to the programs attached to private hospitals, unless you are willing to pay entirely out of pocket, you need to have private health insurance that covers psychiatric admissions, and have a private psychiatrist who is affiliated with the relevant hospital, to refer you to these programs.

In Victoria, the public DBT programs are attached to Southern Health in Dandenong, Monash and Frankston, Barwon Health and Pathways in Geelong, Mildura Base Hospital, and the Alfred Hospital outpatient services.

In Victoria, the DBT programs attached to private hospitals are at The Melbourne Clinic, Delmont Private and Albert Road Clinic.

All of these DBT programs have variations on the DBT model as it was designed by Linehan to greater or lesser degrees. Many provide DBT skills group that have been adapted or changed, or combine some DBT skills with other treatment methods.  Some offer DBT individual therapy and many do not.  In some programs the groups are run according to Linehan’s protocol, and some groups involve variations or adaptions of the DBT content and model, some with minor and some with significant changes.  Some programs run continuously and others do not. Each program has its own criteria for entry and the path you must follow to access the program.

The first DBT program established in Victoria was the program at Dandenong attached to Southern Health, which has been running for a very long time, over 10 years, and which still adheres closely to Linehan’s model.   There are also some DBT groups and programs that are part of the Justice system, and some adaptions for young people in inpatient settings.  There are DBT programs in public and private hospitals in South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, in Australia.  DBT is a well established and effective treatment used throughout the country.

The Melbourne DBT Centre was established to meet the need in the community for people who are seeking DBT but who cannot gain access to the private hospital or public health programs, or who are seeking treatment privately for other reasons, such as timing of groups and appointments, or for those who are seeking DBT treatment that tightly adheres to the DBT framework and protocol as designed by Linehan.

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