Mental Health Care Plans (Australia)

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Couple Therapy is not covered under Australian Mental Health Care Plans, because only individuals can be diagnosed with a mental health condition. However, some psychologists will suggest that one partner try to obtain a Mental Health Care Plan from a GP, based on an underlying mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. The Plan is then used for couple therapy, provided that the partner with the diagnosed condition attends.

This approach may work for you. However, I do not offer this service and I suggest you consider the implications before proceeding. Accessing the Medicare rebate for mental health means that your mental illness diagnosis becomes part of your permanent health record. This may impact your future treatment and status in health care facilities, legal processes, insurance and employment.

In addition, services under the Medicare rebate scheme have a gap fee, so you could still end up making a significant contribution and you will be limited as to which therapists you can work with and the type of treatment that they offer. The arrangement also only covers 6-10 sessions per year.

In my view, the decision to exclude couples therapy from the scheme was correct. Relationship counselling is not an appropriate use for a Mental Health Care Plan. If you need more information, a patient fact sheet from the Australian Department of Health is available here.

Click here for another view from a colleague with more detailed information