1. How many sessions will I require? 

In order to provide you with appropriate input, we need to complete an initial assessment which generally takes 1.5 hours to thoroughly understand what your requirements are.  After this I would have a clearer idea of how many treatment sessions are needed.  Each individual has different presenting problems and requirements.  Some issues can be resolved over a few sessions; other people need more comprehensive input.

2. What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?

The Mental Health Foundation of NZ defines each as follows (it should be noted these are not definitive definitions rather provided to give you an idea of what the differences are):

Psychologists assess the current emotional and lifestyle problems of clients, their social and family histories, and examine how feelings, behaviour, beliefs, and culture interact to shape the person's experience and difficulties.  Psychologists can use psychometric tests to help identify problems and to measure client's impairment, skills and abilities.  They develop and implement individual treatment plans.  Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.

A psychiatrist is a qualified medical doctor who has obtained additional qualifications to become a specialist in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness problems.  They can prescribe medication.

3. Can I see you for treatment or assessment in relation to an accepted ACC claim I have? 

I do work with people on ACC who have sustained a physical or mental injury.  Depending on your need, I may be able to assist you.  If you believe you need to be assessed or work with a psychologist because of the effects of your injury, please contact ACC (0800 101 996) or your case manager to establish whether ACC will fund your visit to me.  Alternatively you may want to discuss this with your GP.

4. I have physical pain from an injury and have been told I need to see a psychologist.  How can a psychologist assist me in this instance? 

Often when we have a physical injury we attend physiotherapy and/or specialist appointments.  However, in addition to the physical aspect of an injury we also need to be mindful of the impact an injury can have on our psychological well being.  This is especially relevant over time if our injury or pain is not resolving.  It’s not a case of being considered “crazy” or “implying the pain is all in your head”.  What starts out as a physical injury may begin to impact on your psychological well being, ie on how we think and feel.  A psychologist can assess this to ensure your mental health remains strong and you remain well.  When we sustain an injury we cope the best way we know how.  A psychologist can review how you deal with your pain and/or injury, and teach you new or alternative strategies to help you cope even better. 

5. Should I take an anti-depressant medication?

Your GP is the person who is qualified to determine whether you require an anti-depressant medication.  A psychologist (or other health professional) can complete an assessment with you to help determine whether you are suffering from depression.  Once a screen has been completed, they will have a better idea of whether you have depression and the severity of it.  They would then talk through your treatment options.  For example, support and advice about self-help techniques, anti-depressant medication for moderate and severe depression and psychological treatments for moderate and severe depression.  Should your depression be moderate to severe, the psychologist would encourage you to see your GP to discuss your medication options.  Ideally, the most effective treatment for moderate to severe depression is a combination of anti-depressant medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) with a psychologist.  Only taking medication will not address the cause of your depression, nor teach you how to manage it, or teach you about relapse prevention to prevent a recurrence of it once you are feeling better.  www.depression.org.nz has excellent fact sheets on depression.