It is estimated that one in five people suffer from emotional problems sufficiently distressing to justify seeking professional help. Symptoms can range from relatively mild feelings of depression and anxiety to severe distress and dysfunction that threatens life itself.
Scientific, medical and social research is enabling a better understanding of the nature and cause of psychiatric illnesses and symptoms, and improved diagnosis and treatment are constantly being developed.
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 and emotional problems. Because of their extensive medical and psychiatric training, psychiatrists are able to view illness in an integrated way by taking into consideration the related aspects of body and mind.
Psychiatrists are trained both to recognise and treat the effects of emotional disturbances on the body as a whole, as well as the effects of physical conditions on the mind. This is particularly important, as many emotional disturbances affect various parts of the body and physical illnesses can certainly affect the mind. A psychiatrist’s medical and psychiatric training allows both the physical and emotional to be kept in perspective.
The choice of therapy is very much an individual thing – we’ve outlined the key options available to help you make a decision and you are welcome to talk through the options with your doctor when you first meet.
As with all specialist medical services, we require a referral from your General Practitioner (GP). The referral will need to be either emailed by you, or faxed by your GP for consideration, prior to being offered an appointment.
A referral assists us in outlining the reasons for an appointment, types of treatment and medication requirements, whether the referral is appropriate for their practice and whether clinicians have capacity to provide an assessment, and where required, ongoing treatment. Due to these factors, a submission of a referral does not guarantee an appointment.
You do not need a referral to obtain an appointment with our counsellor, however to be able to be eligible for Medicare rebates with our psychologist, a referral or GP Mental Health Plan may be required.
You can either scan or take a photo with your phone of your referral and email it in. It must be clear and legible for the doctor to read.
Alternatively, when you obtain your referral from your GP, you can ask them to forward it directly to our rooms on your behalf.
It is important for either of the sending methods outlined above, that your contact number is also noted in the email or on the referral, so we may contact you.
Your referral will be presented to the psychiatrists or clinician to be reviewed and responded to.
While we endeavor to provide you with a response as soon as possible, we allow up to 7 days to receive feedback from the clinicians. Our reception staff will advise you of the outcome once they have the response.
Due to our commitment to providing the best possible care to our patients, we cannot always accept all referrals. So that our clinicians can best consider each referral, it is important that your referral letter from your GP clearly outlines the reasons for seeking treatment and if ongoing care is required. In instances where a referral is declined, this is usually based on our clinician’s capacity to take on new referrals or provide the particular treatment/therapy that is requested.
Red Tree Practice is not an urgent or emergency service provider. For any matters warranting emergency or urgent services, should be referred to the NSW Mental Health (T: 1800 011 511) to be linked with your local mental health team.
Alternatively, you can contact your GP or local hospital for further discussion regarding these or similar services.
Unfortunately, our clinicians are unable to offer consultations for the purposes of law ordered reports for persons unknown to our clinicians. We would suggest to seek other recommendations from your GP.
Generally, a referral from your GP is valid for 12 months for Medicare claiming purposes starting from the date of your first visit with the medical specialist.
If your referral is from a medical specialist, then it is only valid for 3 months for Medicare claiming purposes starting from the date of your first visit.
When renewing your referral, your GP may consider issuing an indefinite referral for the ongoing treatment of your condition. However if you develop a new or unrelated condition, then your GP must issue a new referral for that condition. If your regular GP changes then you will also need to obtain a new indefinite referral for the ongoing care of your condition. Your medical specialist may also request that you obtain a new GP referral periodically for an update, even when one has been issued for an indefinite period.
Medication reviews will generally require a 30min appointment, whereas therapy sessions generally last for around 45-50 minutes. Sometimes our clients also like to allow some time at either side of the session to clear their mind ahead of the therapy, or reflect on what has been discussed following the session.
Initial assessment bookings may be booked at a longer timeframe, but this will be discussed with you at the time of booking your appointment.
All you need to bring to the first session is yourself – you are enough. Our team don’t expect you to have completed “homework”. If you would like to bring something along feel free to – but there is no expectation that you do.
In your first session your treating psychiatrist will ask many questions to help gain an understanding of your particular circumstances.
Occasionally, psychiatrists may need to order blood tests and x-rays to exclude organic causes of symptoms.
Your first session will usually be around 60 minutes in length, longer in some circumstances. Don’t be concerned if your assessment is not finished within the first session – you are a complex being and the team working at Red Tree Practice understands and respects this.
This varies with every patient. Medication is just one option that will be considered by your doctor. A wide range of medications is now available for use in psychiatric illnesses. Medications can now effectively remove symptoms, alter the course of illnesses and commonly return patients to a normal life.
In some instances, medications can be life saving, for example, in a case of a severe depressive illness. Psychiatrists are highly experienced in prescribing and monitoring these medications.
Some doctors may request a second opinion before prescribing medications.
The evidence for psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy is still in its infancy, and none of our psychiatrists are offering this treatment currently at Red Tree Practice.
The TGA did announce changes effective from the 1st July 2023 that allow for the prescribing of MDMA for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and psilocybin for treatment-resistant depression. These changes restrict their use to specially Authorised Prescribers operating under strict controls to ensure the safety of patients, including being used in a controlled medical setting and under the supervision of a human research ethics committee. This means that their use will remain largely within a clinical trial setting.
We understand that you may not make the right connection with your psychiatrist or mental health clinician – so are always open to referring you to another member of the Red Tree Practice team or elsewhere.
This is an individual thing. Some patients will only require several sessions for assistance with medication. Others will benefit from regular psychotherapy which is usually once per week. Even once the more regular therapy has finished, our doctors welcome occasional visits with their former clients as a check in on how they are tracking.
Red Tree Practice also offers tele-psychiatry services via high definition video conference, however this service is usually offered to people whom the psychiatrist has had a chance to assess in person first.
There are requirements for any tele-psychiatry sessions to be eligible to claim via Medicare, please visit our online resources/links page for the Department of Human Services (Medicare) website for more information to see if you are eligible to claim. If the requirements are not met, these sessions are charged as an out of pocket cost.
You may be seeking further information regarding specific therapies, organisations, and programs available. We have collated a range of useful website resources below:
Anxiety, depression and suicide prevention support
Science. Compassion. Action.
Australia is a national mental health charity
Responsible for training, educating and representing psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand
CBT workbooks on anxiety, depression and other conditions.
UK-based website on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
An experienced relationship counsellor who consults at the Red Tree Practice.
A psychotherapist and psychologist who consults at Red Tree Practice
A child and adolescent mental health clinic located in Bondi Junction, where director Dr Jennifer Harris and Dr Peter Davies consult.
Help for Australians Living with OCD
Information for individuals affected by trauma, and clinicians working with trauma