May 13, 2024

Are Psychotherapists Eligible For a Medicare Rebate in Australia?

Medicare Rebate for Australian Psychotherapists

Are Psychotherapists Eligible For a Medicare Rebate in Australia?

For many Australians today, mental health services are crucial. As the importance of mental health care grows and gains recognition, access to the treatment from professional psychotherapy services has become essential. When debating whether to seek out these services, you may wonder, "Are Psychotherapists eligible for a medicare rebate in Australia?". The answer is no, most Counsellors, Psychotherapists and Relationship Therapists are out of the medicare game as Australia only allows psychologists and some social workers to work with Medicare for mental health and this article aims to shed light on the details.

The Role of Psychotherapists vs. Psychologists

Psychotherapy or ‘talk therapy’ is a much-needed service for individuals dealing with a range of issues, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and other mental health challenges. Although these psychotherapists apply therapeutic methodologies to help people grow, change and manage your mental wellbeing, it's important to distinguish between Psychologists and Psychotherapists as they are two completely different professions with different qualifications and training.

Psychologists have typically completed a Masters of Professional or Clinical Psychology, whereas psychotherapists are not required to completed formal education. There is no law in Australia that requires a person who provides a counselling service to have either qualifications or experience which means that people without training or skills can call themselves counsellors or psychotherapists. This is why many psychologists refer to psychotherapists as the cowboys of the wild west when it comes to mental health treatment and why the government won't provide a rebate for their services. However, despite these differences, psychotherapists provide essential services that form a significant part of Australia's ever-evolving healthcare landscape.

The Intricacies of the Medicare Rebate

The Australian Government understands the importance of affordable mental health services, and hence they made significant changes to the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) in November 2006. Known as the ‘Better Access’ initiative, these amendments were developed to provide better access to mental health professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and eligible social workers and occupational therapists – but not psychotherapists.

Mental health care plans are an integral part of this initiative. Once a patient is assessed or suspected of having a diagnosable mental disorder by their medical general practitioner (GP), they can receive a Medicare rebate for up to ten individual and ten group allied health services per calendar year. For these services to be eligible, a referral process must be initiated by a GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician.

How Does the Medicare Rebate Work?

There are a few steps to securing a Medicare rebate for psychotherapy sessions. The first of these is speaking to your GP about your mental health concerns. This typically involves completing a screening task or questionnaire scale to identify how many symptoms you're potentially experiencing which you then take along to your first appointment.

The GP may then develop a Mental Health Treatment Plan (MHTP). Once this plan has been made, the GP can either refer you directly to a psychologist or can refer you to a psychiatrist who can, in turn, provide you with a psychiatrist assessment and management plan. Alternatively, a paediatrician can offer a child under the age of 16 with diagnosis and treatment plan.

Once you have your relevant plan and referral, you can then access psychotherapy services with a trained professional. After each session, the psychotherapist will submit a claim to Medicare on your behalf, and the rebate will be given directly to you or can be put towards the costs of your psychotherapy session.

What Percentage does Medicare Cover?

While psychotherapists work with a wide range of fees, the rebate you receive from Medicare is usually around 75% to 85% of the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) fee for a consultation. It is paramount to be aware that some psychotherapists charge more than the amount listed in the MBS. In such scenarios, you may need to pay a gap fee.

Are All Psychotherapeutic Services Covered by Medicare?

Although a vast range of psychotherapy services are indeed eligible for a Medicare rebate, not all such services fall under the ambit of this provision. Consequently, it is always advisable to verify the eligibility of the specific service you seek to avail with the therapist or the administrative staff of the specific service. Unfortunately most psychotherapists without proper qualifications are no eligible to offer a Medicare rebate, which is why it's recommended to seek support from a psychologist.

The Importance of the Medicare Rebate for Psychotherapy

The Medicare rebate for psychotherapy sessions in Australia plays a significant role in making mental health services more affordable and accessible. The purpose is to ensure all Australians can seek help when they need it, without financial impediments becoming a barrier to much-needed service. Mental health conditions can affect all areas of life, from work performance to relationships, and having access to affordable psychotherapy can indeed be life-changing.

This initiative by the Australian Government underlines the recognition and importance of mental health in our modern society. By seeking out qualified psychotherapy professionals, individuals can take control of their mental health, work towards a healthier lifestyle, while also benefiting from the financial assistance in the form of Medicare rebate.


In conclusion, most psychotherapists are not eligible for a Medicare rebate in Australia, but Medicare rebates through social workers and psychologists provide Australians with more affordable and accessible mental health care options, which is a welcome move to prioritise the importance of mental health care.

However, remember that understanding these processes and eligibility criteria may seem overwhelming. Therefore, always consult with your general practitioner or trusted healthcare professional to clarify any questions or confusions. Taking this simple step will ensure you get the most from Medicare’s benefits and the excellent, professional psychotherapeutic services offered across the land Down Under.