Welcome to Mindscape Health -
Frequently Asked Questions

What is psychotherapy?  
Psychotherapy is a talking treatment that aims to resolve emotional distress. There are many different types of psychotherapies.   

Some, such as cognitive behavior therapy, are more structured and based on developing rational strategies to change thinking and behavior. Others, such as psychodynamic psychotherapy, are usually longer-term and are seemingly less structured to enable a deeper level of exploration of emotions, identity, issues from the past, and relationships.   


What problems can psychotherapy address?   
Psychotherapy can help many emotional problems, including:
  •    depression
  •    anxiety 
  •    emotional distress
  •    trauma syndromes
  •    personality disorders
  •    eating disorders
  •    self-harm behaviours
  •    complex grief
  •    sexuality issues
  •    problems with self-esteem and sense of identity
  •    problems being in relationships
  •    resolving difficult or traumatic experiences from the past    

How does psychodynamic psychotherapy work?  
Psychotherapy involves talking about problems and working with the therapist to increase insight and understanding about oneself, and resolve distress. Importantly, what is covered in therapy should translate into life changes in the outside world too.   

In psychodynamic therapy, over time, as patient and therapist settle into treatment together, there can be a powerful unfolding of an emotional developmental process. One analogy is that the therapist is like a jungle guide – but the jungle represents the patient’s emotional issues. The therapist and patient aim to carry a light together to walk through the jungle.    

What happens in a psychodynamic therapy session?
A therapy session is the patient’s time and space to say whatever is on their mind. For many people, coming to therapy may be the first time they’ve actually stopped to reflect on what they think and feel, or to have an experience where someone else is interested in their internal world.   The patient and therapist work towards having a collaborative, open and trusting relationship.   The therapist listens in a very careful way, picking up on verbal and non-verbal emotional queues, and will try to help the patient reflect on their experience. The therapist and patient may find links with significant issues from the patient’s past. They may explore the emotion and how it is experienced and responded to. They may discuss how some of the feelings or tensions within the therapeutic relationship can represent problems troubling the patient in other relationships too.  

What can therapy achieve?
A successful therapy can help someone:
  • establish a realistic and grounded sense of self-identity and self-esteem
  • participate more healthily in relationships
  • understand and reflect on the emotions they are experiencing
  • respond to emotions in a helpful rather than a destructive way
  • work through traumas from the past so they do not have a consuming impact on their life
  • find their values, passions, and creative interests
  • improve their physical health as their emotional distress settles    

Are there risks?  
There are potential risks involved with every treatment. One of the main risks of psychotherapy is increased distress. Your therapist will work to avoid this by aiming to establish a collaborative relationship with you, and having therapy sessions at regular times so there is a sense of consistency and emotional security.  Another risk is that you might not get what you imagined out of the process. The therapist does not necessarily have all the ‘answers’ and the outcome of therapy will be the unique creation of how you and your therapist interact and find a way to work together. It is important to be realistic about what can change, and one’s responsibilities in life and in treatment.      

Isn't therapy self-indulgent?   
A lot of people who come into therapy have been struggling for a long time, and once they are in treatment, they often wish they had started therapy sooner. Although therapy requires an investment of time and money, the emotional payoffs can be immense and can have ripple effects into one's personal, family, professional, and social lives. 

Isn't therapy just for really desperate people, or the 'worried well'?
Therapy can help a range of people with a range of problems. Often the 'worried well' are really the 'walking wounded'.

Do I have to lie on a couch if I have therapy?  
No. Some psychoanalysts still use a couch for treatment because it can help someone say more freely what is on their mind without the inhibition that can arise from seeing someone sitting across from you.  

What is the difference between psychodynamic therapy and psychoanalysis?  
There is no strict difference because psychodynamic therapy is based on principles of psychoanalytic theory. However, pragmatically, psychoanalysis is considered to be a more intense treatment that would usually be conducted at three or more sessions per week. Psychodynamic therapy is usually conducted 1-2 times per week (3 at most).   

Is therapy all about Freud’s theories?   
Freud and his contemporaries opened up the field of psychotherapy but there have been many developments since his day. Some of Freud’s work is still seen as highly relevant, but his theories are also tempered with contributions from the vast professional field that has developed over the past 100 years.  

There are a lot of stereotypes of therapy, mainly seen in TV shows or movies. The therapist is often portrayed as a mysterious figure who does not say much, if anything at all. The patient usually wonders what they are getting out of the session as they are lying on the couch, talking and feeling anxious!  The reality is that contemporary therapists aim to work collaboratively with their patient and foster a sense of warmth, openness and empathy.    

I’d like to have therapy. What is the first step?   
The first step is an assessment for psychotherapy. This usually involves meeting for about three sessions. You will need a referral from your GP or another medical specialist.   

The aims of an assessment are to:
  • talk about the problems that have led someone to seek psychotherapy
  • take a background history of the person’s life – family, experiences and relationships
  • come up with some preliminary ideas to explain how the distress has arisen and formulate together what might be some goals for treatment
  • consider whether psychodynamic psychotherapy is likely to be an appropriate treatment for that patient-therapist combination
  • for the therapist and patient to consider together how they would feel about the prospect of working together
  • provide information about psychotherapy and what a treatment contract would involve e.g. policy regarding fees and missed sessions and planning for breaks in treatment such as holiday periods.    

How much does treatment cost?   
Each doctor at Mindscape Health sets their own fees and will discuss them with you. Medicare provides a rebate for therapy so once the Medicare Safety Net is reached, the average cost per session is relatively small.   

How long does therapy take?  
It is difficult to estimate but a brief psychodynamic psychotherapy that focuses on one or two key issues may take between 10-20 sessions. Longer-term treatment can continue for a number of years. There is usually a beginning phase of settling in to treatment, a middle phase of working through issues, and an ending phase of consolidating, reflecting, and saying goodbye. For people with significant emotional issues, it can take a long time to settle into treatment, and being able to settle in can actually represent important emotional changes.   

What is the difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist?  
There is considerable overlap in these professions because they both deal with mental health and emotional problems.   

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has undergone at least 5 years of extra training in mental illness. Like many medical specialties, there are subspecialties within psychiatry, such as psychotherapy (to become a psychiatrist psychotherapist). Psychiatrists can prescribe medications and Medicare rebates apply for their services.   

A psychologist has a degree in psychology and their training may involve different treatment approaches. There are different levels of psychology training and a clinical psychologist has usually completed at least a Masters level degree. Psychologists are unable to prescribe medications but can work in conjunction with a GP or a psychiatrist. Medicare rebates apply for some psychologists.