Now is time to throw out the 2-tier system and bring in a Single Rebate for psychological services. It is time to inform government about the lack of evidence to justify the cost of subsidising the high cost of clinical psychology services.
The time is right for the APS to promote a single rebate because without this Better Access for Mental Health is unlikely to survive. The unprecedented escalation in the cost of the top tier rebate is risking the sustainability of the Better Access funding for all Australians with mental health problems.
It also risks the sustainability of private practice for Australian psychologists, because with out Better Access our clients will not get rebates.
Representing less than 20% of the psychology workforce, clinical psychologists already devour 55% of Better Access funding – and within 5 years they will have consumed today’s entire budget.
A single rebate would protect the future of Better Access and reduce soaring costs for our cash-strapped government. It would also ensure better treatment for patients.
Few people realise that clinical psychology is a biomedical approach, favoured by psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies, that promotes the use of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) in combination with anti-depressant drugs. Most psychological organisations countries across the world have rejected the bio medical model.
Few people understand that other psychological approaches have been shown to be equally as effective as clinical psychology (without the risk of the side effects of drugs). Since Better Access started in 2006 no evidence has been found that clinical psychology produces better treatment outcomes than other psychologists.
Yet registered psychologists are being publically discriminated against and misrepresented as inferior to clinical psychologists. These outrageous claims are confusing and misleading for patients, making them anxious and vulnerable. Nowhere else in the world does a government favour one group of psychologists above all others.
Even more concerning is that we are losing the rich diversity of psychological training and knowledge in our universities as students are flock to the higher rebated clinical courses. All other courses are being slashed and a dangerous monoculture is developing.
CBT is being promoted as a cheap way of practicing psychology without even needing psychologists. It introduces crude psychological tools like a single hammer with which to bash in all nails.
Traditional therapeutic methodologies that foster self awareness and self knowledge to empower individuals to bring about their own changes without drugs are disappearing.
A single rebate will stop this trend towards a monoculture; it will preserve the diversity of all therapeutic approaches; and it will protect the future of Better Access for as many Australians as possible.