Psychology Melbourne Blog

News and Insights from the Science of the Mind

Clients benefit when matched to a psychologist

Edited by Jill Wright,

Our personal matching service, which matches the individual needs and personal characteristics of our clients to the most appropriate psychologist ,can save clients money and improve the outcome of their therapy. It enhances the therapeutic relationship between client and therapist which research shows, time and again, is the most important factor in successful therapy.

This isn't an idle assertion. We have had independent research conducted on the results of our matching process and presented it to an annual general meeting of the Australian Psychological Society.

Matching clients to psychologists isn't cheap and it isn't simple. Most practices don't understand the process and they don't want to do it. Some try to dismiss its verified outcomes as "biased" or in some way unverified. They prefer to go on giving clients the "first cab off the rank". Others attempt to duplicate our service without understanding the process or committing the resources and training required to make it work.

The GPs and other professionals who regularly refer to us  know the difference and it's one of the reasons they send their patients or clients to us.

I've written previously about a conversation I had with a solicitor who knew us well and had recommended a client for matching. She told me that when her client went to her GP to obtain a Mental Health Care Plan which qualifies patients for Medicare rebates, the doctor told her that it was a waste to use a session for matching and advised her to go to another psychologist. I have no doubt that the GP was well-intentioned, but he had no knowledge of what our matching sessions achieve and how they achieve it.

Done properly, matching sessions are anything but a waste. They significantly enhance the chance that the client will experience the benefits of a strong therapeutic relationship and compared with a sample of clients who choose their own psychologist, matched clients require fewer sessions to achieve what they are looking for. Far from sacrificing a session, they tend to save clients money. 

Unfortunately, in that case, the client contacted the solicitor a few weeks later and reported that she was unhappy with the psychologist the GP had sent her to. She had had two sessions, but felt she was not getting anywhere. That meant she had used two full session rebates, and had spent more on gap fees to no benefit.

Worse than that - and this happens with most practices - she wasn't able to give a new psychologist the material that we gather in our matching sessions. She also didn't have the protection of the quality control and reporting measures that we build in to our system. 

As a good will gesture, we helped the client out at our expense. But it indicates what can go wrong when clients get the wrong advice. 

About the editor, Jill Wright

Jill Wright (MAPS, AAFT, AICD) is the Director and Principal Psychologist at Psychology Melbourne. Jill was twice elected General Director of the Australian Psychological Society and established the Study Group Network. Find out more about Jill Wright.