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How to get a referral to a child psychologist

Is your child struggling? It can be hard to know when a child should see a psychologist, or how the process of commencing therapy works. Read on to learn more about how to engage your child in psychological therapy.

When should I take my child to see a psychologist?

If your child has not seemed themselves or appears to be struggling (with their emotions, behaviour, or self-talk), then it may be time to consider therapy. Speaking to your child’s general practitioner or paediatrician may be a first step to exploring if psychology sessions are needed.

Do I need a referral for my child to see a psychologist?

You do not need to have a referral for your child to see a psychologist. However, a referral often helps as your child’s GP or paediatrician may complete a mental health treatment plan. Your child’s doctor may ask questions to you and/or your child about their functioning and some other background information (such as family dynamics and history, recent stressors, goals for therapy etc.). Appointments to create mental health treatment plans can be more timely than other appointments, so you may need a long appointment with your child’s doctor.

There are also other types of referrals that practitioners can refer to psychologists through. If you have concerns about the process or about your family’s specific needs (e.g., cost, looking into diagnosis) make sure you flag this with your referrer, who may be able to provide you with the most appropriate referral.

How does a mental health treatment plan work?

A mental health treatment plan enables your child to access psychology sessions and receive a Medicare rebate. This means that therapy can be accessed at a reduced out of pocket cost. Mental health treatment plans do not have an expiry date, though after each treatment block or six psychology sessions, psychologists must write back to your GP and you must return to your child’s doctor for a review (where they can approve additional sessions if needed). Currently (September 2022) mental health treatment plans mean you can claim a Medicare rebate on up to 20 sessions with a psychologist in one calendar year.

Can I use private health for my child’s psychology sessions?

If you have private health insurance, then you may be able to claim back some of the cost of psychology sessions. You should call your private health insurer to check if your child’s sessions are eligible. Private health cannot be used at the same time as Medicare, though you may use both over the course of treatment (i.e., for each session you can only claim Medicare or private health, but you may claim both across the sessions). Some people choose to pay one or more sessions privately (either in full or with some reimbursement from private health) and then access a mental health treatment plan for their child later.

How long does it take to see a psychologist once we have a referral?

The waiting time to book in with a psychologist varies depending on demand. At Young Minds we have a large team of psychologists and do our best to fit in new clients as soon as possible. We provide both in-person and online therapy to fit clients’ needs. If you want your child to be seen quickly, then being flexible with days and times, and booking subsequent sessions ahead will help.

Can I pick which psychologist my child is referred to?

Your referrer may have psychologists to recommend or may be able to write out the name of a preferred psychologist on the referral. The psychologist your child sees should be flexible based on availability and client fit. If your child does not click with the psychologist they are referred to, then this should be discussed and/or another psychologist should be engaged.

Does my child have to use all of the sessions referred within a certain time frame?

Mental health treatment plans do not expire, and the frequency of sessions depends on what best suits your child, clinically and practically. Regular reviews from your child’s doctor are required, as described above.

Does each child need their own referral?

Mental health treatment plans are created for individuals, so if you have more than one child who you would like to see a psychologist with the Medicare rebate you will need a separate plan for each. If you need support yourself, you will also need to go to your GP to have your own mental health treatment plan created. If you only want to spend some time talking to the psychologist about how to best support your child, then this may occur during part of your child’s sessions (depending on their age and the situation).


Knowing how to access support when your child is struggling mentally can be difficult. You can access psychological support for your child with or without a referral. See your child’s GP or paediatrician if you would like a referral and they may be able to complete a mental health treatment plan, which means you can claim a rebate to partially cover the costs of therapy. Call us on (07) 3857 0074 if you would like to book your child in for therapy.

Information current September 2022

How To Get A Referral To A Child Psychologist

When Should I Take My Child To A Psychologist

When Should A Child See A Psychologist