General Guidelines

Information for Clients

For those people that have never seen a psychologist before you probably are not aware of our general rules. As a practice it is very important to us to continue to maintain the highest ethical standards.

Consent

As part of this we ask clients to complete a client consent form when they arrive. Please come 20 minutes earlier for your first appointment. The consent forms helps you to understand access to information, confidentiality, fees, our cancellation policy. We ask all clients to complete a new client consent form every 12 months.

Psychologists also have other professional rules such as managing ‘conflicts of interest’.

Conflicts of Interest

Given Newcastle and Lake Macquarie’s population (moderately small in comparison to Capital Cities) we are unable to identify all possible ‘conflicts of interest’ based on people giving their name details to our administration team, or making online bookings. The general principle of ‘conflict of interest’ for psychologists in the Australian Psychological Societies (APS) ethical standards are that we are not able to engage in any dual or multiple relationships with clients. This means a psychologist who sees you individually, as a family or as a couple can only continue to see you in that capacity and can not engage in providing counselling or other roles to you outside of the initial roles established. For example if you see a psychologists individually the psychologist can not move into seeing you as part of a family or couple and further to this they are unable to see other family members of yours if they are already engaged in seeing you for counselling. This is to help avoid any negative consequences associated with dual or multiple relationships for you as client and to ensure we remain a neutral party. Unfortunately we are unable to always identify if possible conflicts exist in our Regional city, but if they do exist and we become aware of it we may need to refer you to someone else in the practice.

Children, Families, Couples

We really enjoy helping children, families and couples. In completing this work sometimes we discover that children are being abused, neglected or are at risk’. Please note that all psychologists are mandatory reporters to the department of community services where these circumstances are evident.

People at Risk

Sometimes people we see are suicidal, or mentally very unwell placing themselves or other’s at significant risk of harm. Psychologists have a duty of care to clients as well as the public which means that they may need to inform others (family members, doctors, police services) who can help to ensure safety. Confidentiality is not in place when these circumstances present to psychologists.

Report Requests

Unfortunately we are not able to provide independent medico-legal assessment in regards to psychological injury or criminal matters for clients that we have been seeing for treatment. The reason for this is that it is impossible for us to become an independent and objective expert witness for the court after mental health focused assessment and treatment has begun. We do not collect the extensive information required related to these requests. Collecting this information later does not improve our ability to become an independent and objective witness for the court.

Our practice is treatment focused; given this we do not provide medico-legal psychological assessments. Medico-legal assessments are a specialty service that other psychologist practices specialise in. If you engage in therapy with a psychologist at LifeMatters and your solicitor later seeks a report on your behalf please note that we can only provide treatment related reports. We also are asked to provide support letters, for example; special consideration letters. We are happy to provide these to existing clients. Please note these requests require additional time to complete and therefore will be charged for at the psychologists’ hourly rate.