Counselling & Psychology Services
Access specialist psychology support in Victoria
One of the least recognised aspects of disability is the psychological impact. For those who acquire a disability, it’s often difficult to adjust to life when the way you do things and the way you feel about yourself has changed. Even for those who have lived with disability since birth, each new phase of life brings new challenges. The lives of your family members may also be affected in different ways.
When it was first established in 2001, our psychology service was the first of its kind in Victoria. Today we remain one of only a handful of organisations offering disability specific counselling and psychological services. Our specialty is working with people with a spinal cord injury or people who have had polio, but we also counsel people dealing with any form of physical disability.
Our counselling service is available to individuals, couples or families in Victoria who seek greater health, happiness and enjoyment in their lives. We address a wide range of concerns including:
- grief and loss
- adjustment to living with a disability
- intimacy and sexuality concerns
- family and relationship conflict
- stress and anxiety
- identity issues thoughts of suicide
- social isolation
- disability and ageing
- pain and fatigue
Counselling and Psychology Frequently Asked Questions
Who is eligible for the counselling and psychology service?
- Our psychology service is available for anyone in Victoria who has a physical disability and/or their family members. Children and teenagers may be referred on to more specialised child and adolescent services.
- Any person with a physical disability is eligible to attend. You may have only recently acquired a disability, or have lived with a disability for many years (or a lifetime).
- If eligible, a GP referral (Mental Health Care Plan) may be required
How do I access the counselling and psychology service?
Once you have determined your eligibility, you can access our psychology and counselling service by calling us directly on 1300 704 456 or email [email protected]. Please note you can either submit the referral, or someone else can submit this on your behalf. Following this, one of psychologists will make a time to meet with you.
What is the fee structure (cost) for the psychology and counselling service?
If you do not receive approval from TAC, Workcover or have a Mental Health Plan in place so that we can bulk bill Medicare, you’ll be charged $10 a session if you receive a pension, or $1 for every $1000 earned annually e.g. if your annual salary is $70,000 your fee will be $70 a session
Or you may be eligible for a small number of free sessions. Please call us for a confidential discussion on 1300 704 456.
Are after hours counselling and psychology sessions available?
Unfortunately after hours or crisis services are unavailable. Sessions with the psychologists are available from Monday to Friday during normal business hours. Peer support groups may be held in the evenings
How does therapy or counselling work?
We offer a confidential, supportive and non-judgemental therapy or counselling service where consumers can:
- seek support, information or feedback
- gain a better understanding of what they’re experiencing
- discover different perspectives to their situation
- discuss choices or opportunities
- gain insight into personal strengths and challenges
- explore ways of coping with troubling thoughts, emotions or situations
The goals of therapy are discussed in the initial sessions and are driven by your personal needs. The specific purpose or aim of any therapy will vary from person to person, and depends upon your situation and needs.
What can I expect from the counselling and psychology service?
Initial sessions are geared towards obtaining background information and clarifying the range of problems or concerns you might like to address in therapy or counselling. If you’re unsure what to expect, then any queries can be discussed in these initial appointments. You’re required to attend sessions at Independence Australia’s premises in West Footscray and Kew, although some telephone support can be provided if a person is unable to attend due to health or mobility reasons (this is a limited service negotiated on a case by case basis). Sessions are usually one hour long and may occur weekly, fortnightly or monthly depending on your needs. At times, you may be given reading material or other in between session activities to complete. On average, consumers can expect to receive services for 6 months. However, there may be some flexibility depending on your needs and the availability of the psychologist.
Who are your psychologists?
Our psychologists are registered with The Psychology Board of Australia (PBA) and practice according to its Code of Behaviour for Psychologists and the Australian Psychological Society’s Code of Ethics and Ethical Guidelines. The team are trained in cognitive behavioural therapy, neuropsychology and other disciplines.
Dr Andrew Sinclair
Andrew has a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science with a major in physiology. In post-graduate education Andrew has completed a professional doctorate in Health psychology. His combined physiology, psychology and health background allows him to specialise in working with people who have chronic illness or disability.
In his career Andrew has collaborated in the development of innovative and successful group programs in psycho-educational settings, managing stress related health problems, insomnia and pain management. In addition he has developed and facilitated cognitive-behavioral therapeutic groups in the areas of anxiety, anger management and domestic violence. Andrew has well developed evaluation and research skills, having completed a doctoral thesis, presented original research at national and international conferences and been published in scientific journals on a number of occasions.
Jenny has worked as a psychologist in the disability field for most of her professional life. She began her career specialising with adults with an intellectual or physical disability, both in Australia and the UK. She later specialised in children with disabilities and their families. Since 2007 she has worked in the psychology team of Independence Australia helping individuals, couples and families with counselling needs. She also co-facilitates a support group for people who have a family member with a spinal cord injury. Jenny has firsthand experience and personal insight into what many loved ones of people with disability experience. She has been personally affected by a number of family members with disabilities; her older sister had MS, her mum had vascular induced dementia, and her sister in law survived a severe stroke and is unable to walk.
Do you offer peer support groups?
We offer different support groups or workshops through the psychology service. Groups vary in their focus and may be specific to people with a physical disability or their family members. Currently we are running two ongoing support groups. Click to view all our support groups.
How long must I wait before I can see a psychologist?
Due to demand for this service, we often need to place you on a waitlist for this service. But we’ll try our best to advise you of an estimated start date and provide an appointment at the earliest convenience. If our psychology service is unable to cater for your needs, a referral will be made to another appropriate service.
Do you accept student placements in the psychology team?
Yes, we have limited placements for postgraduate students studying health psychology or clinical psychology. For more information please email [email protected].
What research has been undertaken by your psychology team?
Sinclair, A., Allen, N. B., Kim, Y. & Trinder, J. (2000, February). Autonomic cardiac control during positive and negative affect. Poster session presented at the 10th World Congress of the International Organisation of Psychophysiology conference, Sydney.
Smith, P. L., Wolfgang, B. J. and Sinclair, A. J. (2004). Mask-dependent attention curing effects in visual signal detection: the psychometric function for contrast. Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, 66. 6, 1056-1975.
Migliorini, C., Tonge, B., Sinclair, A. (2011). Developing and piloting of ePACT: an online psychological treatment of depression for adults with spinal cord injury. Behavioural Change, 28 (1), 45-54.
Migliorini, C., Sinclair, A., Brown, D., Tonge, B. & New. P. (2015).The prevalence of mood disturbance in Australian adults with chronic spinal cord injury, Internal Medicine Journal, 45 (10), 1014-1019
Migliorini, C., Sinclair, A., Brown, D., Tonge, B. & New. P. (2016). A randomised control trial of an internet-based cognitive behaviour treatment for mood disorder in adults with chronic spinal cord injury, Spinal Cord 54, 695-701
What other after hours or crisis services are available to me?
General Telephone Support
13 11 14
24-hour generalist and crisis telephone counselling, information and referral service.
Support for Women
Maternal and Child Health Line
13 22 29
24-hour telephone information and advice line for families with children from birth to school entry.
Safe Steps (Family Violence Response Centre)
9322 3555 or freecall 1800 015 188
24-hour telephone information, support and referral to safe accommodation for women and their children.
WIRE (Women’s Information Referral Exchange)
1300 134 130 or TTY 13 3677
Interpreter services also available. Telephone support (options, information and referrals) for a range of issues including family life, relationships, domestic violence, sexual assault, health and well-being, women as professionals, education and training, legal issues. Available 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
Support for Men
Mens Line Australia
1300 78 99 78
24-hour counselling, referral and advice for men on a range of issues such as relationships, parenting skills, suicide, child abuse
Support for depression
1300 22 4636
Advice and support around depression and anxiety via the telephone 24/7.
Support for Children
Child Protection Crisis Line
13 12 78
24-hour crisis telephone service for assistance and support in the area of child abuse prevention.
Kids Help Line
1800 551 800
24-hour telephone counselling for children 5 to 18 years.
Support for parents
13 22 89
Telephone counselling, information and referrals for families with children up to eighteen years old available from 8am to midnight 7 days a week.
Support for addictions
03 9429 3322, TTY 9421 8986
Internet, telephone and face to face counselling (individual, group) and information for drug and alcohol issues.
1800 888 236
24-hour drug and alcohol telephone counselling, information and referral service.
Confidential telephone service providing information, support and advice to help you quit smoking from 8am to 8pm Mon-Fri.
Support for Sexual Abuse
CASA (Centre Against Sexual Assault)
1800 806 292
A free confidential 24 hour emergency or crisis care service is available for victims or survivors who have recently been sexually assaulted
Support for other Health or Legal Concerns
1300 550 236
Support and information and service for all aspects of eating disorders.
Telephone counselling service for people who are grieving from bereavement or other loss. Available 7 days a week from noon to 3am.
1300 606 024
Victorian telephone health line, providing immediate, expert health information and advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
1800 18 SANE (7263)
Information, advice and referrals for support with mental illness available from 9am to 5pm on weekdays.
Victoria Legal Aid
1300 792 387
Service offers free legal information in English and 14 other languages from Monday to Friday.
Please note our service does not receive any direct government funding. Through the generosity of donations, trusts and bequests we can make our clinical psychology service accessible to individuals, couples and families with disabilities for therapy or counselling.
For more information about our counselling service, please call us on 1300 704 456 or email [email protected].