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Submission to the Review of the Australian Government Rebate on Private Health Insurance for Natural Therapies

In its submission to the Department of Health and Ageing in relation to The Natural Therapies Review, PACFA recommends the inclusion of psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy in the list of natural therapies to be subsidised through the Australian government’s rebate on private health
920-121 insurance. The strong evidence base for the efficacy, cost effectiveness and safety of psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy, based on meta reviews of outcomes and consumer reports, supports their inclusion in the list of natural therapies to be subsidised.

Although counselling is not included in the list of natural therapies in scope for this review, PACFA recommends inclusion of counselling in the list because of the significant overlap 070-551-VB between psychotherapy and counselling. Psychotherapy and counselling are broadly similar services, usually provided by the same practitioners, in the context of a safe and ethical therapeutic practice.

Counselling and psychotherapy both prevent and treat mental illness, and are effective in assisting people adjust to life transitions such as relationship breakdowns, and as an adjunct to medical treatment for physical conditions concurrent with mental disorders. Psychotherapy is also effective for complex conditions such as personality disorders and eating disorders.

Hypnotherapy is a specialist modality of counselling and psychotherapy, in which hypnosis is used to treat a wide range of conditions where there is a mind-body component. Training in counselling and psychotherapy is required, as well as specialist training in hypnotherapy, to provide effective hypnotherapy services.

Psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy services are provided by a range of health professionals and do not belong to any single professional group. Practitioners who are registered with PACFA have met our professional training standards, and also meet ongoing requirements for supervision, professional development and ethical conduct. As the leading peak body for the counselling and psychotherapy profession, PACFA’s robust self-regulatory mechanisms ensure high quality, safe and ethical services are provided by qualified practitioners, in line with consumer expectations.

The inclusion of psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy in the services covered by the Australian government’s rebate on private health insurance will provide consumers with more affordable options. Psychotherapists and counsellors charge lower fees than other health professionals, and consumers’ out of pocket expenses will be reduced greatly if private health funds have the capacity to offer customers rebates for psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy. These rebates should only be available where the services are provided by registered practitioners.

Recommendations

1. Counselling should be added to the list of natural therapies being considered for the Natural Therapy Review.

2. The Australia Government rebate for Private Health Insurance should cover psychotherapy, counselling and hypnotherapy.

Click here to download a copy of the Submission