What is the pregnancy support counselling Medicare Item?

This psychology service (Medicare Item 81000) offers pregnancy support counselling to assist females who have any personal concerns related to a current or recent pregnancy within the past 12 months, whether it has been full-term or part-term (including, but not exclusively for, a planned termination). The pregnancy support counselling Medicare Item covers up to three 30 minute+ sessions with a psychologist per pregnancy.

What is pregnancy support counselling?

Pregnancy support counselling offered by psychologists is supportive, non-judgmental, confidential and unbiased. Psychologists using this Medicare item are trained to support a female through a range of pregnancy-related issues, and to provide information about the options and services relevant to her pregnancy concerns or support for her baby after the birth.

Psychologists who provide pregnancy support counselling are specifically trained in:

  • Non-directive counselling skills
  • Antenatal and postnatal counselling issues
  • Antenatal and postnatal information resources

Who is eligible to receive pregnancy support counselling?

Pregnancy support counselling through the Medicare scheme is available for females with a current or recent pregnancy (within the last 12 months) who have any concerns, such as decisions about the future, adjustment following the pregnancy, or general issues related to a pregnancy. Partners can also attend the counselling session, if appropriate.

How can I refer a woman for pregnancy support counselling?

A referral to this service results from a GP determining that a female has concerns that would benefit from sessions with a psychologist who is eligible to provide pregnancy support counselling services.

Females can only be referred for pregnancy support counselling by a GP. The referral procedure is simple, and only involves a letter or note to the psychologist. A specific form or plan is not required.

To find a psychologist who is eligible to provide pregnancy support counselling, click on the following link: How can I find a pregnancy support counselling psychologist?

When is pregnancy support counselling helpful?

Females find pregnancy support counselling helpful for a number of pregnancy-related issues, such as:

  • Making decisions and exploring possible options about her pregnancy
  • Coming to terms with unexpected outcomes (e.g., stillbirth, miscarriage, genetic conditions, problems at birth, cot death)
  • Dealing with a variety of feelings related to her pregnancy, birth or early months of being a parent
  • Discussing her pregnancy with others (e.g., partner, children, parents, religious or cultural groups)

What is the difference between the pregnancy support counselling item and mental health Medicare items?

There are important differences between pregnancy support counselling and mental health psychological services under Medicare.

  • The pregnancy support counselling referral is not specifically for a mental health disorder, but can be for parenting, health or relationship concerns.
  • The pregnancy support counselling rebate only covers 3 sessions, although the female may continue working with the psychologist as a private patient, or be referred again under another appropriate initiative.

Specifically, females who use the pregnancy counselling services can also receive a rebate for psychological services under Medicare for mental health disorders or chronic diseases, following a GP referral and care plan.

Pregnancy support counselling may also help females identify issues for which they may need help from professionals other than a psychologist. For example, it might be identified that the female needs to see medical, social services, legal or financial professionals to address concerns about pregnancy care, living arrangements, leaving/returning to work, childcare arrangements, or finances. The psychologist may help a female to develop strategies or identify services to access these supports.

How can I find a pregnancy support counselling psychologist?

The Australian Psychological Society has three options for finding a psychologist who can provide pregnancy support counselling services. 

  1. Psychologist Medicare Providers Register on the APS website: 
    www.psychology.org.au/MedicareProvider 

  2. APS Find a Psychologist Service at: www.findapsychologist.org.au/
    (N.B. you will need to tick the Pregnancy Support Counselling option)

  3. Phone the APS Find a Psychologist Service on: 1800 333 497 (Freecall)