5 Ways to build a better relationship with your doctor

I’m afraid to tell my GP I have a problem

I’m scared to ask for help from my GP

Do I need a Mental Health Care Plan to see a psychologist?

I’m worried and embarrassed about asking my GP for a mental health care plan

Most of us have seen a General Practitioner (GP) at some point in our life. They work within our community. They are a gateway in showing us the direction towards specialist help because of their broad knowledge and skills about health worries. It is helpful if you feel comfortable in your relationship with your GP so you can talk openly and honestly about what you are going through.

These are some tips in working with your GP:

1. When choosing a GP, consider if they’re the right match for you. Location and opening hours? Specialising in parenting, women or men’s health, fertility? Do they speak your language? Do they service online or out of hours?

2. Consider what you need from the relationship with your GP and what they are able to provide within their constraints. Write a list of 3 things you want to talk to your GP about before your appointment. You might find that what you need on that day is someone to listen to your feelings and experiences. Is the GP the right person for you to meet this need, at this time? What constraints are there in their practice that would make it difficult to provide this support? Who else can you turn to that will be more suited to this need at this time (partner, friend, psychologist)?

3. Information and advice can be confusing and overwhelming even if it comes from a well meaning position and intention of providing help. Breathe, listen and keep asking your GP questions if you don’t understand why they have recommended a particular treatment.

“Almost always it’s about something deeper. Explore that. Breathe, listen, and ask questions. Seek to understand their position.” (Gottman Institute)

4. Reflect on your emotions. Is this fear, embarrassment, worry? Am I communicating openly about what I’m feeling? Does my fear of asking for help cloud my thinking? Is my lack of trust due to my insecurities and anxieties?

5. Relationships take time to build. There are benefits of sticking to one GP over time since they can get to know you, what has worked for you and what doesn’t work.

You do not need a Mental Health Care Plan from a GP to see a psychologist. However, with a valid Mental Health Care Plan, you can get a Medicare Rebate, so that a part of your therapy fee is covered. Talking to your GP is the first place to start if you think a Mental Health Care Plan will help.

For more information on the role of a GP, check out this website.