What's the difference between a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist and psychiatrist?

A counsellor has completed either undergraduate or postgraduate training in counselling and undertakes clinical supervision with a trained supervisor as well as completing regular professional development. Counselling is generally short-term, solutions-focused therapy which addresses practical goals and issues that are happening for you right now which can be resolved on a conscious level. 

A psychotherapist has completed postgraduate university training in psychotherapy and also undertakes clinical supervision with a trained supervisor as well as engaging in regular professional development. Psychotherapy is generally longer-term therapy with an integrative approach which helps to understand deeper underlying psychological issues. Psychotherapy involves addressing your psychological history, including childhood experiences and getting to the root cause of problems and patterns.  

Both counsellors and psychotherapists should be members of a professional association, such as the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australian (PACFA). 

A registered psychologist has completed university training and is registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) and listed with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Psychologists are trained in the science of human behaviour and generally focus on treating mental health issues using a cognitive-behavioural model of therapy with a focus on research. 

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses and more complex mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are able to make diagnoses and assess both the mental and physical aspects of people’s psychological issues and to prescribe medication. 


Are psychologists more qualified to offer therapy than psychotherapists or counsellors?

The simple answer here is no. While a therapist’s degree is important and you should always check to see that they belong to a professional association, it’s important that you feel comfortable and safe with your therapist. Choosing the right therapist is a personal decision involving many factors. When looking for a therapist it can be helpful to look for more than just the therapist’s degree. Research shows that the most important aspect of successful therapy is feeling understood, seen and felt by your therapist. This is more important than the type of therapy you may choose, the issues that you have or the particular training of your therapist. Healing occurs when we can sit with a non-anxious presence who is deeply listening, not only to our words, but to every aspect of who we are. 


Do you offer Medicare? 

Currently, counsellors and psychotherapists are not included in the Medicare rebate scheme. It is only possible to obtain a Medicare rebate by referral from a GP to see a psychologist or social worker. My fees are set at a price which reflects the out-of-pocket expense of seeing a psychologist once you have received the Medicare rebate. For example, the upfront cost to see a psychologist may be $250 and the Medicare rebate may be $129 so the out of pocket cost would be around $120.


How do we commence sessions? Do I need a referral?

No you do not need a referral to commence sessions with me. Before starting therapy, I require a free 15 minute intake session with you. During our conversation, I will ask you a number of questions to see if I’ll be able to work with you, which includes your reasons for seeking therapy and your mental health history. I do my best to ensure that I offer therapy within my scope of practice by conducting a thorough intake with you, however if it becomes known to me during the course of our sessions that you may need extra or more specific support, I may deem it best to terminate our therapy and refer you onto an appropriate service who can assist you better. 


How many sessions will I need? 

Generally the amount of sessions needed depends on the issue/s you wish to work on in therapy. To start with, weekly sessions are preferable in order to build the rapport needed between client and therapist for effective change to take place. You may then shift to fortnightly sessions depending on your specific needs, your budget etc. 

How long are counselling sessions? 

Individual counselling sessions are 50 minutes.


Do you offer sessions to clients outside of Australia? 

Currently, I do not offer counselling to clients outside of Australia, however this may be subject to change in the future.


Do you work with addictions?

No, I do not work with addictions counselling, however I can provide an appropriate referral.