Counsellors, psychologists and psychiatrists
What is a counsellor?
A counsellor is a person who has been professionally trained to talk you through a variety of problems. Issues you might discuss with a counsellor include:
- building up your confidence
- family and relationship issues
- school/work problems
- troubles with alcohol or drugs.
If necessary, a counsellor might refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who can help you with your specific problems.
How do I go about seeing a counsellor?
Counsellors work in a variety of settings, such as:
- youth services
- private practices
- community health centres
To see a counsellor you will normally need to phone and make an appointment.
- Click here to find a Doctor or Mental Health Practitioner in your area or you can call the beyondblue Support Service, on 1300 22 4636.
- You can also look in the Yellow Pages Telephone Book under Counselling or go to www.serviceseeker.com.au or www.lifeline.org.au/service_finder
What will it cost?
What it costs to see a counsellor often depends on where they’re working. Some counsellors may be free if they’re working at a community agency, hospital or school.
Counsellors who work in private practices will charge a fee.
Counsellors are not covered under Medicare, but if you’ve got ‘extras’ private health insurance, part of the fee may be covered. When making an appointment, check first how much it’ll cost.
What is a psychologist?
Psychologists are health professionals who provide ‘talking therapies’ (psychotherapy) to treat mental health problems. The therapy they use may include changing some of the things you do, or the negative ways you think, so that you can feel better. Therapy may also improve your communication skills and how you get on with people.
In Australia, psychologists can’t prescribe medication.
Some examples of why you might see a psychologist include:
- eating disorders
- family and relationship problems
- upsetting events
- extreme fears
- panic attacks
- sleep difficulties
How do I go about seeing a psychologist?
There may be a psychologist based at your place of study or work, or at your local community health centre. You don’t need a referral to see a psychologist.
- Click here to find a Doctor or Mental Health Practitioner in your area or you can call the beyondblue Info line, on 1300 22 4636.
- You can also look in the Yellow Pages Telephone Book under Psychologists or the Australian Psychological Society can help you find a psychologist to suit your needs.
- The phone number for the Australian Psychological society is 1800 333 497 (outside Melbourne) or 03 8662 3300 (in Melbourne). You can also visit their www.psychology.org.au.
You may have to wait a while for your first appointment, so if your problem is urgent, when you’re making your booking, let the receptionist know.
What is a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialise in mental health problems. They are able to treat illnesses such as depression, severe anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with both talking therapies and medication, if necessary.
How do I go about seeing a psychiatrist?
To see a psychiatrist, you’ll need to get a referral from a GP. Psychiatrists work in hospitals, community mental health services or in private practice. Again, it might take a while to get your first appointment, so let the receptionist know if your problem is urgent.
What will it cost?
Medicare covers psychiatrists who work in public hospitals or community health centres. However, if you see a psychiatrist in a private practice, you may have to pay at the time of your visit. If the psychiatrist doesn’t bulk-bill, Medicare will cover some of the costs, but you’ll have to pay a ‘gap’ amount. Check about the costs when you make your appointment.