COUNSELLOR VS PSYCHOLOGIST
Counsellors and psychologists help clients to improve their psychological, emotional, and social well-being. Counsellors tend to employ a person-centred approach (non-judgemental and empathetic) and are experts with listening and helping clients achieve their personal goals. Psychologists typically address clients unhelpful thoughts and behaviours and place emphasis on assessment and diagnosis, using psychological testing to inform their treatment plans.
Counsellors generally help, through collaboration, with concerns and difficulties in everyday life, things such as grief or anger, relationship issues, low self-esteem or anxiety. Counsellors assist clients with gaining insight, increasing self-awareness and developing the behaviours and skills that will help them manage, improve, or recover from their individual struggles and difficulties.
Psychologists work with clients to improve their functioning and typically address more complex mental health conditions. Psychologists will assess and determine a client's psychological, emotional, behavioural disorder or organisational issue then implement a treatment plan.
The level of education and training varies, from a Diploma (six months), Bachelor degree (three years), or Masters (two years post-graduate) as well as specialist training in numerous psychotherapeutic interventions. It is wise for clients to check their counsellor has the relevant and appropriate education to help them with their individual concerns (I personally have six years of tertiary study in psychology /counselling as well as training with specific mental health conditions and interventions).
Have more formal and standardised education and have a minimum of six years training, including at least one to two years of supervised practice. Psychologists are trained in the science of how people think, feel, behave and learn and typically apply cognitive-behavioural therapies in their practice.
Counselling standards of practice are currently not regulated by the Australian government. There are two organisations that help regulate the counselling industry to enforce a standard of education, training and ethics required by all their members - the Australian Counsellors Association (ACA) and the Psychotherapy and Counsellors Federation of Australia (PACFA). Clients should check their counsellor is registered with one of these organisations (e.g. I am registered with ACA).
Psychologists in Australia are required to be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia and listed with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), a government and accreditation scheme that ensures certain standards for psychologists are met.
Currently in Australia it is not possible to claim a medicare rebate when consulting with a counsellor. Although, with no government subsidy requirements, the client has no limit to the number of sessions with a counsellor nor are they restricted to specific interventions. Additionally, a counsellor's rate is still generally found to be comparable to, or better than, a psychologist's rate after the medicare rebate.
Have access to the medicare rebate provided by the Australian publicly funded universal health insurance scheme. Some clients may be able to access a bulk billing psychologist and have no financial outlay. However, bulk billing psychologists are rare and have extensive waiting lists (around six months). Usually, clients still pay more for a session with a psychologist than a counsellor even after the rebate. For example, a psychologist may charge $210 for a 50-minute session, which after the rebate of $88, still leaves a cost of $122 for the session, comparable with a typical counsellors rate of $100-$120. As such, my individual rate of $100 per 60-minute session is very competitively priced.
“We know what we are, but not what we may be”