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Counsellors and counselling

4-minute read

If you are struggling with issues like relationships, money, or the loss of a loved one, counselling might help you to cope and move on through life.

What is a counsellor?

A counsellor is a person who you talk to so they can help you overcome difficulties in your life and make the changes you want to make.

What do counsellors do?

Counsellors help people who are facing problems such as stress, financial stress, domestic violence, divorce or relationship breakup. Counsellors also support people with mental illnesses like depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.

In combination with nicotine replacement therapy, counselling can also help people quit smoking.

Types of counsellors

Counsellors work with individuals, couples, families and groups. Some of the most common types of counselling are:

There is also counselling to deal with issues such as:

Some counsellors can offer a range of approaches, which means they might find one that suits you. Other counsellors offer only one approach. Make sure that the type of counselling the counsellor offers suits you and the issues you face.

Do I need a counsellor?

Counsellors can help if you are struggling with stress or painful emotions. By talking through your problems or concerns, counsellors can help you to see solutions you didn’t know were there. They can also help you find ways to cope better and move on in life.

How to find a counsellor

You can find a counsellor for yourself, or you can talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask for a referral.

You don’t need any special qualifications or training to be a counsellor in Australia, although most do have qualifications and training. It is a good idea to check that any counsellor you want to see is registered with a professional body like the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.

Fees vary depending on the counsellor and the number of sessions you need. Medicare does not cover counselling unless it is carried out by an allied health practitioner such as a psychologist under a mental health care plan, or done by a doctor such as a GP or psychologist. Some private health funds may cover a portion of the fees of seeing counsellors.

Free or low-cost counselling may be available through community centres, charities and religious organisations. You can also find a counsellor in your local area via the Australian Counselling Association website and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia website.

Need help now?

If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself, call triple zero (000).

Are you having a tough time and you need to talk to someone? The helplines and services below are available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Further Information

  • Lifeline (anyone having a personal crisis) — call 13 11 14 or chat online
  • Suicide Call Back Service (anyone thinking about suicide) — call 1300 659 467
  • Beyond Blue (anyone feeling depressed or anxious) — call 1300 22 4636 or chat online

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: November 2019

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