Better Health Channel


Counsellors use talk-based therapy to help people who have personal concerns such as relationship issues, grief, substance abuse or anxiety. They are not doctors and do not prescribe medication. Treatment is usually short-term and for a specific problem. Sometimes they work with a doctor to provide comprehensive health care.

There are different types of counsellors including qualified counselling psychologists and social workers. Counsellors may have specific interests, for example, they may deal with substance abuse, youth or adolescent problems or career issues.

Services provided

  • Talk-based therapy
  • Information and advice
  • Health advice
  • Health-related information
  • Early intervention for those at risk
  • Referral to health services


Appointments can be made directly without a referral.

Your doctor or other health professional may also refer you to a counsellor.

How to access

Visit the Australian Counselling AssociationExternal Link to find a counsellor near you.


The cost of counselling varies depending on the treatment. Contact the clinic before you attend if you are unsure of the cost.

Some counselling fees are covered by Medicare.

Medicare covers counselling fees for individuals who are eligible under the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) program.

Private health funds
Counselling is covered by some private health funds but your coverage will depend on your insurance policy.



Conventional healthcare – allied health Complementary medicine




Optional registration through industry associations

Minimum qualifications

No official education requirements


  • Make sure that your counsellor is a member of a recognised professional association.


  • You are not required to have a qualification to call yourself a counsellor.
  • A good sign of a qualified counsellor is membership of a reputable professional body, or being eligible for private insurance rebates.
  • Suitably qualified counsellors can become members of the Australian Counselling Association.
  • The Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia is an umbrella professional body that provides national standards for member associations.