About counsellors

A counsellor is a person who talks with people to help them solve problems, express their feelings or make plans for the future.

Counsellors have different backgrounds and qualifications. Some counsellors have formal qualifications in counselling, some might be registered psychologists, and others might have a background in teaching, nursing, psychology or social work. Because professional backgrounds can vary widely, it’s worth checking the qualifications of your counsellor.

Counsellors offer a mix of one-on-one counselling, family therapy and group work for children and families, depending on your needs or your child’s needs.

Counsellors also often work with families who have a child with disability.

Why you might see a counsellor

Counsellors can help you cope with difficult life circumstances such as:

  • grief and loss
  • relationship problems
  • work difficulties
  • stress, anxiety or depression
  • parenting
  • anger management
  • the effects of addiction or abuse.

Why your child or teenager might see a counsellor
Counsellors can work with your child or teenager to look at:

You don’t need a GP referral to see a counsellor, but your GP or child and family health nurse is always a good place to start if you’re worried about your child’s health or development. Your GP can help you decide about seeing a counsellor and help you find someone who’s right for your child.

Before going to a counsellor

Before seeing a counsellor, it’s a good idea to find out some information about the following things:

  • Why you’re going to the counsellor: talk with your GP about why you need a referral to a counsellor and whether there’s anything you can do while you’re waiting for the appointment.
  • Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the counsellor?
  • Making an appointment: it might take you more than one phone call to make an appointment.
  • Costs: how much will the appointment with the counsellor cost? It might be expensive, so you could check whether you’re eligible for Medicare, private health insurance or other rebates.
  • Location: find out where you have to go to see the counsellor – for example, a health centre, private consulting rooms, a youth centre or a school. You might have to travel further than you expect, depending on your needs.

You might want to talk about these things and any other questions you have with your GP before you go to the counsellor. You could also ask the counsellor’s clinic when you make the appointment. It’s a good idea to write down any questions you have, so you don’t forget.