Counsellors listen to people talk about their feelings, without judging or offering advice. Counsellors help people better understand themselves, solve problems, reach goals and develop self-worth.
Counsellors have different backgrounds and qualifications. Some counsellors have formal qualifications in counselling, some might be registered psychologists, and others might have backgrounds in teaching, nursing, psychology or social work.
Counsellors offer a mix of one-on-one counselling, family therapy, couples 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 children with disability.
If you or your child has mental health or wellbeing concerns, professionals like counsellors are there to care for you and your child. With the support and expertise of these professionals, you and your child can thrive.
Why you might see a counsellor
Counsellors can help you cope with difficult life circumstances like:
- grief and loss
- relationship and communication problems
- work or financial difficulties
- stress, anxiety or depression
- anger management
- the effects of addiction or abuse
- separation or divorce and blended families.
Why children and teenagers might see a counsellor
Counsellors can work with children and teenagers to look at:
- problems like school-age bullying, teenage bullying or learning difficulties
- social difficulties like friendship issues
- behaviour and emotional difficulties like anger, sadness, stress, worry or fear
- traumatic events like illness, hospitalisation, grief and loss
- eating disorders and problems
- family changes like parental separation or divorce.
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. You can also use the Australian Counselling Association’s find a counsellor service or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia’s find a therapist service.
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.
- Who’s going: is it appropriate to take your children?
- Making an appointment: do you need to make the appointment or will the GP make it for you?
- Waiting list: how long before you can get an appointment to see the counsellor?
- Is there anything you can do while you’re waiting for the 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 a workplace employee assistance program (EAP).
- 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.
- Qualifications: is your counsellor a member of a professional organisation like the Australian Counselling Association or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia? And does the counsellor specialise in the areas you need help with?
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.