Unfortunately, Counsellors and Psychotherapists have not been included in the current Medicare rebate scheme. Individuals can only obtain a Medicare rebate through seeing Psychologists, Occupational Therapists or Social Workers by referral from a GP. PACFA has been lobbying the government extensively for inclusion of Counsellors and Psychotherapists in Medicare. Updates on this progress are available by subscribing to the PACFA eNews.
The PACFA National Register is available to members of the general public who are seeking a registered Psychotherapist or Counsellor. The Register, unlike a membership list or service directory, includes practitioners who have been accredited through their Member Association and PACFA’s National Register application process as meeting the high standards required for professional practice as a Counsellor or Psychotherapist. PACFA recommends that prospective clients choose a therapist from the PACFA Register because these practitioners have obtained a significant level of training, expertise and commitment to a high standard of ethical and professional practice. If you are looking for a particular type of therapist, depending on the style and modality of counselling that you think is most appropriate for you, you can refer to the Section of PACFA to which the registered practitioner belongs. Go to the PACFA Sections page for details.
It is always best to contact the Counsellor or Psychotherapist before making an appointment. Discuss your requirements so they can indicate whether they will be able to assist you, and if not, suggest a more appropriate therapist for you. Feel free to ask questions about their training, experience, expertise, style of work, and get an estimate of how many sessions are likely to be required. Also ask about costs of missed sessions or cancellations. Please note that the number of sessions is difficult to predict and some clients opt for an open-ended contract. Some practitioners work on a short term intensive basis so they can be clearer about how many sessions will be required.
Costs vary greatly and range from $60 to $150 a session, although some practitioners charge outside this range. Some practitioners will also negotiate their fees on capacity to pay basis and some will not. In the end it has a lot to do with your personal choice and comfort with the person you are seeing. If you are in any doubt, seek more information or change therapists if necessary.
Psychotherapy and Counselling are professional activities that utilise an interpersonal relationship to enable people to develop self-understanding and to make changes in their lives. Professional Counsellors and Psychotherapists work within a clearly contracted, principled relationship that enables individuals to obtain assistance in exploring and resolving issues of an interpersonal, intra-psychic, or personal nature. Although Counselling and Psychotherapy overlap considerably, there are also recognised differences in terms of aims, approaches and training. While the work with clients may be of considerable depth in both modalities, the focus of counselling is more likely to be on specific problems or changes in life adjustment. Psychotherapy is more concerned with the restructuring of the personality or self. For more detailed definitions, see the Counselling & Psychotherapy Definitions page.
PACFA can only hear complaints against therapists who are listed on the PACFA National Register. Should you have reason to make a complaint, in the first instance you should contact the PACFA Member Association to which practitioner belongs. If for some reason this is not possible, then PACFA will consider the complaint. Please download the PACFA Code of Ethics or details of the expected ethical standards for Counsellors and Psychotherapists. This document provides information about the role of the PACFA Ethics Committee and Professional Conduct Panels, possible causes for complaints, who can make a complaint, and the steps that need to be taken. If you wish to make a complaint against a therapist who is not listed on the National Register, please contact the Health Complaints Commission in your state. To make a complaint, go to the Complaints page.