PACFA shares results of 2020 workforce study

Results of the PACFA Research Committee’s 2020 study of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce have been presented to PACFA members and the Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium. 

Research Committee Chair Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi and PACFA CEO Johanna de Wever presented at the Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium on 4 November 2021, telling participants that PACFA registered counsellors and psychotherapists represent a highly qualified profession, with 67% of survey respondents having post-graduate qualifications. 

The workforce study results are summarised in the article A snapshot of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce in Australia in 2020 by Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi, Elizabeth Day, Tristan Snell, and Gina O’Neill, published in the most recent edition of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia

The workforce study data was collected from an online survey emailed to 3500 PACFA members.  

In a presentation focusing on the workforce study, as well as a broader analysis of the PACFA membership, the symposium was told that more than 30% of PACFA members who responded to the workforce survey lived in rural, remote or regional areas, in contrast to 17% of psychologists and 15% of psychiatrists. 

Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi and Ms de Wever told the symposium that 55% of counsellors are working 20 or fewer hours per week, with 27% saying they would like to work more hours. 

Within an environment in which people seeking mental health services through a psychologist are on waiting lists for six months or more and young people are being turned away from specialist youth mental health services, counsellors and psychotherapists were willing and available to meet unfulfilled demand outside major cities. 

Ms de Wever told the symposium that PACFA was advocating for mental health employers to employ counsellors and was increasing public awareness of the greater availability of counsellors and psychotherapists to meet Covid-driven demand for mental health services. 

About 100 people registered for a webinar on the workforce study presented by PACFA’s Research Committee on 11 November.