Sophie Keramidopoulos, PACFA’s new Head of Practice

12 July 2023

With a rich and varied background in Science and Counselling, Sophie Keramidopoulos worked as a counsellor for over 10 years, also managing the National Counselling Service for a sexual and reproductive health provider. As the Head of Practice for PACFA, Sophie provides support to members, advises the operations team and develops and reviews guidelines and information directed to our members.

For this member profile, we sat down with Sophie and asked her a few questions about her career and her role as PACFA’s Head of Practice.

What does the Head of Practice do?

My role with PACFA combines my knowledge and experience in counselling with my love for processes and project management. The role as Head of Practice is multi-faceted, and the parts I find particularly interesting are when I provide support to members, and improve their access to and knowledge of Counselling, Psychotherapy and Indigenous Healing Practices.

As the Head of Practice, Sophie also works on projects that support PACFA's Strategic Plan. A big part of my role is providing advice to the operations team regarding clinical practice. This includes skills, training, role definition and supervision, providing management of the Ethics service, liaising with key Board committees and representing the organisation externally in practice-related settings.

I also partner with PACFA’s expert members to develop information useful to the broader membership, such as guidelines, standards, position statements and web content. The goal is to ensure that high-quality information is provided to support Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Indigenous Healing Practices practice outcomes.

What led you to PACFA?

After completing my Bachelor of Biological Science, I realised that, while I had an interest in science, I was truly passionate about helping people and the incredibly positive impact that Counselling can have on a person and those around them. This sparked my journey towards a career in Counselling. I began this journey somewhat unconventionally, by working across the call centre and counselling team for a sexual and reproductive health provider, it helped me understand the challenges people face when accessing services and in making decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive health. From this point, I completed my counselling qualification and transitioned into a counselling position. Over the last 12 years I have primarily worked as a counsellor for not-for-profit organisations.  

During that time, I was fortunate to manage a national counselling, case management and client advocacy service for five years. While there, I specialised in providing sexual and reproductive health counselling, with a focus on contraception, vasectomy and tubal ligation, and pregnancy options that including abortion, adoption, care, kinship care and parenting.

Throughout my career, I have also contributed to research on Reproductive Coercion; I have advocated for law reforms in Reproductive Health; and I have managed important changes to service delivery. I have been extremely fortunate to have undertaken roles that have increased my passion for and belief in Counselling, and the important work that we do.  

What do you find helps you maintain your mental health?

Personally, I need a balance of structured and unstructured time and a list of go-to activities to help me maintain my mental health. I also have times where I reflect on the activities, their effectiveness and whether they will be accessible in the coming months. My main strategy is to plan for what I can and know who I can go to for support when I need it.

What does that look like in practice?

I maintain a structured routine during the week, a structure free Saturday and/or Sunday and one commitment-free weekend per month. My go-to activities include cooking, walking, reading, listening to music, visiting family and friends, going to local events. (Sometimes items on my “go-to” list are not possible, so I prefer to walk outdoors; however, when we do not have daylight savings, I might not be home before dark, so I plan for a six-month gym membership between Autumn and Spring. I listen to songs I’m familiar with when I’m emotional, so I have set playlists based on my mood.  Over the years, I have found I go to different friends depending on the type of support I need and see a counsellor as needed.

How to contact Sophie

Sophie's office hours are 9:00am to 5:00pm AEST Monday to Friday. Please direct all practice-related enquiries to  [email protected]