What’s the difference between a counsellor, a psychologist and a psychiatrist

As a counsellor, people often ask what is the difference between what I offer and seeing a psychologist.


Counsellors have been trained in the art of listening and supporting people. Counsellors do not put as much focus on mental health diagnoses or use as many assessments as Psychologists.

Counsellors can have anywhere from a 2-year Diploma Qualification to Degree level and post graduate training. (I have a Masters Degree as well as a Bachelor).

A good tip is to look for a counsellor who is accredited with the Australian Counselling Association.

Counsellors usually charge between $90- $180 for a session and many have rebates for Private Health Insurance but are not currently able to offer Medicare rebates. Many people prefer to see a counsellor as they do not need a GP referral, and some people don’t feel comfortable talking about their personal lives with their GP.

Counsellors use many of the same modalities as Psychologists. All Psychologists in Australia hold a general registration with the Psychology Board of Australia and have extensive training and experience as part of that registration, usually 6 years of training.

Psychologists are experts in how the mind functions and often assess people for different mental health and behavioural disorders.

Unlike Psychiatrists, Psychologists cannot prescribe medications. The Australian Psychological Society suggests Psychologists charge $260 for 50 minutes and Medicare rebate may be available (between $84 and $128 back.) People with a mental health diagnosis, disability, chronic medical condition, recent or current pregnancy and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can receive up to 10 bulk billed sessions per year.

A Psychiatrist is a medical Doctor who works specifically with Mental Health issues. They take comprehensive mental health assessments and provide clinical diagnoses and treatment plans including prescribing psychotropic medication such as antidepressants.

It takes up to 11 years of training to become a Registered Psychiatrist. Psychiatrists generally work with people with complex conditions such as schizophrenia, severe depression and bipolar disorder. Fees range from $300 to over $400 but Medicare will often provide a rebate so your out-of-pocket cost would be between $40 and $170. Some Psychiatrists bulk bill.

If you would like to learn more about Ella’s extensive qualifications and experiences see; https://ellashannon.com/about-ella.html#/



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