Information For Referring Doctors

What is a Counselling Psychologist?

A counselling psychologist has advanced training in psychological assessment and therapy. Counselling Psychologists are required to have six years university training, including a postgraduate Masters Degree in psychology, and two years supervised practice following their university training. In summary, Counselling Psychologists have at least eight years of training in psychology. We also recognise the number one predictor of client outcomes is the therapeutic rapport, clear goals and evidence-based therapy.

Is a Counselling Psychologist trained at the same level as a Clinical Psychologist?

YES. Counselling Psychologist have exactly the same level of training. The primary difference is training for Counselling Psychologists includes a greater focus on a range of therapeutic models and interventions. This means Counselling psychologists often use an integrative approach and tailor therapy to individual clients needs. Empirical research supports this as the best approach to achieve optimal outcomes.

What are the competencies of Counselling Psychologists?

Referrers should have a sense of the competency of the health practitioner to whom they are referring patients or clients. The link below provides comprehensive information on the competencies of Counselling Psychologists.

Click Here to view Counselling Psychologist Competencies


All psychologists must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) to use the term ‘Psychologist’ and practice. To check if your health practitioner is registered visit the AHPRA website using the following link (Check Endorsements to see if the psychologist to which you are referring has postgraduate training recognised by AHPRA):

Using a registered health practitioner helps ensure they have been appropriately trained and supervised to meet professional standards and maintain their health, integrity, training and registration standards.

Why refer to a Counselling Psychologist?

When referring a patient/client for counselling, it is important to understand the difference between a counsellor and Counselling Psychologist. Anyone can refer to themselves as a counsellor, as use of the term is not regulated. This means that there is no minimum training requirement for counsellors, no registration, and no independent body monitoring their practice and well-being or conducting integrity checks. The risks of referring to generic counsellors might be significant. Referrers have a duty of care to their patients, who might be at a particularly vulnerable time of their life, and should refer to a registered health professional, where professional standards have been met and must be maintained. All psychologists are required to abide by a strict code of ethical conduct.

Why refer to a Counselling Psychologists?

Many referrers will be able to identify people presenting with major common mental health problems, provide some appropriate psychoeducation and at times prescribe medication. Medication for many clients, however, should often only be prescribed after a client has had the opportunity to address their issues through non-pharmaceutical means. Often psychological therapy is at least as effective as medication and can have greater benefits to the client over time.

In some cases, where a client’s condition is severe or not responsive to psychological therapy, medication can be a useful adjunct to therapy. Counselling Psychologists are trained in a range of therapeutic techniques and tailor therapy to the individual based on the situation, cultural background and worldview. Research has demonstrated that therapeutic rapport is the best predictor of client engagement and therapeutic outcomes. The therapeutic rapport allows clients to engage in a professional relationship to provide safety and containment as they address potentially sensitive and difficult personal issues. Using a formal model of therapeutic intervention is also an important predictor.

Access to Counselling Psychologists

Medicare funding has resulted in access to counselling psychologists being more affordable for clients. If a client is referred by their treating doctor to a counselling psychologist their session fees are partially rebated for up to ten sessions per calendar year.

What conditions do we treat?

Counselling Psychologists work with people from across the lifespan. Interventions by Counselling Psychologists can be as effective, and sometimes more effective, than pharmacotherapy, although combined treatment may be the best option for some patients. Counselling psychologists deal with a wide range of problems including relationship problems (family and marital), sexual dysfunction, life stress and dealing with acute and chronic life crises. Issues of losses and grief are also handled by Counselling Psychologists. Our services provide counselling psychology interventions for people with anxiety disorders or other mood disorders. Referral to a Counselling Psychologist should be considered when the degree or duration of such problems goes beyond what the GP can offer by way of support and/or counselling.​

Counselling Psychologists can also provide therapy for behaviour and lifestyle issues related to ‘physical health’. Most of the major diseases causing morbidity and mortality are related to behaviour and lifestyle. Counselling Psychologists have skills that can contribute to the management of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular, disease, cancer, asthma and diabetes. They also have expertise in dealing with common problems such as pain, headaches and nausea.

At iflow psychology, we also have experience in illness and injury assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. This includes management and the treatment of cognitive, emotional and behavioural problems related to brain dysfunction. We have experience in rehabilitation, education and psychological therapy to address changes in thinking and behaviour arising from a head injury, epilepsy, neurological disease and stroke. We also work with drugs and alcohol and dementia.

Psychosocial interventions are also available to assist the management of other mental health disorders including, for example, bipolar disorder and personality disorders. Patients with developmental and learning disorders and problems related to intellectual disability are also appropriate for referral, as are people with substance abuse disorders.

What conditions do we treat?

Each year, the Australian Psychological Society (APS) sets recommended sessional consultation fees for psychologists. At iflow psychology we charge less than the APS recommended schedule fee. Our fee, however, remains above the Medicare rebate as we are advanced trained psychologists, providing a quality service. Clients who invest in their psychological health are motivated to achieve their goals. Our fees ensure we maintain a sustainable service providing quality individualised care to our clients.