While both counsellors and psychologists have been trained in a range of psychological theories and modalities, a psychologist also has training in clinic mental health assessment and diagnosis in order to identify and assist people with moderate to severe mental health problems. In general, psychologists work within a medical model of testing, diagnosis and treatment and a General Practitioner would consider referring you to a psychologist for a diagnosis and treatment of a more moderate to severe mental health clinical condition. The consultation fee charged by a psychologist usually attracts a Medicare rebate.
By contrast, while a counsellor does not work within a medical framework and will not formally assess a client and give a clinical diagnosis they are able to counsel and support people with mild to moderate symptoms of mental illness. Counsellors will generally adopt a more non-directive person-centred approach by asking open-ended questions, affirming and encouraging, actively listening to and reflecting back on what they have heard to assist clients to identify and address individual and relational emotional and psychological concerns. They also assist the client to explore various realistic options to address these issues, will support them in implementing effective and relevant strategies and tools provided by the counsellor to relieve clients' emotional stress, change their current circumstances and achieve their own goals to become more mentally healthy.
Counsellors’ fees do not attract a Medicare rebate but are generally much lower than the cost of a consultation with a psychologist.