The recent Covid-19 Pandemic has confronted all of us with a lot of uncertainty, rapid change and a reduction in social connection. Almost everyone will have experienced some heightened stress in this time. 

Isolation, uncertainty, fear around catching the virus, conflicting information about vaccines, businesses closing and a host of other changes has seriously impacted many peoples mental health and wellbeing. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, financial stress, grief are all mental challenges that have been exacerbated by this time. 


A counsellor is a qualified professional who can help you explore your problems in an objective and non-judgemental way. The process of counselling involves talking about your issues or concerns so as to help create greater clarity about your problem, to explore options that might be helpful, to work on strategies and skills to cope with or alleviate your problem, and developing greater levels of self-awareness and self-compassion. 

Qualified Counsellors can help with:

  • Anxiety, depression and stress 
  • Trauma and abuse
  • Coping with significant change such as job loss, grief, adjustment to the “new normal”
  • Life transitions: births, death, divorce, separations, new careers etc
  • Issues with self esteem, self worth and self criticism
  • Exploring issues around gender, gender identity and sexuality 
  • Work and Career: questions, goals, confusion. 
  • Grief and Loss 
  • Exploring meaning, purpose, spirituality, what it means to be human


Many people are confused between the different roles and benefits of seeing one of the above health professionals. There is a lot of overlap between what a counsellor, psychologist and psychiatrist can do. However there are some important differences.

All of these therapists can help you with:

  • Psycho-education (learning about how our mind works and how this impacts behaviour and symptoms)
  • Cognitive and Behavioural Interventions: behavioural modification, exposure techniques, setting goals or homework, and exploring thoughts
  • Relaxation Techniques: breathing techniques and muscle relaxation
  • Interpersonal Therapy: counselling modalities that use the counselling relationship to improve mental health 

Where they differ:

  • Counsellors use a non-diagnostic approach, focussing on counselling skills. They cannot prescribe medication. 
  • Psychologists may also use this approach, or use psychological tests and tailored interventions for diagnosed mental illness. They also cannot prescribe medication. 
  • Psychiatrists generally work with more serious mental illnesses and are able to prescribe psychiatric medications. 


The severe impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic has meant that Medicare now offers 6-10 rebated sessions for people under a mental health plan to be treated by a psychologist, mental health social worker, occupational therapist or mental health nurse. This can be extended to 20 sessions if the GP and the referred health professional believe that the client has been significantly impacted by the Pandemic. This has been wonderful as a lot of people who need psychological help can now get some rebated sessions. 

The benefits of this are:

  • Discounted sessions
  • Some health professionals can bulk bill
  • If seeing a psychologist: possibility of psychological tests and targeted interventions 

The downsides of this are:

  • The GP must diagnose you with a mental health related condition or illness 
  • Very few long standing mental health issues can be treated in a short number of sessions 
  • The Gap fee can still mean an out of pocket expense between $90-$130 
  • The counselling interventions used by the therapist are limited to a certain few modalities 
  • You need an initial and repeat consults with a GP for referral 
  • If you wish to have continued counselling or therapy after the mental health care plan finishes it can be quite expensive
  • Wait times to book in and see a therapist can be long
  • The time between sessions can also be very long, up to 4-5 weeks, which can be problematic for interpersonal therapy 


Counsellors work with a variety of different problems faced by all human beings at various stages in their lives. This includes people who may not have severe enough problems to be ‘diagnosed’ with a mental illness, or who maybe want to seek treatment outside of the medical model for their difficulties. 

The benefits of seeing a counsellor include

  • No GP referral necessary
  • No diagnosis: you do not have to have a diagnosed mental illness to see a counsellor 
  • Less wait time (or no wait time). 
  • Sessions are usually closer together (frequency in therapy can be just as impactful as the type of therapy offered) 
  • Wide variety of modalities and therapies can be used: Counselling is more personal, the approach is targeted to you as an individual rather than you as an illness 
  • Counselling Fees are usually less than the Gap Fee for most Clinical Psychologists so the cost is often similar to fees charged under a mental health care plan 


Because you do not require a referral to see a counsellor, you can book in at any time! Counselling offers a flexible, non pathologizing way for you to explore your life deeply, to help you overcome life’s difficulties and to support you in achieving your goals. Book in with Jad Patrick for counselling here!


By Jad Patrick – Counsellor, Mindful Self Compassion Teacher, Naturopath

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