Bulk Billing Counselling: Understanding the Difference between a Psychologist and a Counsellor
Bulk billing counselling has become an essential mental health service offered by psychology services like Chat Corner Psychologists, particularly for Australians who require counselling but cannot afford psychologist fees due to financial restrictions.
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Bulk billing counselling has emerged as a crucial mental health service for Australians who need counselling but cannot afford it. The Australian government funds this service, and Medicare covers the complete cost of the therapy session. With the Medicare Australia psychology rebate, clients need not worry about paying anything from their pockets.
Please note that between psychologists and counsellors, only psychologists are permitted by law to provide bulk billing services in Australia.
Can you identify what are the Differences between a Psychologist that offers Bulk Billing Counselling and a Counsellor?
Registered psychologists in Australia complete a six year sequence of training which includes an undergraduate degree and postgraduate clinical period or, a postgraduate psychology degree which includes clinical period and, need to have their registration completed with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).
Registered psychologists have to complete specific training in psychometric assessments, diagnosing mental health presentations and, the management and treatment of mental health presentations. Evidenced based treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychoanalysis, amongst others, will be utilised by the psychologist to treat the underlying mental health presentation, depending on the psychologist’s skill set.
A component of a psychologist’s training is to undertake the administration of psychological assessments and tests. This is to evaluate a client’s cognitive ability, personality, intelligence amongst other traits and characteristics recognisable in clients, across the lifespan.
The recommended training pathway of a counsellor requires the completion of a diploma or degree in counselling. Providing emotional support and guidance to clients is a key focus. This can include dealing with various life challenges, including relationship issues, work stress, and grief. The tools that counsellors use include talk therapies to guide clients explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to develop coping skills to deal with their problems.
The key differences between psychologists and counsellors is the level of training and education, the ability to assess and diagnose and, the ability to access Medicare Australia psychology rebates .
The term counsellor is not protected by Australian law as of 2023. This means that counsellors are technically not required by law to obtain specific qualifications or training. That being said, many counsellors who register with their respective associations have to comply with the respective qualifications and training requirements. For example, to register as a NDIS provider as a counsellor, one of the requirements is to have training that is government accredited at the AQF level 7 to 9 level.
Both professions permit a degree of expertise. For example, psychologists are permitted to obtain an area of endorsement in clinical psychology, forensic psychology, and health psychology. Similarly, counsellors can undertake further training client areas in marriage counselling, family counselling, career counselling and substance abuse counselling.
Bulk Billing Counselling or Therapy is delivered by healthcare professionals recognised by Medicare Australia
The term ‘psychologist’ is a protected title under Australian law. Australian law permits registered psychologist to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. At the moment, ‘psychologists’ are one of the key healthcare professions recognised that can provide bulk billing counselling or therapy.
Final Notes about Bulk Billing Counselling
Bulk billing counselling is a government-funded service that has become an essential mental health service for Australians who require therapy services but cannot afford it. In Australia, bulk billing counselling is provided by healthcare professionals who are registered with Medicare Australia. At the moment, counsellors do not fall under this category however it is not be surprising that advocacy to expand funding for counsellors will continue.
Although the terms psychologist and counsellor are commonly interchanged, differences exist between these professions. Psychologists possess more advanced training and education and are authorised to diagnose and treat mental health disorders. In contrast, counsellors offer emotional guidance and support to individuals managing a wide array of life difficulties. Contact Chat Corner Psychologists in the contact form below to work with the right professional for your specific circumstances.
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Services Australia. (2019, September 27). How to claim a Medicare benefit – Bulk billing. https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/subjects/how-claim-medicare-benefit/bulk-billing#a1
Department of Health. (2010, November) Evaluation of the Better Acess Initiative Component D: Summary of consultation with stakeholders. Retrieved from: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-ba-eval-dsum-toc~mental-ba-eval-dsum-8~mental-ba-eval-dsum-8-1
Voudouris, N. (2011, December). The future of higher education funding for psychology. InPsych, 33 (6). https://www.psychology.org.au/for-members/publications/inpsych/2011/dec/The-future-of-higher-education-funding-for-psychol
Australian Psychological Society. (n.d.). Psychologist fees. Retrieved 27 June 2020, from https://www.psychology.org.au/for-the-public/about-psychology/what-it-costs