Counselling Psychologists provide assessment, diagnosis and psychotherapy for individuals, couples, families, and groups, across a wide range of psychological issues, problems, and mental health disorders. They use evidence-based therapies and evidence-based therapy relationships to help people resolve mental health disorders or psychological problems and move toward greater psychological health. Counselling Psychologists have a distinct philosophical stance, recognising the strengths and resources of people at all levels of psychological functioning. They collaborate with people in a therapeutic relationship to bring about meaningful change.
The current minimum standard of training for a Counselling Psychologist is 8 years, including accredited post-graduate training through a Masters, Doctorate, or PhD in Counselling Psychology followed by supervised placement in the field. Counselling Psychologists are rigorously assessed for their competency with a particular focus on managing complex and challenging cases in the general community setting. Expertise in both counselling and psychotherapy are the central domain of focus. In addition to providing individual therapy, Counselling Psychologists are also trained to deliver couple therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.
Amongst the various specialty areas, Counselling Psychologists train in the most diverse range of psychotherapy techniques. This includes a wide range of evidence-based therapies and common treatment factors. They frequently provide eclectic or integrative treatment approaches inclusive of cognitive-behaviour therapy, interpersonal therapy, brief dynamic therapy, and existential psychotherapy. Counselling Psychologists are focused on tailoring their therapeutic approach to meet the unique needs of individual client cases, paying close attention to aligning treatment with the context of a specific case and the personal values and meaning system of the individual receiving care.
Couple and Family Therapy
Counselling psychologists provide assessment, interventions and treatment to families across the lifespan. They assist people with difficult transitions in relationships that create adjustment issues, such as forming a new relationship, having children, and ageing. They are competent in attachment-based approaches that facilitate understanding of key dynamics and change mechanisms. Treatment is directed towards developing greater satisfaction and wellbeing by improving communication, developing emotional and physical intimacy, resolving conflict and respecting individual differences.
Counselling psychologists address breaches of trust such as trauma, infidelity and violence. They attend to the specific dynamics associated with heterosexual relationships, same-sex relationships, single parenting, and step families. Mental health disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, personality disorders, and substance abuse, have a significant impact on family and couple interaction. Counselling psychologists recognise and treat complex presentations that injure interpersonal relationships, working with people to facilitate understanding and minimise distress to significant others.
Counselling psychologists also receive specific training in the delivery of group-based psychotherapies. They are skilled in the design and facilitation of groups for both therapeutic and psycho-educative purposes. Across a range of settings and client populations, Counselling Psychologists develop and apply group interventions tailored to the specific needs of agencies, programs, and individuals seeking support.
If you would like to find out more about Counselling Psychology in Australia, please download and read this journal article or take a look at the competencies statements for the APS College of Counselling Psychologists which detail the most up to date standards of specialised training in the field.