The Difference Between Counsellors, Social Workers & Psychologists

Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

If you’re looking for a mental health professional, it can be difficult to determine which type of professional is right for you. Here, we will discuss the differences between Counsellors, Social Workers and Psychologists. We will outline the training and qualifications that are required to become each type of professional, as well as their areas of expertise. So, if you’re not sure which type of mental health professional is right for you, keep reading!

The main difference is Counsellors work from the inside-out (meaning we consider the internal factors influencing relationships with self and others), Social Workers work from the outside-in (meaning the environmental, nurturing and external factors are considered) and Psychologists mainly assess, diagnose and consider other clinical factors for a person’s mental health recovery. All mental health professionals provide support for issues that impact people emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.

Counsellors: training and qualifications, areas of expertise

A Counsellor is a mental health professional who has completed at least a Master’s degree in Counselling, Psychology, Social Work or a related field. Counsellors are trained in providing counselling and psychotherapy services to individuals, couples, families and groups. Counsellors typically work in private practice, but can also be found working in schools, hospitals, community mental health centres and other settings.

Counsellors are mental health professionals who provide support and guidance to people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. Counsellors use a variety of techniques, including counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, to help their clients. Counsellors do not prescribe medication, or diagnosis but they may refer their clients to other mental health professionals if necessary.

The Australian Counselling Association is the association Counsellors may register with dependant on their level of qualification and experience with clients. Counsellors transitioning or still in training may register as Provisional Counsellors until they have completed the necessary qualifications and experience to reach a Level 1 Counsellor. The highest level for ACA as a Counsellor or Supervisor is Level 4. Counsellors may also register with PACFA in addition to ACA.

What is the Australian Counselling Association (ACA)?

The Australian Counselling Association (ACA) is a professional body representing counsellors throughout Australia. The ACA sets ethical and professional standards for the counselling profession, and provides support and resources for counsellors in their work with clients.

What is PACFA?

PACFA is the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. PACFA is the peak body for the counselling and psychotherapy profession in Australia. PACFA sets professional standards for counsellors and psychotherapists, and provides resources and support for practitioners in their work with clients.

Psychologists: training and qualifications, areas of expertise

Psychologists are mental health professionals who have completed at least a Doctoral degree in Psychology. Psychologists are trained in the scientific study of human behaviour and mental processes. Psychologists typically work in private practice, but can also be found working in hospitals, schools, businesses and other settings. Psychologists are providers of Mental Health Care Plans (MHCP) – please see your Doctor to get started with a referral to a Psychologist in your area.

Psychologists use their knowledge of human behaviour to help people understand, explain and change their behaviour. Psychologists may work with individuals, couples, families or groups. They may also work with children, adolescents or adults. Psychologists can diagnose clients with assessments and do not prescribe medication, but they may refer their clients to other mental health professionals if necessary.

Social Workers: training and qualifications, areas of expertise

Social Workers are mental health professionals who have completed at least a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work. Social Workers are trained in providing social work services to individuals, families and groups. Social Workers typically work in private practice, but can also be found working in schools, hospitals, community mental health centres and other settings. Social Workers are providers of Mental Health Care Plans – please see your Doctor to get started with a referral to a Social Worker of your choice.

Social Workers are mental health professionals who provide support and guidance to people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives. Social Workers use a variety of techniques, including counselling, psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, to help their clients. Social Workers do not prescribe medication, or diagnosis but they may refer their clients to other mental health professionals if necessary.

AHPRA is the association that Social Workers and Psychologists may register with for their professions. There are various levels of association dependent on your qualification and experience.

What is AHPRA?

AHPRA is the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency. AHPRA regulates health practitioners in Australia to ensure that they meet the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (NRAS) standards. Social Workers and Psychologists may register with AHPRA for their professions. There are various levels of association dependent on your qualification and experience.

What is the Australian Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP)?

A Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP) is a document that outlines the treatment and support plan for someone with a mental illness. A MHCP is developed by a GP, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, in consultation with the person with a mental illness and their carer(s). The MHCP sets out the goals of treatment and the services and supports that will be provided. A MHCP may be developed for a person with a mental illness who is already receiving treatment from a mental health professional, or it may be developed when a person first presents to a GP or other health professional with symptoms of a mental illness.

How do I know if I am eligible for a MHCP?

You may be eligible for a MHCP if you have been diagnosed with a mental illness by a GP, psychiatrist or other mental health professional. To find out if you are eligible for a MHCP, please contact your GP or mental health professional.

Do I need a MHCP for my Counselling Health Professional?

No, you do not need a MHCP for your Counselling Health Professional. Counselling Health Professionals are not able to provide MHCP’s because they are Private Practitioners registered with ACA or PACFA not AHPRA.

So, there you have it! The main differences between Counsellors, Psychologists and Social Workers. If you’re still not sure which type of mental health professional is right for you, we recommend that you contact a Counsellor, Psychologist or Social Worker in your area to discuss your specific needs.

Counsellors, Psychologists and Social Workers all play an important role in supporting individuals with mental health concerns. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please reach out for help. Counselling, Psychotherapy and Social Work are all evidence-based therapies that can provide individuals with the support needed to improve mental health.

Remember, you are not alone. There is help available with our Counsellors and Mentors.

Reach out today for Counselling or Supervision (for Counselling Practitioners) with Natalie on 0406 966 671 or Mentoring with Marty on 0410 811 476.

Request a Callback

Fill out the form below and one of our team will call you back within 24 hours.

"*" indicates required fields

Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.