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If you are unhappy, stressed, confused or finding it difficult to cope, then seeing a psychologist might help. Knowing what psychologists do and how to get the right psychologist for you is a good first step.

What is a psychologist?

Psychologists are experts in human behaviour. They have studied how the mind works and how people think, react and behave.

Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist who will let you know what is the best treatment for you. If you are a child’s parent or the carer of a child who needs treatment by a psychiatrist or a psychologist, they will work with you and other health professionals.

Practising psychologists must be registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). You can check this at the AHPRA website.

What do psychologists do?

Clinical psychologists work in areas such as schools, hospitals, community health services, courts, prisons, businesses and private practices.

They may specialise in helping children, teenagers or families. More information about the types of psychologists is available on the Australian Psychological Society (APS) website.

You might visit a psychologist for help with problems such as:

What are the costs and subsidies involved?

If you see your doctor, they might refer you to a psychologist with a mental health treatment plan. If so, Medicare covers some or all of the costs. You can see a psychologist without a mental health treatment plan, but then Medicare doesn’t help with the fees.

Private health insurance may not cover costs. If you have private health insurance, speak to your doctor or psychologist about what is covered.

You can find out more about costs, including Medicare rebates, on the APS website or get more information here about low cost or free mental health services.


Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (Psychiatrists and psychologists: what’s the difference?)Australian Psychological Society (Types of psychology)Australian Psychological Society (What is a psychologist?)