Many Australian counsellors charge based on an hourly rate. Hourly rates can typically range from $60 to $150 a session but some counsellors do offer a bulk discounted price for a packaged sessions. For more specialised areas of counselling such as relationship counselling or trauma counselling, expect rates to be around $100 to $180 per session. For those experiencing financial hardship some counsellors may offer a sliding scale negotiated based on the client’s capacity to pay. Before committing to seeing a counsellor, initial appointments are a great way to get a sense of the person as your counsellor to see if they are right for you. Initial appointments are usually at a reduced charge.
What are the alternatives?
- If you are a studying most schools, universities and colleges have on site counselling services free of charge.
- Local neighbourhood centres may provide counselling services at no or low cost.
- Group therapy such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), don’t charge membership fees but donations are encouraged to cover meeting expenses such as rent.
- Mental Health Care Plans and Medicare Rebates. Please contact your GP and request a long appointment. Your GP will make an assessment about whether you are eligible, and may refer you to a Clinical Psychologist under a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP). Eligible clients with a referral or MHCP will be entitled to 10 individual sessions with a Clinical Psychologist per calendar year.
- Telephone services provide free 24/7 help, support, referrals and counselling Such as Beyondblue (1300 22 46 36), Lifeline (13 11 14), 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) and Mensline (1300 78 99 78)
Employee Assistance Plans (EAPs)
Many employers have EAPs that provide free confidential counselling for employees. Usually the employer is not informed which employees use the service. Contact your Human Resources department for the contact number or website of your employers EAP provider.
- Typically meetings are scheduled within a week or two of your inquiry. EAP’s don’t usually charge for this service, however the total number of sessions may be limited so ask about how many sessions you are entitled too.
- EAP counsellors come from different professions. It is a good idea to check the counsellor’s qualifications and experience with the problem you would like help with. You may also ask about the type of therapy that counsellor provides.
Tips to manage the cost of counselling
- Don’t let small problems get out of control: Many problems respond more effectively if you catch them early on. Signs that you are not coping may include: work or studies are being affected, finding it difficult to carry out daily tasks, using drugs or alcohol to cope or someone close to you has noticed changes and is encouraging you to seek help.
- Plan ahead to solve problems: Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays like Christmas can all trigger painful memories and limit your happiness. Planning ahead and booking your session with a counsellor can provide additional support to you during these difficult times.
- Be aware of changes in your mental well being: The early signs of depression can be easily over looked; constant problems with worry, nervousness, or anxiety; recurring difficulties in relationships; troubles finishing your work; and problems with periods of low mood.
- Self-help materials: There are numerous books and websites available supporting people who are seeking counselling. Ask your counsellor for recommendations on materials that may allow you to work on the problem more quickly.
- Make sure to follow up on homework: Your counselling session will go quickly, homework is given by therapist to help you continue processing what was discussed during the session. Homework is never compulsory, but it may reduce the number of sessions required.
- Spread out sessions: Once you are improving, sessions can be spread out to reduce the costs. Discuss with your counsellor the option to schedule some shorter sessions, telephone or online appointments.
- Cancelled sessions: Most counsellors will charge for missed or cancelled sessions. If you have to miss a session, be sure to call as soon as you know.
If you are still feeling confused and want to explore your options in a confidential talk? Call us today for a free 15 minute phone consultation at 0403 747 626.