The best counselling services in Canberra

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Photo: Strategic Psychology

Life sure is a rollercoaster. And, if humanities literary treasures are anything to go by, we have been experiencing the ups and downs of everyday life for millennia. From time to time, we all have difficulty navigating life’s bends and turns – and there is no shame in that. It can be said that these challenges are only proof that we are all human!

When the silver lining can be a little challenging to see, seeking the services of an experienced counsellor can help. Counsellors essentially provide support to those experiencing emotional challenges in life by helping to identify, address, and work through such issues.

Indeed, people from all walks of life can benefit from this type of therapy. This willingness to seek support can be an immensely beneficial step towards personal development and requires both courage and curiosity.

But where does one even start. Like many professional relationships in life, finding the right counsellor can take some exploration. After all, finding a great counsellor may represent one of the first pivotal milestones in your wellbeing endeavour.

So, to help you on your way we’ve pulled together a list of the best counselling services in the Canberra region. For those new to this process, we’ve also included some criteria to help assess each practitioner and their potential fit. Read on below to find out more.

What makes a great counselling service?

Great counsellors are bastions of our emotional wellbeing, helping us navigate the bends and turns in life. To get a head start in finding your perfect practitioner keep an eye out for the following:

  • Qualified & experienced. Great counsellors have not only knowledge, but the skills and experience to help. As far as qualifications go, look for counsellors with a Bachelor of Counselling at a minimum. Indeed, many specialist counsellors will also hold a Master of Counselling to further round out their skill set. Education aside, the best counsellors have a wealth of practical experience spanning years or even decades in the field. They are likely to be senior industry leaders, practice owners, and even educators.
  • Specialised. Just like our personal experiences are vast and varied, so too are counsellor specialisations. So, consider the core areas of expertise that are most beneficial for your circumstances. Counsellors may be known for their skills in specific areas such as relationships, crisis and trauma, stress or grief, and counselling of children and youth. Finally, to vouch for experience consider recommendations from your general practitioner along with family and friends.
  • Industry accredited. Often the best counsellors are those which seek continued professional development and membership with esteemed industry bodies. For counsellors, two core industry bodies are the Australian Counselling Association and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. Both provide self-regulation functions; with membership denoting demonstrated approved levels of training, experience, competence, and ethics. Seeking the service of an accredited counsellor provides valuable peace and an added level of assurance for prospective clientele.
  • Master communicator. When it comes counselling and talk-based therapy, perhaps one of the most important personal attributes for any counsellor is communication. Effective communication plays an intrinsic role in the counsellor-client relationship. It ensures that both parties can fluently share their thoughts and have their point of view heard. The best counsellors use communication to effectively set boundaries, share ideas, and provide guidance. Furthermore, they are intent listeners who are tactful with questions; using their mastery of communication to help clients successfully work through their issues.
  • The right fit. The tableside manner of any health care professional is important; and perhaps even more so when it comes to mental health. Central to this is a counsellor’s approach, once that should stem from a place of neutrality, respect, and empathy. This non-judgemental approach is crucial to the development of positive relationship where a client feels comfortable being open. Finding a practitioner with the right fit can be a little harder to place, though a great way to do this is to meet with them in person. Furthermore, consider past client feedback, along with and recommendations.

The best counselling services in Canberra

Riotact’s editorial team has combed through 20 years of on-site comments to compile a list of the most recommended businesses according to you.

To be listed in our Best of Canberra series, each business needs to have consistently received positive feedback on Riotact and Facebook as well as maintaining a minimum average of 4/5 stars on Google.

Strategic Psychology

Known for their forward-thinking, innovative and enthusiastic approach, registered and clinical psychologists at Strategic Psychology are some of the most highly recommended in Canberra.

Offering adult, adolescent, child and relationship counselling services, the team carefully creates a warm, safe and non-judgemental space to work with clients towards positive change.

"Our motto is ‘Good People Looking After Good People’. We think about the little things in therapy, which add up to big differences for our clients," the team says.

Strategic Psychology is a solid support in instances of stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief and relationship conflicts, equippping their clients with the tools they need to navigate challenges when times get tough.

Psychologists can also carry out education, IQ and learning capability assessments for clients of any age.

"Both myself and my family have received life changing emotional support from psychologists at Strategic," client Michael says online. "The reception team is warm and attentive. I can't recommend them highly enough."

You, Me & Us

You, Me & Us is a highly regarded counselling practice in Canberra's inner north, focused on helping clients with a range of presenting issues including anxiety, grief, trauma, low confidence and stress over relationships and work.

The team of 10 therapists is a of mix of counsellors, social workers and psychologists trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy, an evidence-based modality that is highly effective with individuals, couples and families. All are highly professional, receiving regular clinical supervision and fastidiously attending regular professional development and further training.

Director Janine Moran explains that from a young age, our lives and emotions are impacted by our relationships. "Our development is shaped by the interactions we have with others around us," she says. "As adults, we unconsciously repeat patterned responses learned through early and significant relationships. These guide the way we cope with the world."

You, Me & Us supports clients to navigate complex issues through counselling support and psychotherapy. The focus is on helping clients understand their internal processes and patterned reactions that can be confusing and painful. With support, increased self-awareness can lead to a healthy, happy and settled self.

DIPAC Counselling Therapist

Founded in 2009, DIPAC offers counselling, therapy, and meditative services to both couples and individuals, empowering them to find solutions that address their emotional challenges.

DIPAC stands for discipline, innovation, persistence, attitude, and courage – and operates by these principals daily. Conveniently located in Barton, DIPAC offers both in person and virtual consultations and carries numerous private health affiliations. For powerful strategies to improve mental well-being DIPAC are worth a visit.

Bobbie Barton shared this great review on Google, “Professional service, understanding and safe space.”

Canberra Clinical & Forensic Psychology

Founded by Dr Bruce Stevens in 1998, Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology has been providing therapy and assessment services to the Canberra community for over 20 years.

Home to eighteen highly trained clinical or registered psychologists, they work with a wide variety of therapeutic models tailored to the needs of clients. The team also work as academics, in public mental health, and sit on the boards of professional industry associations. For a team of energetic, positive clinicians committed to client wellbeing see Canberra Clinical & Forensic Psychology.

Kim Nguyen had this to say on Google, “Dr Tram Dinh is the best psychologist.”

David Neilsen Counselling

With over twenty years professional experience across private, public, and not-for-profit sectors; David Nielsen has built a reputation for being a skilled and insightful counsellor. His client centric approach ensures sessions are tailored to individual needs and personal situations.

As a level 4 member of the Australian Counselling Association and Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychologists, he has also been a popular international speaker on issues related to family, marriage, and sexuality. For a down to earth, non-judgemental, and respectful counsellor look to David Neilsen.

Neil O shared this sentiment on Google, “David is an amazing counsellor! He is very helpful and gives clients work to do between sessions which continues the therapeutic process. Wouldn't recommend him highly enough.”

For related services take a look at our articles on Canberra’s best marriage counsellors, best psychologists and best child psychologists for details on our city’s top services. Alternatively, if you’re looking for expert advice on mediation, check out our article on the best mediation and conflict resolution services in Canberra.

Additional places to get help

If you or a loved one need help, there are several great services available. Within your personal sphere consider reaching out to your doctor, your local community health centre, school or university, or workplace human resources.

To find a professional counsellor or psychologist in near you visit Australia Counselling’s Directory or the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

Additionally, Relationships Australia provide counselling, mediation, dispute resolution and a range of assistance programs available nationally on 1300 364 277.

For round the clock 24 hours a day 7 days a week support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 3636.

Your experience with counselling services in Canberra

Thanks to our commenters who have provided insightful feedback. If you believe we have got it wrong, please let us know.

Have you had experience with any of the counselling services listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is counselling?

Counselling is a form of talk-based therapy that assists clients with working through personal issues. Typically conducted by an objective and professionally trained counsellor; counselling provides confidential support that allows clients to address problems in a positive manner. There are many different counselling styles and approaches providing numerous options for clients.

What can I see a counsellor for?

Anyone who is struggling with a personal concern can see a counsellor for support. Common issues include grief or loss; relationship or communication issues; work and career issues; stress, anxiety or depression; self-esteem issues; handling life transitions; parenting; abuse; trauma; and exploring gender or sexuality.

What are the common components of counselling?

While each counsellor relationship will be unique to both clinician and client, there are often some common threads found throughout the counselling journey. These may include developing the clinician and client relationship; clarifying and assessing situations; identifying and setting treatment goals; designing and implementing interventions; and planning, termination, and follow-up. For further details contact your local counsellor.

Are counselling services covered by Medicare?

Some counsellors are covered under a Medicare rebate allowing some sessions to be covered with a small payable gap fee. To be entitled for this rebate, clients must obtain a mental health care plan from their general practitioner. In doing so, your doctor assesses whether counselling services would be beneficial. A typical mental health care plan provides up to 10 sessions of counselling per year with a Medicare rebate. Note that Medicare does not provide rebates to all counsellors, so if in doubt just ask. Furthermore, partial rebates may be available for those with private health insurance depending on coverage.

How many counselling sessions will I need?

In short, it largely depends on a client’s individual circumstance. Some problems can be successfully resolved in a few sessions; while others may surface deeper unresolved issues that require further exploration. For a better indication, ask the counsellor to provide an estimate at the end of the first session. Do remember that this is only an estimate of course.

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Once again I would wholeheardtly recommend Martin Male in Red Hill. Here is his website>
He has helped both me and my partner to recreate our relationship based in love and trust! I ahve also seenthebenfits for frinds Ii have referred. I have done his retreats along with my partner and find it both challenging yet so very rewarding. He has over 30 years experience and I have seen him bee really supportive of clients.Tehrange of skills are brilliant. I feel so safe with him , which was very novel or me.

There is nothing wrong with wanting some feedback from the therapist. A good therapist won’t hide behind ‘client privacy’ and stonewall you. They certainly won’t discuss the details of what was said in a session–as your daughter needs to be able to trust the therapist–but he/she will be able to give some advice as to the best approach to take and give you a general idea about how therapy is going. I have had two children in therapy/counselling after a traumatic event. I think that Dr Fridgant is very good. He is a psychiatrist and you will need a referral from your GP. He is probably the best diagnostician in Canberra (that’s my opinion anyway). I have heard good things about Headspace. We also tried Richmond Fellowship. If you have a therapist/psychologist (as I did) talk to them about your daughter’s symptoms. He/she can give you some good parenting advice and give you some insight into your daughter’s symptoms. Anxiety is really awful. Your poor child would be suffering. I wish you the best.

How severe is the anxiety? Drama classes help some kids I know, but it would be well beyond the capacity of someone with severe anxiety.

And don’t listen to those who want to cut the parents out. If you get to stay in the loop, then you get the benefit of modifying sme of your own behaviours that may not be helping things.

I’m not having a go at you here, because ALL parents may have behaviours that don’t help things with teenagers. It’s just part of that rich experience of parenting a teenager! Therapy in the context of family therapy can be very helpful.

Mental Health Worker8:05 am 04 Apr 11

oops, I changed your child’s sex at one point. sorry.

Mental Health Worker8:04 am 04 Apr 11

… and when looking on the Australian Psychological Society website, look for a psychologist with Medicare Specialist status – you will get a bigger rebate from Medicare, making the appointments cheaper, and the psychologist will have a higher level of training.

If a psychologist you are thinking of going to is not listed to the APS website, ask yourself why they won’t spend a tax-deductible $400 to join their professional association.

Unfortunately other mental health professions are not as regulated as psychology (social workers, counsellors, psychotherapists) and as others have said, this carries some risks. Some may be very very good, but who will you complain to if they are not?

If yours son’s condition is quite disabling, consider phoning ACT Mental Health and accessing the public system. It’s free.

If your daughter is in her early teens, most professionals will talk to you as her legal guardian. In her mid to late teens they will become more cautious, as she may not be open with them if she thinks they are going to report everything back to you. So you may have to decide between effective treatment or knowing everything that goes on in the sessions – both may not be possible.

Medications aren’t recommended for children, as their brains are still developing. Few antidepressants (many of which double as anti-anxiety medications) are recommended for youngsters. There was a report an authoritative a few months back (can’t remember exactly what) which said only one antidepressant could be safely recommended. See


Dr. Nomchong…Kambah…the man is a legend! …but…dont expect him to divulge any of your daughter’s private information. Sounds like you’re wayyy too interferring and that could be one of your daughters problems.
Headspace is good too. Aimed at kids her age…goodluck to your girl

My 18 year old son was diagnosed with extreme anxiety and shyness at 16 ,counseling had little effect though he was happy to go .it was not until our doctor put hm on medication,Sertra to be specific was their a huge improvement in mood swings. 2 years on he is a much happier person.
I,m not saying its a silver bullet it still took a lot of patience and understanding and lots of we love you no matter what but things are much much better.

Be very careful. I believe – and I’d be very happy to be proven wrong – that anyone can set themselves up as a counsellor.

Whoever you choose, choose a registered health professional. That won’t guarantee satisfaction, but at least you’ll have some protection against charlatans. eq2’s recommendation – that you get your GP’s advice – is sound.

Marina Truter in Fadden. She is in the yellow pages under ‘Fadden Counselling Centre’ or
My daughter goes to her from time to time in relation to a traumatic experience which resulted in some of the symptoms you describe. Like most counsellors though, you would probably have to discuss the disclosure issue. I have not asked that of her.

Hi Redhill, I have experience with the anxiety disorder in children and teenagers.

My first response to your question is a recommendation to book your loved one into Richardson House, near IGA in Richardson, word of mouth from Mums has it that these counsellors are fantastic with children, teenagers and adults!

Drama classes treats anxiety in the ‘right positive setting/environment’ along with a team sport for interaction and getting used to more crowds. A ‘reward’ is to be offered and followed through after your loved one has met you half way ie compromised. Make sure you are around during the first couple of classes and explain to the teacher (without your teenager’s knowledge) the reason you are booking your teenager into the class and for the teacher not to draw attention to her, until she interacts with some of the other kids during the first few lessons.

Empowerment is the key – your teenager needs to regain the power and free spirit she had when younger!

Tools for empowerment you will find on internet sites.

Some daring or riskier things she would not normally do although done safely, such as flying, abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain bike riding, motor bike riding on someones property, triathlons, travelling to Sydney with a group of friends with an adult supervising at a distance (ie mixing with a large population who do not know her or care) forced to sit on buses and trains with hundreds of people staring right through her! After a few of these situations, your teenage daughter will suddenly realise that facing and mixing with crowds is a normal event at the same time building up her courage and self esteem doing activities in a heavy populated environment.

Joining the Theatre in Civic for acting or back stage work, mixing with all walks of life!

Any group or activity where your daughter is faced with interaction of ‘positive’ people initially.

Gently ease her into one thing at a time with you around in the wings until she builds up her confidence levels.

My heart, thoughts and prayers are with you as I had a sister with this condition when we were all kids.

Moving to the big smoke from a country town knocked out the anxiety problemo when she turned 21 thank goodness!!

gentoopenguin10:24 pm 02 Apr 11

Err I think any psychologist would protect the privacy of their client, otherwise there would be no trust. Perhaps what you are looking for is family therapy??

Headspace is a fairly well known program for young people who need mental health support.

There’s a clinic at the UC Faculty of Health.

Go to your GP and get a mental health care plan for your daughter. This will allow you to claim appointments with a Psychologist on Medicare. Use the Australian Psychological Society’s “Find a psychologist” search to find a psychologist in your area who provides suitable services: All psychologists will be happy to work with parents. You can contact the psychologists directly or view their website to get a better idea of the type of services they specialise in. Alternatively, your GP may be able to suggest an appropriate referral.

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