The best psychologists in Canberra

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Nesh Nikolic from Strategic Psychology is one of Canberra’s best psychologists. Photo: Strategic Psychology.

Whether you’re going through a particularly difficult time or simply need some emotional support and guidance, a qualified psychologist can make a world of difference.A psychologist is a registered, university-trained professional with expertise in emotional wellbeing and human behaviour.

There is nothing shameful about seeking the services of a psychologist or admitting that you need help. A skilled psychologist will listen to your thoughts, feelings and life experiences and teach you practical coping strategies that can improve your life.

A psychologist is not the same as a psychiatrist. A psychiatrist has a medical degree and and can prescribe medication. Psychologists offer treatments that focus on changing behaviour and emotional responses without medication.

It is important to find a psychologist that you can trust. To help you with this process, we’ve compiled a list of the top psychologists in the Canberra region.

Let’s get started.

What type of psychologist do you need?

There are several different types of psychologists in Australia, including:

  • General psychologist: A general psychologist is trained and qualified to treat a range of psychiatric and mental health conditions. They have completed at least six years of university training and supervised experience.
  • Clinical psychologist: A clinical psychologist has completed additional specialised training compared to a general psychologist. They often treat more complex and specialised conditions.
  • Forensic psychologist: If you need a psychological assessment for court or any other legal purpose, you may need to see a forensic psychologist. A forensic psychologist has completed extra studies in forensic psychology.

Many psychologists and clinical psychologists have special areas of interest, training and experience in treating particular disorders. These might include eating disorders, sleeping disorders, working with children and adolescents, educational assessments, autism spectrum disorder or trauma.

So, in addition to finding a psychologist who you trust and feel comfortable with, you may also need to seek out a psychologist with experience managing the specific challenges you are facing.

Accessing Medicare benefits and private health rebates

If you would like your psychologist appointments to be covered by Medicare, you will need a referral from an appropriate medical practitioner (i.e. GP, psychiatrist or paediatrician) before booking your first appointment. Your medical practitioner will make an assessment that you need a psychologist before making the referral.

Once you have a referral you can see any psychologist who is registered with Medicare and has a Medicare Provider Number.

You can choose to claim benefits from your private health insurer instead. You can claim benefits from Medicare or your insurer, not both.

What makes a great psychologist?

A great psychologist can help you identify and overcome problems that negatively affect how you feel and/or impact your ability to function properly at work, home or in your private life.

To help make your search easier, we recommend keeping an eye out for the following traits:

  • Experience and qualifications. Look for a psychologist who is highly trained and uses well-researched methods that have been proven to work.
  • Convenience and affordability. Since therapy is usually an ongoing process, your psychologist should be easy, convenient and affordable for you to access regularly.
  • Expertise. Some psychologists choose to specialise in certain areas. You may like to work with a professional that has expertise in in an area relevant to you.
  • Compassion. At the end of the day, you will be sharing personal, sensitive information with your psychologist. You want them to respond with compassion and understanding, never judgement.
  • A customised approach. Psychologists often work with people in vulnerable positions. The best professionals understand each client’s unique needs so they can lead them towards recovery. This is something that takes more than just a degree in order to do well.

The best psychologists in Canberra

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PsychSessions has provided assessments and psychological treatments for mental health conditions since 2005. Each of its 14 psychologists and general psychologists has a post-graduate university degree and has conducted university research, so they understand how to conduct, understand and apply research.

PsychSessions offers mental health services including therapy for depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders (a multidisciplinary approach alongside dieticians and GPs), insomnia and sleep problems. It is also the only psychology service provider in Canberra that offers multidisciplinary insomnia assessment and treatment services in collaboration with Canberra Sleep Clinic.

Some of the most common reasons people access PsychSessions is for help with depression and/or anxiety – especially if symptoms have been going on for more than a few months, or having a significant impact on their ability to function at work or in their personal lives. This includes generalised anxiety, phobias, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

PsychSessions’ treatment approach focuses on relieving distress, restoring functioning, and preventing relapse.

  • Suite 3, Level 7, AMP Building, 1 Hobart Place, Canberra City ACT
  • Or via telehealth either secure video chat or phone

Strategic Psychology

Located in the city, Strategic Psychology has a team of experienced psychologists who specialise in working with children, adolescents, adults and couples. The clinical team is trained in assessing and treating a wide range of psychological difficulties such as anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, trauma, eating disorders, panic attacks, sleep difficulties and self-esteem issues.

Using best-practice therapy models and a client-centred approach, Strategic Psychology's clinicians work with their clients to understand their personal needs, identify where their challenges are coming from and develop psychologically flexible strategies to better manage their difficulties.

Strategic Psychology's clinicians are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and are able to provide Medicare rebates for clients referred by their GP with a Mental Health Care Plan.

On Google, Judy Ladlow wrote, “I’ve had two different stretches of session at Strategic Psychology, for different issues, and the support of the counsellors and service of the receptionist team are always excellent. It makes a difficult thing easier.”

Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology

Based in Barton, Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology has provided psychology services to Canberrans since 1998. The practice is founded and led by Dr Bruce Stevens, who, in addition to working as a practicing psychologist, is former chair of the ACT branch of the Clinical College of the Australian Psychological Society, a ten-time author and an academic.

If you need a forensic assessment (such as for a parenting capacity & family assessment report or a pre-sentencing report), Canberra Clinical and Forensic Psychology has a number of practitioners who are able to help. Its practitioners also treat conditions including depression and anxiety, grief, trauma, relationship problems and eating disorders.

Top Psychology

Conveniently located on Marcus Clarke Street in Civic, Top Psychology can help with challenges ranging from depression and anxiety to grief and loss, workplace issues and stress. If you'd just like to become more confident and improve your communication and assertiveness, its team can provide strategies for those too.

Top Psychology is run by clinical psychologist Randolph Sparks, who offers therapies including cognitive behaviour therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, pain management, preventing relapse of depression and positive psychology.

For more information on related services, check out our articles on the best psychologists, best marriage counsellors and best child psychologists in Canberra. Alternatively, if you’re looking for expert advice on mediation, check out our article on the best mediation and conflict resolution services in Canberra.

Your experience with psychologists 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 psychologists listed above? If so, share your feedback in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist?

A psychologist offers treatment that focuses on changing behaviour and emotional responses without the use of medication.

A psychiatrist has a medical degree and can prescribe medication.

How does a counsellor differ from a psychologist?

A counsellor gives guidance on personal or psychological problems. However, in Australia the term 'counsellor' is not protected so those that offer this service come from a broad range of training and backgrounds.

This differs from the defined pathways to becoming a psychologist, which involves studying an undergraduate degree in psychology followed by either postgraduate qualification (majoring in a specialisation of psychology) or two years of supervised experience with a registered psychologist.

Are there Medicare or private health insurance rebates for psychologist appointments?

Eligible clients can claim up to 10 Medicare rebates per calendar year. This has been temporarily extended to 20 sessions per calendar year until 30 June 2022 as part of the Federal Government's COVID-19 response.

Some private health insurance policies also include psychological counselling as extras cover, offering a partial rebate. It is best to contact your insurance provider directly for details on your own extras policy.

What determines an eligible client for Medicare rebates?

A GP or psychiatrist will need to assess whether you are eligible for a Mental Health Treatment Plan. You will need to take a copy of this Mental Health Treatment Plan to your first appointment with your psychologist, in order to claim the Medicare rebate.

Ask your psychologist how much you'll pay and what you get back from Medicare when you make your appointment.

Can my psychologist give me a one-off court-related psychological assessment report?

Not all psychologists are suited to handling court-related matters, including reports. Such requests should be directed to a suitably qualified and experienced Forensic Psychologist. Make sure you ask the psychologist you choose, if they can assist with your situation.

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Just wanted to share that several people have contact with Martin Male, as a result of reading feedback have support which they found immensely beneficial. So pleased this has been helpful.Long term benefits continue for me and my partner ??

Anna Kozlova9:37 pm 10 May 22
Finding the right treatment for my depression and anxiety has been a long journey. I have tried many courses of treatment in the past including antidepressant medications, and even two courses of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Olga’s treatment for depression has given me a total remission of my symptoms without the use of any other medication or therapy. She is a caring and attentive physician who is quick to reply to emails and easy to schedule. The process is comfortable and pleasant. From the first treatment, I felt better right away. I credit the treatment with allowing me to experience life with no symptoms of depression or anxiety.

Anna Kozlova9:21 pm 10 May 22

I would throughly recommend Martin Male, in Red Hill. Over 30 yrs experience. Well grounded approach that has been so beneficial for me and a some others I have known. A really personalised approach that allowed me to appreciate how I make the choices I do and to be able to take charge of my own life. It has really changed how I live my life??

Remember there is a vast difference between a psychologist and psychiatrist. A psychiatrist studies for double the time a psychologist does and they have to be an MD before they can study psychiatry. 12 years vs 6 for a psychologist.

First, do what pibloktoq has suggested. Go to a GP and get a mental health care plan. That will reduce your costs considerably.

I found psychologist Keith Baker through the APS’s “find a psychiatrist” service. He was empathetic, caring and profession, and most of all, effective. With his help, I was able to work through my particular issue in about 5 months. Not only do I really feel that I’ve overcome that problem, but the tools we used have enabled me to face other issues on my own as well (although I’d be more than happy to go back to a psychologist again if needed).

I agree that you should look for someone who uses evidence-based techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy. The problem is that many people say they use CBT but they don’t, really. I had seen a few other psychologists and wasn’t particularly satisfied. But Keith Baker’s approach is very straightforward and helps you find the real root of your issues, as well as how to deal with them. I believe he is a counseling psychologist.

I just googled him and he doesn’t have a website, but his contact number is listed as 0458 066 232.

cleo said :

Do we have a forensic psychiatrist here in Canberra.

TAD said :

@cleo no.

You only have less than a handful in NSW as well.

Its not something you would ordinarily need unless you are trying use a mental health defence in court.

Actually, we do. Dr Daniel Bonner is a forensic shrink. He’s an exceptional psychiatrist. Only thing is, and this is a big one, you have to be sucked into the criminal justice system first before you see him, further, he doesn’t do consultancy work (i.e defence opinions). Hope that helps, but it probably won’t.

attention seeker

cleo said :

Do we have a forensic psychiatrist here in Canberra.

Dr Zoltan Zadanyi

farq said :

mp2615 said :

FWIW, I would suggest consulting a GP first. They can probably recommend someone plus help with medication if needed.

Funnybone are in Lyneham:

Phone/Fax: (02) 6230 6022 Email:

Good luck with it, at least the weather is improving.

Ah funnybone is classic. Heard many funny/crazy stories about the lady running it.

Hi, would you mind sharing what you know about this counsellor, I have concerns that she is not supplying correct counselling to my husband currently?

Hi, I see a couple of comments re funnybone counselling. Just wondering if you would like to expand on this counsellor as my husband currently visits this cousellor and I do have concerns as to her conduct and the outcomes he is getting from this counselling. I feel that our troubles have in fact increased since he started seeing this counsellor. I’d be very interested and thankful if those with knowledge of this counsellor could share with me their thoughts on this counsellor. thanks so much

Tom Sutton, in Deakin, is very compassionate with a very caring manner and all the patience in the world. He helped a resident recover from the aftermath of the Bali Bombing.

@cleo no.

You only have less than a handful in NSW as well.

Its not something you would ordinarily need unless you are trying use a mental health defence in court.

Do we have a forensic psychiatrist here in Canberra.

+2 to everything pibloktoq said. I can recommend Vanessa Hamilton in Woden. It’s a tough road so good luck solstice68.

troll-sniffer8:42 pm 29 Sep 10

While we’re here can I spruik my Reiki healing powers, guaranteed to outperform any degree and science based treatment or half your money back after a qualifying period subject to conditions on the reverse of this web page.

+1 to everything pibloktoq said. Although, if you feel you want to see a psychologist after seeing your GP try and get an appointment with Susan Pellingaris in Phillip. I highly recommend her especially given the issues you mentioned in your OP.

Best wishes!

Hi Solstice68,

I’d agree with previous commenters that the first place you might want to start is with your GP to obtain a Mental Health Care Plan. This entitles you to at least 6 (but possibly 12 or even 18) sessions with a Medicare-registered psychologist. Medicare will pay the scheduled fee and you will need to pay a smallish gap, if any.

It’s worth checking the Australian Psychological Society’s ‘Find a Psychologist’ service (, which will help you find someone close to you who is appropriate to your needs. While your GP should have a standard (small) list of referrals, it’s good to inform yourself of other excellent psychologists out there.

Going via your GP allows her/him to work together with your psychologist to ensure that treatment is effective. Good communication between professionals is very important. Your GP, for example, should do an examination to rule out some some physical causes of low mood or depression. A GP can also prescribe medication if necessary with input from the psychologist. Finding a private psychiatrist can be quite difficult and expensive in Canberra, and may not be the most effective way to address your current presenting problems.

EAP providers can be helpful but are generally limited to a maximum of 3 sessions, which is often insufficient. It may be a helpful (and free) starting point with opportunities for referral for more specialised interventions.

If money is an issue, then the ANU and UC Psychology Clinics ( and offer evidence-based therapy by provisional psychologists under supervision. The standard of care is excellent and fees are minimal and often negotiable. ANU charges around $20 per session last time I checked.

There is extremely strong evidence that for depression, therapy with a trained psychologist (typically cognitive-behavioural therapy or interpersonal psychotherapy) is much more effective and long-lasting than medication. In particular, interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) particularly targets how aspects of relationships and communication which may be contributing to depression. Medication may be helpful for certain people at certain times, but should not be seen as a solution in itself in most cases.

The BeyondBlue website ( has excellent factsheets and information about where to seek help, what to expect from therapy as well are more information about depression and other problems in various contexts.

Finally, if you’re feeling unsafe (if you are having thoughts of suicide or of hurting yourself or others), immediate 24-hour support and help is available via Lifeline (13 11 14) or Mental Health ACT’s Crisis Assessment and Treatment Team (1800 629 354). Note that these are crisis services rather than general referral/information sources.

Good luck with everything!

I had a less than inspiring experience with my employers EAP provider, absolutely useless and I provided feedback to that effect.

I can highly recommend Jacqui from JMA Psychology, she was recommended to us and has worked wonders for how we visualise and deal with various issues. Absolutely lovely woman to talk to as well.

Inappropriate said :

Be wary of GPs and psychiatrists – they’ll probably just throw pills at you (namely antidepressants).

Rubbish, it depends entirely on the doctor. And, for some forms of depression, medication is the best therapy.

Also, I believe it’s easiest to obtain a Medicare rebate for a psychologists’ fees after you have been referred by a GP.

It’s a pity that the ACT Medical Board, or its replacement, AHPRA, don’t publish the names of medical professionals that are found guilty of misconduct.

You would be surprised at home many medical professionals there are out there that have major problems, such as drug addition, mental disorders, etc, not to mention those that have been found guilty of inappropriate behavior towards patients, medical negligence etc.

Many of these are still allowed to practice with only minor restrictions placed on them.

Unfortunately we will never know who these medical professionals are, as their names are normally surpressed.

I would suggest that anyone looking for a new medical professional ask them or the practice manager if they have ever been subject to any proceedings before AHPRA [or its predecessors] or if there have been any restrictions placed on them by AHPRA.

Dr Aldridge who works out of Deakin Chambers is very good, compassionate and understanding.

Does your workplace have an employee assistance program? All PS Departmentsd do. Otherwise, have you considered a counsellor rather than a psychiatrist/ psychologist?

mp2615 said :

FWIW, I would suggest consulting a GP first. They can probably recommend someone plus help with medication if needed.

Funnybone are in Lyneham:

Phone/Fax: (02) 6230 6022 Email:

Good luck with it, at least the weather is improving.

Ah funnybone is classic. Heard many funny/crazy stories about the lady running it.

Inappropriate12:35 pm 29 Sep 10

Be wary of GPs and psychiatrists – they’ll probably just throw pills at you (namely antidepressants).

As someone who was on ADs for a few years, you should consider ADs as a last resort.

Wide Boy Jake11:44 am 29 Sep 10

For goodness sakes stay away from Dr Rajiv Gupta from the Woden Mental Health Service. He has a notorious reputation and has been linked to at least five suicides. I was unfortunate enough to deal with him after I was discharged from the psych ward a few years ago and he tried to get my Disability Support Pension cut off. A very nasty character indeed and it’s a complete mystery why he’s still on the ACT government payroll.

A good place to start is Lifeline 13 11 14 and they have details of other services also

Funnybone is a self-proclaimed recovering heroin addict who seems to be off and on energy-wise and adopted a strange, zany self-absorbed marketing campaign a few years ago. I’m not sure that I’d go there other than for recovery issues …

Professional Psychology Services in Woden are, as their name suggests, professional.

Highly recommended. John Mitchell helped me after many years of seeing different, and mostly useless, psychologists.

FWIW, I would suggest consulting a GP first. They can probably recommend someone plus help with medication if needed.

Funnybone are in Lyneham:

Phone/Fax: (02) 6230 6022 Email:

Good luck with it, at least the weather is improving.

James Squire

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