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
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.
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
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.”
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.
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.