The best counselling services in Canberra


People from all walks of life can benefit from practical, compassionate counselling services. Whether you are grappling with a mental health issue, working through a significant life change, having trouble with your partner, adjusting to parenthood, or simply feel stressed out by the pressures of modern life, a counsellor can help.

Finding the right counsellor can be a challenge. Everyone is unique – different counselling approaches and techniques will benefit different types of people.

To help you uncover a suitable counsellor, we asked Canberra locals to share their recommendations. In this article, we’ll reveal the three counselling services that came out on top.

Let’s jump right into it.

What makes an excellent counselling service?

Not sure what, precisely, you are looking for in a counselling service? Not to worry – we’ve got you covered. Start by keeping a sharp eye out for the following traits:

  • Years of experience. A counsellor with years of experience has seen it all before. They have had plenty of time to refine their approach and develop client-tailored techniques that can help you achieve an optimum outcome, whatever that might be for you.
  • Specialist expertise. If you are seeking help to overcome a specific issue or roadblock, look for a counsellor with expertise in that area. Opt for a counsellor that specialises in work-related stress, grief, or marital problems, as examples.
  • Kind and compassionate. There is no getting around the sense of vulnerability that you will experience when working with a counsellor. But this doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Choose a counsellor with a kind and compassionate approach. That way, you can feel comfortable and confident as you begin to explore yourself and your struggles.
  • Non-judgemental. A good counsellor will never judge you. What you say to them is confidential – you should always feel like to can speak your mind freely.

Would you add anything else to this list? Share your thoughts down below.

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.

Gestalt Encounters

Shona Elliot, the director behind Gestalt Encounters, delivers industry-leading psychology and counselling services to individuals, couples, adolescents, and new parents. Using research-based techniques, she aims to increase her client’s awareness. As well as Gestalt Therapy, Shona includes a range of modalities, including Internal Family Systems Therapy, Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Life Unlimited Health Solutions

Since 2001, the team behind Life Unlimited Health Solutions has helped people from all walks of life overcome personal challenges, relationship difficulties, and more. Director Sue Read and registered psychologist Julia O’Boyle take a compassionate, practical approach. They can assist with mental health issues and provide counselling to individuals, families, and couples. In addition, Life Unlimited Health Solutions can devise client-tailored workshops, training programs, and seminars for organisations in the region.

The Canberra Psychology Centre for Children and Families

The Canberra Psychology Centre for Children and Families (CPCCF) is a highly rated private practice that specialises in providing assessment and therapy for children, adolescents, and young adults. Director Jo Richardson boasts more than 14 years of professional experience, which she has used to create a community-minded centre committed to excellence.

If you’re looking for more information on counselling and psychology in Canberra, take a look at our articles on Canberra’s 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.

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 used a counselling service in the Canberra region? Who did you pick? How did it go? Share any thoughts or feedback in the comments area below.

What's Your Opinion?

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13 Responses to The best counselling services in Canberra
water_lily water_lily 6:45 pm 15 Apr 14

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.

housebound housebound 9:23 am 04 Apr 11

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 Worker Mental Health Worker 8:05 am 04 Apr 11

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

Mental Health Worker Mental Health Worker 8:04 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


AcidRose AcidRose 2:25 am 04 Apr 11

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

cross cross 3:03 pm 03 Apr 11

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.

Deref Deref 2:52 pm 03 Apr 11

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.

miz miz 1:50 pm 03 Apr 11

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.

scorpio63 scorpio63 1:54 am 03 Apr 11

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!!

Listers_Cat Listers_Cat 1:02 am 03 Apr 11

I’m not sure what you mean by “the ‘black box’ of client privacy and ‘the therapeutic relationship'”, but I can tell you a psychologist or legitimate counsellor will not disclose information to the parents just because they ask for it.

Having said that, I’m quite certain you will have no trouble finding a psychologist who will work with the parent once they have a good grasp on the issues – just don’t expect that the parent will be told everything.

gentoopenguin gentoopenguin 10:24 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??

Icepoet Icepoet 6:20 pm 02 Apr 11

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.

eq2 eq2 4:52 pm 02 Apr 11

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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