Sydney Morning Herald, “Be careful what the doctor may have ordered”

Some time ago, Lisa Pryor in the Sydney Morning Herald wrote an article on “therapists with unconventional qualifications”, noting that the “government body charged with handling complaints about health care has no power to discipline unregistered therapists”.

OII Australia always recommends that people choose a properly qualified therapist. The article carries some useful information for making this choice:


PSYCHIATRIST: A qualified medical doctor who has specialised in dealing with mental illness and emotional problems. It takes eight years to qualify as a doctor and another five to qualify as a psychiatrist. They have the power to prescribe medicine.

PSYCHOLOGIST: Psychologists study behaviour and tend to focus on helping healthy people function better, rather than mental illness. A therapist must complete a four-year degree and two years of experience before they can call themselves a psychologist.

COUNSELLOR: A counsellor tends to focus on helping people deal with specific problems. They may specialise in a particular area. Anyone can call themselves a counsellor, though many organisations impose minimum standards on members.

PSYCHOTHERAPIST: Psychotherapy tends to be more intensive. Anyone can call themselves a psychotherapist, though some are doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers who have completed specialised training.

External link

Sydney Morning Herald, 19 September 2005: Be careful what the doctor may have ordered