All about health professionals

Not sure on the difference between counsellors and psychologists? Want to know what they’re for? Get quick facts on doctors, on counsellors, on psychologists, on psychiatrists, on youth workers, and on social workers, and follow the links to in depth info if you need it. Find out where to get info on accessing services.

This will help with:

  • Finding out what they do
  • Understanding the differences between them
  • Figuring out who to talk to
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What are they for?

A whole lot of different people train for years to work as support and mental health professionals, so that they can help you work through stuff that might be going on. There’s often this myth that all they do is nod and take your money – not true. They’ve worked hard to have the skills to help you out and some of them might not even charge you. Find out who can help you.


For health stuff and a place to start. A doctor (GP) can diagnose health problems, as well as recognise symptoms of mental health difficulties you might be experiencing. They can refer you to see a specialist if you need one.


Your advice all-rounder. Counsellors will listen to what’s going on, and help you figure out some options to deal with the issues you’re facing, or help you find a more helpful way of thinking or approaching it. They’re a good place to vent, and start looking at solutions.


They’re there for the mental health stuff. Psychologists have specialist training in diagnosing, treating and preventing mental health problems so that you can get on with your life. They often specialise in different areas, and in different approaches, so sometimes you have to work to find the right person for your situation.


Psychiatrists are doctors with specialist training in mental health issues. They treat mental health disorders like depression, severe anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They’re the ones who can prescribe you medication if you need it.

Youth workers

Your one-stop-shop for figuring out your life. Youth workers are specially trained in the sort of practical life issues young people face, like school and education, sexual health, accommodation, drug use problems, being a young parent… you name it. Think of them like a coach – they’re there to help you figure out how to get through tough life situations and to stay on track.

Social workers

Information, advice and dealing with specific issues. Social workers are trained to help you out in their areas of specialty, giving you advice and information. They work in community centres, hospitals, Centrelink, housing services and many other places.

Finding a professional or service

Not sure where to start or how to get to the person you need to? There are a few different places you can go or services you can use to connect with the right person for your situation. Find out about the services available.

What can I do now?

Last reviewed: 20 August, 2015
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