How To Become A Psychotherapist In Australia?

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Students want to know how they can become psychotherapists in Australia.


Are you looking for a rewarding career where you can help people and improve their lives? If so, a career as a psychotherapist could be an excellent choice for you.


Psychotherapists diagnose and treat people's emotional and mental disorders using psychotherapeutic methods. They use behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, biofeedback, and other techniques to help their clients overcome various psychological and emotional issues.


To become an accredited psychotherapist in Australia, you must complete a bachelor's and master's degree in psychotherapy and register with ACA/ PACFA to work as a registered Psychotherapist in Australia.


Keep reading this blog to understand what a psychotherapist is, how much they earn, where they work, and what qualifications and steps you need to become one, including the salary, training, courses, and more.



1. What Is A Psychotherapist?


Psychotherapy is a mental treatment aiming at improving a person's emotional health. 


Psychotherapists are mental health professionals who seek to achieve holistic improvement in a person's psyche by addressing their behavioural, relational, emotional and even spiritual issues.


They discuss the challenges their patients face and provide feasible solutions so they can lead a happy and healthy life. Psychotherapists generally work in specialities of psychiatrycounsellingpsychology, and social work.



2. What Does A Psychotherapist Do?


As a psychotherapist, you need to perform the following day-to-day activities:


  • Identify mental and emotional health challenges in people.

  • Interpret the feelings and moods of the patient based on their tone, body language, and gestures 

  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions to understand their inner conflicts and why they behave or feel in a specific manner.

  • Use cognitive-behavioural therapy and talk therapy to find solutions to their challenges and help them enhance their quality of life.

  • Give a safe environment for clients to share their emotions and support them to change their behaviour positively.

  • Help patients who seek empowerment or connections via group meetings and video call sessions

  • Address the thought processes, behaviour, and feelings of clients

  • Interpret diagnostic tests, formulate a treatment plan, evaluate therapy outcomes and prepare reports

  • Develops, supervises, and examines individual and group treatment programs.

  • Inform patients about their health situation

  • Find new ways to alleviate stress.

  • Discuss with other healthcare professionals on cases details and treatment 

  • Stay updated with the latest research and industry developments.

  • Prescribe medication

  • Refer patients to community groups for further assistance (when necessary)



3. What Skills Do You Need To Work As A Psychotherapist?


Psychotherapists deal with people of varying backgrounds and age groups to identify and understand their emotional, behavioural, and cognitive disorders. They need to have a personality that makes people comfortable sharing their issues.


To be successful in this profession, you need psychotherapy training in Australia to provide your clients with insightful knowledge. For example, learning about their conditions and a range of soft skills to build genuine and long-lasting relations with them.


Here we have mentioned the must-have skills for an emotionally rewarding career in psychotherapy:


  • Thorough understanding of the self and unconscious patterns

  • Attention to detail

  • Good listener

  • Concentration

  • Patience

  • Empathy

  • Willingness to build a positive rapport with clients

  • Excellent communication skills

  • Cultural awareness

  • Curious mind

  • Discretion 

  • Respect for privacy and confidentiality

  • Good problem-solving skills

  • Problem-solving ability

  • An aptitude for Research

  • Verbal and written communication



4. Is Psychotherapy Regulated In Australia?


In Australia, Psychotherapy is an unregulated field. It implies that there is no specific government body that governs it. Due to this, you don't need any qualifications to enter the role.


Though Psychotherapist is not a legally regulated title, the two accrediting associations, such as the Australian Counselling Association and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia, regulate this profession.


These associations have established training standards ensuring the quality of psychotherapy, counselling, and practice.


Psychotherapy practitioners must join any of these associations to maintain the required standards of their professional practice and get professional insurance.



5. Should I See A Psychologist Or Psychotherapist?


Often people are confused when deciding whether they need a Psychotherapist or a Psychologist to treat their condition. It is because the roles of these professionals overlap to a considerable extent. It is necessary to look at how these professions differ to make the right decision.


A psychologist studies the human mind and analyses how it impacts a person's behaviour towards others. A psychotherapist, on the other hand, helps people resolve their emotional and mental blockages by thoroughly analysing their thinking and behavioural patterns.


Psychotherapy is concerned with offering treatment to people to solve family, job, marriage, or behaviour issues. They conduct art therapy, talk therapy, and cognitive behavioural therapy to understand people's problems and arrive at solutions.


Psychologist is concerned more with analysing behavioural changes through regular cognitive testing. They can help with stress management, relationship issues, mental trauma, and developmental disorders.


Psychologists can become psychotherapists if they gain additional psychotherapy certification.


However, the vice versa doesn't have to be true. A psychotherapist can not necessarily become a psychologist. They may pursue degrees in psychology or other areas related to health sciences. Still, after completing their undergraduate qualification, they choose to pursue psychotherapy training and certification.


When it comes to choosing psychotherapists vs psychologists in Australia, start by verifying their qualifications. Ensure they have completed the required academic qualification and training per their titles.


Check whether the qualified psychologist has professional membership in the Australian Psychology Accreditation Council. It is the governing authority of psychology practice in Australia.


In the case of a psychotherapist, look for professionals who possess the necessary qualification and hold professional membership of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. This body controls the standard of psychotherapy tutoring and practice throughout the country.



6. Qualifications To Become A Psychotherapist In Australia


To work as a Psychotherapy, you should undertake a relevant bachelor's degree and register with the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia. 


It will help develop the much-need workplace experience and valuable skills to work in this profession.


Here is the learning route to qualify and work in a Psychotherapist profession:


  • Gain your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education in one or more prerequisite subjects such as English, biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics 

  • Complete a PACFA-accredited bachelor's psychotherapy degree in Australia, i.e., a Bachelor of Counselling & Psychotherapy.

  • Consider earning an accredited 2-year full-time postgraduate qualification like a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy to improvise your skills and gain experience. This qualification is approved to gain membership in the PACFA and ACA.

  • Register with the Australian Counselling Association or PACFA and get listed on the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists.


A Graduate Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy and a Graduate Certificate of Counselling and Psychotherapy qualifications are considered foundation-level courses. They may not be adequate for those who want to practice mainly as a psychotherapist.


However, these lower qualifications can be beneficial for graduates who are already in a profession. The Graduate Diploma level may make some graduates eligible to obtain an ACA or PACFA membership under the RPL membership path.



7. Steps To Become A Psychotherapist In Australia


You will have to complete a series of steps before reaching your target of becoming a registered psychotherapist.



Step 1: Study for A Bachelor Of Psychotherapy In Australia


Professional qualifications are necessary to gain a thorough understanding of the principles and techniques involved in psychotherapy.


Bachelor of Counselling and Psychotherapy is an ideal course that takes you through several communication strategies to facilitate the healing process of your clients. Find an accredited university or training institution to study this course.


IKON Institute of Australia offers a comprehensively designed training program for Counselling & Psychotherapy. It educates students with techniques and therapies that equip them with unmatched skills to heal their clients.



Step 2: Complete A Master Of Psychotherapy In Australia


To become a registered psychotherapist, you must complete a Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy. The Australian Counselling Association and Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia are accrediting this course.


Students will complete an internship in psychotherapy settings to earn clinical hours. It will help them receive their Psychotherapist's license. During the internship, they will work under the guidance of a licensed therapist, offering care to patients.


ACAP is a reputed training institution that offers a 2-year, Full Time, On-campus Master Of Counselling And Psychotherapy program in Australia.


You can take this course at various locations, such as ACAP Melbourne, ACAP Perth, ACAP Brisbane, ACAP Adelaide, and ACAP Sydney. This course comprises 80 hours of in-person counselling and 240 hours of experience in an industry placement.



Step 3: Register With A Professional Body


To gain professional accreditation as a Psychotherapist, you must join the following accredited organisations and register with them.


It will connect you to a professional network and help you grow your career by leaps and bounds.



Once registered, the name appears as a record in the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. It is an autonomous national register of qualified psychotherapists and counsellors.


Furthermore, graduates should undertake ongoing professional development and meet clinical supervision requirements to obtain and continue their registration.



8. How Many Years To Become A Psychotherapist?


To become a Psychotherapist, you require to obtain registration with PACFA. For this, you must complete a 3-year bachelor's and 2-year master's of psychotherapy degree in Australia.


Thus, it can take a minimum of 5 years to become a Psychotherapist in Australia. 



9. Where Can I Study Psychotherapy Courses Online?


Studying psychotherapy online gives you the comfort and flexibility of learning at your convenience and completing the degree on your target date.


Several accredited institutions offer online Psychotherapy courses in Australia. Here are the top two providers:



Bachelor of Counselling and Psychotherapy - IKON


The IKON Institute of Australia offers an online Bachelor's Psychotherapy course through distance-based learning or online.



Master of Counselling and Psychotherapy - ECU


Edith Cowan University offers an online Master's Psychotherapy course that enables you to become a qualified Psychotherapist at home.


The degree course equips students with advanced-level expertise and professional knowledge of traditional and contemporary counselling techniques.


Through this training, students develop a strong foundation for a sustainable approach to psychotherapy practice and counselling based on theoretical and technical integration.



10. How To Become A Psychotherapist Near Sydney NSW?


Western Sydney University offers a Master of Psychotherapy and Counselling course on Paramatta South Campus. The program is to help students gain self-understanding, widen their interpersonal capacities, and make them capable of healthy change. 


By studying counselling and psychotherapy, you gain the much-needed skillset to positively transform the world around you. 


Here are a few details about the course:


  • Duration: 2 years Full time or four years Part-time

  • Delivery: On-Campus



11. Where Does A Psychotherapist Work?


Graduate Psychotherapists can find employment in a range of healthcare settings that include:


  • Community health organisations

  • Community services associations

  • Rehabilitation providers

  • Human resource management services

  • Child protection services

  • Family support

  • Counselling services


Qualified psychotherapists can also work self-employed and run their private practice.



12. What Are The Available Specialisations Options For A Psychotherapist?


After gaining experience and training, a psychotherapist may consider specialising in different branches of psychology —for example, humanistic, integrative, and cognitive health.


It will help expand their services and make them skilled to offer practice in different principles.


The most common areas of specialisation for a psychotherapist are:




13. Career Options For Psychotherapists


Psychotherapists can work in public spaces like clinics and schools and run their private practices to give one-on-one consultations to their patients. Knowledge of the different career options will help plan a career in this field.


  • CounsellorA psychotherapist can become a counsellor to guide students on areas such as college selection, career choices, class schedules, pursuing extracurricular activities, healthy eating habits, and life decisions.


  • Psychologist: Working as a psychotherapist opens the door to pursuing a career as a psychologist. This profession requires discussing with patients to understand how external and internal factors impact their lifestyle choices and behaviours.


  • Social workerPsychotherapists can even become social workers to serve those needing medical treatments or work for community organisations.



14. How Much Does A Psychotherapist Earn In Australia?


The Psychotherapist's salary in Australia depends on work location, experience, client base, expertise, and specialisation.


On average, psychotherapists in Australia make around AU$61,042 or an hourly equivalent of AU$45.00.


Though the salary of a Psychotherapist early in their career is low, it may increase as they develop experience. Let us look at what average hourly compensation a Psychotherapist can expect at different stages of their career:


  • Early career (1-4 years of experience): AU$39.31 

  • Mid-Career (5-9 years of experience): AU$40.00 

  • Late career (20 years and above): AU$120 



15. Work Conditions For Psychotherapists


Psychotherapists frequently work with individuals, married couples, families, and groups to overcome psychological and emotional issues.


They usually work in comfortable indoor settings for regular hours. However, dealing with uncooperative and overly worried clients can make the job stressful sometimes.



16. Job Prospects For Psychotherapists In Australia


Due to increasing stress in our daily lives, the need for qualified psychotherapists has grown in the last five years. As more people turn to psychotherapists to overcome their personal and relationship issues, the trend will continue in the coming years.


Psychotherapists work in several regions of Australia, particularly Victoria, which has a large share of workers. The major recruiters for psychotherapy professionals are Health Care and Social Assistance, Public Administration and Safety, and Education and Training.


Only 35% of Psychotherapists work full-time, which indicates that there are plenty of part-time work opportunities. Full-time workers usually work 43 hours per week, like other occupations in Australia.


The average age of those employed in this profession is 49 years, with most workers above 45 years of age. Around 81 per cent of female workers are working in this profession, which shows favourable opportunities for female Psychotherapist aspirants.



17. Conclusion


Being a psychotherapist is an emotionally challenging yet rewarding profession. Working in this role allows you to change the lives of people from within themselves.


While healing others, you also become more self-aware, compassionate, gentle, and kind towards others and yourself.


If you are passionate about making a profound impact on people's lives, becoming a Psychotherapist could be one of the best ways to make it happen.


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