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Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists

So many titles - but who's who in the zoo?

Psychiatrists, Clinical Psychologists and Registered Psychologists

Roles in your mental health team explained


It's really common for people to confuse the differences between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist, and a Clinical Psychologist, Health Psychologist and Registered Psychologist. We explain in a nutshell the differences.


Psychologists in Australia are allied health professionals registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). They are not doctors and cannot prescribe or recommend medications for mental health conditions. Psychologists provide assessment, diagnosis, and psychological treatment for mental health and behavioural conditions - this is commonly referred to as 'talk therapy'.


Psychologists can be generalists, known as Registered Psychologists, or they can go on to do extra training in specialist areas of practice, heightening their clinical skills and expertise. Specialist psychologists are highly sought after, and attract a higher medicare reimbursement than Registered Psychologists.


Specialist areas in psychology include Clinical Psychology and Health Psychology. The post-graduate training in these specific areas of practice means that these psychologists come with advanced expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological conditions, and typically have experience working with complex cases in public and private hospitals, community-based services and non-government services.


All psychologists working with Aurora Cloud Clinic have been vetted by our hospital group to ensure they have the requisite skills and knowledge to work in our online private practice, meaning you can trust in the quality of care you will receive, no matter the qualification. The different areas of advanced training and clinical interest are represented in each clinician's bio under 'specialties', helping you to feel confident that they have the qualifications and experience needed for your care.


See our blog on different therapies if you're keen to know more about the different treatments that psychologists offer.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors registered with AHPRA who have undertaken further training to become a specialist in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. Psychiatrists conduct mental health and psychiatric assessments, can prescribe medication, and some provide psychotherapy.


Psychiatrists work in public and private hospitals, community health services, or in private clinics or settings. Many of the Psychiatrists in the Aurora Cloud Clinic also work in Aurora Healthcare's hospitals, meaning they can see you through all stages of your mental health treatment journey - we understand how frustrating it can be telling your story over and over again, and aim to provide continuous care no matter the setting you need it in.


Who else might be in my mental health treatment team?


General Practitioners (GPs) are medical doctors registered with AHPRA who assess, diagnose and treat medical illnesses. GPs may prescribe medication to help manage symptoms of mental health conditions, and can refer a person to mental health practitioners such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. GPs often include Psychiatrists in the review and management of your prescribed medication and treatment plan, and commonly refer you to psychologists for talk therapy.


Accredited Mental Health Social Workers specialise in providing mental health treatment. Social workers are trained in the theories of human behaviour and development, families, disabilities and health, and the therapeutic approaches to support people to improve their personal and social wellbeing. They may also help you with case management and ensure that factors like housing distress don't get in the way of you being able o effectively engage on mental health care.


Occupational Therapists are registered with AHPRA and help to support people who have a health condition that impacts on their participation and ability to engage in their day-to-day tasks. Occupational therapists trained in mental health support people to develop strategies to manage and cope with the impact of their condition.


Accredited Mental Health Nurses (AMHN) are AHPRA Registered Nurses who hold a recognised specialist qualification in mental health nursing. They are certified with the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN). Mental Health Nurses can provide non-directive pregnancy support counselling (PSC) and medicare-rebated self-management support for chronic illnesses under a Chronic Disease Management Plan from your GP. Mental health nurses focus on promoting optimal mental health, preventing physical and mental health issues, and providing therapeutic interventions. Mental Health Nurses work from a person-centered recovery based approach with you, your family and the community.


Who should I see?

If you're uncertain about which mental health professional is right for you, the first point of contact to discuss this is your GP. Your GP will be able to work up a referral for you, which also means that if you are eligible, you can receive a medicare rebate for your mental health consultations. For information and advice about whether hospital care or private practice might be the best pathway for you, you can call one of our clinicians on 1800 955 665.





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