What it is

Through discussions with a counsellor or psychologist, you can identify both positive and troubling aspects in your life. You can focus on your goals, your relationships or particular challenges you are facing. Counselling allows you to explore ways of resolving negative thoughts and feelings that impact on your health and day-to-day life.

Why use it

Counselling allows you to identify, understand and express your emotions, motivations, life choices and behaviours in a safe, objective and confidential environment. It can help with self-esteem, communication and relationships.

What to expect

Consultations are usually face to face, but if you live in a remote area or require crisis counselling, you may be able to talk with a counsellor over the phone or online.


There is long-established evidence of the benefits of counselling. However, it is important that you find a suitably qualified counsellor you feel comfortable talking with.

Cognitive behaviour therapy

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is a common type of talk therapy. It is used by psychologists to help people identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, and change how they respond to them. It can also be used to manage distress and pain. CBT can teach you how to calm your body and mind, focus your thinking and improve your outlook.

Getting help: mental health professionals

If you’re interested in counselling, meditation and relaxation, you can seek help from a variety of health professionals and services.

Counsellors – can help clients come up with strategies for managing their concerns.

Psychologists – guide people through issues with how they think, feel and learn. They cannot prescribe medicines.

Psychiatrists – are trained medical doctors who have specialised in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. They can prescribe medicines
to help a range of mental and emotional conditions.

For a referral to these practitioners, call Cancer Council 13 11 20 or ask your GP for suggestions, as you may be eligible for a Medicare rebate for some of these services. You can also visit and use the “Find a Psychologist” search to look for a practitioner in your area.

Online self-help programs or smartphone apps can help you track how you’re feeling, and most are free to download. Visit or

Some hospitals, cancer support groups and community centres offer relaxation and meditation groups. There are also many self-help CDs, DVDs
and smartphone apps that will guide you through the different techniques. Cancer Council produces relaxation and meditation CDs. 

For 24-hour crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

This information was last reviewed in May 2018
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