- Cancer Information
- When you are first diagnosed
- Emotions and cancer
- Getting support
- Health professionals who can help
Health professionals who can help
See the table below for the type of health professionals that may be able to help you.
|GP||Your GP can assist you with treatment decisions and works in partnership with your specialists in providing ongoing care. They can refer you to other health professionals for support with managing emotions or thoughts. Check with your GP whether you can access Medicare rebates for sessions with a psychologist or social worker.|
|cancer care team||The team at your hospital or treatment centre will often include social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists and spiritual care practitioners. If you let your cancer specialist, cancer care coordinator or cancer nurse know how you are feeling, they can arrange for you to see these other health professionals as needed.|
|psycho- oncologist||A psycho-oncologist is a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist who has specialised in the field of cancer care (oncology). They provide support to people with cancer and their families, and often work in hospitals and cancer treatment centres.|
|counsellor||Counsellors can listen to what’s going on in your life and offer strategies for dealing with issues. They do not need to have any qualifications to practise, although many do, so it’s a good idea to check before making an appointment. Counselling may be available through your local Cancer Council – call 13 11 20 to find out.|
|social worker||Social workers provide emotional support, offer practical and financial assistance, and help people find support services. They must complete a four-year undergraduate or two-year postgraduate degree.|
|psychologist||Psychologists often develop expertise in particular approaches – those who specialise in counselling use their understanding of the mind to guide clients through issues with how they think, feel and learn. A registered psychologist must complete four years of psychology at undergraduate level, followed by either postgraduate studies in psychology or two years of supervised clinical practice.|
|mental health nurse||The role of a mental health nurse includes assessing people, giving medicines and assisting in behaviour modification programs. They must be a registered nurse who has completed further study in mental health nursing.|
|psychiatrist||A psychiatrist is a trained medical doctor who specialises in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental illness. As well as providing psychological support and discussing issues with patients, a psychiatrist may prescribe medicines to help manage a range of emotional conditions. You need a referral from your GP to see a psychiatrist.|
|spiritual care practitioner||Also known as a pastoral carer, a spiritual care practitioner is often a member of the team at hospitals and cancer treatment centres. They can discuss emotional and spiritual matters and help you reflect on your life and search for meaning. They can also arrange prayer services and other religious rituals, if appropriate.|
|Cancer Council||If you just want to talk through your concerns or you’re not sure where to go for help, you can talk to a health professional at Cancer Council by calling 13 11 20. See Get support for more on this.|
Dr Anna Hughes, Liaison Psychiatrist and Psycho-oncologist, Canberra Region Cancer Centre, Canberra Hospital, ACT; Mary Bairstow, Senior Social Worker, Cancer Centre, Fiona Stanley Hospital, WA; Anita Bamert, Psychologist, Cancer Council Queensland, QLD; Kate Barber, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria, VIC; Sally Carveth, Assistant Coordinator, Cancer Support Leader Program, Cancer Council NSW; Matt Featherstone, Consumer; Dr Charlotte Tottman, Clinical Psychologist, Allied Consultant Psychologists and Flinders University, SA; Shirley Witko, Senior Social Worker, Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.
Click below to download a PDF booklet on this topic.