This general information is provided as a guide for young people, parents and caregivers, service professsionals and schools. If you find incorrect information please contact us to have the relevant page updated.


Counselling allows for individuals to talk with a professional in a supportive, non judgmental, safe and confidential environment. Counselling can be used to work through a wide range of problems such as traumatic events, mental health concerns, anger management and issues with school, work, family or peers. Counselling can help provide new perspectives, support and pathways to appropriate services if needed.

Who can attend Counselling?

Anyone who feels as though they need some support can see a counsellor. For some people, talking one on one with a therapist helps them work through their specific issues. For others, issues relate to more than one person, and here it may be helpful to have family sessions. Family counselling allows for a number of people to sort through their issues together while having a separate person help provide new perspectives.

Counsellor: A counsellor has a professional qualification and training (e.g. social work, psychology, counselling) that enables them to be eligible for membership to a peak body or professional association as an accredited counsellor. A counsellor can talk with young people and their families about emotional or personal matters and can help them work through these. Counsellors cannot prescribe medication.

Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specialises in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental illness. Going to see a psychiatrist often requires a referral from a G.P. In some instances psychiatrists and counsellors work together to help get a person back on track.



  • People often have their own perceptions of what counselling may be like, try to dispel any myths or beliefs that the young person may have about attending counselling. 
  • If a young person would like to attend counselling support is crucial, so try to engage a support person for them if possible, maybe a friend or a sibling or parent. Try to assist the young person in making the referral, either sit with them whist they contact the agency or make the referral for them. Follow up with the young person to find out how their session went.
  • If there are concerns about a person’s potential safety or risk contact an external agency to consult with.


  • If there are things that bother you don’t be afraid to speak up. Talk to a trusted adult and tell them what’s going on for you. It is much better to let someone know how you are feeling rather than try to deal with it on your own.
  • It is important that you feel comfortable and safe with someone before you share things which may be hard to talk about.
  • A family member or someone you trust can attend counselling with you, particularly until you feel comfortable.
  • You may want counselling for yourself or for you and your family. The choice is yours. 
  • Sessions are confidential unless the counsellor has concerns about yours or other’s safety.


  • If your child would like to see a counsellor it does not mean that there is something seriously wrong with them. In fact recognising that there is a problem and seeking help to solve it is actually healthy.
  • When discussing counselling with your child, explain that it is a way to get some support or learn different ways of coping or dealing with an issue.
  • Explain to your child that you and the family will support him/her through counselling and that it is something the family will solve together.
  • Be open to the idea of being part of the counselling if required. Counselling often works best for a person if they have the support of those around them.
  • If your child does not want to attend counselling it may be helpful for you to attend yourself for some advice or support in managing the situation and supporting your child.


Experiencing a traumatic event can have a significant impact on young people, and can often leave them feeling overwhelmed and confused. Young people can sometimes find it hard to make sense of their feelings. It can also be hard for family members to know how the young person is feeling. As a result, the young people often don’t get the support they need following a traumatic event.

While young people may not always talk about their concerns, there are often changes in behaviour that can give clues as to how the young person is feeling.

Some behaviour changes to look out for:

  • Exaggerated emotional responses to small triggers
  • Worry/stress or excessive concern for others
  • Increased anger or conflict within the family
  • Excessive boredom, lack of energy, irritable or continued low mood
  • Negative attitudes, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Poor concentration, memory and organisation
  • Restless or fidgety
  • A lasting change in sleeping patterns
  • Wanting to be alone more often
  • Refusing to talk about their concerns
  • Reduced ability to cope with responsibilities
  • Reverting to immature or irresponsible behaviour
  • Preoccupation with the fires
  • A decline in school or work performance
  • An increase or return of previous problems
  • Engaging in reckless or risk taking behaviours such as substance use, self harm or putting themselves in danger
  • Physical illness or pains

 Many of these behaviours may be quite normal for young people and may not be anything to worry about. However, if a young person is showing a number of these behaviours, or is experiencing rapid changes in their mood, it may be useful to talk to a professional.

If you or someone you know is showing these behaviours and it is worrying you, please contact one of the agencies listed to talk about it with a counsellor or youth worker.

Useful Websites/Resources


Online Counselling