What is a Speech Pathologist?

A speech pathologist has been trained to assess, diagnose and treat people who have difficulties with communication. Speech pathologists complete a degree at university which encompasses all aspects of communication including speech, writing, reading, signs, symbols and gestures. Speech pathologists also work with people who have difficulties swallowing food and drink. Speech pathologists or speech-language pathologists were formerly known as speech therapists. They are different from speech and drama teachers.

Why do we need Speech Pathologists?

Communication – the process of understanding and being understood – is something most of us take for granted. Communication difficulties are the result of problems with speech, using and understanding language, voice, fluency, social skills, hearing, or reading and writing. One in seven Australians has some form of communication difficulty. This means that one in seven people has a problem understanding other people or being understood by people.

What areas can a Speech Pathologist help with?

A Speech Pathologist can help with the following areas:

1. Speech

  • Production of sounds & sound patterns
  • Pronunciation/ accent modification
  • Developmental Verbal Dyspraxia (DVD)/ Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS)

2. Language Comprehension

  • Understanding what is said
  • Following directions
  • Listening/ attending/ auditory processing

3. Language Production

  • Early language development if your child has not begun talking 
  • Vocabulary
  • Sentence structure/ grammar
  • Text types (narratives, reports, recounts etc)

4. Reading

  • Letter-sound-word relationships
  • Phonological awareness skills (rhyming, sounding out, blending)
  • Reading fluency
  • Understanding what is read

5. Social Skills

  • Conversational skills, making friends
  • Eye contact
  • Proximity
  • Turn taking in conversation
  • Assertiveness

6. Fluency

  • Stuttering/ stammering

7. Voice

    • Pitch, quality, vocal hygiene.

Do I need a referral from my GP to see a Speech Pathologist?

No, you don’t need a referral to see a Speech Pathologist. However, if you wish to claim sessions using Medicare Plans then you will need to go to the GP.

Can a Clinical Psychologist help me?

People can and often do work through problems themselves or, with the support of family and friends, but sometimes people need help from someone with specialised skills and training. It may be helpful to talk with a professional especially if your sadness, worry/anxiety or stress seems to be persisting.

What can Clinical Psychologists help with?

Clinical Psychologists are trained to assess and treat a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties in children, adolescents and adults. With adults, Clinical Psychologists treat the following areas of difficulties:

  • Mood – depression, persistent low mood/sadness
  • Anxiety – worry, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, specific phobias, post-traumatic stress
  • Stress management – work and personal life, life direction
  • Low self-esteem and confidence
  • Grief, loss and bereavement
  • Relationship difficulties (please note that we do not provide couples therapy)
  • Adjustment difficulties and coping with transitions/change

With children, Clinical Psychologists treat the following areas of difficulties:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Behavioural problems
  • General emotional regulation difficulties – anxiety/worry, depression, anger
  • Difficult and challenging behaviour
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities
  • Social skills and communication
  • Organisational and attention problems
  • Low self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience
  • Attention difficulties (ADHD/ADD)

What is the difference between a Clinical Psychologist and Psychiatrist?

A Clinical Psychologist and a Psychiatrist often work together, but they are two different professions.Clinical Psychologists complete a minimum of 6 years post-graduate training and as they often have doctoral degrees or PhDs, are referred to as “doctor”. However, they do not have medical degrees and cannot prescribe medication. They are trained in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of a range of psychological difficulties (i.e., depression, anxiety).Psychiatrists also study at a post-graduate level, but obtain a general medical degree before going on to complete further study in the area of mental health. They can prescribe medication.

What does Psychological therapy involve?

Psychological therapy involves an assessment (usually 1 session) where the psychologist will ask questions to help them understand your (or your child’s) difficulties to help them formulate a plan to help you. After this assessment, on-going therapy sessions focus on using a range of evidence-based strategies (techniques that have been researched and proven to be effective in treating these difficulties). They may use a range of techniques from Cognitive-behaviour Therapy (CBT) or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Do I need a referral from my General Practitioner (GP) to see a Psychologist?

No, you do not need a referral to see a Psychologist. You can see a Psychologist privately. However, if you wish to claim sessions under the Better Access to Mental Health Initiative (and attract the Medicare rebate) you will need a referral.

How does Medicare for Psychological services work?

If you have a Mental Health Care Plan (MHCP), this enables you to a maximum of 10 individual sessions and 10 group sessions per calendar year.To obtain a Mental Health Care Plan, for adults they will need to visit their GP or Psychiatrist, and for children, they will need to visit their GP or Paediatrician.

If you are eligible for this plan, your GP will initially provide you with a referral for 6 sessions. After these initial 6 sessions, a review will need to be conducted and if required an additional referral of 4 sessions will be provided. Your Psychologist will let you know when you need to return to your GP for a review. The current Medicare rebate for each session with a Clinical Psychologist is $124.50.


Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)


Your Message


Sunshine Coast primarily and telehealth for greater Australia.