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Consumer & Carer Experiences of Psychological Services

Lived Experience Australia (LEA), a leading research and advocacy organisation for mental health services, has undertaken this survey with consumers who have accessed psychology services, and carers of people who have accessed them. The survey was completed online in November, with 517 responses from across Australia. The research aimed to understand psychological service needs of mental health consumers and carers, and provide a collective voice to government and service providers to inform service and policy design. 

“It’s the people who use these services who are in the best position to talk about what works well and also what is needed” says Sharon Lawn, LEA’s Executive Director.

We wanted to hear about:

• consumers’ and carers’ satisfaction with care provided by psychologists

• changes in their health and wellbeing since accessing a psychologist, and

• potential barriers to access, including referral requirements and costs.

This is a snapshot of what they had to say

Lived Experience Perspectives of Psychology Services

Key findings from our research

  • 90% of survey respondents would recommend seeing a psychologist to a friend or family member

  • 74.7% of consumer and 59.7% of carer respondents indicated that they, or the person they support, had seen a psychologist in the past 5 years, and saw the psychologist they wanted to.

  • Both consumers and carers identified the top three barriers to accessing a psychologist as: wait times, availability, and cost.

  • There were some variation in the wait times experienced to access a psychologist; however, almost three-quarters of consumers reported being able to see a psychologist within 3- months of referral and over half of carers reported that the person they support was able to see a psychologist within 3-months

  • The main reason (22%) why consumers said they discontinued support from a psychologist was due to the psychologist not being the right fit for them. 28.5% of carers also reported this as the main reason why the person they support discontinued with a psychologist. This was followed closely by affordability.

  • 73.52% of consumer respondents received a Medicare subsidy

  • Over half of consumer and carer respondents reported having to pay a gap fee for the psychologist. The mean average gap fee reported by carers was $161. The mean average gap fee reported by consumers was $176 with the largest proportion of consumers reporting paying between $51-$200 gap fee.

What do consumers and carers tell us they need?

Through our research, consumers and carers pointed to these key areas that can be improved so that their experiences of psychological care are better:

  • Shorter wait times - when people are in need of care they do not always have time to wait. 

  • Cost of services - although Medicare subsidies are helping, gap fees are high and are preventing some people being able to seek help. This can lead to devastating consequences.

  • Carers would like to ensure that psychologists are trained in trauma informed care.

  • Carers would like to be included in the communications about their family members or loved ones.

  • Both consumers are carers would like psychologists trained to accommodate specific sub groups, such as diversity, Autism, LGBTQIA+, and other specific types of care. 

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The full report 'Consumer and Carer Experiences of Psychological Services' is available for download. 

You can also access the 'Consumer and Carer Experiences of Psychological Services' report BRIEF.

Further information

Lived Experience Australia is happy to conduct interviews, or provide any additional information you may need for articles or news items. 


Read more at:

Media enquiries to Professor Sharon Lawn, Chair and Executive Director 
Phone: 0459 098 772

Alternatively, please contact the Lived Experience Australia national secretariat office on 1300 620 042 or contact us through this page.  

Thank you for your interest in this important research.  If you would like to stay up to date with our research and advocacy work, please join our subscriber list.  

Support is available

If this research or information has triggered or brought up difficult emotions for you, please consider reaching out to

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Talking through your feelings can help and these organisations are available to provide that support to anyone who needs it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ​

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