An HPCSA counsellor or psychologist is one that is registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. These professionals may have a different type of training, or have studied for longer. For example: a psychologist is a mental health professional who has a minimum of a masters degree in psychology, and is registered as a clinical, counselling or educational psychologist. Each of these designations have their own scope of practice and ethical code. A clinical psychologist is better trained to working with disorders such as depression and anxiety. A counselling psychologist is experienced in working with general life difficulties such as financial crises or divorces. An educational psychologist generally works with children and adults who have learning difficulties or similar. Furthermore, there is another designation called registered counsellor. These individuals have a BPsych degree in psychology and are authorised to work with clients and provide basic counselling and assessments per their scope of practice. Registered counsellors are often the first point of counselling for individuals and families and work a lot in schools or clinics. They are able to assess and refer clients to other professionals if needed. Most HPCSA registered professionals are able to claim from medical aids, or you are able to claim back for money spent on their services.

The ASCHP, otherwise known as the Association for Supportive Counsellors and Holistic Practitioners is separate from the HPCSA. These counsellors have a different focus and speciality. They hold different degrees and qualifications, although still in the general field of psychology. The counsellors at the ASCHP are registered under different designations. This includes designations such as a Supportive Counsellor or Holistic Counsellor. These counsellors may have a BA psychology degree or a BA honours degree in psychology. Some of these counsellors also have qualifications in Pastoral Counselling or Natural Healing (similar to homeopathy). These counsellors typically charge a much lower rate than your normal HPCSA mental health professionals, as they offer very different services. An ASCHP counsellor may not work with mental disorders and dysfunctions but they are authorised to work with individuals, families and relationships in a more holistic way. This holistic form of counselling focuses on the different aspects of a person’s life such as their relationships, their finances, their physical health and mental health. This is known as general well being, so ASCHP counsellors are also known as Wellness Counsellors or Life Coaches. ASCHP counsellors are not allowed to claim from medical aids as it is only HPCSA professionals that can register with medical aids. This is also why ASCHP Counsellors generally charge lower rates.

The Council for Counsellors South Africa (CCSA) is also part of the ASCHP and their counsellors do the same work.

The main difference between the HPCSA and ASCHP comes down to whether you need to claim from medical aid or not. Furthermore, if you are looking for long-term therapy to help with possible past issues, it may be best to see a clinical psychologist. ASCHP counsellors are not authorised to work with individuals who have disorders such as depression or anxiety, however they can work with people in a more holistic sense. They are trained to help guide a person to better their lives  when it comes to their relationships, physical health, financial health, spiritual health and general well-being. Should you need long-term counselling in your life to help with feelings of depression or if you need help with any other diagnosed disorder it is best to consult with an HPCSA professional. If you are looking for more general counselling and help in your relationships as well as personal life, an ASCHP counsellor maybe just for you. They are aware of when to refer should the need arise and if you need more advanced professional help.

The FRCA has listed all types of Counsellors registered at these different organisations. We have included their contact details and vetted their qualifications so that you can trust the counselling that you are getting from them.  

Consider the following list, to decide which kind of counselling is right for you:

  • You are looking for longer term therapy (10 sessions +).
  • You have a diagnosed disorder, and want to receive therapy for it.
  • You want to claim from your medical aid.
  • You think your partner or family member has a disorder, and want them to receive counselling for it.
  • You want counselling for yourself, family or relationships.
  • You have feelings of suicide, or are feeling extremely depressed.

If you answered yes to these statements, it may be best to seek an appointment from an HPCSA registered professional, such as a psychologist. Here is another list to consider.

  • You are looking for counselling for yourself, regarding general life stressors, and want a safe place to “vent”.
  • You need counselling for your marriage, relationship, or family and want to focus on a few factors, such as finances, children or problems with your job or in-laws.
  • You need general life coaching.
  • You need trauma debriefing or counselling.
  • You are able to spend anywhere between R100-R500 per session depending on the counsellors rates.

If you answered yes to the above, then booking a session with an ASCHP or CCSA counsellor may suit you better.

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