Member Guide to Employee Assistance Programs

What are employee assistance programs?

Employee assistance programs (EAP) are a mechanism of support for employees with work-related problems (or personal problems) that may impact on their overall job performance, health and mental wellbeing, and ability to be an effective employee in the workplace.

An EAP provider generally offers employer funded confidential counselling for employees and their family members as well as consultative support for managers and supervisors to address employee and organisational challenges and needs – all in the name of making the workplace more efficient and harmonious.

Member Guide to Employee Assistance Programs

How does it work?

While some EAP providers deliver the services themselves, many EAP providers will use other practitioners as “subcontractors”. EAP providers will then “refer” the client to Registered Counsellors. EAP Providers will negotiate their rates for services with organisations directly; making their own business profitable while still paying reasonable “subcontractor” fees to Registered Counsellors.

For Registered Counsellors, EAPs represent an opportunity to add a new revenue stream to their private practice as a subcontractor, applying their professional counselling skills on behalf of the EAP provider.

Naturally, there is a business agreement that a Registered Counsellor must comply with before clients are “referred” to the “subcontractor.” Those terms usually cover confidentiality, privacy, client case notes, mandatory reporting, clinical supervision, the scope of practice for practitioners, referral pathways, billing and other key business items. In return, Registered Counsellors will be referred clients and compensated for their time.

All practitioners “on the books” with EAPs must sign an agreement with each EAP provider which includes the terms of business. Terms of business will include how client referrals are handled, fees, client case notes, mandatory reporting, client handling and other important aspects of practice.

Registered Counsellors must register their interest with each different EAP service. The EAP/Provider relationship is “at will”.

EAP Providers will still need to meet their professional registration obligations. Registered Counsellors need to make sure that they meet the terms of business as laid out by the EAP Provider so that they can become a “subcontractor” and begin receiving referrals.

What is an average fee range?

Fees will range between $80/hour and $110/hour, depending on the practitioners’ expertise, location of practice, EAP service and other factors.

Member Guide to Employee Assistance Programs

What are the advantages of being an EAP subcontractor?

EAP subcontracting can be an advantageous situation for Registered Counsellors in private practice, because it does not require additional marketing to acquire new clients, and clients can access the counselling they may need.

What EAP Providers can I work with?

15 EAP Providers have confirmed that ACA Members are eligible to provide services to employees across the country. To learn more about EAP Providers that can subcontract to you:

  1. Log into your membership portal.
  2. Click on the ‘Publications & Resources’ tab.
  3. Visit ‘Download Documents’ (or click here).
  4. Scroll down to ‘Employee Assistance Programs’ and hit download.

How I do register to work with an EAP Provider?

To register your interest for EAP, members must contact each provider directly and individually. Members, you can find EAP providers by typing their name in Google.

 

ACA Strengthens International Partnerships

This week ACA CEO Philip Armstrong and ILO Elliott Ainley visited our counterparts at the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy. During our visit, we discussed our similar domestic challenges and how ACA and BACP can collaborate on developing joint strategies for addressing issues such as stigma, professional recognition, training standards and accreditation frameworks.

We discovered a significant amount of synergy between our organisations, both being the leading entities for the profession in our respective countries. ACA would like to sincerely thank the team at the BACP, particularly Fiona & Caroline from the Senior Professional Standards team, for their hospitality during our strategic outreach program.

We look forward to sharing more about this visit with members.

World Mental Health Day: 10 Helpful Habits

World Mental Health Day – 10 October – is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is an initiative of the World Federation for Mental Health to raise public awareness of mental health issues worldwide.

The Australian Counselling Association is a proud partner of Mental Health Australia, who are leading the World Mental Health Day campaign in Australia.

This World Mental Health Day – Monday 10 October – the message is simple: “Look after your mental health, Australia.”

1 in 5 Australians are affected by mental illness annually, yet many don’t seek help because of stigma. During the COVID-19 pandemic, prioritising mental health and wellbeing has been more important than ever.

We encourage all Australians to make mindful habits for mental health, not just this October, but always. Here are 10 tips that may help you or someone you know.

Stay active

Exercise increases wellbeing and helps reduce symptoms of common mental health concerns. Your gym may have closed or your fitness groups may be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise! Yoga, Pilates, HI IT routines – all can be done in a relatively small space and with no equipment. Have a search on the internet for free workout videos and guides.

Eat well

Eating a nutritious diet is great for both your physical and mental health. As much as possible, try and stick to a healthy diet even as your activities and environment change.

Connect with others

COVID-19 may have made connecting with others trickier, but social connection is more important than ever. When many of us faced lockdown, physical distancing, and travel restrictions, we relied on technology to talk to our friends and family. Where possible, try to connect with others by going out for a coffee or meal together, seeing a film, or going to an event. Reach out to your neighbours and community. Share how you’re feeling and invite others to share with you.

world mental health day helpful habits

Do something you enjoy each day

Do things that make you feel physically and emotionally comfortable, engaging in activities that make you feel safe and calm. Continue to do the things you enjoy as much as possible.

Limit media consumption (and choose trusted sources)

Choose how often you engage with news and social media and be sure to find news sources that are trustworthy and factual. Add in some content that makes you laugh and feel comfortable wherever possible.

Keep to a routine

Keep to your regular routine as much as possible, including exercise, sleep, daily chores, work, recreational activities and connecting with others.

world mental health day helpful habits

Get an early night

Prioritise getting enough sleep each night to help you feel more energised and focused during the day. Getting enough rest is the foundation to protecting your mental health.

Be kind to yourself

Remind yourself that there is no right or wrong reaction to the uncertainties of the pandemic, or to worrying events. Allow yourself extra grace if your productivity and motivation have been impacted by the changing environment.

Maintain perspective

While this is an uncertain time, try and view these changes with openness and acceptance. Remind yourself of things you’re grateful for and things you’ve learned.

world mental health day helpful habits

Seek help

It’s normal to experience anxiety and stress resulting from the pandemic. Talking to a Registered Counsellor or Psychotherapist can help you through it. With ACA’s Find a Counsellor tool you can search for a practitioner in your region.

 

Your Guide to the ACA Careers Centre

Matching job seekers to employment opportunities

The ACA Careers Centre is a central hub where employers can advertise current job vacancies to the right candidates and job seeker can find suitable employment opportunities within the counselling industry. In August 2022, over 200 jobs were posted in to the ACA Careers Centre! These jobs spanned all Australian States and Territories with a range suitable for new graduates to experienced practitioners, and across all levels of membership.

The ACA Careers Centre is an information service, not a recruitment service.

How does the ACA Careers Centre work?

What are the benefits to the ACA Careers Centre?

As a job seeker:

Members can quickly and easily find jobs in their area and desired field, that are specific to Counselling and Psychotherapy.

  • Only accessible to ACA members.
  • Ability to filter searches by state, city, speciality and work type.
  • All job listings are linked to the advertiser’s original ad, so there’s no need to manage any additional accounts.
  • Setup email notifications to advise you of any new job listings.

As an employer:

Job vacancies that are listed on the ACA Career Centre provide increased opportunities for suitable candidates to find your job listings.

  • Get your ad in-front of the largest network of Counsellors and Psychotherapists in the country.
  • Easy to use process that links your ACA Career Centre job listings to your current Seek ad so there’s no double handling.
  • Free to post as many ads as you like!

 

What are the most frequently posted jobs on the ACA Careers Centre?

Often, the positions available to Counsellors and Psychotherapists will not be titled “Counsellor” or “Psychotherapist”. The Counselling industry is wide-reaching and diverse. There are more opportunities out there for counsellors than we realise. Here are some of the common terms and positions advertised:

  • Counsellor or Psychotherapist
  • Drug & Alcohol Intake Officer
  • Counsellor Educator
  • Community Mental Health Worker
  • Disability Liaison Officer
  • Clinical Manager
  • Therapeutic Specialist
  • Mental Health Worker
  • Integrated Therapy Team Leader
  • Case Manager
  • Women’s Wellness Advocate
  • Health and Wellbeing Consultant
  • Early Intervention Mental Health Clinician
  • Behaviour Support Practitioner
  • Multicultural Services
  • Community Worker
  • Helpline Advisor
  • First Responder
  • Support Worker
  • Family Support Officer
  • Refugee Services Officer
  • EAP Clinician/Counsellor
  • CBT Consultant
  • Group Facilitator
  • Crisis Counsellor Advocate

Member information regarding the Allied Health Professions Association

What is AHPA?

The Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA) was founded and run by the Australian Psychological Society for many years. It is a collegiate body consisting of 25 national allied health association members and a further 13 affiliate members. AHPA collectively represents some 150,000+ allied health professionals who provide services across a range of health settings, as well as disability, aged care, education, justice, community services and more in Australia.

Membership to AHPA does not formally define Allied Health status, ACA has successfully advocated for our members to be formally listed as Allied Health professionals in the majority of States of Australia, without support from AHPA.

 

Is ACA a member of AHPA?

Yes, in 2020, ACA became an affiliate member, albeit becoming a member did not influence AHPA members (the APS or AASW) in continuing to not support advocacy for Counselling and Psychotherapy to move into the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) space.

 

What’s the difference between an Affiliate member and a Full Member?

Full members must pay an annual fee of $2 per member to AHPA in exchange for full voting rights.

AHPA has been clear and concise in formally stating it advocates equally for both ordinary and affiliate members irrespective of membership status. AHPA is unable to specifically support advocacy for individual members in areas where other members do not, for example APS and AASW do no support advocacy for Counsellors to move into MBS and many other areas. This means AHPA are unable to specifically support the advocacy work of ACA, regardless of membership status.

 

Why isn’t ACA an ordinary member?

ACA has decided, for the time being, to remain an affiliate member based on numerous factors:

APS and AASW do not support Counsellors and Psychotherapists moving into MBS. As a result the AHPA has stated on several occasions it can only advocate for the broadening of access to Medicare for all its members however, it cannot advocate for Counsellors and Psychotherapists specifically.  This means the economic and human resource burden of front-line advocacy for our members is borne by ACA regardless of membership status.

There is no correlation between greater employment opportunities for AHPA full members as opposed to affiliate members. In fact, employers by and large insist on registration with ACA as their primary benchmark. The cost to the association for membership has to be passed back to ACA members, the return on investment does not meet the pub test.

ACA would never rely on third parties to do our advocacy work for us particularly when large numbers within that group worked in opposition to our advocacy.

AHPA has to date not formally supported Counsellors or Psychotherapists in terms of advocacy for entry into MBS.

In regard to return on investment for ACA members, outcomes have to date been 100% due to our solo Federal/State/Territory and industry advocacy efforts.

We have achieved far more through our solo advocacy efforts in three years of affiliate membership.

ACA cannot justify becoming a full member at this time as the return on investment reflects there will be little to no direct benefit for ACA members.

 

Did I hear that being a full member of AHPA means we can get Medicare, GST exemption etc.?

No, AHPA has clearly stated they cannot advocate for Counsellors and Psychotherapists to move into the MBS space as not all their full members support this.

There is no correlation between full membership to AHPA and inclusion in MBS or receiving GST exemption. A single association cannot achieve MBS or GST exemption; the individual providing the service has a GST exemption on the provisor they deliver through the Better Access Initiative using an MBS item number.

GST exemption legislation clearly indicates that membership to any association is not a primary factor in being eligible for exemption status. For Counsellors and Psychotherapists, the primary obstacle is not being able to access provider numbers for MBS services and item numbers.

AHPA advocates for their members equally; we must remember that their members include many other disciplines that actively work against Counsellors and Psychotherapists becoming part of the MBS.

 

Do ACA plan to become a full member?

Full membership to AHPA will not fundamentally change anything for Counsellors and Psychotherapists in relation to creditability, access, advocacy, registration or employment opportunities. AHPA do have a strong record of advocacy in relation to issues that collectively impact on Allied Health Professions as a whole, such as advocating for consistency in policy during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

ACA will consider full membership once it has successfully advocated for its members for inclusion into MBS or AHPA formally agree to openly support our members moving into the MBS space.

ACA has achieved so much over the last 12 months regarding advocacy, including significant milestones such as:

First Peak Body to be given a place on the MSB review Committee (SEG)

Counsellors and Psychotherapists wrote into legislation in Victoria to come under the definition of Mental Health Practitioner, in conjunction with Emma Keely MP.

Recommendation from the Queensland State Government to the Federal Government for Counsellors to come into the MBS.

These significant milestones have been achieved without relying on third parties to do our advocacy work for us, or at an unnecessary extra cost to our members.

 

 

Important Update: ACA Office Operating Hours

Dear members,

We would like to inform you of a change to ACA’s operating hours. ACA HQ will now be operating from 8am to 4.30pm (AEST), Monday to Thursday.

This change will take effect starting Monday, 22 August 2022.

We hope the new time will be more convenient for members. This change is also on account of training purposes to better service our members.

Members, you can contact us via email outside of these operating hours, and our dedicated staff will get back to you as soon as possible.

We greatly appreciate your kind cooperation and understanding.

ACA Contact Information

Address: Unit 2/42 Finsbury Street Yuggera Country Newmarket Qld 4051

Postal Address: P.O.Box Yuggera Country 88 Grange Qld 4051

Telephone: 07 3356 4255 or 1300 784 333

For all registration, eligibility, renewal & upgrade enquiries please email admin@theaca.net.au.

For all invoice, advertising & receipt enquiries please email accounts@theaca.net.au.

 

Technology Update: Telehealth

Article from: Counselling Australia Journal: Volume 23: Number 2 – Winter 2022 

Telehealth has been thrust into the mainstream since the COVID-19 pandemic limited physical access for many essential healthcare services. This created much-needed change in telehealth services – now with more people, from any location, having timely access to a broader number of healthcare services.

Bespoke telehealth software Coviu is one of the most widely used telehealth solutions in Australia, with over 90,000 practitioners using the software – but there are many other options for health providers. General video platforms like Teams and Zoom offer reliable and easy-to-use video solutions, and bespoke telehealth solutions such as Cliniko are tailored to suit health professionals.

We asked Coviu, the platform that has conducted over seven million consultations, to share tips for choosing a telehealth video platform.

Questions to ask when choosing a telehealth video platform:

  1. What function do I need this for now and in the future? Thinking about your goals in each subsequent step is important.
  2. Can I afford it now and into the future? What pricing options are provided?
  3. Can I try before I commit? Does the platform offer free trials?
  4. Does it meet Australian relevant laws and legislations? Check privacy and information security requirements at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
  5. Where is the data stored?
  6. Does it have the features and tools you need to conduct consultations?
  7. Does it work on the devices you use?
  8. Is the system regularly enhanced?
  9. Is there adequate support? Are users kept well informed about changes or issues?
  10. What is the uptime and availability like of the system? How fast is the system to use?
  11. What is the usability like? Is it easy to use without training?

Information for health providers about telehealth

Telehealth guidance for allied health professionals – Allied Health Professions Australia

Checklist for telehealth services – Australian Government

Telehealth – Australian Digital Health Agency

ACA meet with the Department of Health and Aged Care

Last Thursday, ACA visited the Department of Health and Aged Care for a special ARCAP (Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) meeting to discuss our recent submission to grant eligibility to Counsellors and Psychotherapists to provide Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) mental health services. Members can read the submission on the ACA website (or click here).

As part of the ARCAP delegation, we met with Mr Mark Roddam, First Assistant Secretary, Mental Health Division, Ms Anthea Raven, Assistant Secretary, Mental Health Access Branch, and Dr Ruth Vine, Deputy Chief Medical Officer.

We discussed a simple and effective proposal to improve access to affordable mental health care and how a cohort of highly skilled Counsellors and Psychotherapists stand underutilised. We also discussed in detail the extent of industry self-regulation necessary to ensure that MBS services are delivered safely and effectively, including: (1) the requirements that MBS Registered Counsellors and Psychotherapists would need to meet to be recognised as allied health professionals who are eligible to deliver MBS services and (2) the necessary regulatory oversight that the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists would provide.

This is just one of many meetings we have planned with the Department of Health and Aged Care to discuss granting MBS eligibility to Counsellors and Psychotherapists. We are proud to advocate on behalf of the profession and we look forward to the next meeting to continue this important work with the Albanese government.

About ARCAP

ARCAP is an independent, national Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists established by the Australian Counselling Association and the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia.

All practitioners listed on the ARCAP Register have:

  • Completed professional qualifications in counselling or psychotherapy
  • Meet ongoing professional development requirements including clinical supervision of their practice
  • Abide by the ethical guidelines of the profession

Advocacy Win: ACA Registered Counsellors recognised as Mental Health Practitioners in Victoria!

You may have seen late last year, ACA worked with the Opposition in Victoria on a Bill to get Registered Counsellors and Psychotherapists added to the list of Mental Health Practitioners, which was then lost by one vote.

Today, with big thanks to the tireless support from Emma Kealy MP, a new Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill was announced, which will finally see the definition of a Mental Health Practitioner expanded to include Registered Counsellors!

This will mean that ACA Registered Counsellors enjoy the same level of access and recognition as the other disciplines and can transition into areas such as schools – unlocking an additional 2,000 qualified professionals for the mental health workforce. It will go a long way to relieving desperate workforce shortages and for existing staff that are fatigued from the extra demand on the sector as a result of the pandemic.

Although the changes won’t come into affect until September next year, this is a long overdue win for the better mental health of Victorians and sets a precedent for other States and Territories to follow suit.

In a media release Ms Kealy said “the Australian Counselling Association and their members should be proud of their tireless efforts to fight to be recognised for the positive contribution they can make for Victorian’s mental health”.

Click here if you would like to read more of Ms Kealy’s media release.

ACA is proud to advocate on behalf of the counselling and psychotherapy workforce, and does not rely on third party groups for advocacy. We look forward to sharing more good news with members.

ACA Sign Partnership Agreement with Australia’s Leading Government Relations Firm Hawker Britton

As of July 2022, the Australian Counselling Association entered an exclusive partnership with Hawker Britton, Australia’s leading government relations firm.

Hawker Britton offers unrivalled expertise in government lobbying and strategic counsel for organisations looking to work with Labor Governments and is ideally placed to assist ACA.

The partnership will assist ACA to work with the Federal Government to advocate and advance the profession of Counselling and Psychotherapy across several areas such as:

  • To develop and maintain relationships with relevant policymakers such as Ministers, Advisers, other Parliamentarians, and officials in the relevant Departments and Agencies
  • To provide strategic advice regarding the most effective mode of engagement
  • To organise and host meetings with relevant stakeholders at political and official levels
  • To alert ACA to policy/political developments relevant to your concerns
  • To build the profile and understanding of ACA among policymakers
  • To provide feedback regarding progress or otherwise towards agreed objectives
  • To assist with any additional projects that may arise moving forward
  • Assist in developing effective communications strategies tailored to the Federal Labor Government
  • Provide high level strategic counsel regarding the Federal Labor Government and relevant stakeholders
  • Facilitate appropriate discussions with relevant government stakeholders
  • Outline strategies for ACA to engage with of key decision makers and influencers

ACA will be working directly with Directors Simon Banks (Managing Director) and Emma Webster. Simon is one of Australia’s most highly respected government relations, campaigning, and strategic communications professionals. Since 2007, Simon has advised some of Australia’s and the world’s largest companies on significant commercial transactions requiring Commonwealth Government approvals.

Prior to joining Hawker Britton, Simon served as Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff to three Federal Labor Leaders and has been Federal Labor’s Director of Policy and a Senior Policy and Media Adviser to several Labor Ministers.

Emma Webster is a Director at Hawker Britton’s Victorian office. Emma has been a trusted Senior Adviser at the highest levels of Government, working for Government leaders at a State, Territory, and Federal level including for Premier Daniel Andrews and former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“ACA is proud to advocate on behalf of members and the profession, and we are excited for this partnership with Hawker Britton to open many more doors for us to continue this crucial work,” says Philip Armstrong ACA CEO.

“Advocacy is too important to leave up to third parties and other peak bodies. They simply do not have the same investment on outcomes and cannot directly influence change, particularly if they also advocate for competing disciplines.”

With over 11,000 members, ACA is the leading and largest peak body for Counsellors and Psychotherapists in Australia.