Psychologists give Minister Abbott considered support

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Health Minister Tony Abbott’s proposal to increase access to counselling by psychologists, for women with unwanted pregnancies, was given reserved support by the Australian Psychological Society. Society President, Amanda Gordon. “Any increase in federal support for women to access psychological services is welcome and indeed long overdue, said Gordon.

"We are pleased to note the AMA's support for an expansion of counseling services for women with unwanted pregnancies, but we doubt that many women would share the AMA's view that such services are already adequate, said Gordon.

“It has been the Federal government’s policy of almost entirely excluding psychological services from Medicare that has made those services simply inaccessible for many women,” Gordon said. “The situation has been worsened by the inadequate psychological services provided by state governments and the token rebate offered by health funds for patients of private practice psychologists. So this is a very welcome move by the Minister and we commend him for it.”

“However, it must be clearly understood that psychologists’ code of professional ethics forbids a psychologist from attempting to push any personal views onto a client. A professional psychologist would aim to help a woman with an unwanted pregnancy to carefully consider all of her choices and their possible consequences so that the woman made her own, well-informed choice. There are pros and cons for a woman seeking a termination of an unwanted pregnancy and we would aim to help the woman understand those and then to support her in carrying out her decision, whatever it may be.”

“There is no such thing as value-free counselling,” said Gordon, “because all of us, psychologists included, have our own personal values and beliefs. The ethically responsible thing to do is to label your values as such, when they come up in counselling, explain why you hold them, and then respect your client’s right to choose her own values. If an individual psychologist’s values ever intrude unhelpfully into counselling, she or he is expected to raise that with the client and offer a referral to another psychologist.”

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For more information contact:

Elaine Grant
Communications Manager
Australian Psychological Society
03 8662 3363
0412 683 068
www.psychology.org.au