ACAP’s free mental health clinics provide lifeline to over 1,000 people a year

By Barry de Silva
Woman sits in front of shelves of books. She has a clipboard and a pen and she is smiling at a woman (back to camera & foreground).
ACAP’s free psychology, social work and counselling services are making a positive difference to people across Australia. The ACAP clinics, which support over 1,000 clients a year, both in person and online, offer a range of services from therapy for anxiety and life changes, to depression and psychological assessments for children. All the clinics are supervised by qualified and experienced psychologists in partnership with students who are registered psychologists and have completed their undergraduate training.

ACAP has been educating counsellors, social workers and psychologists for over 40 years, with the first ACAP clinic established in 2012. ACAP Psychology Clinic Director, Deb Gavan, who has over 32 years’ experience in mental and psychological health, including with the NSW Department of Communities and Justice, oversees over 300 students.

“The clinics have been running for the past 12 years now, with two physical locations in the Sydney and Melbourne CBDs, and satellite clinics at our campuses in Brisbane, Byron Bay, Adelaide and Perth,” Deb said.

“All our services are supported by current research and adhere to ethical and professional standards, which is why we conduct a rigorous interview process of all the students before we accept them – this includes recorded sessions in group and individual environments with clients. We also regularly seek client feedback to ensure there is a high standard of service.”

ACAP Bachelor of Social Work student, Stephanie Twiss, completed her placement at the clinics last year and has since gained paid employment as the Clinics Coordinator. She explained how the environment had aided her development as a social worker.

“It has been incredible,” Stephanie said. “There have been opportunities to apply the theory and knowledge I have gained into practice and partner with external services. For example, while I was on placement, I ran a weekly mindfulness group at headspace for adolescents and provided individual therapy to a client.”

The ACAP clinics have provided a lifeline to vulnerable people, given the clinics don’t require a Medicare referral or a current mental health plan.

“At the Clinic, we do not require a referral, Medicare details or a mental health plan. This means that all members of the community can access our services regardless of Visa status or access to means.”

The ACAP clinics offer a range of individual therapies and group therapy programs to help people develop communication and socialisation skills:

  • Individual counselling, therapy, and casework for adults, children and young people
  • Psychometric assessments for adults, children and young people
  • Mindfulness-based skills group
  • Building self-compassion group
  • Managing social anxiety group
  • Compassion based group for carers
  • Emotional regulation and distress tolerance for adults and young people
  • Cool kids: Supporting children with anxiety group
  • Domestic and family violence mutual self-help support group
  • Art for happiness: seniors, adults, children and young people groups
  • International students wellbeing group
  • Strengthening refugee families group
  • Late bloomers group – to support LGBTQIA+ community members who have come out later in life.

Find out more about the ACAP Clinics

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