This page contains my brief responses to frequently asked questions. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact me.
Q: Which services do you provide?
- counselling & psychotherapy for one person
- relationship counselling for partners, spouses, and friends
- family counselling (however you define family)
- psychotherapy workshops & groups
- professional advocacy services
- professional development, supervision, & consultancy
- tutoring for students of psychology, statistics, health, & related disciplines
Q: Where do you practice?
To meet the accessibility needs of a wide range of people, I offer these services:
- In person
- By secure videoconferencing
- By phone
- By text chat
I see people in a physical office on Wattle St in Ultimo. If you use a wheelchair or have limited mobility. This location has a wheelchair-accessible entry option if you give me advance notice. We are working toward full wheelchair accessibility without prior notice.
You can make an appointment to see me:
- in Ultimo on Wattle St (close to the Sydney CBD), about 5 mins drive, 15-17 mins walk, or 10 mins bus ride from Central Station.
Three toilets, one single-stall wheelchair-accessible toilet and two binary-gendered toilets with multiple stalls, one with urinals, on office floor. As we have only recently moved to this location, we have applied to the building management for all-gender toilet signs and hope to have a favourable outcome in the near future. In the meantime, please use whichever toilet best meets your needs. We have a drawer for menstruation-related supplies for people of any gender located in our office. Comfortable, secure waiting room with sofas. Private waiting room option available. No regular receptionist.
In addition to being located close to Central Station, my Wattle, Ultimo office is accessible by the 412, 428, 433, and 440 bus lines. Free 2 hour parking is available in Broadway Shopping Centre and on streets near Wattle St. Street address provided on booking.
There are lots of places where you can get lunch, coffee, tea, juice, smoothies, or a snack. There is also a vegan, kosher, and halal restaurant located nearby. Ask me for details. Food prices range in the area range from discount supermarket to luxury restaurant and everything in between.
- anywhere by secure videoconferencing, phone, and text chat for people who are unable to come in person or who prefer to come to me from home or another location. Your accessibility and comfort are my priorities.
Q: Which issues are the focus of your practice?
I work with people on a range of concerns. My practice has a particular focus on supporting people of all ages, cultures, faith/beliefs, and backgrounds in one or more of these ten spheres of life experience across the life course:
- Relationships, sexuality, partners, & families (however you define them)
- Affirming your trans and/or non-binary needs & experiences
- Death & dying
- Surgical decision-making & support
- Living, loving, & thriving with disability labels and/or Autism/Aspy neurodiversity
- Coping with long-term or recurring medical concerns or chronic pain
- Healing and post-traumatic care following assault, torture, & abuse
- Asylum seeking & refugee experience
- Substance abuse, misuse, addiction, relapse prevention & post-relapse recovery
As a professional, I am:
- Knowledgeable about intersex people, people of trans and/or non-binary experience or identity, disability, LGBQ, poly & consensual non-monogamies, BDSM and consensual power exchange, Autism/Aspergers neurodiversity, sex work, and Otherkin.
- Aware about asexual people.
(as defined by the NCSF definitions of friendly, aware, and knowledgeable)
Q: What is your professional philosophy?
My practice uses a non-pathologising, person-directed, and polycultural approach to counselling and psychotherapy informed by social justice principles. To find out more about what this means and how I apply these values in practice, visit About.
Q: Which methods do you use?
I have experience using some conventional talk therapy methods such as solution-focused therapy (SFT), motivational enhancement therapy (MET), the Gestalt Empty Chair technique, dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT), and internal family systems therapy. I also use techniques from art therapy, narrative therapy, systemic Family Therapy, wilderness therapy, Forum Theatre, psychodrama, and additional therapeutic methods. As a polycultural psychotherapist, I can also use techniques and methods that were designed by and for people from cultures and faith/belief systems from around the world, in order to provide a culturally safe and culturally appropriate match for you.
In addition to using conventional talk therapy methods, I might design and facilitate a memorial ceremony to help a father mourn the loss of his child or use dance and movement to help a woman of trans experience to feel triumph in expressing herself. I might use therapeutic breathing and sound to help a person with chronic pain to achieve comfort and wellbeing. I might use metaphoric cards designed by clinical psychologists, when assisting family members to gain insight into their communication patterns or when helping a person who has experienced violent trauma to explore events that may be difficult to share. These are only a few examples. Creativity and flexibility are vital to responsive therapeutic services.
Q: Why do you use methods beyond talk therapy?
As an experienced counsellor overseas, I learned that despite the many benefits of talk therapy, sometimes words can only go so far. We know from scientific evidence that much of how we communicate with each other happens without talking or words. As the Sufi mystic and poet Rumi said,
“words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”
Some people have limited vocabulary or experience vocal and/or speech impairment. Some people find it too painful or challenging to give literal descriptions of distressing events or circumstances in their lives. There is healing in ways beyond words, in touch, sound, movement, ceremony, and song. Using methods beyond talk therapy is also part of my commitment to inclusive and polycultural practice.
Evidence shows that the therapeutic method itself has far less impact on whether people achieve their therapeutic goals than the strength of the professional relationship they have with their therapist. Whichever methods we use in our work together, I will be a professional ally and advocate in our therapeutic relationship.
Q: How do you select the right methods for each person?
My method selection process is both evidence-based and deeply intuitive, with my professional decisions tailored to fit each person’s universe and experiences. For people who come to me when they are not experiencing immediate crisis, I spend the first 1-3 sessions gathering a comprehensive and holistic history of their psychological, social, relationship, family, communal, spiritual, medical, legal, educational, and employment experiences. I can then determine which next steps are appropriate.
Q: What are your professional experiences and qualifications?
I have been providing direct psychosocial support to people since my first position as a peer counselor over 20 years ago. In 2001, my first full time position after graduating from university was as a Bilingual Psychiatric Rehabilitation Caseworker and Appointed Human Rights Officer to a supported housing team for people with psychiatric diagnoses. Most of the people whose cases I managed had been diagnosed with psychiatric labels such as ‘schizophrenia’, ‘major depressive disorder’, ‘bipolar disorder’, and ‘borderline personality disorder’.
I learned quickly that these people were so much more than just a disorder label and that all of the people with whom I worked had strengths, resilience, and inner resources that had been neglected by their mental health providers. Most were on so many medications that they had to take additional medications just to manage the severe effects of their psychiatric medications; some were even being prescribed medications that were contraindicated– that is, medications that pharmacology texts caution should never be prescribed together.
In one case, an elder who had been a respected religious leader had daily ‘schizophrenic’ episodes recorded by other staff. When I observed him, I soon discovered that these ‘episodes’ were not psychiatric episodes at all, but that he was observing his daily religious prayer times in a way that was normative in his culture. Staff misunderstood his behaviour, because they could not see past his psychiatric label. This experience and many similar experiences taught me the value of listening to people’s own ways of sharing their stories and the dangers of over-reliance on diagnostic labels. Since then, my years of experience working in hospital, clinic, and community-based settings have deepened my understanding of how to provide respectful support for people dealing with serious symptoms and challenges.
Q: Which formal degree credentials do you have?
- PhD Psychology (Surrey)
- MSc Social Psychology (Surrey). Grade: Distinction
- BA (Hons) International & Cross-Cultural Health with Media & African Studies (Hampshire)
Q: Which additional training do you have?
- 2011-2012 Postgraduate Certificate in Learning & Teaching. University of Surrey Centre for Educational & Academic Development (CEAD)
- 2011-2012 Certificate in International Human Rights & Social Justice. René Cassin Leadership Programme, London, UK
- Advanced Facilitation Skills (Groups) Certificate. Paediatric Palliative Care, Child Bereavement Charity, Buckinghamshire, UK
- Foundations in Addiction Counselling (Drug & Alcohol) Certificate. Drug & Alcohol Treatment Association of RI, USA
- HIV Testing & Prevention Counselling Certificate. Drug & Alcohol Treatment Association of RI, USA
- Certificate in The Refugee Council Therapeutic Casework Model. The Refugee Council, London, UK
My formal training spans a broad range of topics and therapeutic methods. I engage in ongoing professional development related to counselling, psychology, and psychotherapy.
Q: Which relevant professional experience do you have?
- I have published peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters in the fields of counselling, Family Therapy, health, medicine, psychology, gerontology, feminism, surgical communication, and research methods. Some of my publications are available from google scholar here.
- I have provided emotional and psychological support to people on a hospital Accident & Emergency unit.
- I developed training curricula, screened applicants, and supervised a crisis intervention team in collaboration with a clinical supervisor.
- Since 2011, I have taught a clinical and counselling psychology course on the Psychology of Sadness to BA/MA Psychology students. This course includes sadness, depression, suicide prevention, death & dying, mourning, and bereavement from psychological, biomedical, economic, and cross-cultural persepctives.
- I completed a hospital-based Endocrinology Work Shadowing Programme.
- For over a year, I have been a Work-Appointed Supervisor for counselling support staff working at a non-profit working primarily with families and young people with same-gender loves, trans and/or non-binary gender experiences, and intersex characteristics.
This is a partial list. I am happy to discuss further details relevant to the specific issues you wish to address in our professional work together. I encourage you to ask any questions you need about my training, skills, and experience in order for you to feel safe and secure in our work together.
Q: With whom do you work?
I work with people from all walks of life and backgrounds. I have training in working with individuals, partners, families, small groups, and larger groups.
My practice currently accepts bookings for:
- one person psychotherapy or counselling for people who are 16 years old or older
- relationship counselling for up to 5 partners
- families of up to 5 people of any age, however you define family
- communities of any size, including schools, religious congregations, and workplaces
Q: Which hours do you work?
I provide regular sessions on Sundays through Thursdays. Some Friday morning sessions may also be available. My secure videoconferencing, phone, and text sessions are available to people with any schedule in any time zone.
My range of possible practice operating hours in Sydney, Australia time are:
- 7 am to 11:30 pm Sundays through Thursdays
- 7 am to 3 pm on Fridays
This means that people coming to me for professional services may receive email or text message appointment reminders from me during any these hours. Except when previously agreed, phone calls will be returned after 8 am on weekdays, after 10 am on Sundays, and before 9 pm on Sundays through Thursdays.
My practice is closed between 3 pm on Fridays and 8 am on Sundays.
If you are coming to me from outside of Sydney, Australia, then I may be available between 8 am and 11:30 pm Sundays through Thursdays and between 8 am and 3 pm on Fridays in your local time.
We can talk about which time and location best meet your accessibility and comfort needs.
Q: How much do you charge for psychotherapy sessions?
For social justice reasons, I set my full rates below the industry standard. My rates vary depending on the session length, the number of people involved, the type of service you require, and whether you qualify for a financial hardship rate. I also run some psychotherapy groups at lower rates per person. My Income Equity Rates Table provides my standard fee structure based on income.
In addition to the fees listed in my Income Equity Rates Table, I offer a limited number of discounted slots for people experiencing severe financial hardship. If you have financial hardship that would make my Income Equity Rate unaffordable for you, please contact me directly to discuss your needs.
I also reserve a few ‘pro bono’ (free) sessions available on a first come, first served basis for work with people seeking asylum in Australia.
Q: Are Medicare rebates available for your services?
Unfortunately, I am unable to provide Medicare rebates for my services. I completed my MSc and PhD in Psychology overseas. I am not registered as a Psychologist in Australia at this time. Most people coming to me for counselling have found me more affordable than when seeing a Registered Psychologist who provides Medicare-rebated services. This is because Medicare rebates for mental health services cover only a limited number of sessions per calendar year (typically 6-10, depending on the specific plan). Many Registered Psychologists do not ‘bulk bill’ (a phrase that means they do not charge fees above the Medicare-rebated amount and can thus provide services at no cost to you). Sessions with a Registered Psychologist who does not bulk bill will require you to pay additional fees above the cost paid by Medicare (sometimes as much as $150 per 45-60 minute session, even with a Medicare rebate).
The Australian Psychological Society recommended fee for a standard psychological consultation until 30 June 2018 is $246 for a 45-60 minute session, and some Registered Psychologists charge much higher rates. The 1 February 2017 Medicare Benefits Schedule dictates the specific psychotherapeutic interventions and session lengths that can be subsidised by a Medicare rebate here. As noted in the linked document, Medicare rebates apply only to a limited number of intervention types. For example, the MBS specifies that narrative therapy is only covered when provided to people from Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander communities. Although many Registered Psychologists claim Medicare rebates for relationship counselling and for a wide range of evidence-based intervention methods that are currently excluded from the MBS, the Australian Government considers this to be Medicare fraud. Medicare rebates do not cover sessions longer than 60 minutes, relationship counselling, family therapy, narrative therapy with non-Aboriginal/non-Torres Strait Islander populations, art therapy, any person-centred or humanistic therapies, or a wide variety of other evidence-based, non-CBT psychotherapeutic interventions that have been empirically validated by peer-reviewed, international research. Particularly if the concerns someone wishes to address are ongoing and likely to require more than 10 sessions to address, then it is usually more affordable to see me.
Q: Why does each session have ten minutes set aside?
It is established, widespread practice in counselling and psychotherapy to set aside ten minutes in a standard therapeutic hour to cover scheduling and basic record-keeping.
Q: Which professional advocacy services do you offer?
I have 20 years of experience providing advocacy services to help people who experience discrimination, access barriers, or exclusion in health and social care, educational, legal, and community settings. My professional advocacy services include but are not limited to:
- Attending meetings with your GP, psychiatrist, and/or additional healthcare providers to explain your needs and advocate for your wishes
- Communicating with your employer, university, and/or school on your behalf
- Accompanying you to court proceedings or immigration interviews
- Accompanying you during administrative tasks such as changing the administrative ‘sex’ marker on your identity documents
- Writing formal letters and documentation to assist you at work and elsewhere
Q: How much do you charge for professional advocacy?
For people who are already coming to me for psychotherapy services, I offer a 30% discounted rate on my professional advocacy services as part of the comprehensive care plan we develop together.
From August 2017, my full rates for stand-alone professional advocacy services (for people who are not coming to me for psychotherapy services) are:
- $45 AUD per advocacy letter or document up to 2 pages in length
- $50 AUD per advocacy phone call up to 30 minutes in duration
- $60 AUD per advocacy meeting up to 30 minutes in duration (plus travel expenses)
- $100 AUD per advocacy meeting 31 to 60 minutes in duration (plus travel expenses)
Q: How do I make an appointment?
You can make an online booking with me on the contact page of this website or by contacting me directly at gavi at ansarapsychotherapy.com (substituting the ‘@’ symbol in place of the word ‘at’).
Q: What if I need to cancel?
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, life can be unpredictable and chaotic. I understand how hard it can be to attend appointments when you are stressed out or ill. When you are unable to use your scheduled appointment, someone else who wanted that slot might not be able to get the services they need. For this reason, I have a strict cancellation policy. You can cancel your appointment in advance at: https://ansarapsychotherapy.acuityscheduling.com/
- Cancellation 48 hours before your session: full fees refunded, no cancellation fee
- Cancellation 24 hours before your session: fees refunded minus $50 cancellation fee
- No show or cancellation under 24 hours before your session: Full fees charged, no refund
Please make sure to reschedule or cancel as soon as possible to avoid cancellation fees.