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Keywords:

  • clinical psychology;
  • counselling psychology;
  • knowledge;
  • public image;
  • perception;
  • Victoria

The current study employed a mixed-methods approach to examine perceptions towards and knowledge of counselling psychologists, including perceived differences between counselling and clinical psychologists. One hundred and fourteen adult members of the Victorian general public participated in the study and completed a 65-item questionnaire, the Counselling Psychology Status Survey. As predicted, results from quantitative analysis showed that counselling psychologists were reported to be highly needed, valued, and respected by the current sample of Victorian residents. Respondents also reported a high level of confidence in counselling psychologists to treat various mental illnesses. Thematic analysis of qualitative textual data derived from written responses to an open-ended question revealed that compared with clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists were understood to be less qualified, less skilled, and to work with less severe or complex client presentations. Taken together, results from this study suggest that although counselling psychology appears to occupy a positive public image, the importance of public promotion and awareness-raising of the specialist profession of counselling psychology, and the continuing need for public education into the nature of psychological services and the qualifications, skills, and competencies of practitioners of psychological service provision, particularly compared with clinical psychology, cannot be underestimated.