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Looking for low-cost counsellor

Community Member
I am trying to find a low-cost counsellor to guide me through separation and divorce. I have tried a couple of popular services but would prefer the same person every session, rather than the next in the queue. I am in a 30 year relationship but I now believe I have been abused both mentally and emotionally. I have access to only a small amount of money, so I need a low-cost service. It is also important that it doesn't appear on my medical records, as my wife has access to these. I tried Relationships Australia (SA) but they have nothing available for 8-10 weeks. Any suggestions?
16 Replies 16

Hi Mark247,

Thank you so much for reaching out. Did you know our support service, which is available 24-7 by phone on 1300 22 4636 and by webcat (3pm-midnight AEST) or email via https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support, is able to provide referrals appropriate to your needs and location. If you haven't already, we'd recommend reaching out to them. Our valued online forums community may well have some other tips and advice for you but please note this is not the place to mention individual practitioners nor named treatments.

Community Member

Thanks Sophie_M but I have tried BB support service and they directed me back to a service I have already tried (where I got a different counsellor each time). I would really like the same person each session and hoped that the community here might have some suggestions.

I feel I have made progress by myself over the past few months, so maybe I should continue that approach. It would be nice to get some help though. It does seem overwhelming at times.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mark247

Firstly allow me to extend compassion to you for the end of a long relationship.

I have heard of a Men's Helpline and the counsellors on this line may have some further local numbers for you. You can also ask about DV Courses for male victims. A certificate from such a Course bears weight and can be referred to in your affidavit if you need to go that far.

I have been through an extremely acrimonious separation and divorce 'journey' recently, so I may know some of what you could be going through and possibly what may be ahead. Not sure. I Pray yours is nothing like mine.

In my understanding if you go through Relationships Australia they are under obligation to record EVERYTHING.
NB: If you get a Health Care Plan (HCP) through your GP then the Counsellor or any other HCP referred worker is under obligation to send reports back to the GP. I found this out by accident when studying the docs that exH had subpoenaed to try and destroy me. By getting a subpoena for my GP records then all HCP reports are in there, his too! Trust me, his were 10cm high, so he shot himself in the foot over that one.

So I can highly recommend Uniting, formerly Unifam, counselling services. They provide Counselling on a sliding scale for your income and can apply for a number of free appointments on your behalf, ask about this. When there are children involved there are different programs for the children. But for you alone, I think they'd be perfect. Phone and ask ALL the questions on your mind.

I attempted Mediation through R.A. but was given an exemption from Mediation Certificate because of DV which meant Family Court / Federal Circuit Court only.

I understand also that before you lodge in FL Court, you must have attempted Mediation (unless you are exempt as above). For FL Mediation there is often quite a wait list unless of course you can both hire a lawyer each and pay them bucket loads to thrash it out, outside Court. In my case, for reasons I could explain if you needed, I avoided this option like the plague but friends of mine have successfully done this which is great for them.

Mediation is very different from Counselling in a Family Law sense.

Your best asset right now is to ask as many questions as you can of as many people in free advisory positions as you can. I used around 10 scrapbooks but had lots to record. Also do ask about Hardship applications for everything.

I have tips about a cheap divorce when you're ready, that sounds awful but..


Community Member

Thanks EM,

It sounds like you have been through a really tough time. I hope life is much better for you now.

Thanks for your advice. I should point out that there has been no DV in my case, only emotional and mental abuse that has taken years to wake up to. The final wake-up call was when she got a boyfriend. She spends a lot of time with him including in our home.

Uniting appears to only be available in NSW. Is that right? I am in SA.

I have tried Mensline and they were helpful, but I get a different person each time. What I am looking for is someone to encourage and support me through the process. The phone services are good for answering my questions but I don't know what I don't know, therefore I don't know what to ask. I am looking for guidance. I think I need help to repair me emotionally and mentally too.

Wife controls all finances, so I want to be prepared. When I confront her I have to be ready to move quickly because she could turn nasty. Unfortunately it sounds like she will find out no matter where I go for help, so I might have to do it on my own and wait until I leave before I seek help.

I would love to hear your tips about a cheap divorce. It doesn't sound awful at all, but could be really helpful.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mark247

Thanks for asking, LIFE IS FREAKING AWESOME, OMG like comparing living in hell to heaven, so yeah.

Nuff bout me let's get you sorted brother. The plan is to get your ducks in a row whilst you still live there but PLEASE if you are in danger, leave / phone police / whatever to keep safe. Btw I won't tell you to record W but transcripts of recordings are submissible in FLC.

Google "the 180" and practice this whilst you live there. It helps.
Please google 'the gray rock technique' and do this with texts etc.
For focus to form questions for lawyers, Google "The 4 Steps of Divorce" outlining Family Law in layman's terms ie care of any children and division of property.

Can you answer the following: (only if you feel ok about it)
* do you have shared children?
* do you have a job?
* do you have your own phone? Be careful with your text responses, wait before replying.
* do you pay for your own phone? ie are you the only one who sees the bill?

* do you have a bank account in your sole name? If not then open one and do not tell your wife (you can disclose later during full financial disclosure).
* if you have any income coming in then redirect it to your bank account at a time you can cope with. This maybe just before you leave IDK.

When you call a helpline eg 1800 RESPECT or BB or anyone, ask them for numbers for low cost counselling services not using a HCP. The thing is that if your W controls your phone bills then she'll see what numbers you are calling.

You can get a 'burner phone' kept on silent and no vibration at all times. Use this.

For legal advice there are free community legal services and I would call all of them. You can begin by calling Legal Aid. You can also call Law Access. Once I know more of your situation then I can help form questions for you to ask if you need help.

I know you feel emotionally fraught. It's hard but you are making the right decision. I hate to break it to you but you are suffering from DV, hence your feelings. There are 7-8 forms of DV and the ones going on there are financial abuse (controlling all finances), emotional and psychological abuse (as noted). I would argue sexual abuse also (infidelity) but the last one holds zero weight in FLC.

Please avoid joining any vigilante men's groups on FB. I have seen FB comments men have made about their exes used against them in Courts and AVOs enforced because of them. Look online but keep schtum.

I've got your back


Community Member

Thanks again EM,

Your response is very helpful and very much appreciated. I am trying to get "my ducks in a row".

I had never heard of "the 180" but this is exactly the technique I used a few years ago to combat silent treatment. She would often use silent treatment (usually about a week, but the record was 3 months) until one day I decided that my happiness should not depend on her and I was going to focus on other areas of my life. It was difficult, but I would pretend I was happy even if I wasn't, right down to things like whistling happily while washing the dishes. It worked and she hasn't used silent treatment since. That was about 6 years ago and was the beginning of the end of our relationship.

* do you have shared children? 2 adult kids at home
* do you have a job? We both do, me full-time, her part-time
* do you have your own phone? Yes
* do you pay for your own phone? Yes, but she sees the bill
* do you have a bank account in your sole name? Yes, but she has access, she pays the bills from it and sees the statements.

You are probably right about DV, but I have never felt physically in danger. I sometimes wonder what psychological damage I may have suffered though.

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi Mark

Yes psychological damage indeed. I'm really sorry you're going through all of this. It's a challenging time, after a challenging marriage no doubt.

I'm trying to think of a way you can navigate forward with your plans.

There are many 'underground' practices people use but I did not use these at all. I was open and transparent every step UNTIL I had to enforce No Contact. ExH used every underground thing known for years.

It backfired on ex on all levels brilliantly for me. But it is not in my nature to be subversive. I may have done A LOT more to get my ducks lined up beforehand, if I knew. I was too trusting. It was bad.

So how honest do you want to be with W? I'll tell you what I did and you can choose...

Whilst living in same house (ex wouldn't leave and I had lots of young children). These are some things I did blatantly, with or without telling ex, if he found out, then I 180d him:
* got a new email address.
* bought a new laptop with new passwords and took it to work with me every day.
* changed passwords on all thing I thought he had access to. (It was actually everything he had breached and it took me years to find out and secure, even my Super yeah). Put the highest security on all sole named things.
* said "I'm managing my own finances from now on" and moved EVERYTHING to my sole account. 180. I had my pay, share dividends, everything diverted (and ex found a way to change it back!) I did it again and changed my passwords. Left 1 joint account.
* I said I would only pay 50% of stuff. Less to make up for paying 100% for years.
* I stopped paying the mortgage (not highly recommended but I knew what I was doing, I got the house in the end). I was major breadwinner by far and he used his time for same as W there. If he didn't like it he could work and pay for it 100% or leave. No negotiations.
* I couldn't care less if he saw who I phoned so I left phones as they were (in his 'business' so he paid, but liked the 'control').
* got his name off my car rego and car insurances. Wash rinse repeat. Told companies not to allow anyone else to access my anything. (He had women pretend to be me).

Just lock down as much as you can. Once you have a secure phone.

Get free legal advice from a secure phone.

Announce separation from your stated date. This is plenty for now. Legal advice is crucial at this point.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Mark247,

Thank you for reaching out and I can see that you've gotten so much support here already. I just wanted to pop in and share my two cents too.

With the DV services, this isn't just for physical abuse - you mentioned emotional and physical abuse which does count too. You don't even have to be in physical danger. So I do encourage you to reach out here to these services. They can also help when you prepare to leave, and being able to reach out for help in a safe way as well.

I know you mentioned Relationships Australia, but you can also try Uniting Communities https://www.unitingcommunities.org/services/mental-health-counselling/

You can also try for a bulk-billing psychologist with a MHCP (mental health care plan). This means that you won't be out of pocket for 10 sessions.

Both of these suggestions apply in SA too - I live in SA so pretty familiar with the services around here. Please shout out if I can help with anything SA specific.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

As I understand in your case, you have grown children over 18y and living at home. Unless they have disabilities they don't 'count' property wise.
In Family Law this probably means a straight 50 / 50 split of everything. You CAN get % swayed a little (I found everything to sway % and my strategy worked for me but it was costly in Court).

You can get lawyers and pay thousands to thrash it out outside of Court to come to a Binding Financial Agreement which is what you need outside Court to settle property (and probably to have a Divorce decree but you have 1 year after D to do this I believe). I didn't go lawyers outside Court bec I knew exes motivations and that would have been a waste of time and money. He would have legally been able to come back within 7y and take 50% of my Super then... there's a precedent of this happening to a woman.

BUT if you include all Supers, shares etc yours and Ws (and house, boat, castle etc) in this kind of thrashing out then maybe this can work for you. Think about it...

Have you thought on a personal level what you WANT to happen? Start there and then negotiate back to a compromise. E.g. do you want to stay in the house or leave for sure? Do you want W to stay? and more importantly does selling the house impact how you feel about the kids losing their home? Who will they live with?
These are emotional issues that Family Law cares basically zero about. It's split all the way. Esp kids being over 18.

Financial capacity comes up next... remember that you have to attempt Mediation and Relationships Aus does this, others too. RA is cheap tho I believe. So if you are firm then book it in. Wait lists etc..