26 Feb 2019

Melbourne counsellor permanently banned from providing counselling or psychotherapy services in Victoria

Melbourne counsellor and psychotherapist Beatriz Masiero Vrettos has been issued with a prohibition order permanently banning her from providing any counselling or psychotherapy services in Victoria, including by Skype or phone.

Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said the ban followed an investigation into a complaint that Ms Masiero Vrettos had breached the code of conduct for general health service providers.

Ms Cusack said the investigation found Ms Masiero Vrettos, who previously traded as West Melbourne Psychotherapy, had failed to provide counselling and psychotherapy services in a safe and ethical way.

She said the prohibition order also banned Ms Masiero Vrettos from advertising or offering any counselling or psychotherapy services, paid or otherwise, and from establishing, directing or otherwise operating any business in Victoria that conducts counselling or psychotherapy services.

“Unlike psychologists and psychiatrists, who are subject to national law, prior to February 2017 counsellors and psychotherapists weren’t subject to any specific regulations,” Ms Cusack said.

“Counsellors/psychotherapists must now follow the code of conduct set out in the Health Complaints Act 2016, which strictly prohibits offering any service without the appropriate qualifications, from misinforming clients about the effectiveness of treatments, and from engaging in close personal relationship with clients.

“Counsellors/psychotherapists provide treatment at a time in their client’s life when the person is very vulnerable, often dealing with deeply personal problems, mental health issues or trauma. Clients offer up a significant amount of trust that their counsellor will act safely and ethically.

“I will not stand for providers that violate this trust by breaching the conditions in the code of conduct.

“All Victorians have a right to safe and ethical healthcare regardless of the healthcare setting, including counselling, psychotherapy and any other general health service.”

If you have a complaint or concern about a counsellor or psychotherapist, or any health service in Victoria, contact the HCC on 1300 582 113 or via our online complaint form.