Details of Australia Suicide Case Creates Calls for Mental Health Accreditation

Requirements for accrediting and licensure for the mental health professions is considerably strict in many parts of the world, but Australia is a country in which therapy and counseling are self-regulated industries. The lack of a central agency or set of standards to ensure quality of treatment has come under fire by many in the community, and the push for serious reforms has become stronger still today as a coroner’s report details the involvement of a self-help course in the eventual suicide of a woman in Sydney.

The incident, which occurred four years ago, was suspected by many as having a direct relationship to a course entitled “The Turning Point,” in which the victim participated over a four-day period prior to her death. The course was operated by a computer science professional with no formal licensing or qualifications in the field of mental health, and the company’s director was the possessor of a degree in business administration. Investigators in the case pointed to the use of childhood regressive therapy in the course, which is believed to have led to the victim’s erratic and childlike behavior expressed in the days and hours before her death. The victim placed a call to the company the night before committing suicide, and supporters of tighter industry regulation argue that without proper training or experience, the company did not recognize the move as a call for help, and failed to assist the victim in locating care.

As efforts to incorporate greater controls over the mental health industries in Australia continues, other areas with relaxed views on regulation may approach their laws with a fresh perspective after exploring the details of the case.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Victoria L.

    Victoria L.

    December 10th, 2009 at 11:51 AM

    That is absolutely tragic no matter how you look at it. I’m shocked that Australia allows self regulation for the self-help industry. That’s tantamount to no regulation at all. They are taking money, so they need to be held accountable.



    December 10th, 2009 at 12:48 PM

    OMG! I could not have imagined Australia, of all the places, has such lax rules and no proper regulation in an industry that is directly concerned with the overall well-being of its citizens. The screws need to be tightened around the agencies and individuals in the industry to make them more accountable.

  • anabella


    December 10th, 2009 at 1:10 PM

    This is a loud call for the Australian authorities to wake up and smell the coffee! Mental health care is not an unimportant domain to let people have a free run. The authorities have a huge responsibility to make sure that public belief is restored and such incidents hopefully do not occur in the future.

  • Nathaniel


    December 10th, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    I couldn’t be as forgiving as her husband was. I would be baying for their blood for killing my wife. She probably never asked about the staff’s qualifications or training. But then you wouldn’t, would you? You take folks at their word and if it says counselor on their door, you assume they are qualified.

  • Philip


    December 10th, 2009 at 3:37 PM

    People are too damn polite. No true professional minds being asked about where they trained, their expertise and their formal qualifications. In a business setting it wouldn’t be an unusual question from prospective clients or even in an interview for the most junior of staff. It can be the same for any kind of self help, therapy or medical expert.

  • Kory


    December 10th, 2009 at 5:25 PM

    Licensure is extremely important, especially so for an industry like mental health care, because it is a question of the lives of a lot of people. Only with licensure can there be a check on the quality of the services and in turn, the benefit to the people who recieve the services. It will also make sure that nobody is affected negatively due to services by unauthorized personnel.

  • Martha T.

    Martha T.

    December 10th, 2009 at 8:00 PM

    I’ve known some that would be very offended if you grilled them about their qualifications Philip. It’s akin to saying you don’t trust them.

  • Philip


    December 18th, 2009 at 8:39 PM

    Seriously Martha? If that’s their outlook, they need to leave the counseling/self-help field and ask themselves what they find objectionable. Assuming they are qualified and not hiding anything, they are being childish and unprofessional.

    The client is merely safeguarding their investment – of themselves, their time and their money. If they were buying a car, they would want to know it was all in working order, properly maintained and it was theirs to sell in the first place. Same thing.

  • Thomas


    December 18th, 2009 at 10:11 PM

    What’s frightening about that is she had no history of mental illness. No documented history anyway. I can’t believe that her family, friends or doctor would never have seen anything that raised a red flag. Can a person really snap just like that? Bless her.

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