Psychotherapy Special Interest Group


Welcome to the ACMHN Psychotherapy Special Interest Group (PsySIG) which is focused on expanding psychotherapy offerings for MHNs. Mental Health nurses have been pioneers, among the first professions in Australia to practice psychotherapy. This year the PsySIG invites you to become pioneers again and engage more passionately in this almost forgotten part of our role. To support this, the PsySIG is offering monthly Zoom psychotherapy webinars, clinical supervision in psychotherapy practice, networking and PsySIG member forums, support with starting private practice, and a new introductory psychotherapy training programs next year. 


To set standards and enhance opportunities that support nurses’ knowledge, practice, and recognition as psychotherapists within the ACMHN and as public or private practitioners within Australia.

Video: Mental health nursing in private practice

How can you set up a private practice if you’re a mental health nurse? And how do you attract clients? In this conversation Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (ACMHN) member Rhonda Brown and Psychotherapy Special Interest Group Chair Claire Hudson-McAuley discuss why and how Rhonda took a leap of faith and started her private practice

Meet the Chair

Claire Hudson-McAuley is a general and mental health nurse, gestalt and somatic psychotherapist, AOD counsellor,  group facilitator, couples & family therapist. She works in private practice as a psychotherapist specializing in complex trauma and dissociation, offers individual and group supervision in trauma informed practice and is listed on the Blue Knot Foundation's referral database.

What is a nurse psychotherapist?

Nurse psychotherapists are ACMHN Credentialed Mental Health Nurses or nurse practitioners who have graduate qualifications and/or substantial psychotherapeutic experience and training that equips them as psychotherapists. The common elements are theoretical learning, regular supervised clinical practice in psychotherapy, and the undertaking of personal psychotherapy, all integral parts of the process of becoming a psychotherapist. Nurse psychotherapists also adhere to the seven principles below to guide practice.

Nurse psychotherapists are prepared to work with those presenting with complex mental illness diagnoses, very often combined with distressing physiological, pharmaceutical, psychological, social, and family complexities. Due to the diverse and at times challenging formative experiences that mental health nursing provides its practitioners, nurse psychotherapists meet these challenges with perception, agility and abundant hope. This enables us to work with those whose hope for recovery has been exhausted by experiences of complex trauma and failed treatment attempts, as well as those with a range of less severe presentations.

Nurse psychotherapists are driven by a passion to help reduce the suffering of those experiencing mental illness, to humanise care, to treat people with dignity, to promote hope in recovery, to deliver focused psychological treatments, to advocate for social justice and to contribute to social and personal transformation and empowerment.

What is psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a broad term including many ways of working with people holistically via talk, somatic interventions, movement, art, music, nature, neurofeedback, EMDR and more. The aim of psychotherapy is not just to reduce or eliminate symptoms, but to offer hope, repair attachment difficulties, empower the people we work with and help them to make adjustments over the lifespan, or work through troubling or stuck issues. Recovery and strength-oriented psychotherapy spans the simplest to the most complex situations and understands the therapeutic relationship to be essential.

Psychotherapy has always been a vital part of the MH nursing role. Nurse psychotherapists are motivated to self-reflect, to commit to ongoing learning and clinical supervision, and attend to their own healing through personal psychotherapy to help reduce the distress of those experiencing mental, physical, emotional, and relational suffering. 

Resources & information

Principles of psychotherapy

Read more about the seven key principles that guide nurse psychotherapist practice. 

Private practice and careers

Many members are interested in starting or developing their own private practice. We will be presenting a masterclass in different ways to develop a private practice at the ACMHN Conference in November 2021. Once you have registered for the Conference, please contact the College to book your place. The event will be recorded and available to members after the Conference. 

We are also interested in supporting the development of psychotherapy skills and careers of people who are interested in psychotherapy but want to work within the system as an employee. Next year we will be offering new 'taster' introductory trainings ranging from motivational interviewing to inner family systems work.

PsySIG events

The PsySIG is offering monthly Zoom psychotherapy webinars, clinical supervision in psychotherapy practice, networking and PsySIG member forums. 

Join the SIG

If you would like to join the ACMHN Psychotherapy SIG, please log in through the membership portal first. Membership is open to all nurses who are practicing in or simply curious about psychotherapy. The SIG has an active working party, and also issue a psychotherapy newsletter quarterly. 

Join the SIG

Please email to join. Membership is open to all nurses who are practicing in or simply curious about psychotherapy. The PsySIG has an active working party, monthly Zoom webinars, offer clinical supervision in psychotherapy for groups and individuals, PsySIG member forums, and issue a psychotherapy newsletter quarterly.