Psychotherapists and counsellors say tight new rules for claiming ACC subsidies for sexual abuse counselling have become "a rapists' charter".

The national associations of psychotherapists, counsellors and social workers have released anonymous details of 54 cases showing longer delays and more rejections since the new rules took effect on October 27.

"ACC's own statistics show a serious reduction in approved claims," they said in a joint statement.

"This must please the rapists and paedophiles.

"They believe that what they do doesn't cause any harm - the new ACC pathway is a rapists' charter."

The new rules provide subsidised counselling only for sexual abuse victims with a diagnosed mental condition caused by the abuse, and generally only for up to 16 weeks before a further review.

Most counsellors and psychotherapists do not have specific training to make psychiatric diagnoses, so they have had to refer cases to psychologists or wait for ACC to get its own psychologists to assess clients.

Auckland's two main specialist agencies, Auckland Sexual Abuse Help and South Auckland's Counselling Services Centre, both said yesterday that they had still not had a single new ACC claim approved since October 27.

Counselling Services Centre manager Emma Castle said several other cases, which would have been accepted under the previous policy, had been declined.

"It's horrendous for our clients," she said. "For us as an agency it's just awful."

In one recent "acute" case, ACC told a woman to get support from her general practitioner and community mental health services.

"She doesn't have a mental health condition. She's been raped," Ms Castle said.

"What will her GP do? He will refer her to us. This was someone raped horrifically over a three-hour period who ACC has not decided if she needs counselling. We are seeing her. We are carrying the cost."

The national associations listed five cases in which ACC refused to subsidise counselling on the grounds that clients' mental conditions were caused by the "dysfunctional families" in which they grew up, and not specifically by the sexual abuse that they suffered.

One therapist reported three children's claims from three separate families declined on the basis that they had been taken into foster care, showing that their original families caused their problems, not the sexual abuse.

In another case, ACC declined subsidised counselling for a 12-year-old girl on the basis that she had "consensual sex" with an 18-year-old man who, the girl's therapist said, "used shows of violence (e.g. punching walls) to intimidate her into providing sex".

A woman now in her 40s, who was raped at age 16 when she was a patient in a mental hospital, was refused the subsidy "because there was an overlap of symptoms" with the original mental condition for which she was hospitalised.

Takanini family therapist Sue Ushaw, who supervises several other South Auckland therapists, said clients were being retraumatised by the amount of information ACC now required at the first counselling session to make a subsidy claim.

The last official figures show that approved claims for sexual abuse counselling declined even before the new rules formally took effect, from 246 in August and 224 in September to 135 in October.

But ACC operations director Graham Bashford said the number of people seeking ACC help had not fallen drastically.

"If there should be a drop, it might be argued that it is a consequence of ACC adhering more closely to its legislation," he said.

"Some might also suggest that the scaremongering being undertaken by certain lobby groups has also put off some clients from seeking ACC help. Today's description of the new process as a 'rapists' charter' is one such example."

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Five people whose symptoms were put down to their "dysfunctional families".

Girl, 12, intimidated into sex with man, 18.

Woman abused in mental hospital, whose symptoms may have been caused by her original mental condition.