12 Oct 2020

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Changes to Medicare Mental Health Rebates

Last week the Federal government announced plans to extend the number of Medicare supported mental health sessions for all Australians. This was part of a response to the pandemic. It was a recognition that whether we are in lock-down or not,  the challenges of this year are impacting many people’s sense of wellbeing.

What do the changes mean?

For those of our clients who are accessing a GP Mental Health Care Plan, this now means that you can access up to 20 sessions a calendar year should you need them. Until now, we’ve always had a cap of 10 in a calendar year. 

What do I need to do?

Current client? You don’t need to anything if you are currently seeing one of the psychologists in the Centre. When you get near the end of the first 10 sessions, your psychologist will talk to you about your child’s progress and your options. You may need to go back to your GP for a re-referral to access the additional 10 Medicare rebates. Your psychologist will write a report with recommendations for your GP to support this.

Previous Client (wanting to return)? Please feel free to recontact the Centre if you were a previous client and had to stop because you used all 10 sessions this year.  You will need to see your GP to obtain a re-referral prior to seeing your child’s psychologist again. Your GP should already have a report from your psychologist from your last contact.

New client to the Centre? Then it’s business as usual if you want to use mental health care rebates. GPs usually prefer you to book in for a long appointment with them to allow time to discuss your child’s wellbeing. From this, they can make an assessment and referral for you as needed. With new referrals (and curent ones), your GP will want you to see them after the sixth and 10th session (if you need more sessions) for a review.

The announcement of the additional Medicare Mental Health rebates was really welcomed news from the government last week.  I note that the decision is going to be reviewed in June 2022. However, in the meantime this lets us all get on with the task of caring and supporting our children. 

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

18 Sep 2020

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What is Applied Behaviour Analysis or ABA?

Applied Behaviour Analysis (or ABA) is an intensive intervention used with children with developmental disabilities. It’s not as well known as other forms of intervention (e.g. speech pathology and occupational therapy)  but is no less effective.

What is ABA?

ABA is built on the principles of learning and understanding the function of behaviour. As an example, young children may temper tantrum for a range of reasons. This may be because they can’t tell you what they want, they are tired, they won’t accept your “no” or they really, really want the toy/object/treat.

Once we understand why behaviour is occurring,  we can change it. Sometimes this will be through building new skills or teaching alternatives ways to get needs met.  Sometimes this might be through teaching tolerance to that word “no” (one possible outcome of the example above). 

ABA is Person-Centred

A large component of an ABA approach is taking data. It’s because of this that people sometimes feel that ABA might be impersonal, or out of touch with our loved ones.

At the Child Wellbeing Centre, we see ABA as an individualised child-centred intervention. Goals are negotiated with parents (children too where possible) based on the principles of improving quality of life and day to day function. We want our clients to develop skills in communication, learning, socialising and behaviour. Working with a range of clients, there is nothing more watching children develop and learn. 

An ABA program should include people who are significant to the client e.g. parents and carers. ABA programs for older children will often involve teachers and have input from other therapists too.

Please feel free to contact the Centre for more information about our ABA therapy services (ABACAS) on 9274 7062. We’re very happy to have a chat about how ABA services might work for your child.

A resilient family is also a strong one 13 Aug 2020

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Psychologists

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Resilience in Children

2020 is the year that is testing our collective and individual Resilience. As we watch tragic events around the country and world, it’s hard not to feel worry or sadness, and in some instances anger. This is proving to be a very tough year on us all, including our children.

What do we mean by resilience?

Resilience is our ability to cope well with the ups and downs of life. A bit like a rubber band, how well do we spring back after we’ve been stretched by a challenge. Depending on the type and number of challenges we face, our resilience might be quite low, and we don’t’ spring back easily. Low Resilience can result in feeling anxious about the next challenge, feeling down about ourselves, and perhaps not managing the next challenge as well as we would like to. When challenges pile up, like they have been doing this year, our resilience suffers and we might begin to feel overwhelmed.

There are different ideas about how resilience develops. The most common theory is that it is a mixture of personality factors, our environment (e.g. home and school), and our perceived level of support.  As a parent, now is a good time to check in with our children and gauge our children’s resilience.

How can we improve our child’s resilience?

Here are some areas to consider…

Relationships

Mental health research consistently points out that children who feel supported and have strong relationships with their parents are better able to cope. Now is the time for open discussions that provide reassurance and demonstrate care. Simply having a strong positive relationship with your child, all by itself, helps them.

Responsibility

We all need to feel that we are capable and confident. It’s also how we learn to problem solve and cope with failure. Experiences of success at home and school, coupled with your recognition and praise, can really help to improve confidence and resilience. Giving your children challenges, helping them to succeed and acknowledging their success, goes a long way in supporting their resilience, emotional well-being and sense of stability. At the same time, undue or harsh criticism can erode this too.

Self-regulation

Managing strong feelings well is a sign of healthy resilience. However, many children don’t manage strong feelings easily or naturally.  You can help by showing how you cope positively with challenge and teach your own calming strategies to your child. There are so many resources online about different ways that we can teach our children these skills.

Interested in knowing a bit more about resilience? We’ve included a link to another article that you might find helpful: https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-tips-for-raising-resilient-kids/

If you feel as though your child’s resilience or capacity to cope at the moment is low, and you need some assistance in supporting them, our experienced psychologists are ready to share their expertise.  Please call our Reception on 9274 7062 for further information.

Naomi Ward, Director and Sharon Jones, Principal Psychologist

30 May 2020

BY: admin

Psychologists

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Fantastic Friends and Best Buddies, Social Skills Programs – Term Three

With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions this week, we are now looking forward to running our group-based social skills programs in Term Three.

Sessions are run by two facilitators. They work hard to make sessions fun and motivating while teaching the important skills needed to make and keep friends.

In each group the team employs a four-part training approach using modelling, role-playing, performance feedback, and generalisation to teach essential pro-social skills to children.  Programs are tailored to meet the needs of the children participating in groups.

Toni Schmitz, Provisional Psychologist will be coordinating Term Three’s program. We are planning to run three sessions after school.

Best Buddies

Our “Best Buddies” program will help to build confidence in your child for making and keeping friends. We will be using modelling, and role-playing to practice new skills and refine existing skills.

Who is suited:  Children aged 6-7 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.
Where:                Child Wellbeing Centre – Brockman Office,  5 Brockman Rd , Midland.
When:                  Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons 4.00pm – 5.30pm during Term Three.

Fantastic Friends

The “Fantastic Friends” social skills program aims to build and develop more complex social skills. In this cohort, we will focus on a range of skills including starting and maintaining conversations, how to introduce yourself and others, asking questions, and apologizing.

Who is suited:  Children aged 8-11 years of age who need help with making or keeping friends.
Where:                 Child Wellbeing Centre – Brockman Office,  5 Brockman Rd , Midland.
When:                  Thursday afternoons 4.00pm – 5.30pm during Term Three

How to register interest?

Please call Reception on 9274 7062 for more information and to register your interest.  Toni will then be in touch to schedule an initial appointment with you to find out more about your child and their needs.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

Kids Connect is all about connecting kids to service providers 25 May 2020

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Kid Connect – Support Services for NDIS Clients

Kid Connect is a new program available through the Child Wellbeing Centre for parents and carers of NDIS funded children. We are now able to offer NDIS support coordination and plan management services. Kid Connect was started to provide a child (and adolescent) focused service, drawing on our local knowledge of service providers. We want to help connect children (and families) with the services they need.

What’s support coordination and plan management?

Support Coordination is a service funded by the NDIS to help families work with someone to find the various supports that their child needs. Typically, this is where you may need help to find a service provider for your child in your local area.  Our support coordinators see their role as providing independent advice and helping you identify the most appropriate supports for your child. Support coordinators can also help you prepare for plan reviews and can help iron out any conflicts with service providers along the way.

Plan management is where service providers send their invoices into Kid Connect and we pay them. Plan managers keep track of funds for you and send out monthly reports. That way you know what funding you have and can make informed decisions. Kid Connect will pay invoices for service providers weekly so that you have happy therapists and no interruptions to service delivery.

Do I have to choose Kid Connect if the Child Wellbeing Centre is one of my child’s service providers?

Absolutely not! We will very happily work with other support coordination and plan management agencies. In many ways, it’s business as usual for our therapists.

Kid Connect support coordinators work independently of the therapy team. Client information will not be shared between teams unless there is informed consent. Neither team can access each other’s records. We treat your child’s information with confidentiality.

Can I just access Kid Connect services?

Yes. There is no obligation to access any other services from the Child Wellbeing Centre.  Our support coordinators will want to help you identify the best supports for your child. The Child Wellbeing Centre, in many instances, may not be the most appropriate service. Our support coordinators will help you find what work’s best for you and your child.

How do I find out more about Kid Connect?

The easiest thing is to have a look at our website or call Miika for more information on 0421 012 956. Our Kid Connect office is located in at Brockman Road. Please feel free to make an appointment with Miika. Videoconferencing is also an option if you are unable to attend meetings in person.

http://www.kidconnect.com.au/

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

15 May 2020

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How Can Occupational Therapy Help Children?

There are a number of reasons a child may come to see a paediatric (child) occupational therapist.  The best-known reason is to help with printing and hand-writing. Occupational therapists can do so much more though!

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapy is about increasing various aspects of a child’s independence and competency. This can include things like working on fine motor skills (think cutting, drawing etc). It can also include aspects of self-care, organisation, mobility and self-regulation (think managing sensory needs and calming down). For children, it’s about having the skills to do well at home and school.

Sometimes therapy will include working directly with the child to increase their skills. It can also look more like parent or teacher consultancy. At the end of the day, the occupational therapist will work with the child, parent and school to improve core skills – whoever can help!

How can Occupational Therapy help my child?

Occupational therapists usually start with an assessment to be clear about the child’s needs. This can come in many forms. In the first instance, the assessment may focus on development such as aspects of fine motor and handwriting,  gross motor and visual perception skills. The occupational therapist will be able to give you feedback on how your child is developing compared to peers and recommendations on how to address any concerns.

Functional assessments (such as those asked for by the NDIS) are where the occupational therapist looks at all aspects of a child’s independence. The goal here is to identify strengths and weaknesses and to make recommendations about the next steps. This kind of assessment can be helpful for prioritising goals and identifying needs. Typically this will be a much more comprehensive assessment.

Following on from assessments comes individual therapy. This is tailored to match the therapy goals you as a parent and the occupational therapist decide upon. Therapy is usually one on one and designed to be engaging for the child. There will usually be some homework tasks too as we aim to keep the good work up outside of sessions.

Occupational therapy at the CWBC

At the Child Wellbeing Centre our Occupational Therapists work with young children, primary and secondary students.

We’ve recently been joined by Jeannie Loi, Occupational Therapist who will be working from our Brockman Road office on Thursdays and Fridays. Jeannie has a background in working with children with disabilities on a range of issues (and she is very nice too!).

Please feel free to contact our Reception for more information about our services on 9274 7062.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

 

 

A parent experiencing momentary stress 06 May 2020

BY: admin

Psychologists

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Parental Anxiety and Stress Clinic (PASC)

Experiencing stress and anxiety at various times as a parent will be familiar. All parents know that our role has its highs and lows. Whether our children are at school or home with us self-isolating, they are in our care and thoughts 24/7. It doesn’t take a pandemic for parents to feel anxiety and stress around the job of parenting. Life can throw us many curveballs along the way. First, though, let’s have a look at what we mean by parental stress and anxiety.

What is parental stress?

Parental stress is the sense of being overwhelmed, which occurs when the demands of parenting overtake our capacity to manage it all. We all have moments when we want to pull our hair out as we are driven crazy by the competing demands for our time.

Over the longer term, this consistent stress becomes a concern when it impacts negatively on our relationships with our children and reduces our capacity to support them. We may become irritable and grumpy and overly negative. Our relationships with partners may suffer as well. This situation feels awful, and we may judge ourselves badly. Worse still, our children will start to see and possibly copy our very poor coping strategies.

What is parental anxiety?

Parental anxiety is defined as excessive worrying about the current wellbeing and/or future needs of our child. Common to parents of children with a disability, it may also develop with families where a child presents with complex or challenging needs.

While all parents have moments of worry for their children, parental anxiety is a pattern of worry that is long-standing and of such an extent that it impacts on the daily functioning of the parent and/or child.

Parental anxiety can start to look like paralysis, where decisions become difficult if not avoided altogether. Parents find themselves trying to minimize any risks for their children, which is where the term helicopter parenting comes from. And again, poor coping strategies are being modelled. Additionally, the child picks up on the parent’s anxiety and may take this on themselves too.

What can you do about parental stress and anxiety?

The first step starts with recognizing that things are getting out of control and seeking help. At our Centre, we are currently seeing a spike in parental stress and anxiety. Hence, we are now opening our Parental Stress and Anxiety Clinic (PASC) to parents of children who are not currently accessing Child Wellbeing Centre services.

In PASC, we match you with a psychologist who can help you get on top of any stress and anxiety. Typically, this is about learning new ways of managing thoughts and feelings.  We also include opportunities to learn helpful parenting strategies and relaxation techniques. Sessions are currently available face to face or via online Telehealth sessions. All you need to do is let us know what will work best for you and we will make it happen.

Please contact our Reception on 9274 7062 for more information about our services and let them know that you are interested in PASC. We’re here to help!

07 Apr 2020

BY: admin

ABACAS Team

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Telehealth ABA Services – Why, What and How?

With the effect of COVID-19 and families adapting to social distancing rules, we have seen an increase in requests for telehealth ABA sessions. Telehealth involves working with a case manager or an experienced therapist through video conferencing. We don’t have to be in the same room as you!

Our telehealth services can be divided into two different pathways: parent training and/or child therapy.

What does parent training ABA Telehealth Services involve?

For parent training, we teach the skills to help parents effectively manage children at home. This may include: dealing with problem behaviours, shaping of verbal behaviour, skills generalisation, etc. For these sessions, it is highly encouraged for all key adults to be involved as we are aiming for consistency across all settings.

And Direct Telehealth ABA Services?

Direct child ABA therapy isn’t for everyone. As a minimum, children must be able to do the following:

  • Look at the screen whenever his/her name is called via video.
  • Identify items on the screen receptively and expressively (e.g. ‘what colour is this?’ or ‘touch jumping’).
  • Generalise mastered skills via video (e.g. responding to one-step instructions, imitation, requesting for desired items, etc.).
  • Attend to a screen without engaging in problem behaviour (e.g. elopement, aggression to others or properties, escape behaviour – wanting to watch YouTube videos instead of doing work, etc.).
  • Respond to social praise or tokens delivered via video.

Therapy sessions will also need an adult available to participate in sessions. This way we can help shape and generalise behaviours in the home setting.

What if I’m not sure whether ABA Telehealth Services are for me?

Therapy doesn’t have to stop because of COVID-19. Please do not hesitate to contact your case managers today to talk through your options. We will try hard to come up with a program of support to keep your child learning.

Rachel Puan

Case Manager, ABACAS

05 Apr 2020

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Psychologists

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Telehealth Bulk Bill Psychology Services for Children and Adolescents

Did you know that up until the 30 September this year children under 16 years of age may be eligible for Bulk Billed Telehealth services with psychologists?  Social distancing doesn’t mean therapy has to stop.

Who is eligible for Telehealth Bulk Billed Services?

To be eligible for bulk bill rates, your child  must have a current referral from a GP, child psychiatrist or  paediatrician (as required) under one of the following programs:

  • Mental Health Care Plan
  • Helping Children with Autism (therapy items)
  • Chronic Disease Management or
  • Eating Disorders Services

What does Telehealth involve?

Telehealth is where the psychologist provides therapy via the telephone or via the internet (videoconferencing). Aside from a quiet place in the house for you and your child to talk to the psychologist, you will need a device such as a phone, tablet or laptop. The bigger the screen the better.

Videoconferencing is more than just video. When our psychologists work with children and families, they have access to virtual whiteboards, can share documents and even play games online with children. We are starting to use a platform called Coviu which gives us lots of different ways to engage children.

Reception has put together a checklist to help you prepare for your first video-conference.

What if Telehealth isn’t for me?

We want to make Telehealth works for our clients so this means we can vary the frequency and length of sessions. For example, some of our families find 30 minute sessions easier to manage. Particularly when there is a house full of other children in the background!

Our psychologists are still seeing some clients face to face in our Centre. We are an allied health service and plan to continue providing supports this way for as long as we can. Therefore it’s possible to mix things up with some Telehealth and some face to face sessions. Where our staff have to self-isolate then Telehealth is still an option open to you to explore.

It’s important to let your psychologist know if there are any concerns about Telehealth as they may be able to do things differently.

Need more information?

Our staff are embracing Telehealth and exploring all the ways we can make it work for children. We’re recognising that with the pandemic that it may be some time before things return to “normal” and we want to make sure that all of our clients can access the help and support they need.

Please call our Reception for further information about our services on 9274 7062.

Naomi Ward

Clinical Director

30 Mar 2020

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Managing Strong Feelings

Managing strong feelings at the best of times can be challenging. Our children take their lead from us. When we are chaotic, so are they. When we are in the grip of strong feelings such as anger and sadness, they watch and learn (whether this is positive or negative) how to react and behave. When we are calm and rational, they are more likely to model this too, and if not, at least we are in a better place to help them with their strong feelings.

We want to be able to coach them through these strong feelings and teach them how to manage them well. However, that means we ourselves need to have a sense of how to do this so that we can help our children find calm. Sometimes, even if we do know what to say and do, our own strong reactions to them can interfere with a rational and helpful response.

What to do with strong feelings first?

Here are some tips to initial responses you can try:

    • Allow them to express themselves (without hurting anyone), for a minute or two. This might be verbal or non-verbal expression;
    • Reflect back to them what you think they might be feeling …“you seem pretty angry”, “do you feel frustrated?”, “are you sad?”.  Often merely acknowledging their feelings will help diminish their intensity. When children feel seen and heard, they tend to calm naturally;
    • However, when their feelings are very big and strong, we may need to let them express it further, but help them to do this more appropriately. For example “do you need to stomp out your anger?” (and stomp with them), “why don’t you hit this cushion with all of your anger?” (and stay close by), “it’s ok to scream loudly, but do it into the air or a pillow…not my face”.

How to help children calm down

Any break in this expression of feeling is the time to jump in with calming strategies:

    • encourage little ones to breathe, and in particular to blow out a big breath, just like blowing out lots of candles;
    • explain to pre-teens and teens that we need to expel the build-up of carbon dioxide that makes us feel sick and dizzy;
    • encourage them to move around, to shift the adrenalin that has built up;
    • connect with little ones again, by holding their hands and looking into their eyes, affirming to them that they are safe and not in trouble for having big strong feelings. If there was a trigger event of a conflict, address this afterwards, but not right now. Wait about 10 minutes before talking about it when you are both calm;
    • connect with teens by a touch, a text, or gesture of making them something to eat or drink. Give them the option of talking to you, if not straight away, then perhaps in the car on your next trip. If conflict needs to be addressed, deliver the pre-agreed upon consequence without negotiation or emotion.

What if strong feelings are becoming a problem?

If you are unsure, our experienced psychologists can be your coach. They will then be able to show you how to model becoming calm for your children to see and encourage how to teach your children with similar strategies.

We all know that parenting is not an easy journey and that many of us experience stress and anxiety or even guilt at times. If this is the case, and you are overwhelmed with your own strong feelings, we have a clinic at the CWBC designed specifically to address parenting stress and anxiety.

During these challenging times, the Centre remains open and can offer in-person sessions or online meetings.

Please contact Reception for further information.

Sharon Jones

Principal Psychologist

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