Frequently Asked Questions

About Appointments...

+ Where are the clinics?

There are two locations for counselling.

  • Suite 3/16 Bartley Crescent, Wayville.
  • Shop 14, The Hub Shopping Centre, Aberfoyle Park.

Our rooms are designed for children and young people, are not used for any other purpose and are set up to help our clients feel comfortable, have fun and enjoy working with us. All of our resources are available in our rooms, and our rooms are not used by any other professionals.

Our clinics are equipped with resources, activities, games and books for teens and children.

+ Information about Confidentiality

Information disclosed to a psychologist is confidential. This means the psychologist will not reveal, to any other person, any information about the client, or reveal that the client was seeking psychological assistance, unless they have the permission of the client to do so.

There are a few exceptions to this general rule. First, if failure to disclose information may result in clear danger to the client or to another person, the psychologist may disclose minimal information necessary to avert risk. Second, if the psychologist believes a child or teenager may be or have been subject to physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect, psychologists must by law report this to appropriate authorities. Psychologists and other professionals must also now report unregistered firearms.

When working with an adolescent the same limits of confidentiality apply. In other words, unless the adolescent or another person is at risk, information disclosed by the adolescent will not be revealed to any other party, including parents and guardians, without the express permission of the adolescent. However, in most cases, all reasonable efforts will be made to obtain the agreement of the adolescent to involve and discuss information with parents and/or guardians on an ongoing basis.

+ Do you you conduct assessments, or write reports or letters for third parties?

Unfortunately not

We do not conduct formal learning or educational assessments (sometimes these are called intellectual or cognitive assessments). This means we do not diagnose (or provide written reports about) dyslexia, learning disorders or giftedness - or other conditions / disorders related to learning.

For a learning/educational/cognitive assessment options click here.

In addition, we do not do family or "custody" assessments to make recommendations about living arrangements for children.

We also do not provide diagnostic or formal reports or letters for court purposes or other third parties (eg insurance companies, Centrelink etc). We spend our day working directly with families one on one, and given our generally long waiting lists, we don't have the capacity to additionally write reports which would then increase waiting lists further. We also find that providing reports and letters has the potential to interfere with our ability to provide therapy services to young people.

However, we do assess children and teens to identify their challenges and strengths within an emotional and learning context and help them capitalise on these strengths and work around their challenges. This assessment happens at the first session (using interview assessment as well as questionnaires for parent/carer and child/teen) as well as in an ongoing way.

+ What is the training and experience of your team of psychologists?

All of our psychologist have completed a four-year bachelor or bachelor/honours degree followed by a two year Masters in Clinical Psychology Postgraduate Degree during which they completed intensive supervised practice. Some of our psychologists also have a Doctorate degree through completing additional independent research in psychology during their training.

All of our psychologists are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and have a wide variety of experience working with children, teenagers, their families and support networks. As registered psychologists we have all met the high ethical and professional standards required by the Psychology Board of Australia and engage in initial and annual updates of education, training and professional development in the field of psychology.

As well as being fully Registered Psychologists, most of our team are also fully endorsed Clinical Psychologists. This means they have completed their "clinical endorsement process" - this is 2 years of additional training and supervised practice in the area of Clinical Psychology (the area of psychology focussed on research based treatment of mental health problems).

All of our psychologists who are Registered Psychologists but not Clinical psychologists, are currently in the process of completing their clinical endorsement training and will soon be Clinical Psychologists. It should be noted that registered psychologists can choose to complete this clinical endorsement process at any stage in their career - some do it soon after finishing their university training, and others choose to work for many years as a registered psychologist first. It should also be noted that some of our Registered Psychologists are actually more experienced in working in the field of child psychology than some of our clinical psychologists.

As you can see, we are very proud of the fact that all of our psychologists are highly skilled, experienced psychologists with a passion for working with children, teens and families.

If you have any questions about the training or experience of any of our psychologists, please don't hesitate to ask.

+ I'm an adult - Who do you suggest I see for my own counselling?

Unfortunately we do only see children at Developing Minds, to visit our page regarding referral options for adults please click here.

+ How long do counselling appointments take?

The session last for about 50 minutes (not the full hour). The last ten minute of the hour we spend time reviewing our notes/organising payment and further sessions. If possible, please arrive ten minutes early for your first appointment in order to fill in a brief form. We then ask people to arrive a few minutes early for each appointment after that. We run appointments strictly to time wherever possible.

+ When are appointments offered? Can we be seen after school/outside work hours?

Our psychologists offer appointments at different times during the week. We understand it is not always possible to get time off work or study to come to appointments and therefore all of our psychologists offer one after hours session (3 appointments) each week. Keep in mind that these are very popular and so normally you will need to book ahead for these appointments so we suggest you try to have your first session or two during the day, and then book a few after school sessions after that.

+ Waiting Periods and Appointment Times

Unfortunately our waiting times do vary considerably. Occasionally we have an appointment available quickly due to a cancellation or an unusually free week, but generally there is at least a two week wait for an initial appointment, and sometimes up to twelve weeks.

Once you have had your first appointment, you will be seen them weekly or fortnightly for as long as needed, so it is only the initial wait that may take additional time.

We do have a waiting list which we can use to take people's names in case we have cancellations and can fit you in sooner.

If you feel as though you might hurt yourself or someone else (or are concerned that someone else might do that) then you should go to your local hospital emergency room for help. You can also call us and we can provide some organisations which provide crisis services.

A note about after school hours appointments. Many families prefer after school hours appointments due to not wanting children or teens to miss school or due to their own work commitments. Unlike many services, all of our clinicians offer a minimum of three after school hours appointments each week. Unfortunately they are usually the most popular and booked up very quickly. Therefore, given the need to have regular therapy and our inability to guarantee after school hours appointments every time, if you cannot attend any appointments within school time at all, then our service might not suit you.

+ I've been to Developing Minds before - can I come back?

Of course. We would be very happy to see and support you again. Please keep in mind that although we have a waiting period for first appointments, we work hard to have the capacity to provide regular appointments as frequently as needed once families start attending our service (ie once they become a current client). In order to be able to do this for our current clients, we have a policy that if you/your child attend our service, and then have not had a sessions for 12 months or more (ie after finishing treatment), you will no longer be a "current client". This means you will need to be offered a 'new client' appointment, which may be associated with a waiting period. We will ask that you return to see your GP for an updated referral (if your are returning under Better Access Funding -Medicare). Thanks for your understanding about this matter, and feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

+ How much does it cost to see a psychologist at Developing Minds?

From the 1st May 2018 the full charge for our 50 minute sessions is $215.50 per session, or $166.50 for the concession rate. Clients are eligible to access “concession” rates/concession services only when the adult responsible for the account (usually a parent/guardian) has EITHER a) a current Pension Concession Card or b) Health Care Card in their name (not their child’s name).

If you have a Mental Health Care Plan (a referral from your GP), Medicare will currently pay $124.50, leaving a gap of $91 or $42 (if you are eligable for a concession rate). We accept cheque, cash or VISA/ Mastercard/ EFTPOS payments.

For more details about Medicare and private health rebates read on below.

Medicare Rebates for Psychology Fees (Mental Health Care Plans)

If you are referred by your GP (or psychiatrist or paediatrician) then Medicare will cover $124.50 of our fee, meaning there will be a gap of $91 for the client to pay (unless the client is eligable for a concession rate, in which case the gap is $42). This gap cannot be claimed on private health cover. This rebate is available for 10 sessions within a calendar year.

For Medicare to pay for these 10 sessions, your GP will have to determine whether you are eligible and write what is called a "Mental Health Care Plan" which is dated before your first session.

We require clients to pay "upfront". However we have a "Mediclear" system whereby we will immediately reimburse the Medicare rebate into the clients savings or cheque account on the spot. Alternatively, if the client prefers they can take their invoice to Medicare directly and be reimbursed in cash.

All of our psychologists are all registered as Medicare-approved Clinical Psychologists and offer the maximum gap for psychologists via Medicare. Please call our office if you have more questions about the Medicare process.

Other Federal Funding

We have a limited amount of funding (as well as Medicare) for families on a health care card who live in the central and southern areas of Adelaide, which allows children to be seen without a gap. Please speak to us about this.

Private Health Cover

If you do not wish to use Medicare rebates, or other funding, you might like to use private health cover to help cover the cost of the consultations. If applicable, please contact your own health fund for information about their rebates. As a rough guide, many health funds offer between $50-110 back from a psychological consultation.

+ Can I access gap free sessions?

Adelaide Primary Health Network have provided us with a limited amount of funding (from the Department of Health) for families on a health care card who live in the central and southern areas of Adelaide, which allows children (at risk of mental, emotional or behavioural health problems) to access 12 sessions of psychological services without a gap. Please speak to us about this if you think you might be eligible.

+ What is NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) Funding?

We are fully registered providers under NDIS and many of our psychologists have worked with hundreds of families over the last 20 years who have children or teens diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other disabilities. If you are self-funded under the scheme, you are able to simply make an appointment and pay privately using your funding. Unfortunately due to our client load at the moment we are no longer taking any new clients who are NDIS agency or plan managed.

Please note our advice from NDIS at this point is that you can not use Better Access funding and NDIS funding at the same time.

+ Skype Sessions

Developing Minds psychologists offer skype sessions in some situations.

Skype therapy is mostly offered in working with parents, rather than with children themselves, although this can be negotiated for older children and teenagers who are able to cope with the concentration requirements of a Skype call.

The costs for skype sessions are the same as for sessions held in the clinic (ie $215.50 for a 50 minute session or $166.50 for those on a health care card). It should be noted that at this stage, Skype therapy sessions are only covered by Medicare in certain situations, for more information about this please contact the clinic. Some private health funds will often offer a rebate for these sessions (you will need to call and check with your own fund).

Skype therapy is not suitable for clients who are actively suicidal or self-harming.

It is important to understand that if the therapist believes the client, or another person, is at risk or in danger during the Skype call, they will cease the call and contact emergency services.

In some circumstances, skype sessions can work very well for parents and teenagers who live in rural areas or who are unable to travel to our clinics.

We work in the same way during counselling sessions whether they are via skype or in the office.

+ I'm a GP - what information do I need to help refer my patients?

  • Our 17 psychologists all specialise in working with children and teens.
  • We have two clinics - one at Aberfoyle Park and one at Wayville.
  • We accept referrals for for 3 to 18 year olds
  • Sessions are 50 mins long. For patients referred under a MHCP, we charge a lower gap for clients with a health care card (ie low income earners) or higher for those without.
  • For families who meet criteria for funding under ATAPS, there is no gap. Current the eligibility for ATAPS is: Low income earner, children aged 12 years or less, living south of Cross Road.
  • We normally ask patients to call the clinic directly on 8357 1711 for an appointment. If you would like us to call the patient ourselves, it would be most appreciated if you would indicate this at the time of referral.
  • Our waiting lists vary greatly depending on the month. Sometimes there is only a 1-2 week wait for appointments, but more usually wait times are 4-6 weeks.
  • We offer several after school hours appointments (some appointments are as late as 7.45pm) but these appointments are usually booked well in advance.
  • One of our psychologists is a registered psychologist undertaking Clinical Psychology Registrar training, our other 11 psychologists are Clinical Psychologists and receive the Clinical Psychology medicare rebate.
  • Our psychologists are committed to working together with you to support patients. We will communicate with you after the first session and then after each set of sessions after that. We will also communicate with if there are any other pressing or urgent issues. You are most welcome to contact any of our psychologists directly via email.

About Therapy...

+ What do you specialise in?

We specialise in working with children and adolescents. We do not see adults (other than in relation to parenting) so that we can focus all of our attention and systems on working with the under 20 year old age group.

Often families would like to know what we "specialise in" - because working with young people is considered an area of speciality in itself - this is a difficult question to answer. To be honest, every one of us see children and teens who are struggling with a variety of issues, every week.

If you would like someone who knows about your child/teen's issues - read through this list below. It will give you an idea of the things we all frequently see on a weekly basis, and hopefully this will help you get an idea of whether we might be able to support your young person.

Anxiety is the most common difficulty we work with. This might be anxiety about friends, separation, relationships, family issues, getting sick, worrying about toileting or eating issues, school, exams, change, self, or anxiety itself. We see anxiety in the form of obsessions and compulsions, panic attacks, phobias, avoidance, behavioural problems or just worrying.

Depression and Sadness - we work with children and teens go through times when they cry a lot, don't want to do anything, "drop out of life" and question themselves and the world. Some of these might be feeling sad, having trouble sleeping, cutting themselves, thinking about their future or crying a lot.

Study and Organisational Skills - we frequently help young people who are struggling at school. We work with kids and teens having trouble organising themselves, remembering things, motivating themselves to do homework, coping with tests and exams and managing the distractions of phones and social media

Social Problems - we do lots of work with kids and teens struggling with friendships. SOme of these might be experiencing mild or severe forms of harassment and bullying at school or in the world of social media and need help to cope. Other children have difficult friendships and need help managing these. SOme need help with improving their social skills.

Disordered Eating - we work with teens in particular with disordered eating. We work with those who struggle with wanting to be thinner, being anxious about food or engaging in unhealthy eating behaviours (like starving themselves, excessive exercise or vomiting)

Frustration and Difficult (defiant) Behaviours - We frequently work with kids and teens who have problems managing frustration with siblings, parents or friends and get exceedingly angry when things don't go right. We work with children and teens having trouble following instructions, being responsible or listening to parents, and those with problems with lying or hitting/hurting others. For teenagers, this might also involve difficulties with alcohol and drug use.

Sleep problems - We help children and teens who have trouble getting to sleep, waking up a lot during the night, feeling sleepy and tired during the day and maintaining good sleep habits

Trauma, Grief and Loss - some children and teens we see have experienced traumatic events such as divorce/separation of parents, the death of a family member, abuse, sexual assault and other trauma.

Learning and Attention Problems - some children and teens we see struggle with "keeping up" at school, being able to pay attention, stay focussed, understand concepts and ideas at school. They often become discouraged and have little confidence in their abilities

Relationships and sexuality - teenagers we work with are sometimes struggling with relationship - breakups, sexual behaviour and sexuality in general. We often work with young people who are in the process of identifying thmselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Challenges with disabilities - many children and teens we work with have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD or another disability. We have worked with hundreds of families dealing with their child's disabilities and know the challenges this involves.

If you don't see your child/teen's problem listed above, please feel free to email me at [kirriliesmout@developingminds.net.au][mailto:kirriliesmout@developingminds.net.au] and I will direct you either to one of our psychologists who works in that area, or to another psychologist in South Australia who might do s

+ How do you work with children with challenging behaviour?

We frequently work with children who have challenging behaviour. Out of all the children who come and see us at Developing Minds, around a third of them would frequently have “challenging behaviour”.

What is challenging behaviour? It can include many different things, depending on the age of the child, but typically it might include children who - more than typically expected for their age:

Have trouble following instructions Have a tendency to be impulsive Find it hard to notice, make sense of or communicate feelings and needs Have trouble managing feelings of frustration and disappointment Find it difficult to maintain concentration or attention Find it hard to notice the needs of others Get extremely upset, angry and distressed easily (“meltdowns” - aggression, tantrums, hurting selves, demanding voice or "shutdowns" - crying, withdrawing, hiding, curling up on the floor) Find school or friend relationships difficult Very sensitive to or over-react to noises, sights and sensations Find it hard to motivate themselves to do things they aren’t interested in Find it difficult to deal with changes in routine Why do some children act in challenging ways more often than others? It’s important to remember that these are not “bad kids”. Challenging behaviour is NOT about being “lazy’ or “naughty”. We believe that if children have the skills, support and resources to act in positive, sociable, cooperative ways they generally will.

Instead, challenging behaviour is caused by a range of different factors. Kids with challenging behaviour have extra life challenges or difficulties with certain skills. They often need help learning to act in different ways and feeling more secure with others. They often don't understand important ideas. They sometimes are in environments or routines which accidentally encourage challenging behaviour.

This is not their fault, and this is not the fault of a parent.

How do we work with children with challenging behaviour? We know kids want to get along with others, to learn, grow and thrive. We know that kids need to feel safe.

We therefore work with children to help them identify how learning to act in more positive ways can get them what they really want and need more often. We help them know how to act in positive ways more often, why it matters and help them practise doing this.

We also work directly with the parents/guardians themselves. As well as having some sessions with the child, we will usually need to have both sessions with the child and parents in the room together AND sessions with the parents/guardians by themselves ("parent only sessions").

We will usually need to have a minimum of 3-5 sessions with parents – without the child present - to help coach parents in how to manage difficult behaviour in their child. Research shows that support, coach and help for a parent to know how to respond to their child's challenging behaviour themselves has much more positive long term effect than just a psychologist working with the child directly.

What do we do in parent only sessions? In parent only sessions, we cover a range of topics including: How to give instructions to kids with challenging behaviour, how to figure out the need of a child showing challenging behaviour, using effective praise with kids with challenging behaviour, connecting with and helping kids with challenging behaviour feel secure, understanding the causes of challenging behaviour – among many other topics. What work is done depends on the needs of your child.

During these sessions we will use examples of the particular kind of behaviour you have told us your child struggles with. We will ask you to complete a small homework assignment each week and also ask you to record examples of challenging behaviour at home.

Please note, that Medicare Better Access funding does not usually cover parent only sessions. This means these parent only sessions need to either be paid for with private health cover, or sometimes other funding schemes will cover them. Please ask for more information about payment options.

Finally - our central philosophy: This is what lies underneath our approach: compassion. We know how hard it is to live with and support a child with challenging behaviour. It’s tough for parents, and tough for children too. It takes a long time to change behaviour patterns (in both adults and kids!) and for some children this is an ongoing process. We want to support parents as they manage this.

+ Does my child/teen really need to see a psychologist?

This is a tough question to answer - and it's not always easy to know. But the following points might help you make your decision.

Do you need to be experiencing a very traumatic situation to see a psychologist? No. There is objective rules for what is a "tough" situation and what isn't. We do see children and teens who are going through situations which might be considered by some as only mildly difficult (e.g. feeling anxious about seeing friends, not feeling comfortable at school, not handing in assignments etc) as well as children and teens who are in situations considered to be extremely difficult (e.g. death of a person close to them, teens struggling with severe drug addiction, significant depression and so on).

Less important than what the situation might look like on the surface to others is this: how distressed is the child/teen OR how distressed is the parent?

If either a child/teen or a parent is very upset about what is going on - it is worth getting support.

Do you need to have mental health issues to see a psychologist? In many situations, seeing a psychologist is beneficial whether or not someone has a “mental health problem”.

Sometimes I compare counselling to tennis coaching. If you are not doing so well at tennis, then coaching helps. However, even the best tennis players get coaching. In the same way, counselling can be beneficial regardless of what a person’s mental and emotional health skills are like.

When SHOULDN'T you make ongoing appointments to see a psychologist?

If a child or teenager is really quite happy with life, and not showing many signs of distress – doesn’t have any important goals they think they need help achieving, and has seen a psychologist on a couple of occasions already, then it is usually not beneficial to bring the teenager/child to ongoing counselling sessions. A one off session can help determine whether this is the case.

I'm concerned but my child/teen isn't!

This is very common. If a parent is concerned and struggling with the child/teen, then instead we will often suggest the parent come in for sessions on their own – in order to help the parent know how to cope with and respond to the child/teen and feel more confident and peaceful about the situation at home.

We see parents on their own frequently for either one off or ongoing sessions.

One last important note: Finally, if you child/teen is showing signs of very high distress – for example daily crying, self harm, thoughts of suicide, dangerous or risky behaviour – or if you are very worried about them and can't work out why - then we would suggest you seek help immediately.

+ I THINK they need help...But my child or teen doesn't want to come...

If you are concerned or troubled by how your child/teen is coping or behaving for some reason, and they are not wanting to attend a session then please keep in mind that we are able to see parents on their own without the child/teen present. We frequently have sessions with parents in which we discuss what is happening at home, and support and advise parents in knowing what to do/how to cope/how to help their child or young person. Sometimes an hour with a psychologist talking through the issues can be enough for parents to know where to start.

We are sometimes able to also talk with parents about how they might bring up the idea of counselling with their young person or how to help them feel more comfortable coming along.

+ How to explain counselling to your child/teen

Here is some information especially for kids/teens who are coming to see us.

Welcome to Developing Minds :)

What do we do ?

We see children and teenagers of all ages for a whole range of different things. For example, we help children and teenagers through feeling sad, angry, stressed or perhaps feeling lots of worries about school, friends or family. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you if you’re feeling any of these things, lots of children, teenagers and even adults go through tough times. Everyone needs a little or sometime a lot of help at different times, like how your teachers helps you at school, or your coach helps you at sport or you mum, dad or grandparent help you at home, a psychologist can help you with the things your finding hard or tricky to deal with.

Why do I have to come and see a psychologist?

Sometimes kids and teens want to come and speak to someone about the difficult time they are having or about how they are feeling. Other times it might be someone else like your mum, dad, teacher or doctor that wants you to come and talk to a psychologist. It can be a big step to come and talk to someone for the first time and it can be even harder when you don’t really want to come, but learning a bit more about what it’s like to see a psychologist can make it a little bit easier.

What will happen when I see a psychologist ?

When you first see a psychologist they will ask you some questions to understand what’s happening in your life and then you and the psychologist can come up with plan of what areas will be most helpful to work on together. Sometimes it might mean learning new skills, solving problems together, learning new ways to deal with difficult situations and learning what helps and what doesn’t help when you don’t feel very good. Sometimes children and teenagers say it feels good just to talk to someone about what’s going on for them and how they are feeling.

Sometimes the psychologist will speak to you alone and sometimes they will speak to your parent or whoever has brought you to see the psychologist. The room you and the psychologist will talk in has lots of fun things to do so it’s not just talking. You might play games together, draw or make stuff and you can sit wherever you like, on the couch on a chair or on the floor! whatever ever you feel most comfortable doing.

Will the psychologist tell others about what we talk about ?

One of the really good things about seeing a psychologist is that what you talk about together is mostly just between you and the psychologist. There are some times when a psychologist must tell someone else about what you have talked about. This is if you or someone else are in danger of being hurt or harmed.

Sometimes your psychologist might think it would be helpful for others (like a parent or teacher) to know some of the things you have been working on together or how you have been feeling so that they can also help you, but your psychologist will ask you first if it’s okay to talk to someone else about these things.

If a doctor has suggested you come and see a psychologist then the psychologist will need to let your doctor know a bit about what you have been working on together and how things are going for you.

If you feel worried about any of these things please talk to your psychologist about your worries because it’s really important to them that you feel comfortable talking to them in private.

How long will I have to see a psychologist ?

Everyone is different, so children and teenagers see a psychologist for different amounts of time. Sometimes it’s just for a few sessions and other times it’s for much longer. It really depends on what you are working on together and how you are going. Your psychologist will talk to you and whoever brings you to sessions about how many session would be good to start of with and then after those sessions you will all decide if more sessions would be helpful.

+ What can you tell parents about what their child or teen says?

We are bound by ethical guidelines as laid down by the Australian Psychological Society, which says that we must keep the information given to us by a client, confidential almost all of the time. The exceptions to this confidentiality rule are if:

  • we hear about a person who is experience a significant level of risk
  • we hear about a child who is being abused or harm

Are children or teens treated in the same way?

Generally yes. As psychologists we need to make a judgement as to whether the child/teen is capable of giving what is called informed consent - this means that they understand treatment and how it works. If this is the case, then the child/teen is allowed the same rights to confidentiality as an adult This means that if they request that we do not tell their parents a piece of information, we must respect this decision UNLESS we believe someone is at significant level of risk or if we hear about a child who is being abused or harm.

However, we try very hard to work with families and will usually discuss with the child/teen what we can discuss with parents and guardians and how we can work together.

+ How do you balance working with parents/working with the child/teen?

Working Closely with Parents/Guardians As a group of psychologists who only see kids and teens, we are committed to working closely with the parents/guardians of those young people at all times wherever possible.

Why?

Because we know young people learn to cope with difficult times, develop life skills and manage emotions more effectively and more quickly when parents/guardians are involved in therapy.

Specifically, we work towards parents/guardians being able to:

Tell us in an ongoing way about their child/teen and how they are coping Know something about the therapy and work being done in sessions with the young person Receive support and ideas from us to know how to support and respond to their child/teen at home In order to best do these things, sometimes we will want to spend time with parents without the child/teen present. This is especially true for parents/guardians of younger children.

Unfortunately, for clients who are using Medicare "Better Access" funding, Medicare will not allow us see the parents without the child/teen present using the young person's Mental Health Care Plan. We have been lobbying government and Medicare directly to try to change this, but at this point in time these are the conditions Medicare have outlined.

This means when we do want to see parents on their own, we can only see parents alone without child/teen present for only 10 minutes out of our allocated hour with the client (because Medicare will pay us for a 50 minute session, and we have 60 minutes put aside).

HOWEVER, we cannot do this at every session, as we normally need that final 10 minutes of the hour to write notes and plan for the next session.

Therefore, in order to work effectively with the parent, we will sometimes ask parents to have a separate session with us that not using child/teen's Mental Health Care plan. In order to have these sessions, some parents obtain or use a Mental Health Care Plan of their own (if they are eligible - please note we only see parents who have been diagnosed with adjustment disorder related to parenting stress, we don't work with parents with other mental health conditions) or some elect to use private health cover or pay for sessions privately.

Please note that if we see parents separately from the child, we will also need to make sure the child (depending on their age) is able to give consent to this, and understands the risks and benefits of us seeing their mum or dad as well as them.

We will also sometimes ask parents to fill in questionnaires, and to email us information prior to sessions in order to involve the parent in therapy without using part of the child/teen's sessions, which as explained, is not allowed by Medicare.

Confidentiality and Building a Relationship with the Young person/child Although having parents/guardians involved in sessions is a very high priority for us, we also need to prioritise the rapport we have with the child/teen and the young person's rights to confidentiality.

This means:

Often we will choose to speak to children/teens first and for longer periods of time in sessions before bringing a parent in to session. We usually can't have long conversations with parents while a child/teen is waiting in the waiting room. It also means that if a child/teen asks us NOT to disclose information to parents, then we will honour this (unless of course a child/teen is at risk of harm). Balancing the Need for Confidentiality/Maintaining a Good Relationship with the Young Person AND involving parents/guardians in therapy As you can see, your psychologist will be balancing both your child/teen's need for confidentiality and the importance of involving parents/guardians in therapy. This is a delicate balance and fortunately our psychologists have been doing this for many years and are generally very good at it.

However there is no "one size fits all". Your psychologist will have a better idea about how they might structure the sessions after they have seen your child/teen for one or two sessions and will let you know their rough plan for the session.

Please feel free to ask at any point if you have any concerns and let us know how you think therapy is going.

+ How do you work with children/teens of separated parents?

Many children who come to see us have parents who live separately.

In general, we want to work and communicate with all the key people in a child's life wherever possible. Most of the time this leads to greater benefits and change for a child.

Therefore we have a policy which states that unless a court order specifically states otherwise, we will not withhold information about a child's appointments or treatment (except confidential information irrelevant to a child's treatment) from either parent if the treating clinician believes it is in the best interests of the child for the parent/s to be provided with this information.

Please note that this is a recent policy change. Previously, we required consent from the presenting parent to speak with the "non-presenting" parent. We have changed our policy following a change in how laws and ethical guidelines have been interpreted in Australia and as guided by the Australian Psychological Society.

Although we don't withhold information, it should also be noted however that given time constraints, we cannot generally give feedback about the work we are doing with children to non attending parent/caregivers at every appointment.

We need therefore to rely on the attending parent/caregivers to give feedback or information to the non-attending parent/caregiver.

We understand that unfortunately this is not always easy, particularly if there are communication difficulties between parents.

In this case, then we suggest that the non-attending parent either make a time to bring the child to an appointment themselves, or make a separate appointment for themselves on their own, without the child.

This appointment enables us to spend time explaining the work we are doing with the child to the non-attending parent, and to discuss their thoughts.

Please note that some families are funded under schemes which allow for parent only sessions (ie NDIA funding, ATAPS funding) whereas other funding models (ie Medicare) do not allow for parent only sessions, in which case there is a fee for these parent-only sessions.

If you have any questions about these guidelines, please feel free to give the office a call on 8357 1711.

+ What approaches do you use in working with clients?

All of our psychologists use a variety of approaches in working with young people.

We all particularly and frequently use cognitive behavioural techniques (CBT).

We also all frequently use mindfulness based approaches (ACT - acceptance and comittment therapy) and have had extensive training and experience in this approach.

In addition, we will often use skills training approaches, have an understanding and often work from a systems approach, solution focussed therapy, person centred therapy, and are informed by parent-child attachment therapy.

Some of our psychologists also use schema therapy techniques.

When working with younger children, we incorporate elements of play therapy into our sessions.

+ How do you use email in therapy?

At Developing Minds we are more than happy to receive emails from you, in fact this is usually the best way to contact our clinicians if you need to speak to us outside an appointment.

There are just a few points to remember:

  • Usually we can't email you back due to time constraints (we will usually read it before your session and discuss it further in session.)
  • As we can't respond quickly please don't email about safety issues, go to your GP or local hospital.
  • If you email us, let us know who knows what or any confidentiality issues so we know if your child/teen knows about the information you told us.

If you have any other questions please feel free to contact me personally any time at kirriliesmout@developingminds.net.au