Is NDIS funding available for child psychology treatments?
If your child has applicable funding in their NDIS plan, it is possible to use these resources for psychology sessions. Psychology funding under the NDIS is in the support category known as ‘capacity building’, as psychologists can help improve a person’s ability to function in his/her daily life. It is not possible to engage with a psychologist without adequate funding in this category (unless you pay for it yourself).
How much does NDIS funding or child psychology treatments cost?
Charges for psychology services can vary from one service to another; however, under the NDIS, there are finite pricing guidelines. It is the responsibility of the client to properly govern their funding, so it is strongly advised that clients think carefully about what they want to use their funding for, so that wastage of funding is avoided.
What is a psychologist?
A psychologist is a health professional that has finished a university degree, and indeed, the profession is regulated by a national professional board. Broadly speaking, the purpose of psychology is to learn about how the human mind functions and further better understand how it influences one’s actions and behaviors within a certain context. As such, psychologists can work in varied fields such as research, psychological testing, social science, and hospitals and schools. Moreover, psychologists can work for organisations meaning to improve team morale, grow leadership skills or address workplace culture concerns. Psychologists are also frequently involved in social campaigns, for instance anti-smoking programs or alcohol reduction incentives.
Child psychology is a subset of psychology that involves children and adolescents and focuses on their behaviour and development. Often, a child psychologist aims to help a child with problems in areas of behaviour, mental and emotional problems, and social skills issues.
What can a child psychologist help with?
A child psychologist helps any child that has significant developmental or behavioural problems that are impinging on their general productivity and functioning. It is important to note that childhood is a critical period of a person’s life, which in many ways shapes their overall progression as they get older. As such, adverse events or trauma from childhood can have everlasting effects on the child’s personality and behaviours into their future.
Examples of what a psychologist can help children with include:
- Behavioural issues (including those related to developmental delays or intellectual disabilities)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Brain injury
- Mental health problems (e.g. anxiety, depression, psychosis)
- Trauma histories
- Specific fears/phobias or anxieties
- Loss and grief issues
- Compulsive behaviours
- Deliberate self-harming behaviours
How can I find a psychology service for my child?
Often, psychology services are set up in clinics or centres, where clients visit and attend sessions. Some services offer mobile sessions, where the psychologist can attend at your home or the child’s school. While it is not often necessary to produce a doctor’s referral to see a psychologist, you may ask your regular doctor (GP) for some guidance about finding a suitable or nearby service. If your child has NDIS funding, the NDIS website has a thorough list of registered NDIS service providers, or you may also contact your NDIS local area coordinator or other case worker about potential services. Often, case workers and coordinators have vast networks and contacts and knowledge of the industry, so they may be able to suggest organisations that are most pertinent to your child’s needs.
What does NDIS funding for child psychology treatments involve?
After you have chosen a psychology service to work with, the initial step is usually for the psychologist to meet the child, and often their parents or primary carers (depending on the child’s age). The initial session is commonly spent learning about the child’s social, personal and medical history, gaining knowledge about any previous treatments, and gauging the main purpose of seeking out psychology. Sometimes, the psychologist may conduct a cognitive assessment or other standardised test to determine the person’s cognitive development and can measure these results against standards and averages within their age group. These initial observations and assessments are often meaningful for the psychologist to perceive the child’s cognitive and overall level of functioning, as well as their family and social supports.
Once the psychologist has acquired a greater understanding of the child’s main difficulties and needs, they can interface with parents (and sometimes other health professionals or educators) to prepare a direction for therapy and pinpoint specific goals. For instance, according to O’Sullivan Mediation, if a child has anxiety symptoms, the psychologist often works with them and their family to learn skills on how to manage their emotions, and how the family can better support he child during stressful situations. This may involve using distraction techniques, relaxation and meditation exercises, exposure therapy (e.g., if the child becomes anxious about a specific object or situation), or promoting some lifestyle changes to help reduce anxiety.