What is your role at Royal Far West (RFW)?
I’m a clinical psychology registrar (which means I’m in the final stages of training to be a clinical psychologist) and I work within the psychology team at RFW. Psychology is involved in heaps of different programs within RFW and I am currently involved in three of these: Triage (where we help clients referred to RFW receive the most appropriate treatment), Connect for Kids (which involves mental health support into homes) and the Department of Education school counselling project (where RFW acts as a virtual school counsellor in schools that don’t have a counsellor on site).
Each of these programs involves working with my clients using video technology or telepsychology. RFW has different health disciplines using video conferencing technology to deliver their services and we collectively call these approaches “Telecare”. Telecare allows me to connect with clients in rural and remote regions of Australia from right here in Manly.
Across all of these programs, I work to understand the clients whom I work with, their current difficulties, but also importantly their strengths. In therapy programs, once I have a good understanding of the client I make recommendations or implement strategies to help them manage their difficulties. We spend time in sessions working together to come up with the most acceptable and effective means to support them. The difficulties I work with are wide ranging from working with kids who refuse to do things out of fear to kids who have problematic behaviours related to negative experiences in the past (and lots of things in-between!).
What led you to work at RFW?
I grew up on a farm and when I decided to study Psychology I was always keen to work with rural populations. At university, I made a point to include rural placements in my training and spent some time at Orange Health Service. I knew of RFW as it had partnered up with my university to run some intervention trials. When my wife’s sister, who works for RFW, offered to drop my CV to the clinical services manager I agreed. The rest is history!
Describe your typical day?
I generally spend my day delivering telepsychology services. This involves both new assessments and clients whom I have seen previously. You’ll find me preparing for sessions by creating content for the kids or families that I am working with (Microsoft PowerPoint to the rescue!). You’ll also find me reviewing any new client’s files and trying to learn as much about them as I can before I meet them in session. Then I deliver the sessions via the internet in our purpose-built pods, and this involves creatively engaging with the kids and families I am working with and evaluating our progress.
Following the sessions, I spend time at my desk writing notes, reports and letters and plan content for the client’s next session. I think the most important thing I do is to spend time developing a greater understanding of the client’s difficulties and possible solutions to these difficulties.
What’s the best thing about working with families from rural and remote Australia?
The determination of country parents to help their kids get the care they need is what really impresses me. While the kids we work with are often very tech-savvy their parents are often not. These parents really make an effort to use a therapy mode that they might not be super comfortable with in the beginning so that their kids can get the support that they need.
What do you think makes RFW unique?
I don’t know any other workplace that has so many psychologists! It is so good to have such a big and supportive team.
Tell us about positive outcomes you’ve seen with clients with RFW?
I am humbled and inspired by the families who allow me the privilege of working with them. The old saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” rings very true with me as a psychologist. I work hard to support families with evidence-based strategies, encouragement and support around their difficulties, but ultimately, it often rests on the client or family to do something difficult, learn something new or take a new direction in terms of their beliefs or actions. In short, I’ve seen some little dudes make some very big brave steps in positive directions and that inspires me so much.