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We are now 100% online via telehealth methods including Zoom, Whatsapp, Facetime or other encrypted apps; phone, email, etc… This also applies to local and regional services.

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Welcome! Thanks for visiting. Wanna cuppa?

We are open to bookings.

Please consider referral to your friends, family, colleagues, clients or network. First come first serve.

Your Consent Form is at the bottom of this page.

Contact us to book a consult.

The first step is to please use the email-form at the bottom of this page or direct by email.

admin@abilitytherapyspecialists.com.au

Thank you!

 

 

 

Now Available: NDIS Funded Behaviour Support and Counselling Consultations.

Now Available: Private clients all ages welcome from children to seniors for Counselling, Life Coaching, Psychotherapy, Hypnotherapy and NLP, and assessments across a wide range of issues.

  • Are you local, regional, or further afield?
  • Do you need a specialist and/or therapist to work with you from a distance using telehealth methods like video, phone, email, text?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. Who can see you? Anyone! All ages from early childhood through to senior years.
  2. Where are you? We consult online to anywhere in the known galaxy. May the Force be with you. But if you need to know, we are based in Armidale, New England, New South Wales, Australia.
  3. How much do you cost? Please see our Fees page for details. For private clients we use a Standard Fee, a Concession Fee 1, and a Concession Fee 2 (Seniors). For NDIS Participants, we use the NDIS recommended Fee Schedule.
  4. What is your catchment area? Our specialist service sees us consulting with people locally, regionally, and across the state and interstate. We provide online video or other means to communicate with individuals, families, communities, providers, and other practitioners and specialists that need access to our help.
  5. Do you see clients from across Australia? Yes! We consult in Australia.
  6. Who sees you via distance technologies? A large catchment of people see us and work with us online and over distance technologies. Anyone who wants to access therapy this way tends to get a great deal of satisfaction, confirmed by the research and our general experience. See our book on Telehealth published during 2020, you will find it by searching the posts on this website.
  7. Where do we meet you? Online so-to-speak i.e. on Zoom, Whatsapp, or Facetime or via other apps, and on phone and email etc…
  8. Is there an age limit? No. We work across the lifespan from early childhood through to senior years.
  9. Do you do home visits? Not at present. Before Covid-19 struck in March 2020, we were considering the impact of NDIS funding cuts that stopped our regional clinics. During Covid-19, we decided to specialise within telehealth behaviour support and counselling therapies.
  10. Do you do home visits in Tamworth, Inverell, Glen Innes? Sorry no, we no longer travel and all our work is done safely online via telehealth using apps that our clients can easily access with a Smartphone, or on Computer, IPad, Tablet, Smart TV, or simply on telephone/mobile, email, and text.
  11. Is online / telehealth good? Yes, the research and our experience is that video meetings and sessions are really helpful to the majority of people. Our clients tell us a wide range of comments that describes their experience online. Here are some of our observations.
    • No travel concerns involved.
    • Can talk with an expert and therapist from the comfort of home.
    • More privacy without being seen attending the clinic.
    • Greater flexibility for time, less pressures to juggle appointments, kids, and chores.
    • The tech disappears once we get going. It is amazing how it just works really well. Less stress, and pretty down to earth.
    • Sometimes tech has hiccups. Set up can take a bit of time sorting what app to use, or how to connect. But because the therapist is at ease the process can be fun and interesting to learn.
    • Children with ASD and ADHD and other issues can be a bit hyper and may not focus on the screen or talk, but they are also often escalated from travel and in person meetings in clinic. Because the therapist works closely with parents who support from home, the activities are fun and enjoyable.
    • Parents, carers, workers, and staff get a lot from time online – as supporting the people who manage day to day life always improves the life of the child or person with disability.
    • When people can’t use video, like with some people with Level 3 ASD, we meet with family, carers, staff, DSWs, providers, managers, and collaborate with other therapists. From our clinical and professional assessment, this approach is the same and better than when we visited in-person. In fact, by doing this work online we save time and heaps of money. All the funds that used to go to regional travel now go into service hours.
    • We also find that in using video more freely our clinical observations of people with complex needs is more detailed because where consent exists family and/or staff use smartphones and allow us to observe videos recorded or in real-time, as behaviours of concern are happening, or so that we can understand how a person is functioning and what issues they have that we can help with.
    • Hands get tired from holding the device. We find using a kind of stand, or even propping up the device with books or something else, gives freedom from holding the device and more freedom of movement.
    • While the visuals are helpful for all of us at times, sometimes the process allows for not always looking at the screen and then another deeper form of listening happens that is harder to achieve when in-person with all the sensory distractions people have.
    • We now use all and more methods online including art therapy shared between client and therapist, music therapy, meditation, mindfulness practice, hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, journalling, sitting outside while having a video session, going for walks while having a video session, doing simple physical exercises and movement work, sharing special objects and using symbol work and sand tray play therapies for children and adults; we also have clients who really enjoy reading or the therapist reading a story book and then reflecting on the meaning and ways to apply learning in everyday life…
    • The set up for all of the above approaches may take a bit of time, and may involve the person or family purchasing some resources to use at home. People tell us that this is really fun as well, the process of buying things, the investment in having these things at home to use any time, and the encouragement to learn new skills and be able to do many of these things independently later on, really makes this approach more valuable.
    • People who live in supported accommodation and their staff share challenges including the participant not having funds to have a smartphone, IPad, or other resources to engage activities; not having enough hours for staff DSW support to prepare for and during therapy; and well before Covid-19 due to travel funding cuts and other sector wide NDIS contexts, we have seen an overall dramatic reduction in referrals from high needs disability clients who live in supported accommodation both for therapy and behaviour support. As unfortunate as this reality remains, we see part of the challenge is that disability providers are not yet able to invest time and resources in staff using smartphones and technology effectively. Most mainstream therapists do not have the expertise to help disability providers and to create programs for staff. A great deal of work in capacity building needs to happen across the sector, and reality is that capacity building is not happening to address the therapy and behaviour support needs of people with complex disabilities. This is really very disappointing as during our first years of NDIS work, we saw the huge potential for capacity building coming from offering therapies to people with high needs disabilities who have never had access to these mainstream forms of therapy in past. Telehealth could help to close some of the gap here. But the wider systems need to change for therapy and behaviour support to be offered in effective ways within the disability accommodation sector.

FAQs for NDIS Funded Behaviour Support and Counselling

  1. How long does behaviour support take? Funding tends to limit time involved. Basic assessments can be provided within a 10-20 hour window. More complex work takes between 30-60 hours.
  2. How much do you charge/how much will this cost? We use the NDIS suggested fee schedule per hour depending on the category.
  3. Do you provide a Service Agreement? Yes we do a draft for you to sign of our Service Agreement that is based on NDIS standards.
  4. Why do you charge the full NDIS fee rates? The NDIS fee schedule for clinical services represents standard rates for a professional service in this category. Per hour spent, NDIS work is more complex and demands at least 32% more of our time that is unpaid, leading to a much higher cost to maintain our service compared with private cases. This also considerably reduces the hourly rate of pay for our therapists. And to be honest, regarding the hourly fee rate, as a senior specialist service we are worth the cost and the investment. We believe we ultimately save people time and frustration by offering senior expertise and professional standards of service. If you disagree, please find another service provider and compare. Please let us know how to improve what we do. We are very open to feedback and appreciate your input.
  5. What are your qualifications? We are founded by two doctoral qualified senior clinical specialist Counsellors and Psychotherapists. We come with formal teaching qualifications, and combined we represent over 60+ years of disability and mental health experience, including many years of service in specialist behaviour support. We are also accomplished researchers, with combined over 200+ published works including numerous books and professional journal contributions. Dr Bowers is also a qualified senior clinical supervisor, educator and trainer of Counsellors and Psychotherapists for over twenty years, with several years as a specialist trainer and consultant in disability clinical behaviour support services. Dr Kennedy is also a specialist in early childhood, with extensive experience in special education and therapeutic tutoring for children with special needs. We both carry a wide range of other experience – please visit our individual web pages for details.
  6. Why is independent counselling and/or behaviour support better compared to “in house” disability organisation-based therapists? We do not say we are “better” per se. Everyone has heaps to offer. We are more interested to hear your evaluation and point of view to help us improve our service. This being said, the industry model for professional services is historically based on an independent professional assessment. Just look at medicine, psychology, social work, counselling, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, or physiotherapy. Generally, independence provides a greater degree of objectivity and the capacity to speak to issues with a greater degree of freedom and less conflict of interest. Independent practitioners tend to provide higher levels of senior expertise. Independent private practice tends to attract senior experienced professionals with well defined specialisations. This model generally provides more in depth and timely analysis, suggests wider options for treatment and practical solution-focused outcomes, and may achieve results faster and with greater ease. Also, independent support can address issues that in-house systems overlook because of in-house bias, policies, cultures, and perspectives. We observe that most agencies both non-government and government tend to hire younger staff who do not have experience and need to be trained and supervised, preferably by seniors in independent practice, though this rarely happens because agencies cannot afford adequate training and supervision. Qualified and experienced clinicians generally prefer to work independently if that option is available.
  7. What is a Behaviour Support Plan – BSP? A BSP is a “road map” or a personal support plan aimed to help not only the person at the centre, but also family or staff who work and live alongside everyday. Holistic support planning can cover all of life, lifestyle, and specific concerns. This planning is based on understanding underlying needs and supporting people in positive person centred and safe ways.
  8. How long is a behaviour support plan? Nowadays generally four to six pages. You may be surprised how much can fit into the 4 to 6 page model when the plan is well written and to the point. Sadly under NDIS requirements plans for more complex cases often extend to 40 or more pages.
  9. What is a functional assessment of behaviour? The functional assessment is essential, and is conducted either informally as part of clinical assessment or with formal interviews. As the heart of behavioural assessments, this includes a series of questions detailing the how, what, when, where, how much, and how often of behaviours of concern. Our standard advanced clinical assessment includes contextual sensory system and communication observation, and review of a wide range of developmental, physical, environmental, and social factors.
  10. Why bother with behaviour support assessment? Assessment provides understanding of underlying reasons for behaviour, contexts, and the relationships that support behaviours. All behaviour is contextual or ecological. When we know better how behaviour works, we know better how to support people more effectively.
  11. How does an assessment differ from a support plan? In NDIS behaviour support terms, assessment can be captured in a brief 2-3 page report or letter that families can use for NDIS Plan and funding reviews, for future planning, or to discuss issues with other agencies, school, and/or support staff. Letters of this kind are a traditional highly effective communication tool. A behaviour support plan is more focused on objectives to help support positive outcomes and/or to reduce behaviours of concern. Many people seek us out to do an assessment, which has helped them to gain NDIS funding. Assessments may lead to more funding to accomplish behaviour support planning. Or assessments may lead to eligibility, or to getting funding assistance in many other areas that are important to the person. In this sense, the NDIS appears to need assessments that provide evidenced-based measures to make funding decisions under the NDIS Act 2013, which is the legislation that governs eligibility and that guides levels of access to funding. Assessments can also help children in schools gain access to special education or supports.
  12. Do we need to get our doctor or nurse or planner to fill in the Referral form? No. Self-referral is sufficient.
  13. Who fills in the paperwork when clients have a guardian and no family to help them? Where individuals have state appointed guardians and do not have capacity for self-referral, we ask the guardian to ensure that whoever is most appropriate fill out the consent information. This might be a case planner, key worker, or client advocate.
  14. We find the paperwork challenging – can we get help? Yes. Just ask!
  15. Where will I find reports, clinical assessments, or case history materials for your consent form? You do not have to give us these materials. They are helpful for us and your case, but not essential. We take you where you are at now. If you do not have access to any of these, we can still work with you! If parts of the form are not possible to complete, just write a line through that part or talk to us about this when you meet with us.
  16. I can’t fill in the Consent Form. Can you help me? Yes. Just ask!

Consent to our Disclosure, Terms and Conditions is necessary for service provision. Thank you.

Contact Us By Email

We are now open to referrals. Please let your friends, family, and networks know. Thank you for your support and kindness. We very much appreciate your assistance. We often build relationships with our clients over many years and welcome you to our circles.

Your Consent Form

If you need help doing these forms we can help fill them in during our first appointment.

  • Your consent form can save you several hours and hundreds of dollars because the form asks you to gather information and give this information to us when we start the service.
  • If you or the person we are helping has previous diagnosis, medical or psychological history, and prior reports or assessments we likely need to know… Copies of these may be helpful for us to provide a comprehensive service. Citing these appropriately in our case history and/or reports or assessments may help toward funding or accessing programs.
  • Clients can fill in the forms personally. No need for your doctor to refer to us. However, we often need to know who is your GP with contact details, and who are other practitioners you are seeing with contact details.
  • Clients sign the forms yourself please. For people with guardianship or under aged individuals, parent or guardian or appointed person signs the forms.
  • Your consent form must be filled in as much as humanly possible… We cannot stress how important this is to save you time and money.

Especially for clients who have complex disabilities, mental illness, or other diagnosis, we urge you, your family or guardian, to hold a file on this information and retain reports and assessments. These are now often necessary to cite in current reviews or annual assessments – often necessary for funding or accessing programs or help.

We only provide the PDF version of our Consent form at this stage, because people were changing the form when we provided a Word version. Sorry if this causes any inconvenience. The PDF requires you to write in pen. Please use black ink. Please write very clearly.

Search our post entry on “Signing PDFs for free for rural and remote clients” where you can find out how to sign using PDF Preview on most computers.

Please note, this one form replaces the prior referral and consent forms. To download the form click on the line below. Cheers!

ATS-Consent-12-8-2020

Tips for Scanning and Signing PDFs on Computer and Mobile

Check out our post on how to use the PDF Previewer on most computers.

One of our clients wanted us to post this to you as a tip for dealing with all this paperwork:

“Try an App on your Smartphone to take pictures of document pages and convert them into a PDF to send to your therapist-specialist. Here is one option we have found useful. Scanner via Google Play Store.

Or for free, and pro features also free during the pandemic, check out iScanner by BPMobile for android on Google Play Store.”

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