We book consultations Tues-Thurs 10-4. We are usually with participants and clients.
To keep our practice personal, we do not keep admin staff on phones. You need to leave a message and we can call you back between Tues-Thurs. We tend to respond to texts and emails even faster.
For phone calls, if we can answer a call, you get Dr Bowers or Dr Kennedy directly. Voice messages for us are essential, so you need to feel OK doing things this way.
Quality Personal Service
Fact is, we and our clients and see this as higher quality personal service. Who wants to talk to a secretary anyway? Our only alternative is to hire a call centre in Sydney. Honestly, we are just not prepared to do this to our participants.
We prefer email contact initially. The form below shoots us an email. We normally respond within 12 to 24 hours, unless on leave. We let our participants know our leave or vacation dates.
Steps to Engage
Your contact form is below.
After your first contact, we get back to you and we share documents and chat to set up a service. Under NDIS this means we need your NDIS Plan and our Consent Form completed. We then create a Service Agreement draft for you to sign. This allows us to begin consulting with you.
Your Consent/Referral Form is found below.
This Contact Form below sends us an email.
Your Consent Form
- 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 other specialists that 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. These are often necessary for funding or accessing programs or help.
How to Fill In the Consent Form
We only provide the PDF version of our Consent form for document security reasons. Sorry if this causes any inconvenience. Laptop or desktop and Ipad PDF Readers often allow you to edit by adding text into the PDF. Otherwise write in black pen. 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. Cheers!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Who can see you? Anyone! All ages from early childhood through to senior years.
- 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.
- How much do you cost? Please see our Fees page for details. For NDIS Participants, we use the NDIS recommended Fee Schedule.
- What is your catchment area? Our specialist service sees us consulting via online Telehealth 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.
- Do you see clients from across Australia? Yes! We consult in Australia.
- Who sees you via distance technologies? All our clients see us this way. 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.
- Where do we meet you? Online on Zoom, Facetime, or via other apps, and on phone and email etc…
- Is there an age limit? No. We work across the lifespan from early childhood through to senior years. For early childhood and with children and youth we work closely with parents.
- Do you do home visits? No.
- Do you do home visits in Tamworth, Inverell, Glen Innes? Sorry no.
- 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.
- If I choose this approach, I get a lot more out of this.
- No travel concerns involved. Wow.
- Can talk with an expert and therapist from the comfort of home. Who knew?
- More privacy without being seen attending the clinic. This is a lot less stress for me.
- 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.
- Because the therapist is at ease the process can be fun and interesting to learn.
- Our children with ASD and ADHD and other issues can be a bit hyper and may not focus on the screen or talk. But my therapist does not mind, and does not expect kids to attend directly! This takes a lot of pressure off of all of us, especially our child. We work with the therapist in a more natural way. They observe the child and how we are going. We work together to build our skills as parents. Our child is actually engaging and having fun at the same time. This helps our children even more.
- Our kids are even more escalated from travelling to a clinic – so Telehealth is a dream come true!
- Because the therapist works closely with us and supports at home, the activities are fun and enjoyable.
- Parents, carers, workers, and staff get a lot from time online.
- We feel supported to manage day to day life. Therapy helps us to improve our perspective and the life of our child.
Telehealth is Adapted to Severe Disabilities and Communication Issues
- 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.
- 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.
- Carers or staff record and observe behaviours of concern when they are happening. They share this with us as therapists. This vastly improves our clinical assessments.
- For some the challenge is that their 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.
- Especially kids cannot be tied to a devise.
- We have parents engaged in therapy directly. They love the interaction and take interest in their child’s progress.
- While the visuals are helpful for all of us at times, sometimes the process allows for not always looking at the screen.
- Just listening is good.
- At these times, another deeper form of listening happens that is harder to achieve when in-person with all the sensory distractions and self-consciousness that people have.
- We now use all and more methods online including
- Art therapy shared between client and therapist,
- Music therapy,
- Meditation practice,
- Mindfulness practice,
- Cognitive behavioural therapy,
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.
- Clients say they appreciate the encouragement to learn new skills and to be able to do many of these things independently later on, really makes this approach more valuable.
- We work ourselves out of a job all the time – because our participants learn skills to live, and then they move on from therapy.
- 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.
- Staff say there is not enough hours to support to prepare for therapy and during therapy.
- 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 into changing their policies to come to grips with Telehealth. Telehealth is now a new normal.
- Disability providers need to invest in staff training in using smartphones and technology effectively.
- Most mainstream therapists also 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 NDIS sector. The harsh 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 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
- 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.
- How much do you charge/how much will this cost? We use the NDIS suggested fee schedule per hour depending on the category. We use the standard rates under specialist and behaviour support. While we have been registered under the higher fee psychology line item in past, we tend to use other therapy, assessment, or counselling line items which is a considerable cost savings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. We both belong to the Australasian Society of Lifestyle Medicine, and integrate Lifestyle Medicine in our comprehensive behaviour support, health and wellbeing assessments. 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.
- Why is independent counselling and/or behaviour support better compared to “in house” disability organisation-based therapists? There is a strong tradition for independent practice in medicine, psychology, social work, counselling, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, and/or physiotherapy. Independence provides a greater degree of objectivity and the capacity to speak to issues with a greater 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. The list could go on… We observe that most agencies both non-government and government tend to hire bachelor graduates only and/or younger staff who do not have experience and need to be trained and supervised. But there is no funding for training and proper clinical supervision in the disability sector.
- What is a Behaviour Support Plan – BSP? A BSP is a “road map” or a personal support plan that addresses all of life, lifestyle, and specific behaviours of concern.
- How long is a behaviour support plan? Generally between six to 40 pages. Length is entirely down to how much detail is needed to get things right.
- What is a functional assessment of behaviour? The functional assessment is at the heart of behavioural assessments. We assess a person’s capacity to do various tasks in daily life. This includes a series of questions detailing the how, what, when, where, how much, and how often a person can perform and manage various tasks of daily living. 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.
- Why bother with behaviour support assessment? Assessment provides understanding of underlying reasons for behaviour, contexts, and the relationships that support behaviours. All behaviour is relational. This means that behaviours are contextual and ecological. When we know better how behaviour works, we know better how to support people more effectively.
- 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 longer and more involved. The plan is includes objectives to help support positive outcomes and/or to reduce behaviours of concern.
- Can an assessment help with my NDIS Plan review? Yes, although as sad as this sounds, we cannot guarantee the NDIS Planner will read our reports… You and/or your Coordinator of Supports needs to advocate and push your Planner to read the reports provided, and especially to pay attention to the recommendations. We base our recommendations on the NDIS Act 2013 and associated instruments that define “reasonable and necessary” supports. 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. We have also written reports that help in the mental health system.
- Do we need to get our doctor or nurse or planner to fill in the Referral form? No. Self-referral is sufficient.
- 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 NDIS Support Coordinator, Local Area Coordinator, DSW or Key Worker, or a client Advocate.
- We find the paperwork challenging – can we get help? Yes. Just ask! Where we have a Service Agreement in Place we can help with forms where necessary.
- Where will I find reports, clinical assessments, or case history materials for your consent form? Do not stress too much if you do not have these. They are really helpful, but 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.
- I can’t fill in the Consent Form. Can you help me? Yes. Just ask!