What should I expect to happen in my Initial appointment?

Our one-hour initial appointments are designed to understand and identify the primary problems you are currently experiencing.

Discussing problems with a caring, experienced, knowledgeable and neutral person can be extremely useful for gaining a better understanding of what to do.

Your Clinician will:
• Gather relevant current and historical information about the problems
• Provide information and advice where possible and appropriate (i.e., provide specific assessment recommendations or professional/support services referral)
• Discuss possible solutions to problems
• Suggest strategies that may be implemented to assist in reducing the impact of the problem
• Recommend more regular assistance if this is warranted. However, depending on availability, on-going therapy may be with a different Clinician.

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What is a Diagnostic Assessment?

A Diagnostic Assessment utilises a combination of clinical interview and observations, previous reports (if available) and standardised tests to determine whether or not a person meets diagnostic criteria for a Neurodevelopmental Disorder, whether other conditions are also present, and whether further assessment is needed.

For further understanding you may like to read our On my mind, in my heart Blog post on ‘What does an ADOS Assessment Involve’.

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What is the purpose of a Diagnostic Assessment?

A Diagnostic Assessment leads to a better understanding of a person’s profile of abilities including:
• Whether the person is neurodiverse
• Whether the person’s profile meets diagnostic criteria for a a Neurodevelopmental Disorder
• The possible presence of other diagnoses (e.g., Anxiety and Mood Disorders)
• Identifying the extent of adaptive or everyday functioning difficulties (this is crucial when applying for NDIS funding)
• Whether the need for further assessment for another condition is required, for e.g., a medical condition, specific learning or language disorders, or intellectual disability.

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What does a Diagnostic Assessment process involve?

A Diagnostic Assessment is a comprehensive assessment that is carried out over several appointments.

It involves a number of stages that may take place over different appointments:
• Initial screening questionnaires to understand the nature of the problems (usually administered via email)
• Review of all previous reports written by professionals that relate to the problem
• Completion of standardised questionnaires by the child, adolescent or adult, and their parents, caregivers, family members and/or partner. This is an essential part of the process that informs the clinical interview
• Thorough clinical interview that understands the complete developmental history and presenting problems
• Completion of a standardised battery of assessments with the Clinician
• A one-hour feedback session to convey the results of testing and the recommendations arising from the results
• Scoring, interpretation and report preparation by your Clinician (usually 4-6 weeks after your feedback session)

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What is a School Visit?

It may be possible for your Clinician to visit the school your child attends to assist staff there with neurodiversity-specific problem-solving and advice. This can be discussed within the appointments.

At the school your Clinician may:
• Gather relevant information about the problem/s from school staff
• Observe your child during structured and unstructured tasks
• Provide information and advice where possible and appropriate
• Discuss possible solutions to problems with school staff
• Recommend strategies that may be implemented to assist
• Contribute to the goals and strategies within the Individual Education Plan (IEP)

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What is ongoing therapy?

Following an initial appointment, our psychologists may make a recommendation for private psychology services for an individual. These services are also referred to as ongoing therapy.

Ongoing therapy sessions are generally 50-minutes in length and occur on a regular basis on the same day and at the same time.

Ongoing therapy is provided for support, and to assist with exploring and resolving problems, including:
• Emotional problems including anxiety, anger, aggression and depression
• Attention Deficit Disorder
• Behavioural problems
• Grief and bereavement
• Couples and families experiencing problems
• School problems including school phobia, behavioural problems, and bullying and teasing
• School communication problems
• Social skill development and friendship skills
• Sexual problems and sex education
• Problem-solving

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What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy is an allied health profession that enables people to engage optimally in everyday activities.

At Minds & Hearts, our thoughtful and innovative Occupational Therapists—or OTs—offer an evidence-based practice and family-centred approach to treatment, assessment and education for individuals impacted by neurodiverse conditions.

Our OTs are caring and authentic. Each team member is experienced and professionally passionate about supporting individuals impacted by neurodiversity, their families, and communities, and create an environment where each person is understood, accepted and empowered for life.

Some useful questions to consider if you or your child requires Occupational Therapy:

  • Struggles to pay attention and/or concentrate for extended periods of time?
  • Presents as behind in some or all areas in comparison to their peers?
  • Difficulty using pencils, eating utensils, manipulating buttons, zips or have difficulty with their handwriting?
  • Appears clumsy or have difficulty with balancing, climbing, running or swinging?
  • Fussy eater or have limited food choices?
  • Finds self-care tasks such dressing, toileting, brushing teeth, washing or tying shoelaces difficult?
  • Difficulty socialising with their peers?
    Show less interest in their peers and prefer to play alone?
  • Present with behavioural challenges or have difficulty managing his/her emotions?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, you may want to make an appointment with one of our OTs.

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Do I need a referral?

No, you are able to visit us without a referral.

A partial rebate for your appointment may be available, however, if you visit your GP and obtain The Better Access to Mental Health Care Initiative.

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Is a diagnosis required before making an initial appointment?

No. While Minds & Hearts primarily focus on Neurodiversity, a formal diagnosis is not required.

It is possible to use an initial appointment at Minds & Hearts to discuss the possibility of the presence of a neurodevelopmental condition, and to explore management strategies and advice.

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Who will I see?

Our helpful, caring support staff will assist you in identifying which team member is suitable and available for an initial appointment.

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I need a report to apply for NDIS. Can you help?

If you are a current client of Minds &Hearts please talk to your clinician at your next session about NDIS reports.

If you are not a current client, a Diagnostic Assessment may need to be conducted to write a report to support your NDIS application.

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Do you provide Telehealth, video or telephone appointments for clients?

Yes, we provide initial appointments through video call/telephone.

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How do Telehealth services work?

As an alternative to face-to-face therapy, Minds & Hearts now offers Telehealth sessions. Telehealth sessions are delivered over digital devices (e.g., laptop/computer with internet access, smartphone, tablet, etc.) and can be accessed from the safety of your own home.

For your Telehealth session you will need access to a quiet, private space, a device (e.g., smartphone, laptop, iPad, computer) with a camera, microphone and speakers and a reliable broadband or 4g/5g internet connection.

Top tips for preparing for Telehealth services
Maintain privacy: Make sure you have a suitable private space. Think about who else can potentially overhear the conversation. Who else will be in the room? Who is in the room next door?

Minimise distractions: Remove potential distractions from the room (e.g., mobile phone switched off, turn off music/television, no interruptions from others, ensure children are cared for during the session so you don’t need to attend to them).

Access to technology: Make sure you have access to appropriate technology (e.g., computer/tablet/phone, camera, microphone) and a reliable internet connection for videoconferencing, telephone or mobile with reliable coverage.

Good visibility: Position the camera appropriately so the psychologist can see you clearly on the screen. Make sure you are in a space that is well-lit, allowing a clear image and good eye contact.

Presentation: Think about how you present yourself—a Telehealth session is the same professional interaction as an in-person session, just a different means of delivery

Questions: Think about any questions you have for the practitioner about Telehealth services (e.g., privacy and security queries) and raise this at the start of the session.

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I am confused, where should I start?

We appreciate and understand that seeking support for yourself, your child or client, can be difficult and confusing. But we are here to help—our friendly, caring support staff can assist you. Get in Touch with us today.

Because, together, we journey towards Love with Excellence.

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What is Speech Pathology?

If you answer ‘yes’ to these questions below you may want to make an appointment with our speech pathlogist Naomi Francis.

  • Is your child difficult to understand?
  • Does your child have difficulties following directions?
  • Does your child have difficulties understanding what others say?
  • Does your child have difficulties with their use of words or sentences?
  • Does your child have difficulties making and keeping friends?
  • Does your child only participate in conversations about their topic of interest?
  • Does your child have difficulties reading the social cues of others?
  • Does your child stutter when they talk?
  • Does your child have behavioural or academic challenges at school?
  • Does your child have difficulties reading and/or spelling?
  • Is your child able to use words to communicate?

What is a Speech & Language Assessment?

A speech and language assessment utilises a combination of clinical interview and observation, previous reports and standardised tests to determine the presence or absence of communication disorders. Assessment is also crucial to support development of therapy goals and provide baseline information to compare progress against.

An assessment leads to an understanding of the person’s profile of abilities including:

  • Motor speech disorders such as speech sound disorders, stuttering and apraxia of speech
  • Language disorders such as receptive language, expressive language and pragmatic language disorders
  • Literacy difficulties

A speech and language assessment process involves:

  • An initial session with the Speech Pathologist to gather relevant information;
  • Informal assessment such as observations in the clinic and/or in the home or school environment, or unstructured activities;
  • Standardised assessment including formal language and/or speech assessment. This can include individual structured tasks, play based activities or questionnaires.

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