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4.2.8 Psychology services

Last Modified: 18-Oct-2018 Review Date: 04-Jan-2021

Purpose

To provide information to staff on the processes for consultation, assessment and intervention services from the Departmentof Communities (the Department) Psychology Services.

Practice Requirements
 
  • Referrals for a consultation with a Psychology Services team member can only be made for cases that have progressed through the Assist intake process.  
  • Child protection workers must contact a Psychology Services team member to discuss the case and make an appointment for a consultation with a clinician before tasks are allocated in Assist.   
  • Consultations may be undertaken for both referred and non-referred cases to Psychology Services. 
  • Child protection workers must complete Form 167 Internal Referral Form in collaboration with a district clinician to access formal psychological services for a child in the Chief Executive Officer's (CEO's) care.
  • All work undertaken by Psychology Services to support case planning is made under the Assist goal: 'Psych Support Provided' and linked to relevant service tasks and case/file notes in Objective or the clinical file.
  • Once referred, a clinical file must be created in Assist and maintained in Objective.
  • If the child is not in the CEO's care, and the case has progressed through the intake process, child protection workers must consult with Psychology Services in the first instance. The Psychology Services clinician must obtain 'informed consent' from the child's parent or appointed guardian before any work is commenced.
  • Child protection workers must consult with Psychology Services before accessing a private practitioner.  For specific information on this process refer to Chapter 4.2: Engaging with Private Practitioners for Treatment/Therapeutic Services.

 

Process Maps
   
  • General Clinical Practice Model - Psychology Services
  • General Consultation Pathway - Psychology Services
  • Psychology Services - Involvement from Early Intervention

Procedures

  • Requesting consultation
  • The consultation process
  • Completing a referral to Psychology Services
  • Linking Psychology Services to case practice
  • Referral to a private practitioner
  • Public sector responsibilities and standards of conduct
  • Chief Psychologist
  • Senior consultant psychologist
  • District and country psychologists
  • Residential care psychologists
  • Fostering and Adoption Services psychologists
  • Resources
  • Requesting consultation

    Psychology Services staff offer a broad range of services. These services are summarised schematically by the Three Pillars Model (in related resources). Services are grouped under three key service domains: consultation, assessment and intervention. Child protection worker involvement with Psychology Services typically commences with consultation. 

    Child protection workers may consult on a range of clinical issues, problems and concerns relevant to the child protection and welfare field, including consultation regarding reunification, contact and care arrangements, placement issues, child development and carer support.  Refer to the flowchart Psychology Services – Involvement from Early Intervention (in related resources).

    Child protection workers must contact a Psychology Services team member and make an appointment for consultation. This is important for scheduling adequate time to discuss the concerns and consider relevant information on the issues.  Computer access is also useful for considering the child's case plan and particular goals and tasks already allocated.

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    The consultation process

    Once an appointment has been made and the consultation undertaken, a number of outcomes may result. These are reflected in the flowchart Psychology Services - Involvement from Early Intervention.  Not all consultations may result in a referral.  Other outcomes or alternative approaches may be considered and suggested or recommended by the individual clinician and/or broader Psychology Services team.

    Information from formal consultation appointments with Psychology Services is recorded in Assist as a service task and can be documented in the Objective Case File in several ways: 

    • handwritten consultation documents may be scanned into the Objective case file and linked to the negotiated case plan goal(s) and/or task(s) in Assist
    • consultation documents may be saved to the Objective case file and linked to the negotiated case plan goals) and/or tasks in Assist, and
    • information may be recorded in emails and sent to the child protection workers - thse must be stored in the Objective case file and linked to the negotiated case plan goals and/or tasks in Assist.

    This process is different to consultations undertaken for referred clients. These are stored in the Objective clinical file.

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    Completing a referral to Psychology Services

    Referrals to Psychology Services are made by completing and submitting Form 167 Internal Referral Form.  This is recorded in Assist as a Service Task’ (Consultation).

    The child protection worker and the district clinician should complete the referral form together and discuss the specific service tasks required.

    Tasks should align with the case direction and overall case plan, and the 'Dimensions of Wellbeing' recorded in the client’s care plan and Quarterly Care Review.

    Please note that the consulting clinician may not be the person responsible for undertaking the case being referred. For this reason it is recommended that any ‘Service Task’ requests that require the submission of Form 167 are not approved in Assist until after consultation with Psychology Services and subsequent acceptance of the case by a Psychology Services clinician.

    Completed referrals may be presented for consideration by the broader Psychology Services team to prioritise them against other cases and tasks already held by team members. Child protection workers will be notified as soon as their referral is allocated. However, this is often dependent upon the number of clinicians in the particular district, team processes, procedures and the current waitlist.

    The referral process is outlined in the flowchart Psychology Services - Involvement from Early Intervention.

    Form 167 must be scanned into the Objective clinical file and the hard copy retained in the referred client’s ‘Psychology Services Source File’.

    Consultations undertaken as part of a referred case must be recorded in case and file notes in the clinical file in Objective. Psychology Services staff may send a reference to child protection workers to access these consultation records.

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    Linking Psychology Services to case practice

    Much of the work undertaken by Psychology Services is integrated into the broader case plan, individual client care plan and Quarterly Care Review. This is achieved through consultation and closer liaison with Psychology Services when planning for children in the CEO's care, particularly in Assist.

    Department staff should consider the role of Psychology Services when consulting relevant Casework Practice Manual entries. In particular:

    • Chapter 1.2: Family Support and Earlier Intervention entries
    • 2.2: Case allocation, management, transfer, request for co-working or services, shared case management and case closure
    • Chapter 3.4: Planning entries
    • Chapter 3.5: Subsidies and Case Managment Costs entries
    • Chapter 4.1: Accountability, Governance and Conduct entries.
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    Referral to a private practitioner

    Child protection workers should refer to Chapter 4.2: Engaging with private practitioners for treatment/therapeutic services, regarding Psychology Services' involvement and support when making a referral to a private practitioner.

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    Chief Psychologist

    The Chief Psychologist is engaged in overall recruitment, planning and development of Psychology Services and in particular, in improving the quality of professional, therapeutic and psychological care and support provided by our psychologists to children and families.

    For more information on the role of the Chief Psychologist, child protection workers can refer to the related resource Specialist Positions in Head Office (or access via Chapter 2.2: Assessment and investigation processes).

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    Senior consultant psychologist

    The primary role of the senior consultant psychologist is the professional coordination of the district, country and residential care and Fostering and Adoption Services psychologists. The consultants are based in geographically relevant locations and report administratively to their local district director or the director, Residential Care. Professional supervision and development of the role is provided by the Chief Psychologist.

    Senior consultant psychologists are available to the district psychologists and other members of the district team in an ongoing manner. They may provide direct case supervision to a new psychologist as well as assist with case load planning and referrals, complex cases, or planning in the district teams.

    Guided by the principles of the Children and Community Services Act 2004other policies and procedures (for example, the Better Care, Better Services - Standards for Children and Young People in Protection and Care and the Signs of Safety Child Protection Practice Framework), senior consultant psychologists provide consultation and support to Psychology Services and district staff through a range of psychologically relevant processes that may include:

    • assisting in the establishment of priorities in casework for the local psychology team, dependent upon the level of training and expertise in that team
    • maintaining a balance between consultation, assessment and intervention, based upon the team’s level of skill and expertise
    • clarifying and advising upon the factors contributing to, and maintaining, client/systemic issues
    • considering the impact of broader systemic and ecological variables upon the client/systemic issues and needs
    • reflecting upon both case and clinical management planning through the consideration of relevant psychological literature and evidence based practice within child protection, and
    • identifying and recommending additional areas that Psychology Services can assist with and support in planning for the client’s needs and systemic requirements.

    In addition, senior consultant psychologists contribute to the larger operations through a series of portfolios, which cover: 

    • learning and development
    • tertiary liaison and training
    • developing protocols with other agencies
    • recruitment
    • Assist and Objective
    • private practitioner registration and oversight, and
    • emergency services.

    The senior consultant psychologist positions are situated in:

    • Mirrabooka office, for the north metropolitan district offices
    • Fremantle, for south metropolitan district offices
    • the Keith Maine Centre for Residential Care, and Fostering and Adoption Services, and
    • Bunbury office, for Country Services.
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    District and country psychologists

    Metropolitan district psychology teams consist of approximately 2.5 full time equivalent (FTE) psychologists at specified calling levels one, two and three. There are also three clinical social worker positions. In regional districts, there are one or two psychology positions in each district, with 10 FTE psychology positions covering Murchison, Peel, Pilbara, South West, Great Southern, Kalgoorlie and the Kimberley.

    District psychologists provide a consultation and therapeutic service, including assessment of adults and children. They are involved in early consultation, screening and information gathering about the developmental and psychological needs of children where there is an open case, and may then be engaged in the ongoing planning, assessments or interventions that may be decided upon. Psychologists are increasingly expected to participate in Signs of Safety based assessment and planning at key points in the child protection process. 

    An area of high priority for therapeutic work is to support children in foster care, particularly by working in partnership with carers to increase their knowledge and understanding of the impact of trauma and neglect, and their capacity to sustain placements for children in the CEO's care.

    District psychologists screen for referral to appropriate external health and therapeutic services, where necessary. They may also write reports for court and other purposes, and can be considered ‘expert witnesses’ in the area of child protection.

    The role of psychologists in regional offices is similar to the metropolitant districts with respect to consultation, assessment and intervention for children in the CEO's care and their families and carers. There are usually two or more smaller offices in each district that require regular contact. The realities of country work, including the amount of travel involved and the degree of professional isolation, necessitate a developed level of professional autonomy, a strong knowledge base, and capacity for engagement with other services. These demands create a challenging work experience but also drive a strong team approach between the psychologist and other members of the district teams.

     The higher number of indigenous clients in the regional and remote areas also calls for the ability to work in a responsive and open way and to be able to effectively, ethically and creatively work with different psychological and social understandings and to be able to work well in a range of physical settings. Clients are often seen in the open, or on front verandas or in out-of-the-way towns. Again this work is often conducted in collaboration with other Department workers or with other established agencies.

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    Residential care psychologists

    Psychologists in residential care typically work across two four-bed residential homes reporting to the senior manager of these homes. 

    The primary role of psychologists is to encourage, guide and facilitate the provision of therapeutic care to residents in the unit. In this capacity, psychologists work as ‘hands on’ consultants to the residential care team in group homes. A key feature of this role is close consultation in the development and implementation of Individual Therapeutic Plans for each resident. Individual Therapeutic Plans work to focus the collaborative effort of staff in the residential home, in a systematic way to bring about positive change, both in behaviour and sense of worth in a child over a particular period of time.

    Secondary roles of psychologists in residential care includes:

    • assisting in referring residents to other treatment agents, as appropriate, in collaboration with the relevant case manager
    • liaising with treatment agents so that the residential environment complements the efforts of treatment agents, and
    • providing problem solving counselling and individual support as required.
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    Fostering and Adoption Services psychologists

    Psychologists working in Fostering and Adoption Services work collaboratively with Specialised Fostering and the carers of children who present with problems that challenge the viability of the care arrangment. Specialised Fostering Services promotes widespread, intensive and targeted support to foster carers.

    Targeted support may be delivered with the psychologist focusing on improving the relationship between the carer and child, and on improving the attachment between the carer and child. The practice  is informed by service delivery models that focus on encouraging a strong emotional connection between the carer and the child in their care.

    In addition to working directly with carers and the children they care for, psychologists provide:

    • consultation and support to district staff providing intensive support to sustain care arrangements
    • training for carers, and
    • specific district liaison to sustain care arrangements.
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    Resources

    Further information can be found in Department for Child Protection Psychology Services (in related resources).

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