Accordwest is now providing mental health services for children and adolescents throughout the South West at no cost. Child, adolescents, carers no gap therapy services – Caats, will be based in Bunbury at Accordwest but will be available to families across the South West and in Mandurah.
Mental health clinician Dr Trish Sherwood has more than 25 years experience in counselling and child therapy and said the beauty of the new program was that children could be seen straight away.
“We saw a real gap in the community, headspace do some really good work for 12 to 25 but we take kids from three,” she said.
“We help families develop parenting skills, so it’s not just for acute stays like trauma or anxiety.
“I love children, I think there is so much potential to heal and to change because they are younger it is easier to change, because they are much more open to the world, they love imaginative and creative things.”
Dr Sherwood said she was looking forward to bringing her experience to the role and was excited to provide the service to the community.
“On one end it starts with kids who are basically ok but have got some behaviour problems right up to kids who have serious problems, whether it be cutting, anorexia, we can take the whole range,” she said.
“It’s not just talk therapy – we do sand play, art, colour, play therapy as well as the normal behaviour type management, it’s very hands on.
“Children most often can’t really articulate well what’s going on and so some of the therapies enable the child to express themselves.”
Parents that would like their children to be seen will need to obtain a mental health plan through their GP, after which 10 free sessions will be available with Dr Sherwood.
“Play therapy if used in a certain way can enable you to do intervention that are more lasting because the child remembers it,” Dr Sherwood said.
“There is a lot of research that says if you do something with your hands you will remember it more than if someone just tells you.
“Learning through doing, that’s really what it is about.”
For more information contact Dr Sherwood at Trish.Sherwood@accordwest.com.au.