Effective use of Telehealth Delivery in Supporting Children After Separation: Challenges and Solutions
Parental separation has become increasingly common in contemporary Australian society with the number of separated couples having grown since the onset of COVID-19 (Smyth et al, 2020). Children and young people who have been through family separation, especially where there has been a high level of conflict, are likely to experience a range of difficult emotions. This highlights the need for increased support to address children’s emotional well-being in this area. Moreover, COVID-19 has impacted service delivery for such children and with services having transitioned to telehealth for the better part of 2020 and 2021.
The Supporting Children After Separation Program (SCASP), delivered by Better Place Australia, provides counselling to children and young people, 5 to 18 years old from separated families. The program works directly with children to increase emotional intelligence and normalise their experience of family separation. Child focussed feedback is then provided to parents. The goal is to support separated families to develop emotional literacy, communication, regulation, and co-regulation skills for parents and children together by focusing on the child’s needs.
This presentation will explore the challenges SCASP practitioners have experienced in the transition to online counselling. Challenges have included assessing safety for telehealth sessions where high conflict is present as well as remotely navigating the dynamics of separated and blended families. It is important to then explore some solutions the program has discovered. For example, practitioners considered engaging in shorter sessions, adapting activities for use online and providing extra support to parents as well as other solutions.
The presentation will aim to engage the audience by exploring two fictitious client case studies that represent the various emotional and developmental needs of children and young people who have engaged in telehealth counselling during the pandemic. This will include exploring some specific activities suitable for online counselling sessions as well as ways parents and children have been provided with support.
Since the inception of COVID-19, service delivery in the sector has changed greatly with the need to efficiently adapt to best meet the needs of families and children. Telehealth has shaped a different way of working into the future. This as an opportunity to continue to meet the needs of families in a wider or more accessible variety of ways.
Watch the webinar of this presentation:
Melanie Weinstock, a specialised child and youth counsellor, has over 9 years experience working with children and families. Melanie is passionate about working with children to increase emotional awareness and build emotional resilience and has a keen interest in the way family violence and separation impacts children and families. Melanie holds a Bachelor of Social Work, Graduate Diploma in Coaching and Counselling and is an accredited member of the Australian Counselling Association.
Josette Gardiner, Regional Services Manager for Mental Health Services at Better Place Australia, has over 8 years experience as a specialist child and youth counsellor. She has worked with families and children to help them harness their strengths to create positive change and better relationships. She has a particular interest in the physical, cognitive and emotional effects of grief and loss, the effects of trauma and a keen interest in the way family violence impacts families and children.