Hi! I’m Penny, a Child and Family Counsellor and the newest addition to the 12 Points team!
I have worked extensively across the community, education and health sectors, developing a specialist understanding of ways we can practically and realistically support the mental health of our kids. And now, I’m offering my services at 12 Points to children aged 3-18 years and their parents.
I am committed to building the clarity, confidence and competence of parents in meeting their children’s social and emotional needs. My model of care prioritises brief-intervention and focuses on enhancing five key, evidence-based areas to give parents the tools they need to help their family to thrive from within, including permission to focus on their own wellbeing.
I strongly believe in the power of connection, so I have made the conscious decision to work with children and their families through the strengthening of relationships. When parents are struggling, the connection with their child can suffer. Without connection to their community and other families, parents can feel isolated and undervalued. In the absence of quality information and guidance about their child’s unique social and emotional development, parents are likely to experience guilt, shame and self-doubt. We all forget sometimes that kids don’t come with a manual!
Take four-year-old Kayla* for example. Kayla’s mum, Sam, held concerns about Kayla’s anxieties and sensitivities and thus brought Kayla to meet with me, wanting to know if Kayla’s behaviour was “normal” or if Sam was doing something wrong and contributing to her daughter’s worries. Over a few sessions, I was able to make informal assessments about Kayla’s mental health and wellbeing, particularly her sensitivities. I prescribed some reading to Sam and her husband to try and help them appreciate Kayla’s individual needs. I also engaged Sam in some discussion about her own mental health, making sure she could take pride in her ability to be reflective and help-seeking with her parenting. It was determined that Kayla could benefit from some social skills training to boost her confidence and Sam agreed to participate in some parenting training with her husband, with content tailored specifically to their family dynamic. Almost a year later, Sam tells me that she and her husband are enjoying a more positive relationship with their daughter, and feel so much more prepared to deal with issues as they arise. Kayla’s mood has, as a result, been more predictable and positive.
This is the flexibility I have as a counsellor. I am not restricted by Medicare rules that mean I can only see the child or only the parent, or only see clients with a diagnosable mental illness. Instead, at each session, I can plan out and determine who should be in the room and why, ensuring that treatment is both cost and time-effective and adaptable to changing circumstances or emerging issues.
Another family, let’s call them The Burkes*, have engaged my support over the past five months and found this approach particularly beneficial. Mum, Catherine, reached out to me in desperation about her eight-year-old daughter’s daily meltdowns. I started by meeting Catherine on her own first in order to understand her concerns about Holly in more detail. Over the next 10 sessions, I met with Catherine and Holly together, Catherine on her own, and Holly and her Dad together, and prescribed between session activities that the whole family could engage in. Catherine reports Holly’s meltdowns are now very rare and she feels that she and her husband are more confident in their responses to Holly, which has reduced their own anxiety and made the whole household a lot more relaxed.
My beautiful schnoodle, Ralph, and I look forward to seeing you around the clinic and if you have any questions about whether my services could help you or your family, just speak to the lovely admin team!
* client names and identifying details have been changed for privacy.