A Comprehensive and Holistic Approach to Clinical Intake

Introduction

In recent years, there has been a dynamic shift away from mental health care being disease-focused and curative. A holistic approach to mental health has become more prevalent in the Australian mental health care system. This approach involves support that observes the whole person, not just their mental health needs.

A Holistic Approach

Fostering a holistic model of care starts at the first point of contact. We understand that disclosing personal information to a clinician can be daunting, and we endeavour to provide a culturally safe and accepting environment from the earliest moment.

A holistic approach involves understanding the individual’s physical, emotional, social, and spiritual needs. After submitting a referral, families and agencies can expect in-depth discussions about the child they are referring, commencing with the clinical intake meeting.

Interests and Strengths

Children often have a wonderful sense of imagination, and harnessing this strength can benefit both the child and the clinician. Preparing the initial therapy sessions with activities stemming from the child’s interests can increase engagement, improve self-esteem, and encourage developing trusting, strong relationships, which are vital in the healing journey.

A holistic approach focuses on a person’s wellness and strengths, not just their physical or mental condition. Centring our practice around the person’s strengths encourages strong rapport between the client and clinician in an often intimidating space.

Current Care Arrangements and Service Involvement

Understanding someone’s care arrangements and service involvement provides clinicians with a comprehension of the young person’s support systems on an individual, familial, and community level. Discussing familial support systems is essential in the intake process as it allows clinicians to identify protective factors for the young person and how the family can play a role in their healing.

The child may have previously engaged with mental health or other allied health services, providing opportunities for collaboration and maintaining the continuity of care. We take a non-judgmental, open approach when discussing family and care structures to provide the most appropriate care to families from diverse backgrounds.

Presenting Challenges and Trauma History

Childhood development is significantly affected by the nature of their relationships. Understanding the child’s history of trauma provides insight into the challenges they have overcome and its effects on their attachment to primary caregivers.

Assessing the child’s current social, emotional, and behavioural concerns helps establish how trauma can manifest in the individual and what theories, approaches, and modalities we can integrate into their therapeutic plan. Adverse events in the first six years of a child’s life can profoundly impact all developmental domains, informing how to support the young person in their healing best.

Making a Referral

The family can make referrals of the person needing care or an organisation involved in the care of an individual living with disability and or trauma. Making a referral is the first step in a client’s journey to connect with ACT Group. We understand that the first step of any experience can often feel like the most daunting part.

To ensure that referring to ACT Group is accessible, transparent, and beneficial for the client, family, or referring agent, we have created an easy-to-follow form on our website. This process is simple, with only two pages that need to be completed. These sections allow you to enter contact information, client information, and a brief introduction to the situation. Once you hit ‘Submit,’ the form is quickly directed to our Intake team for review. Once we have an idea about an individual’s circumstances, we think about ways to work together to create support, healing, and change.

Conclusion

Every discussion during the intake meeting is valuable and helps us understand the child as a complex, unique, and whole person. The cooperation shown by the families and other support systems allows us to provide the best care and continue to foster a holistic approach across our service.

References:

  • Hughes, D., Golding, K., & Hudson, J. (2019). Healing Relational Trauma with Attachment-Focused Interventions: Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy with Children and Families (1st ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
  • Shafran, R., Bennett, S., & McKenzie Smith, M. (2017). Interventions to Support Integrated Psychological Care and Holistic Health Outcomes in Pediatrics. Healthcare, 5(3), 44. doi: 10.3390/healthcare5030044