Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Who Should I be making an appointment with?

If you know that something is not working well for your family, but are not sure what exactly is required or what to prioritise, then make an appointment with one of our Psychologists for an initial consultation. They will obtain information about your specific concerns and other contextual information to help them develop an understanding of what might be driving the issue and what kinds of approaches might be required. After that first consultation the Psychologist will be able to tell you his or her initial impressions and recommend next steps, including which service providers can best meet your needs. One of the benefits of Annie’s Centre is that we are a multidisciplinary practice; your Psychologist can liaise with our other specialists to provide the relevant information and get your targeted program up and running, quickly.

If you require a diagnostic assessment, please make an appointment for an initial consultation with a Psychologist (for cognitive assessments and Autism Spectrum Disorder assessments) or Speech Pathologist (for comprehensive speech and language assessments).

If you have already received a diagnosis or recommendation from a doctor or trusted clinician, and know the services that you require (e.g., Speech Therapy, Early Intervention for Autism Spectrum Disorders (including ABA or ESDM therapy), literacy support (including MultiLit), you can ask for an initial consultation appointment with the relevant service provider(s) directly.

My doctor has recommended Dr Anne Chalfant for Psychology services– can I book ongoing sessions with her?
Dr Chalfant is the Clinic Director of Annie’s Centre. She has limited availability and a wait-list for ongoing clients. Although she does see many new clients for their initial consultation, any of the experienced Psychologists at Annie’s Centre can consult with you if Dr Chalfant is not available. In her role as Clinic Director and leader of the Annie’s Centre team, Dr Chalfant reviews clients regularly as part of their treatment plan. She supervises the team at Annie’s Centre and, in this way, she can ensure that all clients are receiving the very best care and up to date treatments at all times.
Do I need to see a doctor/obtain a referral before making an appointment at your Centre?
No, you do not need a referral to access services at Annie’s Centre. You can simply call and make the appointment you require. However, a referral may be required if you wish to claim a government funded rebate to offset our fees. Please see our Fees and Rebates page for more information about the rebate process.
Who attends the first appointment?
  • For Psychology services: Both parents are required to attend, without the child. We do this so that parents can express their concerns honestly and openly. We will typically make another appointment to meet your child after the initial consultation
  • For Early Intervention Services: Both parents and the child attend.
  • For Speech Pathology, Therapy and Assessment Services and Literacy Support: Either one parent or both parents (depending on their preference) attend along with their child.
  • Group programs: Attendance requirements can vary. Please contact us for more information about attending a group program.
What do I tell my child about their first appointment?
We find that the best approach requires honesty at a level that can be understood by your child. Very young children who are participating in Early Intervention would likely see the sessions as ‘play’ and it is perfectly acceptable to frame them in this way. While our approach with older children and teens is often play-based, it is best to be honest about the purpose of the appointment. You might describe the person they will meet as a ‘helper’ who sees all sorts of kids and families for all sorts of reasons. You might describe the helper as someone who knows a lot about some of the things the family is having difficulty with and has some ideas for how to help. You can let your child know that the purpose of the meeting is to let them get to know the helper to see if your child likes them, to have a chance to talk about their ideas about what might be bugging them and to figure out some ways to make things a bit better.
What do I need to do to prepare for my first appointment?
We will send you some paper work to complete ahead of your first appointment. It will cover basic family information and a brief history of any assessment and/or intervention you might have accessed before attending our centre. If you have relevant reports from other specialists, school records, work samples or video of concerning behaviour, please send them to us along with your completed and signed service policy forms before your first consultation so that we can adequately prepare for the initial meeting with you. If you bring these documents with you to the initial consultation rather than sending them in advance, then please be aware that your clinician will need to use some of your appointment time to review the documentation to ensure that his or her initial impressions are fully informed, which might take time out of your consultation or result in a longer consultation and, therefore, a higher fee.

If you are eligible and wish to claim a rebate to offset the costs of the first appointment, then please ensure you bring the relevant documentation and provide this to our Receptionist. See our Fees and Rebates page for more information.

What do I bring to my first appointment?
As described above, it is our preference that you send to us ahead of your first appointment any referral letters, relevant reports from other specialists, school records, work samples or video of concerning behaviour ahead of your initial consultation.  Please send these along with your completed and signed service policy forms and any referrals that enable you to claim a rebate. If you bring these with you to the first consultation, then please be aware that your clinician will need to use some of your appointment time to review the documentation to ensure that his or her initial impressions are fully informed, which might take time out of your consultation or result in a longer consultation and, therefore, a higher fee.
Will I be charged a cancellation fee if we cannot attend an appointment?
We, like many professional services, have a cancellation policy that reflects the time that a clinician sets aside for your appointment. We also generally run waiting lists, so if we are given reasonable notice (i.e., more than two business days) then we can offer your space to another client. Therefore, the full fee is charged for sessions that are cancelled less than one business day (24 hours) prior to the scheduled appointment time. Half the session fee is charged for sessions that are cancelled less than two business days (48 hours) prior to the scheduled appointment time. The cancellation policy is strictly adhered to and applies to all reasons for session cancellation including ill health. Please note that we do not send appointment reminders via SMS.
How many support sessions will we need to properly address our concern?
The answer depends on your goals and the complexity of the problem that prompted your call. It would be misleading to offer a formulaic response without first obtaining a better understanding of your child’s and/or your family’s needs. The purpose of the initial consultation is to obtain a clear understanding of your concerns and your child’s general functioning at home and, if relevant, at school. After that consultation, your Psychologist, Speech Therapist or Senior Behaviour Therapist, as the case may be, will give you his or her initial impressions, tell you what other information he or she requires to obtain a complete understanding of the problem and describe the steps required to achieve your goals.
Do both parents need to attend all sessions at the Centre?
Some, but not all.

We understand that it can be difficult to change work schedules to attend frequent meetings and know that many families have effectively undertaken a ‘division of labour’ approach to managing their children’s schedules. We  are also mindful that attending sessions together could be difficult for some parents who are experiencing tension in that relationship. That said, we are equally aware that parent involvement is a critical part of program success at Annie’s Centre. Our clinical experience and independent research tells us that the most successful interventions are designed with input from all key caregivers and with an understanding of the child’s important relationships. Similarly, we find that the families who experience success tend to be those with both parents working from a shared understanding and actively involved in the support process. When parents are separated and/or experiencing stress in their relationship, this consistency in approach and focus on the child is all the more crucial.

For that reason, and provided that it is safe to do so, we require both parents to attend
(i) initial consultations if they are seeing Psychologists or our Early Intervention team,
(ii) periodic feedback/review appointments and, at times,
(iii) parent education sessions, where appropriate. We are mindful of scheduling constraints and therefore try to be efficient and flexible.
For example, one parent might choose to call in and attend via teleconference. Alternatively, we can conduct sessions using Skype, where appropriate. If safety is a concern, we can discuss alternative arrangements. Please speak with our receptionist about any scheduling concerns so that a workable arrangement can be made.

Only one parent is required at initial consultations with our Speech Pathologists.

At times your clinician may ask one parent to sit in on the child’s appointments  However, this depends on which service you are accessing. Generally parents are encouraged to sit in on Speech Pathology sessions whilst for other services including parents in the session would be for a specific purpose and by prior arrangement. Generally the child can attend on his or her own; the parent who brings the child is provided with a brief update at the end of the session and/or a description of what should be practiced between appointments.

I need a formal diagnosis and letter from someone to access support/extension services for my child at school. Can you help with this?
Our clinicians provide comprehensive diagnostic assessments of cognitive and learning abilities, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), speech and language development, and a variety of emotional and behavioural presentations. Our bundled fee packages for cognitive, language and ASD assessments include the preparation of a written report that can be provided to schools in support of a special request.

We can provide written opinions with related support recommendations for other presentations (e.g., social anxiety, attention and concentration difficulties) on request. There is a separate charge for the time taken to prepare these documents, which can be discussed with you prior to the preparation of any reports or letters.

Assessment and support recommendations relating to difficulties with fine motor skills such as writing are generally provided by Occupational Therapists. We do not offer Occupational Therapy at our centre.  However we are happy to refer you to well regarded colleagues if required.

I have an opinion from another Doctor/clinician and I'm not sure I agree with it. Can you provide a second opinion?
Our Psychologists or Speech Pathologists, as the case may be, can offer a second opinion about your child’s presentation. Our starting point involves a review of the earlier report, hearing your thoughts on why it might not be a valid reflection of your child’s current presentation and providing some clarification to determine whether the conclusions are valid but misunderstood or whether parents feel that the conclusions themselves might not be accurate. If the latter is the case, then we will then discuss our assessment options with you and proceed accordingly.
Can Early Intervention support for ASD change my child's diagnosis?
ASD is a diagnosis provided based on the presence of specific symptoms currently and in the child’s early development. Therefore, even if the child does benefit from Early Intervention support, under current diagnostic protocols, it is unlikely that the diagnosis will be changed if the child previously showed symptoms that met the criteria for ASD in their early development. That said, the goal of early intervention is to increase the child’s daily living skills and ability to engage with and learn from the world around them so that they continue to thrive. This is our ultimate goal.
How on earth can I find the recommended minimum of 20 hours for therapy in my week?!
The current evidence-based practice model recommends at least 20 hours of therapy a week, with ‘therapy’ including all the learning opportunities your child has access to: Early Intervention therapy sessions, Speech Pathology sessions, school-based experiences, and any additional services you may be accessing for your child. Research tells us that the best outcomes are obtained when learning opportunities are high intensity (i.e., rich in learning opportunities), high frequency, and high quality.

Crucially, included in this total should be your own therapeutic play with your child as you look for opportunities to extend his or her learning in day to day life (e.g,. spending half an hour consciously interacting with your child during bath time might count as ‘therapy’). Families who work with their child in conjunction with their therapists see better outcomes than families who rely on therapists alone. This is why the Parent Training program is a mandatory part of our Early Intervention approach.

We can work with parents to help them set up a therapy timetable that works for the family.