Psychology Week 2020

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a Psychologist looks like?

As part of Psychology Week (8-14 Nov), which aims to increase public awareness of how psychology can help Australians lead healthier and more meaningful lives, we are profiling Yooralla Psychologist, Eve Ashwood.

Eve, whose formal title at Yooralla is Senior Clinician – Psychologist, Positive Behaviour Support, has been working as part of Yooralla’s Allied Services and Wellbeing team for the past three years.

With more than 14 years’ experience in the disability sector under her belt, Eve specialises in supporting customers with high and complex needs.

“I work with adults and children with a range of disabilities, ranging from intellectual disability, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), chromosomal disorders, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, depression, anxiety, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD), epilepsy and people with trauma,” she said.

Eve works collaboratively with customers’ other health professionals including Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Paediatricians and Psychiatrists, as well as their families, to support them to achieve their National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goals.

“Working with other disciplines has helped widen my perspectives and I’ve had the opportunity to gain transdisciplinary skills,” she said.

A typical day for Eve icludes conducting functional behavioural assessments; providing positive behaviour support training to Yooralla staff; and developing, evaluating and reviewing the implementation of positive behaviour support plans and restrictive practices for people with behaviour of concern that comply with the relevant legislative framework.

Eve also provides education and training to family and carers with a holistic approach to skill development, particularly around behaviours of concern.

Positive behaviour support 

“Positive behaviour support is my passion,” said Eve.

“The essence of my job is improving the quality of life for my customers, which is the fundamental principle of positive behaviour support.

“The framework teaches people positive alternative behaviours that are evidence-based, such as emotional education, relaxation skills, social skills, mental health coping skills and desensitisation skills.

“People with disabilities have the same rights to access therapists, including psychologists, as the rest of the community. The positive behaviour framework is person-centred, which also aligns with my values,” she said.

Psychology services during the coronavirus pandemic

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way many of Yooralla’s services operate, including Psychology.

Eve said that just like most of the community, people with disability have found the COVID-19 pandemic very challenging with lockdowns, restrictions, changes and disruptions to routine and supports.

“It’s been a privilege to support customers and their families during this challenging time and it gave me a purposeful meaning every day,” she said.

“Some customers engaged in telehealth, and for some customers it was their first-time using technology. The NDIS funded iPads for telehealth purposes, and all of my customers who wished to have one received an iPad.

“One of my customers loves using his iPad for telehealth so much that we will most likely to continue telehealth instead of face-to-face going forward,” said Eve.

One of my most memorable days

Eve said that one of the most memorable days of her career was when one of her customers’ Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) application was approved by the NDIS.

“This customer had been living in several different types of accommodation over the years and I worked with his Allied Health team on his SDA application; now he could finally have a place that he can call his home,” she said.

“When we were told by his Specialist NDIS Planner that it has been approved we all were so happy.

“It was a real privilege working with him, his Allied Health Team and his family to achieve his goal and it something that I will take with me on my professional journey forever,” said Eve.

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