A part-time job whilst an undergraduate at university was the catalyst for Caterpillar Clinic’s founder Rachel Briffa helping numerous children with disabilities and their families.
“I worked as a Behaviour Therapist working with children with autism, and I loved it,” she said. “I found it incredibly rewarding working with children and teaching them a wide range of skills.”
Rachel went on to gain a Postgraduate Diploma of Science (Psychology), Master of Science (Psychology with First Class Honours), Postgraduate Diploma of Applied Psychology and become a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst.
She started Caterpillar Clinic five years ago and is the only psychologist north of Brisbane who specialises in Applied Behaviour Analysis, a field of psychology dedicated to addressing behavioural concerns of children with disabilities.
“It’s been nice to go back to my roots, providing assessments and intervention for children and adolescents with development delay, as well as being able to offer more wide-ranging services,” she said. “We don’t just support children with disabilities; we have children who are referred under mental health care plans for anxiety, depression, behavior difficulties, grief and loss and adjustment disorders.”
Rachel designs and implements intensive behavioural intervention programs, provides psychological consultation and parent support, school consultation and training, which gives parents and carers the skills they need to help their children.
Her and her team have also built relationships with general practitioners and pediatricians to establish relationships across the sector to help with their patients’ care.
“The children we see are amazing kids who just need support in certain areas,” Rachel said. “One of the best parts of my job are the seemingly small gains, like when a young child learns to say their name or clap their hands, or an older child asks for help, takes a breath to calm themselves, or walks away from someone annoying them. It’s a massive win for everyone.”
Suite 3, 320 Sheridan St, Cairns
Ph: 0430 198 921
Photo By Catherine Coombs
Words by Janie Barton