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Early intervention proves critical in reducing demand for psychological therapies

Reduction of psychological therapy waitlists by 57%

In response to significant wait times for psychological therapies in the north and west of Adelaide, Sonder submitted a proposal to Adelaide PHN with a number of strategies to address demand and waitlists.

One element of the approved proposal was to engage a consultancy firm with significant experience in primary mental health care. One of the resultant recommendations was to adopt the evidence-based Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA) as well as a Brief Intervention Clinic (BIC) offering Solution-Focused Brief Therapy sessions.

Sonder adopted the CAPA model which involved an investment in more resources earlier so that fewer consumers require higher-intensity interventions for longer. CAPA includes a ‘Choice Appointment’ where clinicians meet with clients within two weeks of referral to discuss presenting concerns, available supports, jointly set goals and to ensure clients understand what psychological therapy involves.

  • Since implementation, 25% of clients referred for psychological therapies report having their needs met through Choice Appointments and thus do not go on the waitlist for psychological therapies.

  • When this is accompanied by brief interventions, this increases to 50%.

  • A number of clients also report psychological therapies is not what they are seeking after they’ve had it explained to them what’s involved.

During the Choice Appointment, clients are supported to access self-help resources while they wait for ongoing psychological therapy sessions. While on the waitlist, monthly check-ins occur which frequently involves asking how their progress with self-help resources is going. Often this is a point where clients may express they have improved and elect to come off the waitlist for services.

Choice Appointments also often uncover that alternative services (such as financial counselling) are far more relevant and clients are supported to access these services.

This innovation has enabled better matching of services to needs and assisted in reducing psychological therapy waitlists by 57%.

An extension to the Choice Appointment was made for the Family Wellbeing program supporting a family systems approach and time to socialise families to the therapy process. Experience to date shows a significant reduction in post-assessment inquiries by 95%.

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