Child Psychotherapy Training and Practice in Australia
by Jeanette Beaufoy, MA

Child Psychotherapy, both short and long term, is practiced in various regions of Australia but mainly in Melbourne and Sydney. In Melbourne there is a professional association called The Victorian Child Psychotherapists Association and formal training in child psychotherapy can be found at Monash University, in Melbourne, where two tracks in Child Psychotherapy are offered.

One track offers a Master of Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy degree. In this program, the first three years of this four-year, part time, clinical course consist of three components: seminars, observations and clinical supervision. In the third and fourth years, students receive thesis supervision and complete their papers. A psychotherapy clinic has been established with private funding at Monash University to treat adolescents with severe mental illness. Patients in this clinic are treated by the students in the Masters course.

The second track, which developed as a response to the demand from mental health professionals scattered around Australia, offers a Graduate Diploma in Child Psychotherapy Studies via distant education. This two-year, part-time, Internet course is primarily directed towards health, welfare and education professionals who work with children and adolescents with emotional and behavioural problems. Most of the education occurs via email, although we do have one residential workshop each year. The students in this program must, of course, have an email address so that the Course Administrator and the subject advisors can easily communicate with them. Students seek this program who wish to upgrade and develop their managerial skills and their administrative understanding in the area of adolescent care. This program does not provide clinical training.

Most private child therapy in Australia is conducted either by trained child psychotherapists or by various professional groups such as psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and occupational therapists. The above noted groups are those that are primarily involved in psychoanalytic psychotherapy of child. In addition, there are some individuals who have received supervision in doing child work and may have been involved in some child training. There is also an active family therapy scene in Australia and New Zealand. Like elsewhere, the pressures for short-term work, magical drug cures, and cognitive cures are intense.