Cate qualified as an Educational Psychologist in 2006 at the University of Exeter in the UK. She has been a practicing psychologist, registered with the New Zealand Psychologist Board since moving here in 2011. She is also a member of the New Zealand Psychological Society.
Her main area of practice is working with the adults involved with young people so that they become equipped with the knowledge and skills they need to best support their youngster. Most of the issues that adults find difficult are related to challenging behaviours that the young people present.
When children and young people are behaving in a way that we find difficult to manage, it is Cate’s belief that there is always an underlying reason for that behaviour. Finding out the ‘why’ of the behaviour is the key to working out the ‘what to do to help’. Almost always the adults who know the young people best are the ones to hold both the key to the ‘why’ and the relationship to carry out the ‘what to do about it’. This is why Cate chooses to focus on working with the adults as well as the young people who are experiencing difficulties.
When a call for help is received, Cate will start by gathering as much information as possible about the situation, the background and the history of the issue. This gathering of information is termed ‘assessment’ and it may be as simple as having a conversation with everyone, including the young person. Assessment may involve doing some exercises to help understand how the young person thinks and feels and perhaps some activities for the adults to help understand their perspective.
Once Cate has a really good understanding of how things are for everyone, she will work with the group to work out what are the priority things to work on. Together they will work out some achievable goals and Cate will offer some advice and guidance around possible strategies to work towards achieving them.
Young people, like all of us, live, work and play in different environments like home, school and ‘out and about’. If they need help in one, then almost certainly they will need help in all and that is why, when Cate gets a call to help a situation, she will try her best to work with all the adults involved at home, at school and any other groups, regardless of who has asked for help.