We wanted to share the exciting news and learn more about opening a business in regional WA so we caught up with Clare and asked her a few questions!
We understand you’ve just started a new business, Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy. Can you tell us a little about the business?
Yes sure, Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy is a private paediatric practice specialising in child social, emotional and behavioural development and helping children address the struggles faced when things go off-track in any of these areas.
In essence, the service I offer is focused on child mental health. I do this by creating opportunities for children to address, make sense of, and overcome life challenges as well as helping them develop new strategies and skills which will assist in strengthening their mental health.
It’s great to have another service available to regional families! What was your reason for starting the business and did you face any hurdles when creating a new business, if so what were they?
My reasons for starting Wheatbelt OT were mostly around opportunity. My area of interest is very specific and one which is not commonly associated with Paediatric OT. It is the coming together of my Occupational Therapy degree and advanced training in Child Centred Play Therapy which has led me to this point in my career. So, although I love working in a team environment, I made the decision to establish Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy so that I could provide the community service I feel makes the best use of my knowledge in sensory processing, child development and mental health.
The process of starting a new business has involved a lot of learning. However, with all the resources and services available to us online now in conjunction with the local support I have received from friends and family, I am fortunate enough to say, I have felt really supported throughout this process. That said the biggest challenge has been finding the time to establish Wheatbelt OT while maintaining a healthy balance with the other important things in life. I think though, that is a juggle most parents can relate to.
What tips would you provide someone who would like to start a new business or venture?
I guess given the work, time and money involved in establishing a new business having genuine passion for what you are doing is definitely important. If I was not as motivated as I am to work in this area I quite possibly would have run out of puff by now. Starting a business is definitely more of a marathon than a sprint so enjoying the journey has been important.
What areas does Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy cover and do you provide an outreach service direct to client’s homes?
My clients service plans are structured specifically to meet their needs and goals. Generally speaking though I offer individual therapy for children from 2.5 years and older. For a child younger than that I can provide indirect support through individual consultation with their parent(s) and/or other caregiver(s).
My primary mode of working with children is through varying uses of therapeutic play, the most common being Child Centred Play Therapy (CCPT). For those who don’t know, CCPT is a form of counselling and psychotherapy for children but rather than relying primarily on verbal communication like some talk-based therapies, children are able to use toys, play and creative expression to communicate and work through worries and master new skills. I also use my knowledge around sensory processing to better understand how & why different situations and environments can influence a child’s mood, attention and behaviour.
The sorts of concerns which may prompt a referral to Wheatbelt OT include personal struggles such as difficulty regulating big feelings, acting out, anxiety, concentration or learning difficulties, self-care difficulties such as sleep, eating or toileting issues, an illness or injury which is having an impact on a child’s emotional wellbeing, a developmental disorder or disability, or situational challenges such as bullying, change in family circumstances, grief, loss or trauma.
Unfortunately, I am limited with regards to the outreach I can currently provide. However, travelling to client’s homes can be arranged in special circumstances.
Apart from 1-on-1 consults we see you may also offer workshops, can you tell us more about these?
Yes I do, I offer a range of social, emotional and behavioural skills programmes for primary school aged children as well as parent information sessions and workshops on a range of topics.
The social skills program can be run privately or within a school setting. There are four modules focusing on bullying and teasing, managing emotions, developing self-management & organisational skills, and managing the complexities of friendship groups. Each module consists of 5 weekly sessions.
I am also excited to be currently collaborating with Christina Gammon, a Katanning Mum, Nurse and Founder of the online community Little Wildflowers. We are working on a workshop which focuses on helping children build a healthy relationship with food and positive ways to manage eating concerns such as picky eating.
Do you have any pipeline dreams for Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy? Where do you see the business in five years’ time?
I do, I sometimes think I will drive Shayne crazy with all my plans, dreams and ideas. The two main ones I have at the moment are to expand Wheatbelt OT and have more like minded, local professionals come onboard. I would also love to one day have a therapy van set up so I can my services more accessible for more country families.
For now though I am very much enjoying doing what I love on the days that I can and using the great therapy space available to me at the Narrogin Wellness Centre.
Thanks, Clare, for answering our questions and sharing your passion with us! We look forward to seeing Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy grow and provide great services to our community and across the Wheatbelt and Great Southern region.
For more information about Wheatbelt Occupational Therapy visit www.wheatbeltot.com.au or like the Facebook page for the most up to date information and news, https://www.facebook.com/wheatbeltOT/.