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The Qs and As of

Psychological Services

Q1.Why do I need consultation before my sessions?

A1.A session of psychological consultation is necessary before assessment, counseling, and intervention. The aim of the consultation session is to seek for direction and measures. It is similar to the medical consultation before prescription.

* please bring along with you your (medical, psychological, or school) report and medical prescription if any.

Q2. What are the differences between Psychiatrists or “Psych-Doctor”?

A2.“Psych-Doctor (aka shrink in US)” might refer to clinical psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist, depending on content of intent. Clinical psychologists, in Hong Kong, (Macau), Taiwan, and Australia, usually complete clinical psychology training in postgraduate level with practicum, after graduating from undergraduate degree in psychology; Psychiatrists complete specificity training after graduating from medial sciences. Definition varies. Thus, clinical psychologists do not conduct medial executions, or prescribe pharmaceutic medications, and differ in the interventions, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Theraplay, Play Therapy and Client-Centred Therapy, from medical doctors. Approaches of “Talk Therapy” (psychotherapy) vary depending on the training of the practitioners.

Q3.“Have I made any assessment? I had. Is there a report? No, they gave me a very brief verbal debrief only.”

A3. For any kind of assessment, consultation, counseling, therapy or intervention, a client and/or his/her legal guardian has the rights to request the “report/record". “Assessment Reports” include cognitive ability test, IQ test, integrative development assessment, attention tests, etc. And “Progress Notes/Reports” are records after each session of consultation, counseling, therapy or intervention. Psychologist is responsible to interpret the results after each assessment, and provide the assessment report to the client and/or his/her legal guardian. The client retains the rights to request the “Progress Notes/Reports” via written request whenever necessary/desired.

Q4. "How will my information be stored? I don't want anyone to know about my stuff."

A4. In general, all personal information and content from services are kept confidential with written consent from client and/or legal guidance; however, confidentiality is restricted in some situations, especially when keeping confidential is harmful (e.g. self-harm) or concerned with violation of local laws. Nevertheless, psychologist would discuss with the client about the crisis before disclosure. If a resolution could be come over after discussion, the information would not be disclosed without written consent from client and/or legal guidance.

Remarks: Your information is secured by the local Laws N. 8/2005 (Private Information Protection Laws)

Q5. What is Theraplay?

A5. Theraplay is a play therapy approach developed by Dr. Ann Jernberg, an US psychologist. It has evidence base status. For further information, please read

“Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge.

... In treatment, the Theraplay Practitioner guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.” (From Theraplay Institute What is Theraplay)

Q6. What is age appropriateness? Why is this important for parenting?

A6. A: Performance in different ages varies in physical and mental development as well as adaptation to environment. Understanding developmental stages enhances setting reasonable expectations for applying appropriate strategies in parenting.

The following information could be as your references:

World Health Organisation Child Growth Standard

Developmental checklist for preschool child

Developmental checklist for preschool child

Remarks: If you have concerns about child development, please contact your pediatrician, family doctor or clinical psychologist.

For more information of relevant services at our center, please contact us via PM, WeChat or WhatsApp.

Q7.What is Play Therapy?

A7.Play therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach used to help children ages 3 to 12 explore their lives and freely express repressed thoughts and emotions through play (sometimes used with adults too). Therapeutic play normally takes place in a safe, comfortable playroom, where very few rules or limits are imposed on the child, depending on the play therapy approach applied.

The goal and time need for play therapy vary. Before starting play therapy, parents and/or caregiver(s) meet with play therapist (our play therapy is provided by clinical psychologist) to set treatment goal and plan. Emotion and behavior control, enhancement of self-esteem, social skills, stress and trauma management are some of the examples for treatment goal. Play sessions usually are scheduled weekly or every two weeks for 45 minutes. Every three or four play sessions, parents and/or caregiver(s) meet with therapist alone to review progress and feedback.

Q8. Why do we need clinical psychologist involving in early intervention for children, besides speech therapist, physical therapist and occupational therapist?

A8. Roles of clinical psychologist in early intervention for children:

1. Providing assessments in cognition, global developmental, behavior, social and emotion.

2. Providing recommendations, interventions and treatments.

A comprehensive psychological evaluation, which might at least take 1.5 to 2 hours, is essential, besides assessments from speech therapist (assessing articulation, comprehension of spoken and written language), physical therapist (assessing gross motors) and occupational therapist (assessing fine motors). Clinical psychologist applies standardized tools for assessing cognition (aka developmental test or intelligent test), ruling out potential cognitive developmental delay, and ruling out autism, ADHD and/or other emotional behavioral issues by comprehensively considering physical, psychological and environmental factors via behavioral observation, clinical interview, computerized neuropsychological test and parent-scales.

Clinical psychologist assists parents, teachers and caregivers to understand developmental conditions of children and provide recommendations for cognitive, social-emotional developments for parenting and follow-up intervention, depending on the needs of child and the family. Pre-school early interventions provided by clinical psychologist include but not only limited to emotional and behavioral management training, social skills training, impulse control training, cognitive training, attention training. Basing on principles and rules from psychology, treatment plans and strategies applying cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, play therapy, parent education, family therapy, are formulated. Clinical psychologist also provides professional consultation to other professionals. Further interdisciplinary cooperation maximizes effectiveness.

For concerns and inquiries about early intervention for children, act proactively, make appointment for a parent consultation, and consult with a clinical psychologist.

Q9.Where could I seek help for psychological distress?

A9. If you are currently in Macao, various interventions are provided by local medical doctors, Hospital de S. Janeiro Emergency and Psychiatry Outpatient, Health Centres in various Districts, local hospitals, medical service providers, NGO, and local psychotherapy clinics.

As Registered Therapist (Psychotherapy) is included in the Therapist Category on Health Bureau website http://www.ssm.gov.mo/portal/ without specifying Psychotherapist, residences can be referred by familiar medical service providers or inquire to the specific therapist. Please contact us for information of our clinic via WeChat, phone (853-63660911), or PM.

Q10.Why do you always promote play? What can be learnt from play? Any features about the play that being provided at your center?

A10.One of the well-known masters of play therapy, Garry Landreth, once said, “birds fly, fish swim, and children play (Landreth, 1991).” It means that “play” is something that everyone does since birth. Play is the language and learning tool of child.

Purposeful play could assist learning and development of children. Play could be therapeutic when being provided by a person with play therapy training. Play therapy, for any children, typical children or children with special needs, improves emotion, behaviors, social and learning, assists building of self and strengths adaption and adjustment.

Our clinical psychologist is certified as Theraplay Practitioner, first from Macao, at the Theraplay Institute.

If you are interested in more about play therapy, please read another post

Q11.“It must be severely mental ill if someone needs to seek help from clinical psychologist/ psychotherapist.”

A11. Having needs for psychotherapy is unnecessarily related to illness or mental disorders. In general, clinical psychologist emotional regulation (e.g. feeling anxious, depressed, sad...), stress, life adjustment, acute or chronic physical and psychological distress, sleep issues, prenatal and postnatal emotions, early intervention (children with special needs), parenting, emotional and/or behavioral issues of children, career counseling, child-parent interaction etc.

In Macau, there is not yet a system for specialists for clinical psychologists. It is recommended to inquire about training background of a service provider.