Help for families

Coming for therapy

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Please find below a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have put together based on questions we’ve received in the past from families and referrers. 

Additionally, you can click here for more information on who we see and how to make an appointment

If you’re unable to find an answer to your question here, please do not hesitate to contact us on (03) 9385 5100 and make a time to speak with an Intake Worker.


Where are you?

You will find us at 8 Gardiner Street, Brunswick.


What happens during a family therapy appointment?

To begin with, we usually send a questionnaire for each family member to fill in before your first appointment. This gives everyone an opportunity to think about what they are worried about and how they would like things to be different or better.

When you arrive, the therapist/s usually starts by asking each person in the room what they would like to get from the meeting. Your therapist will then work with you to prioritise which issues to discuss first. He or she will check back with you at different times during the meeting to ensure the conversation stays on track.

Each person will be given an opportunity to have their say at some stage in the session. Where appropriate, your therapist/s will share some of his/her ideas about what might help, in relation to the goals you want to achieve in the meeting.

Your therapist/s will usually end the first session by asking what you would all like to do next. This might include making arrangements to follow up with each of you by telephone (during this call he/she will ask about your responses to the meeting, and make a decision with you about further sessions). If you decide that you definitely want to come again, you can make another appointment immediately at the end of the first session.


How long do sessions go for? 

Sessions are mostly scheduled Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm and go for approximately 60-90 minutes.


How long do families attend for?

Families usually attend for between one and six sessions, sometimes more, over a period of a few months. Families and their therapist/s together decide how many appointments are needed.


How often will we have to come in?

Some families come monthly, some fortnightly. At times, sessions may be more or less frequent. Once again, families and their therapist/s together decide how often to schedule appointments.


How much does it cost?

The Bouverie Centre’s family therapy service is funded by the Department of Health, Mental Health, Drugs and Regions Division and is free of charge.

For families where an adult, child or young person has an acquired brain injury (ABI):

Services are only offered to families not covered by a third party, such as the Transport Accident Commission (TAC) or other insurance companies. Families who are eligible for compensation through a third party will be referred to an appropriate service.

Family appointments for non-compensable clients and their families are free of charge and are sponsored by the Department of Human Services, Disability Services.


Who do we see when we come for therapy at The Bouverie Centre?

Families offered an appointment at The Bouverie Centre are generally seen by one or two qualified family therapists, depending on the number of family members attending and the nature of their concerns.

Families offered an appointment in our Master’s Family Therapy Course Clinic are seen by an experienced professional undertaking specialised postgraduate training in family therapy. Both the student and the family are also assisted by a small team of students (usually 4 or 5) and an experienced supervisor.


Who should come to the first session?

All relevant family members are encouraged to attend the first appointment together. Who attends and when will be decided between the therapist/s and the family, however we generally like to meet all family members within a household. We encourage the inclusion of children (pre-school, primary school age and adolescents) and we endeavour to make the sessions interesting and fun. Significant others may attend as appropriate, e.g. support workers, extended family members, etc.

Some sessions may be offered to an individual alone or to particular family members.


What if one of the members of our family refuses to come?

If a family member doesn’t want to attend, then of course we will respect their decision. We will try and understand their point of view via other members of the family. They will always be welcome in sessions providing it is safe for them and for others.


What if someone in our family doesn’t want someone else to attend?

We are always mindful of the risk of physical and emotional harm. Our Intake team is experienced in assessing family situations before an appointment is offered to avoid placing family members in circumstances where they feel physically or emotionally unsafe. If appropriate, separate sessions may be suggested by the therapist/s.


How will my privacy be protected?

The Bouverie Centre is committed to maintaining each family member’s privacy and confidentiality.

In order to provide your family with therapy at the Bouverie Centre and to meet the requirements of our funding bodies - the Victorian Department of Health, Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs and Regions Division or the Department of Human Services for clients seeing our Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Team – you will need to fill in a registration form.

Only the name, address and date of birth of one of your family members will be forwarded to the appropriate government department as a way of registering your family’s attendance. Only this information may be accessed by departmental workers as as required.

All of the information on the form will be available to your family therapist(s) here at Bouverie.

If you choose to do so, your family can release us in writing to communicate with other professional agencies in order to coordinate our efforts to support you. Your family’s situation will not be talked about or discussed outside The Bouverie Centre without your expressed written permission unless:

  • we believe that someone is at risk of harm
  • our records are subpoenaed by court. Fortunately this rarely happens.

In the event that we are required to communicate information about you or your family to another agency for one of the above reasons, we will always do our best to consult with you about this.

All personal information recorded about your family will be maintained with the highest regard for its security, in accordance with several laws, standards and protocols. Please speak to your therapist or to our Clinical Program Manager (9385 5100) if you have any further queries about our policies for safeguarding family records.


Can I access my records?

Family members may access the information that they have given on their registration form, however access to your therapist’s notes can only be given if all family members who attended sessions give permission. Also, viewing of therapist’s notes can only occur in the presence of a family therapist from The Bouverie Centre. These notes cannot be removed from The Bouverie Centre, nor can they be copied. Clients seeking further access must apply in writing to La Trobe University under the Freedom of Information Act.


What if I’m not happy with the service I’m getting?

We recognise that family therapy can sometimes be challenging and are committed to providing the best care and service possible. We welcome feedback about your experience with us.

If you are not satisfied with our service, and are not able to resolve the matter directly with your therapist, please contact us. We take complaints seriously and aim to resolve them quickly and fairly. Feedback or concerns regarding the service you are receiving can be made directly to the worker in the first instance, or to the Clinical Program Manager, Julie Beauchamp, on (03) 9385 5100 or at

If you remain dissatisfied with our response, you may contact the Health Complaints Commissioner (HCC). The HCC responds to complaints about health services and the handling of health information in Victoria. Their service is free, confidential and impartial. To lodge a complaint with the HCC: fill out a complaint form online at or Phone 1300 582 113 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday, to discuss your complaint.


Vikki Reynolds presents Justice-Doing, Collective Ethics and The “Zone of Fabulousness”

The Bouverie Centre is delighted to be hosting an interactive workshop by Vikki Reynolds on how we can be of use in community work that happens in contexts of social injustices.

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Family Violence and Mental Health Services

The Bouverie Centre presented a webinar describing the centre’s work exploring the intersection between Family Violence and Mental Health.

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