Optimising Allied Health scope of practice through brief therapy models of service

Yolanda Mansfield2, Sarah  Hamilton1

1Metro South Addictions and Mental Health Service Queensland Health and School of Human Service and Social Work Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia, 2Research Coordinator, Service Evaluation & Research Unit, Mental Health & Specialised Services, West Moreton Health,

Many mental health consumers are forced to navigate a complex and fragmented service system due to a lack of service coordination, collaboration and integration. This is especially the case for those people at risk of suicide where the fragmentation between public mental health and other service sectors causes excessive review and assessment, limited therapeutic intervention and continuity of care, resulting in consumers making multiple presentations to hospital emergency departments. Various allied health scope of practice studies suggest that allied health mental health services hold a strong focus on generic tasks with the constraints of care coordination functions limiting the use of therapeutic interventions and working to full scope of practice. The result is a de-skilled and underutilised allied health workforce. However, if appropriately trained and supported, allied health clinicians are well positioned to expand mental health service responsiveness through the delivery of therapeutic interventions within their full scope of practice. In response to the above concerns, three allied health brief therapy clinics (AHBTCs) were established. The AHBTCs supported allied health clinicians deliver brief therapeutic interventions to mental health consumers at risk of suicide, thus increasing scope of practice, service responsiveness and integration and ultimately consumer therapeutic outcomes. This study presents the implementation of a pilot of allied health brief therapies clinics (AHBTCs), co-located and delivered in partnership by public mental health and community managed mental health organisations. The study employed a multi-site repeated measures, mixed method approach using standardised clinical measures, service data, surveys and semi-structured individual interviews with mental health clinicians and consumer participants. This study presents the results of the evaluation of the AHBTCs in terms of process, impact and outcomes for the clinicians, consumers and services involved.


Sarah Hamilton is the Statewide Allied Health Professional Practice Leader – social work, with Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services. Sarah has experience in mental health service provision, clinical education, leadership, management, policy and research in New Zealand and Australia. Sarah has an interest in the areas of leadership, model of service development, scope of practice, suicide prevention, research and clinical supervision.

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