Applecross Community Psychologists

School Refusal

Psychologists to help you and your child deal with school refusal

School refusal is the refusal to attend school due to emotional distress. It is associated with an anxiety or fear towards attending school and is so much more than taking a day off. School refusal can significantly affect your child’s school attendance and also their physical and mental wellbeing.

Signs of School Refusal may include the following:

  • Tantrums, crying, or refusal to go to school
  • Extreme distress about being separated from you or the home before school
  • Intense feelings of nervousness about going to school
  • Complaints about feeling physically sick before or during school (stomach aches, diarrhoea, headaches, dizziness)
  • Refusal to leave the house or get out of the car to go to school
  • Constant visits to the school nurse feeling ill and asking to be sent home

What causes school refusal?

  • Anxiety about social situations
  • Anxiety around being separated by a parent or guardian
  • Learning difficulties
  • Stressful life events including parental separation, family illness or grief
  • Peer issues include bullying and conflict with friends
  • Difficulty transitioning to a new school or returning to school after a period of time away
  • Worry about something happening to the parent while at school
  • Worry about school performance
  • Anxiety related issues – Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder etc.

How can A resolution help you if your child is refusing to go to school?

There are sometimes long waitlists involved with seeing a school psychologist or your child may not wish to speak to someone or attend a session that is on school grounds.

We are here to help your child overcome these issues that are causing them distress and anguish over attending school and endeavour to find the root cause that is the underlying trigger for this behaviour.

What action can you take if you are experiencing School Refusal in your child?

Acting on the early signs of school refusal is important. You will need to receive a comprehensive evaluation from a qualified mental healthcare professional to help you identify the root cause of your child’s anxiety and refusal to attend school. An experienced professional will work with you to implement an effective plan to manage it.

As much as it is hard to do, keeping your child in school is the first step. Missing school only reinforces anxiety rather than alleviating it. We recommend the following coping strategies for you and your child to help overcome these stressful situations:

  • Provide clear & firm messages about school attendance
  • Offer rewards or incentives for school attendance
  • Ban or make enjoyable toys & electronic devices off limits
  • Consistent & joint approach with the other parent
  • Contact the school & teachers and discuss your concerns
  • Build a stable morning routine
  • Talk with your child about feelings and fears
  • Encourage hobbies and interests

How can A resolution help with School Refusal?

A resolution Applecross psychologists can help you recognise the early symptoms and warning signs of School Refusal.

Treatment for your child usually involves Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. This form of therapy includes identifying unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. We will evaluate the evidence for and against those beliefs and work with your child to help them implement strategies to overcome these thought patterns on their own.

With the right tools and skills including relaxation, social skills and helpful thinking about school, your child will be able to attend school with new found strategies to help them through their day to day school life.

We will also work directly with you to help you understand why your child won’t go to school and support you with parenting strategies.

Where are you located?

A resolution Applecross can service clients throughout Perth looking for guidance on School Refusal. We are conveniently located just off the Kwinana Fwy. Nearby suburbs include South Perth, Manning, Booragoon, Victoria Park, Mount Pleasant, Rossmoyne, Brentwood, Willeton and more.

To learn more call today on 08 6336 8268

Our Child Psychology Team

Megan Moussa
Megan Moussa
Senior Psychologist

Megan is a valued member of our team and a Senior Registered Psychologist. She is committed to working with you and your child to better manage a wide range of emotional and behavioural concerns.

Her dedication to adolescent health includes her work as an experienced School Counsellor. She specialises in addressing issues related to anxiety, bullying, exam preparation and anti-social behaviour.

Find out more

Katherine Shanhun
Katherine Shanhun
Senior Psychologist

With over 12 years experience as a psychologist and 5 years as a school counsellor, Katherine loves working with young people and their families. She can assist with anxiety, school refusal, self harm, self esteeem, bullying and more.

Find out more

Namrata Makhijini
Namrata Makhijini

Namrata has over 4 years of experience working with youth at Head Space. Namrata works with children from ages 8 and above and is experienced with anxiety, depression and complex trauma.

Find out more


Diagnoses for ADHD can be made by Psychologists, Paediatricians and psychiatrists. Paediatricians and Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Check with your Educational institution to determine if an ADHD diagnosis from a psychologist is suitable for the purposes of funding support. If you wish to consider medication in future, you may benefit from the confirmation of your diagnosis with a Psychiatrist/Paediatrician.Some psychiatrists and paeditricians find that this diagnosis helps streamline and fast track their assessment process. If we have provided you with a diagnosis please advise your Psychiatrist/Paeditrician when you make the booking so they can allocate the adjusted time. 

ADD/ADHD Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder that impacts the parts of the brain that help us plan, focus on, and execute tasks. ADHD symptoms vary by sub-type — inattentive, hyperactive, or combined.

There are a number of treatment options that can be employed.  Parent Training in Behaviour Management, Behavioural Classroom Interventions, Neurofeedback, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Medication are the only evidence-based treatment options available that can be used on their own or in conjunction with each other. It is important to note that the Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) recommend medication as the frontline treatment for ADHD as well as other interventions (for people 5 and older) however the adoption of medication should always be made in line with the assessment of symptom strength and the child’s age.  For children, we recommend that parent’s complete behaviour management training and employ Occupational Therapists to work alongside the educational assistants and teachers at school. It is recommended that you apply a range of treatments including supplementary methods. Adults can develop a treatment plan to change target behaviours with their psychologist.

Neurofeedback.- Neurofeedback is recommended by the American Psychological Society and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry as a method that has been shown to produce beneficial effects in the research literature. It is important that you use a clinic that employs the best protocols for Neurofeedback and also understand that it appears to be most helpful with attention/concentration issues rather than hyperactivity (See Neurofeedback as a Treatment Intervention in ADHD: Current Evidence and Practice).  With Neurofeedback can bypass the waitlist for treatment for Psychiatric/Pediatric evaluation and start an evidence-based approach for the treatment of ADD/ADHD within a few months while on the waitlist for these highly sought-after medical professionals. Neurofeedback can be booked at the Perth Brain Centre (set aside a budget of around $2000 – $2500 for the assessment and treatment program) and if delivered by an Occupational Therapist you may obtain Medicare/Private Health rebates. Just like medication, it will not be the solution for everyone. Below are some local Perth Businesses where you can obtain Neurofeedback treatment programs. 

  1. Perth Brain Centre (Attadale) 
  2. Brain Training Australia (Perth and West Perth)
  3. Mind State Psychology

Another Neurofeedback option for children with emotional regulation issues whether they are brought on by ADHD or other resources is Mightier for kids. Mightier is a digital program for kids that uses their heart rate to teach coping skills through game-based play. It is clinically validated to support kids ages 6-14 with ADHD, Autism, Anger, Anxiety and outbursts and ODD.

You will need a diagnosis from a Psychiatrist or Pediatrician for a script for medication. There are stimulant and non-stimulant-based medications and slow-release medications. The US and the Australian ADHD treatment recommendation differ in their recommendation for medication as a front line treatment for ADHD for children under 9. The Australian Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guideline For Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)recommend medication as the frontline treatment for ADHD as well as other interventions.  Medication for children and adults may have undesirable side effects. More information on the types of medication available can be found here and should be discussed with your Psychiatrist or Pediatrician. Medication and CBT work more effectively for different areas of ADHD related problems and a psychologist can help you make the decision based on your individual concerns. Psychologists can’t prescribe medication or provide official advice around medication but we can provide a space to discuss your reactions to medication and formulate the questions you need to answer with your psychiatrist/pediatrician. 

In the majority of instances it is recommended that Neurofeedback, Parent Behavioural Training (parenting does not cause ADHD but it can go a long way to help manage it), Behavioural Class Room interventions or medication is adopted for the treatment of ADHD however, nutrition and psychological therapy can play an important supplementary role and depending on what symptoms you are most struggling with, psychological therapy may be the better treatment option. 

Parent Behavioural TrainingThe Triple P Parenting program is a free online resource for WA parents designed for children under 12. It will help parents iscover more ways to be an ongoing positive influence on your child and strengthen your relationship (now, and in the years to come). Promote new skills and help emotional self-regulation and know how to respond effectively to guide behaviour so that you can raise happier and more confident and capable kids.

Nutrition. – Following an ADHD nutrition plan rich in protein and vitamins can help control symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Key components are having a diet in high protein, avoiding carbs/sugar and supplementing with iron, magnesium and zinc. The Perth Brain Centre is able to give you a targeted list of nutritional supplements based on your brain scan. .

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) (delivered by psychologists, Occupational Therapists OT’s etc.)

Cognitive-behavioral therapy refers to a type of mental health treatment that focuses on the thoughts and behaviors that occur in the “here and now. Stimulant and non-stimulant medication has been shown in numerous studies to be effective for treating ADHD in adults. Research thus far shows that CBT can provide benefits whether or not the person is being treated with medication. There have not yet been any direct, head-to-head comparisons of CBT and medication, but clinical experience suggests that they have different effects: Whereas medication helps to control the core symptoms of distractibility, short attention span and impulsivity, CBT is more effective at increasing the habits and skills needed for executive self-management and may also serve to improve emotional and interpersonal self-regulation.

Our psychological assessment fees start from $1440 (ADHD only) to $3120 (ADHD and WAIS/WISC & WAIT) and $2640 for (ADHD and WAIS or WISC).

You can make interest-free instalment payments via Eway (our direct debit system).

We are registered psychologists therefore, private health fund rebates may be applied, please contact your provider to obtain further information regarding the gap between the fee charged and the health fund rebate. 

Medicare rebates do not apply to psychometric assessments unless there is a referral from a Paediatrician / General Practitioner that is necessary regarding long-term planning for emotional and behavioural difficulties.

Where are you located?

A resolution Applecross has been proudly helping the people of Perth for over 10 years. Set in the heart of Applecross Community Village (Private entry on the first floor via stairs) and Reynolds Road Medical Centre (Wheelchair accessible). We are conveniently located just off the Kwinana Fwy. Nearby suburbs include South Perth, Como, Booragoon, Victoria Park, Mount Pleasant, Rossmoyne, Fremantle, Willeton and more.

Our couch, Your private space

Our private and warmly appointed rooms in Applecross provide the perfect space for you to begin your journey of self-development and start taking control of leading a more fulfilling life. We are located near Applecross Village with a private rear entry, upstairs at the back of the building.

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To Book your Appointment Phone Today 08 6117 8019