Elaine West Registered Psychologist

I am a Registered Psychologist specialising in working with children and adolescents. I am a member of the NZ Psychological Society and I am also a qualified primary school teacher. I taught at the primary level in New Zealand before moving to Australia, where I trained and qualified as a psychologist. Initially I was employed as a University Lecturer at Charles Sturt University but eventually decided to move away from academia and become a practising psychologist. I worked in a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit (CAMHS) with children and adolescents with educational, behavioral and/or emotional challenges. I also worked with the parents and schools to provide them with strategies and skills to manage and support the children and young people. Since arriving back in New Zealand I have worked as a psychologist with the Ministry of Education (Intensive Wraparound Service) and as a Resource Teacher: Learning and Behaviour (RTLB). This work has provided me with valuable experience of, and insight into, the New Zealand Primary and Secondary education systems.

I have experience working with children and adolescents experiencing learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and dyscalculia), behavioural difficulties (such as aggression, school refusal and oppositionality), developmental disorders (such as ADHD) and emotional disorders (such as anxiety, low mood , and low self-esteem). I can provide cognitive and educational assessments and counselling/therapy.

I am a member of the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children and of the Institute of Educational and Developmental Psychology. I am currently undertaking a Master of Counselling degree through Waikato University. I am passionate about making a positive difference to the lives of children and adolescent (and their parents) who are experiencing challenges in school, home or the community.


Frequently Asked Questions

In the first instance, you could contact Elaine for an individual or family session to assess whether your child has anxiety and qualifies for the program.
It’s not uncommon for children (and parents) to be apprehensive about joining a group and revealing the difficulties they are experiencing with anxiety. However, experience has shown that families gain huge benefits from group sessions that can’t be obtained in one-to-one counselling. It helps children to learn that others are ‘in the same boat’ and it helps parents as they learn from each other’s experiences and share what works well for different families. It can also be a lot of fun!!!
Families come from a range of backgrounds but you will probably find that you have more in common than you thought. Every child who completes the program is there because they have worries and fears that are stopping them from enjoying life to the full. Most people end up thoroughly enjoying the group and the support it provides.
Cool Kids is designed to run over nine weeks with a two-hour group session every week (usually held after school). The last two or three sessions are usually a couple of weeks apart to allow children and their families time to practice the techniques learned in earlier sessions. We generally do not run Cool Kids during the school holidays, so all in all, the program is generally spread over about 3 months. You also need to be prepared to spend at least half an hour every day completing practice tasks. Experience has shown that those families who prioritise the practice tasks are the ones who gain the most benefit from the program.
Yes, a child won’t be accepted unless at least one (but preferably both) parents agree to attend the sessions. One of the reasons this program is so successful is because parents are actively involved – and learn how to become a ‘coach’ for their child.
The cost of the Cool Kids program varies, depending on the number of families participating in each program – the more families, the cheaper it becomes! Individual sessions and assessments are charged on an hourly basis – please ask Elaine for more information.
We’re happy for anyone who feels that Cool Kids could be of assistance to a child or family they know to contact us in the first instance. This may include parents, grandparents or caregivers, medical professionals, schools or kindergartens, or other psychologists or therapists. We can provide information that can be passed on to the family so that they can make an informed choice.
We are confident that there will always be a degree of behaviour change if parents and children attend every session and always do the practice tasks between sessions. The amount of behaviour change will depend on a number of factors including how severe the anxiety is, the motivation of the child and family to change, and the presence of other issues that make change difficult. There is a follow up appointment about 3 months after the final Cool Kids session to monitor progress, and families are always welcome to undertake the program a second time in order to reinforce what has been learned.

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