Kia Ora! As many of you already know, I’ve taken on the role of Clinical Director and Board Member at the ACFB Fund, a New Zealand charity that provides funding for mental health services to Kiwis who don’t have access to other funding.
Very recently, I received approval from the New Zealand Psychology Board and became a registered psychologist in New Zealand. You can learn more about my international practice on my clinical website. The first thing I did was request vetting from ACFB to be able to offer discounted ADHD and autism evaluations. The second thing I did was put together some information for anyone considering seeking an assessment.
If you’re a New Zealander who needs an evaluation and financial support to access this service, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You Live in America. Why Do You Practice in New Zealand?
In March 2020, my husband and I had both accepted job offers in Auckland. We told our parents, I put in notice at my job at the time, and our veterinarian medically cleared our cats to fly. Then, I attempted to schedule my immigration physical and was told, “We’ve just had our first confirmed community transmission case of COVID and are closed for non-essential procedures. Please call back in two weeks.”
Let me tell you, that was a long two weeks.
In the meantime, I applied for licensure, thinking I would be able to move forward soon. Eventually, my new employer had to find someone who could commit to a start date, and the New Zealand immigration office was not processing applicants who were not physically in the country. I couldn’t just go to New Zealand with no income and no timeline on when I would be able to start working, so I had to give up the job. When I gave up the job, the board allowed me to set my licensure status to “active, non practising,” meaning that I was qualified as a psychologist in New Zealand but not actively providing clinical work.
I then met Ashley Cairns in a Facebook group for therapists practicing telehealth in a pandemic, and I loved her idea for a mental health organization that helped therapists make a living wage while simultaneously making mental health care affordable to our clients. Once she was able to secure funding for psychological assessments, I contacted the board to activate my license, and here we are!
Is That Legal?
Yes! I would never operate a practice that did not meet legal and ethical standards, and I would never collaborate with an organization that I felt was not meeting these standards. The Psychology Board approved me to practice, and my application clearly indicated my residential and business addresses, both in South Dakota. I also informed my malpractice insurance, and they stated that I can provide telehealth services from anywhere as long as I am licensed at the client’s location and the relevant licensing board granted approval.
Can Someone Get a Diagnosis Online?
We live in a time when anyone can create a website, so it is important to vet resources. There are organizations out there that offer fraudulent mental health services – I have personally reported several to the Better Business Bureau in an effort to get them taken down.
That being said, a wealth of studies have emerged in the last few years showing that telemental health (including psychological assessment) has comparable outcomes to in-person psychological services, as long as the provider is qualified to provide this service.
Are You Qualified to Provide This Service?
Short answer: Yes.
Long answer: I am a certified telehealth provider. In 2016, I helped my organization begin offering telehealth services in South Dakota, with an emphasis on legal, ethical, competent care. When the world went home in 2020, I saw hundreds of therapists panic about the transition. It’s actually why I first started this website – I found that it was not difficult to go online with my practice, and I wanted to help others do the same. I’ve taught a telehealth certification course and written two books on telemental health with kids.
When it comes to psychological assessment, I have specialized training in telehealth. In fact, I teach a continuing education course for other psychologists who want to learn how to provide assessments via telehealth.
Additionally, any psychologist who conducts ADHD and autism evaluations needs specialized training in these evaluations. I have this training and am in the process of creating trainings to ensure that other providers know how to provide neurodiversity-affirming care when providing ADHD and autism evaluations. I have written a book on mental health with autistic clients, which is coming out in 2024.
Is This An Official Diagnosis?
Yes, I am qualified to conduct psychological evaluations and grant official diagnoses when a client meets the diagnostic criteria. With appropriate release, I can forward your assessment to others on your treatment team (counsellors, prescribers, et cetera), and I am happy to answer any questions they have about my qualifications as well.
Do You Have Cultural Competency to Practice in New Zealand?
I believe cultural competency is a lifelong journey, not a finish line. The New Zealand Psychology Board requires all foreign psychologists to receive supervision on cultural competency, and I have supervision from Dr. Ember, who has experience training foreign psychologists in cultural competency with the Maori community.
Additionally, I have voluntarily sought secondary supervision from Jenny Manuera, Maori counsellor, to ensure I am learning from the community I serve.
I am also taking ongoing continuing education courses led by Maori individuals.
How Much Do Assessments Cost?
Typically, ADHD and autism assessments in New Zealand cost between $2,000 and $3,000NZD. I offer them for $1,500NZD. The ACFB Fund has funds to offset this cost for those who cannot afford it, so depending on financial need, your cost could be as low as $150. These prices include all tax, etc.
Why Do Your Assessments Cost Less?
I am efficient. Starting from my first clinical placement as a graduate student, I have consistently gotten feedback that my reports were high quality but took me less time to complete than my peers. That isn’t meant as a brag; it is simply a fact. I also run my business with minimal overhead. Instead of using these skills to increase profits, I pass the savings on to my clients.
Additionally, while I am also a human being with bills to pay, I prioritize giving back. Some of the funding for ACFB’s psychological evaluations comes from me volunteering my time to be able to offer this service.
How Can I Apply for Funding?
The application for funding is available here. You can indicate approximately how much funding you’ll need ($1500 – what you can afford to pay).
Why Is Your Hair Blue?
Because I like it. Why isn’t your hair blue?