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OCD Online Group

About Your Psychologist & Group Facilitator

​Dr Claire Ahern PhD (Clinical Psychology)
PSY0001128406

Dr Claire Ahern has a doctorate in Clinical Psychology so that she is a registered clinical psychologist with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency (AHPRA). Dr Ahern has a range of experience with a number of different client populations (young people through to older adults), therapy formats (individual, couples, family, group) and client problems (therapeutic counselling, interpersonal problems, life transitions, mild to severe psychiatric disorders).

Dr Ahern practices from a number of different approaches for her individual private work, but for the OCD Online Group, she will be predominantly using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) & Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) approaches.

Dr Claire Ahern has run groups for OCD, hoarding, anxiety and perfectionism, and predominantly sees patients for OCD & related disorders in private practice. As a researcher, Claire did her honours and PhD theses on The Sense of Self in OCD, and held a post-doctoral position where she examined the effectiveness of an online treatment for OCD (OCD STOP).

About our OCD Online Group Program

Our current program is Tuesdays 1.30pm - 2.30pm (AEST). Group sessions are 60 minutes and are conducted via Zoom. Group members will be provided the link to the Zoom session via email prior to the commencement of each session. Group members should engage in sessions in a space free of distractions where they are alone and can speak freely. When you log into the session, ensure that your computer/phone/tablet is fully charged or connected to power.

Our OCD Online Group Program supports people to complete the OCD Stop! Program of www.mentalhealthonline.org.au.

The group is broken into 3 courses, with each course consisting of 4 modules - 1 module per week. You have the option to participate in the course that best meets your needs, or to complete the full 12 module program.

- Course 1 (4 modules) - Introduction to OCD, Anxiety, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy, and CBT for OCD.

- Course 2 (4 modules) - Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and how the belief systems of Responsibility and Threat relate to OCD.

- Course 3 (4 modules) - Other belief systems of OCD (perfectionism, uncertainty, control) and Problem Solving.

Our OCD Online Group Program provides a collaborative and supportive environment where participants can regularly meet to review the topics covered in the modules and discuss any problems they may be having in the treatment. The group is facilitated by a Clinical Psychologist who has experience in working with individuals diagnosed with OCD using the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy framework and Exposure & Response Prevention techniques.

Booster sessions are single sessions that are an opportunity to connect with Dr Claire Ahern, and any other group members that are also wanting a booster session, to discuss your progress with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and troubleshoot any difficulties you may have. This is best suited to those people who have completed the full 12 modules, or another ERP program.

Before your first group session

​1. Read and sign this document.

We ask that you read all the information in this document, and sign the consent form prior to your first group session. You are welcome to ask us questions prior to signing.

2.  Sign up to Mental Health Online and the OCD Stop! Program: Click here

 

This is necessary to access the course content and this is best accessed via a computer (rather than tablet or phone). Please see that you can sign up and access the OCD STOP! Program at least a week before the first session so that we have time to help you with any technical difficulties. This step is not necessary for the booster program.

 

3. Complete the assessment measures: Click here


Your responses to the assessment measures will help your psychologist to get an initial idea of your situation. Your participation in these assessment measures is completely voluntary and confidential.


4. Prepare your space: Click here

Group sessions are 60 minutes and are conducted via Zoom. Group members will be provided the link to the Zoom session via email prior to the commencement of each session. Group members should engage in sessions in a space free of distractions where they are alone and can speak freely. When you log into the session, ensure that your computer/phone/tablet is fully charged or connected to power.

Attendance and Timeliness

Group members are expected to sign on to the video platform 5 minutes before the start time and stay throughout the entire session. Your early arrival ensures that the group is able to start on time, and provides time to trouble shoot if technical issues arise.

 

If you are unable to attend a session, please contact your group facilitator prior to the meeting.

Active Participation/Avoiding Distractions

You are encouraged to freely and openly share your concerns, as well as experiences,  feelings and reactions with the group. You will discuss as a group how best to identify that you need time to talk during the group to avoid interrupting others.

Please keep in mind the following considerations so you and others can feel your "presence" in  group:

1. Connect with both video and audio, unless you make prior arrangements with your group facilitator. Keep your microphone on "mute" unless you are ready to speak.

2. Do your best to eliminate distractions and interruptions: silence phone calls, text messages, emails and other notifications; put a "do not disturb" sign on your door,  remove pets from the room.

3. Look at the screen/camera to show you are attentive; stay focused on group interactions.

4. Use gallery view so you can see the faces of all participants.

5. Suggestions for being fully present in group (if possible): sit at a desk with your computer at face level; sit with a light source behind your camera so your face is visible.

 

What to expect in a group program session

The content of the Group Program sessions depends on that particular module. Generally the following themes will be covered:

- Education: Information covered in the content for that module

- Experience: Allow personal refection on experience

- In session exercises: Practical exercises to explore the concepts learned through personal experience.

- Thinking Awareness: Identify how unhelpful thinking may be contributing to OCD

- At home practice “Homework”: Prepare for home exercises on whats been learnt  in session.

- The Road to Recovery: All sessions are designed to help people be more aware of their responses and helping them to learn new adaptive ways of thinking and behaving.


 

What to expect in a group booster session

Booster sessions are less structured and are a space where you can bring whatever questions you have about OCD or Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). The goal of a booster session is to trouble shoot any difficulties you may be having with your ERP and to discuss helpful strategies to overcoming these.

 

 

Fees

$200 per group course (4 modules over 4 weeks)
$100 group booster single session

Medicare rebates are not available for the group therapy sessions however private health rebates may be available.

Fees are to be paid prior to the start of each course. Group members will be provided with an invoice via email and with a text from Medipass to facilitate payment via credit card. Direct debit options are available for those who are unable to pay via the Medipass platform.

Cancellation

There is no refund for cancellation of sessions, but if you provide us 48 hours notice of your inability to attend one session, will will be able to join in on a make up booster session (maximum one make up booster session per course).

Are my group sessions confidential?

Dr Claire Ahern will write brief case notes and these will be kept in a confidential file only accessible to Dr Claire Ahern.

Your personal and health information will be treated with the professional confidentiality appropriate to the Code of Ethics of the Australian Psychological Society and the relevant Victorian Government legislation. We will only use or disclose this information for the purpose for which it was given, that is, to assist you with your presenting issues.

There are some limits to confidentiality. On ethical and/or legal grounds, we would be obliged to break confidentiality if a court subpoenas your records or your psychologist, to give evidence in a case in which you are involved. Also, if you are at risk of self-harm or of harming others, or we have concerns about the abuse of a child we would be obliged to give information to other appropriate statutory authorities. If one of these events occurred, your psychologist would attempt to discuss it with you before taking further action.

In addition to the matters above there are added confidentiality considerations given that the therapy sessions are occurring in a group format. While it is requested that group members engage in sessions in a private space and maintain the confidentiality of other groups members, this cannot be guaranteed. To address this, group members will regularly be reminded of the expectations while engaging in the group however this will not remove all the risk created by the group format.

Collecting information from other professionals

It is often useful for your psychologist to obtain information from therapists or agencies who have treated you in the past or who are involved in your current treatment. If your psychologist considers this necessary, she will ask for permission to contact the relevant individual or agency.

Telehealth Sessions

Your rights to confidentiality with Telehealth Services are exactly the same as your rights for in-person therapy services listed in this informed consent form.

Telehealth is psychology sessions conducted over phone or video conferencing and there are some risks unique and specific to Telehealth, including but not limited to, the possibility that our therapy session could be disrupted or distorted by technical failures, or could be accessed by unauthorised persons.

You may be asked to provide your  location at the start of the session to allow your psychologist to respond to any emergency situation.

The capture (including screenshots or photos of the therapy session), saving, or dissemination of any personally identifiable images or information from the Telehealth interaction to any other entities shall not occur without your explicit written consent.

Group members will be instructed not to capture, save or disseminate any personally identifiable images or information from the Telehealth interaction to any other entities. This however cannot be guaranteed given the group format of the therapy.

Telehealth appointments need to be conducted in a private and confidential space.  Your psychologist asks that you have a  private and secure room where you are the only person present, or that you inform your psychologist of any other persons present.

Crisis Management and Intervention

Prior to starting the group, you will be asked to provide the address at which you are attending telehealth sessions and an emergency contact. By providing this information, you agree to have your group facilitator contact your emergency contact and
any additional emergency personnel as needed in the event of an emergency.

What  constitutes an emergency is at the discretion of the group facilitator and includes but is not limited to becoming incapacitated during the course of a session and/or expressing harm to self or others when your group facilitator is unable to reach you for further assessment.

If you are having thoughts of suicide or are unsure of your ability to maintain the safety of yourself or others, you agree to utilise crisis services instead of attending the group visit.

For 24/7 crisis support, you can call Lifeline on If you need immediate attention and/or your concerns are life-threatening, please call 000 or go to the nearest emergency department.

What can I do if I am unhappy with the service that I received?

If you have any complaints or queries about the service you have received, please contact your psychologist. We are committed to helping you as best we can.
 

If you are not satisfied with this response, you are encouraged to read our complaints process.

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