A PSYCHOLOGY centre operated by Monash University’s School of Psychology, Psychiatry and Psychological Medicine, has opened in Clayton.

It offers assessment, treatment and consultation in child and family psychology, health and medical psychology as well as forensic psychology.

It was officially opened by vice-chancellor Professor Peter Darvall last Wednesday.

Associate Professor Sandra Lancaster, the centre’s director, said there was a great need for more psychological services in the southern metropolitan region.

“A lot of people want to receive psychological help, but the public systems can’t cope with the demand and they have strict entry levels.

“There are also fewer psychologists in private practice out this way.”

Dr Lancaster said the centre could provide much-needed psychological support for families in crisis.

“I guess one of our philosophies is aimed at preventative work to help children, adolescents and families before a problem gets to a crisis stage.

“We feel that often a lot of these problems start occurring early and, if given appropriate help and support, they may be able to have a more likely outcome of a good adjustment.

“We do have a lot of referrals from the Department of Human Services, including children who have been moved and traumatised.”

Students working at the centre are in their final year of a doctorate of clinical psychology, having completed all work required to be fully qualified psychologists. The centre gives them experience with the community and liaising with referral agencies.

Dr Lancaster said that the centre would also undertake research that led to a better understanding of psychological problems and how they can be treated.

The first interns from the Monash University doctorate of psychology degree started work at the centre in February.