Research backs the power of a family in a child’s early intervention

New research by the University of Queensland has heralded family-centred online therapy as highly influential in the early intervention treatment for children aged 0 – 7 years of age.

As Australia witnesses a significant rise in demand for online therapy, new research by Dr. Felipe Retamal-Walter from the University of Queensland, and in partnership with Australia’s leading NDIS online therapy provider Therapy Connect, shows the power of parents in early intervention, enhancing a child’s social, emotional and behavioral development.

The report, Exploring engagement in telepractice early intervention for young children with developmental disability and their families, found online therapy offers a unique advantage in allied health care, nurturing a “circle of care” approach between children, families, and professionals.

Therapy Connect Co-Founder Simone Dudley said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the need for families to seek new approaches and innovations in allied health, with online care now delivering faster and easier access to highly qualified and experienced therapists across the country and reducing the gap in care supply and demand.

“The University of Queensland research strongly supports the increasingly popular online therapy model, where a family-centred approach sees parents play a more active role in their child’s intervention,” Ms Dudley said.

“Due to the flexibility of telehealth, more family members, including grandparents, can attend and be involved from any location,” she said. “As therapists are not physically present, caregivers take the driver’s seat and become key agents in the process. Therapists become the coach and show caregivers how to incorporate therapeutic strategies into a child’s natural routines and contexts. 

“Online therapy is building strong family dynamics and improving children’s care outcomes. Ensuring no Australian falls through the cracks, Therapy Connect has linked more than 4,500 participants to direct, online access to allied health care professionals – saving more than 12,000 hours and over $2 million in NDIS funding each year.”

Based on the results of this study, engagement in telepractice was described as a collaborative partnership, in which children, families, and professionals developed therapeutic relationships through communication inside and outside of therapy sessions. Preparation and training on how to engage in telepractice, and how to establish relationships at distance could enhance the acceptance and uptake of telepractice, leading to a potential improvement of intervention outcomes for young children with developmental disabilities/delays and their families.

Overcoming barriers, Therapy Connect ensures every Australian has access to basic care needs and support, no matter their postcode. “Previously, some of the country’s most vulnerable were waiting up to 9 months to get access to allied health therapy services and travelling around six hours for an appointment. In remote locations, this waitlist can be up to 18 months,” Ms Dudley said. “Matching skill to need, Therapy Connect delivers faster and easier access to highly qualified and experienced therapists across the country, creating better outcomes for people living with a disability. “Telehealth is here to stay post-COVID as it facilitates a natural interaction with the patient comfortable in their own environment and routine. Whether you live in regional, remote of rural Australia, Therapy Connect can provide highly skilled professionals in the comfort of your home.”

To find out more about Therapy Connect, go to