Dr. Michelle Farbotko
BSc(Hons) DPsych(Clin) MAPS(CClin)
Dr Michelle Farbotko is a Clinical Psychologist with over 20 years' experience working with children, teenagers, adults, and families. She has completed a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and is registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Dr Michelle is a former Senior Clinical Psychologist with Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) and is the Chair of the Queensland Branch of Animal Therapies Ltd.
Dr Michelle has significant experience working with clients of all ages experiencing mental health difficulties, in both public and private settings. She practices a client-centred approach utilising strategies from Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Schema Therapy, Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), and Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT).
Dr Michelle is a clinical supervisor (STAP-trained), is accredited in Triple P and Circle of Security parenting programs, and the FRIENDS resilience programs, and has completed Level 2 with the International Institute of Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM.
Ms. Poh Wan (Tzoe) Wong
Tzoe is a Clinical Psychologist registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). She completed her Bachelor of Science (Hons) Psychology and Master of Psychology (Clinical) degrees before embarking on roles within the private and public health sectors.
Tzoe enjoys working with people of all ages to understand their unique needs based on a client-centered approach. Tzoe has worked with clients from diverse backgrounds to address concerns such as anxiety and depression, grief and loss, trauma, adjustment disorders, substance use, and personality disorders. Tzoe strives to provide a safe and supportive environment in which clients can work through difficulties such as family or relationship conflict, workplace stress, life transitions and adjustments, parenting and behavioural management concerns, or coping with chronic health conditions or injury. When working with children, Tzoe often employs an inclusive approach that not only supports the child but includes collaboration with parents or caregivers. Tzoe utilises evidence-based interventions, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy and tailors her approach to her client’s needs and goals.
Ms. Megan James
BSc(Hons), MPsych(Clin), MAPS
Megan is a General Psychologist (Clinical Psychologist Registrar) registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (AHPRA). She has completed a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Psychology and a Master of Psychology (Clinical).
Megan is trained in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and draws on a range of other therapeutic modalities as required, to best meet her client's needs (such as Positive Psychology, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), and Schema Therapy). She has experience working with children, adolescents, adults and older adults. Her areas of interest include anxiety, depression, grief and loss, addictive behaviours (such as substance abuse), workplace and relationship issues. Megan brings a warm compassionate approach to therapy and aims to help her clients learn to manage their pain and distress and to connect with their values.
Megan is also enthusiastic about the benefits of animal-assisted therapy having found her dog, Amber, offered both emotional support and light relief during difficult times.
Ms. Chris Barallon
Educational Developmental Psychologist
Chris is a Psychologist registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (AHPRA) and a Board Approved Supervisor. She has completed a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology), a Graduate Diploma of Educational Psychology and a Master of Psychology (Educational & Developmental).
Since 2001, Chris has worked in a variety of settings with children, youth and their families in Melbourne, Canberra and Queensland. Chris has significant experience in child and youth mental health (CYMHS). She has training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Play Therapy, Mentalisation Based Therapy (MBT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), and adapts her style to meet the needs of each individual client.
With 20 years of experience as a Psychologist, Chris continues to feel inspired through helping others to be empowered and to reach their goals. She brings a calm, compassionate and practical approach to helping children and families. Her interest areas include autism, anxiety, parenting and developmental disabilities.
Smudge is a 6 year old black Labrador. He is an old soul, intelligent, and has plenty of personality. Smudge is very curious and loves to supervise people! Smudge helps clients reach goals related to self-esteem, anxiety, emotion regulation, friendship, and attention issues. He loves to play frisbee and tug.
Dr Michelle had always wanted a dog but, due to her mother's allergies, had to wait until later in life. Smudge was her first dog, chosen from a breeder at 9 weeks because of his big size and curious nature. While Dr Michelle began a steep learning curve to become a fur-parent, Smudge proved to be a patient fur-child and a strong loving attachment between the two was formed. Smudge did have some physical complications, requiring major hip surgery at just 4 months old, but he remained a placid pup who loved people and loved to learn. Dr Michelle began to notice how Smudge seemed "in-tune" with others, seeming to instinctively understand what people around him needed. A great example was when, at a family gathering, Smudge was racing around the yard playing with a ball, but he would immediately slow down when near Dr Michelle's 92-year old grandfather, and walk slowly beside him as if protecting him as he moved on wobbly legs to his seat. The children of friends also observed Smudge's knack of tailoring his behaviour. One 9-year old commented on Smudge's tendency to play tug more gently with him than when playing with his 14-year old brother. At this time, Dr Michelle started to think about how Smudge's intuition and beautiful people-loving nature might be useful in assisting the young people that she worked with. She then began training with the International Institute of Animal Assisted Play TherapyTM and began a trial at the government-run Child Youth Mental Health Service (CYMHS). This trial continues today with Dr Michelle and Smudge working together every Wednesday.
After such a wonderful introduction to being a fur-parent, Dr Michelle and her husband searched for a second pup. When Smudge was 11 months old, they welcomed Ash into their family. Ash had also been purchased from a breeder at 9 weeks of age. On bringing Ash home, Smudge immediately fell in love with his little brother and became a protective and patient big brother. Ash relished the role as "baby" of the family (and to this day, his favourite position is to be "koala-d" with his front paws around someone's neck and his back paws around their waist!) While Ash proved to be more "accident-prone" than his brother (for example, requiring an emergency trip to the Animal Hospital after it was discovered he had eaten half his weight in palm nuts from the garden...), he definitely made up for it in affection and enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. Ash has also been working with Dr Michelle as a therapy dog, and loves to learn new skills with clients.
In seeing how Smudge and Ash are able to engage clients, particularly adolescents who are often unwilling to engage in therapy, Dr Michelle knew that Animal Assisted Therapy was a valuable service. Not only were the clients engaging in therapy, but Smudge and Ash were also really enjoying their work. It was from here that W.A.G. Therapeutic Service was born.
Ash is a 5 year old black Labrador. He is an energetic and affectionate dog and loves to be cuddled. Ash's favourite activity is to retrieve. Ash helps clients reach goals related to self-control, depression, emotion regulation, and self-esteem