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Penny Cosh, early childhood specialist social worker

Penny Cosh has helped bring clarity, sense and confidence to hundreds of south-east Queensland families during her social work career of more than 12 years.

Just as she was the ‘go to’ person called on to support adults and children in health crises at major metropolitan hospitals—and for more than a decade with Disability Services—she’s now Therapy Pro’s Brisbane early childhood specialist social worker.

Penny brings a delicate blend of empathy and comfort with no-nonsense practicalities when parents or carers of children with a disability need to make informed decisions.

She creates a safe space in a world that may have just been turned upside down and inside out, steering clients through a bewildering maze of services, networks and supports.

“Parents need to have the right information at the right time so that they can make the best decisions for their family,” she says.

“Good therapy intervention and support are critical, particularly in the early days but also during times of transition and significant milestones such as starting kindy or school, or parents returning to work.”

Penny’s role complements and supports Therapy Pro’s other therapists—psychologists, speech and language pathologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists— who may be working with your family.

Penny has a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) and a Bachelor of Social Work.

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Luke Desmond, psychologist (provisional)

Therapy Pro psychologist (provisional) Luke Desmond has seen enough of life to realise people can make life more complicated than it is.

That’s why he adopts a KISS approach to his work, favouring Keep It Simple Strategies that can be applied readily to everyday life.

Luke works with children, teenagers and adults, helping improve emotional regulation, develop personal coping strategies, improve relationships and change or challenge unhelpful thoughts or behaviours.

He has particular experience supporting clients with mental illness or intellectual disability, and their families, working in both behaviour support and counselling roles.

Luke enjoys seeing the way positive behaviour support can enhance clients’ quality of life.

He’s helped many clients overcome their anxieties—whether scared of things or situations, fearful of being criticised or embarrassed by others or excessively worried about lots of ‘stuff’ in life.

In counselling Luke draws on a range of psychological techniques including acceptance and commitment therapy and cognitive behaviour therapy.

Luke holds graduate diploma in psychology and a master’s degree in psychology from University of New England.

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Meet the Therapy Pro Brisbane Therapists

Kate Chalker, speech and language pathologist

Therapy Pro’s Kate Chalker is a second-generation champion of disability rights, inspired by family to pursue a therapy career that could have life-changing impacts.

Kate chose to study speech and language pathology after seeing the difference it made for a young cousin born with a cleft palate.

“I saw his personality grow, and his confidence too, as he conquered speech difficulties and I still feel pride in the effort put in to achieve hard-won results,” she says.

As a speech and language pathologist, Kate evaluates a client’s speech, language, fluency, literacy, voice and swallowing skills and develops an individualised plan to address development or disorders.

Her expertise extends to non-verbal communications, helping clients choose assistive technologies that can positively affect the rest of their lives.

Kate brings a variety of experiences to her role with Therapy Pro. In working with children, she’s undertaken many assessments of age-appropriate milestones as well as screening of children for autism spectrum disorder diagnosis. Work with adults has included helping people learn how to swallow safely after experiencing stroke, traumatic brain injury or cancers of the head and neck.

Communication is a two-way street. While Kate has helped adult clients reconnect with those around them using assistive technologies, she’s also worked with their partners, helping family, friends and carers better communicate too.

Kate is a graduate of Charles Sturt University in Albury.

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Sara Madsen, occupational therapist

Sara Madsen has made it one of her life’s goals to help improve the daily living and general well-being of people with profound challenges.

Sara graduated as an occupational therapist in 1999 and has worked in the disability sector since 2006, working with children and adults across a variety of settings to improve their well-being and independence.

 

Sara’s area of speciality is positive behaviour support, reducing and eliminating restrictive practices and achieving long-term sustainable support practices.

Since 2013, she has been drawn to adults with severe and profound disability, often non-verbal, with extremely challenging behaviours and multiple diagnoses who live in supported accommodation.

“With the right support and the right environment, a client’s needs can be met, and they can thrive,” Sara maintains.

“My role is to assess the client’s needs, be they physical, psychological or environmental, and support the client by educating, supporting and skilling the funded care providers and family members who together are the support team.

“My passion is for building a physical and psychological environment around the person, assisting them to thrive.

“People do not live and operate in silos: we interact and are impacted on by our environment and the people and structures around us. When a person is non-verbal or has difficulty identifying and/or communicating their needs and wishes, this becomes so much more important.”

Sara is a University of Queensland graduate.

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Kirsty Atkinson, social worker

Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Kirsty Atkinson seeks to support clients live their ‘everyday’ to their best, every day.

As a social worker, Kirsty achieves positive results for clients by listening and acting in their best interests.

She’s like the sports coach in the changeroom urging family, carers, friends and other supports to pull together for ‘Team Individual’.

She’s there in the huddle with trustworthy information and counselling skills, supporting clients and their families to build on skills and live the best life possible.

“Theories in textbooks are guides—everybody is unique, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ in life but working in the same direction with the same goal helps!” Kirsty says.

Kirsty has worked with government disability services in two states, working with children and adults to support their needs, goals and aspirations.

She can stand beside clients in times of change—like moving from school to employment—and in times of crisis too.

“Let’s focus together on your strengths and work with those around you to improve your independence, relationships and everyday living.”

Kirsty holds a Bachelor of Social Work with honours from the University of South Australia.

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Ana Almagro, psychologist

Therapy Pro Brisbane psychologist Ana Almagro views life as a sequence of actions, not dissimilar to the series of postures that flow one after the other in her vinyasa yoga classes. In an ideal world, the actions would all be smooth and seamless: perfect. The real world isn’t perfect—and stumbles do happen.

Ana works with children, teenagers and adults with disability to help smooth the way through an imperfect world.

She is experienced in counselling individuals, couples and families, and can help clients with psychological assessment and interventions, behavioural support and advice including Positive Behaviour Support Plans, and psychometric assessments.

Ana is a qualified Cogmed Working Memory Training coach and is trained in eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR) trauma therapy. She uses ‘talking’ therapies, such as cognitive behaviour therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy, too.

A great believer in ‘body behaviour’—that the state of mind, positive or negative, is mirrored in a matching bodily expression—Ana often incorporates aspects of yoga breathing, meditation and mindfulness in her sessions with clients facing emotional challenges.

“The mind-body connection is often overlooked,” she says.

Ana worked as a personal carer when studying at university, supporting clients with multiple sclerosis and acquired brain injuries to live more independently.

She gained a Masters of Professional Psychology at University of Southern Queensland after finishing her Bachelors and Honours in Psychological Science at Bond University.

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Kirstie Hinsley, occupational therapist

Therapy Pro’s Kirstie Hinsley is a dedicated occupational therapist with almost 20 years’ experience.

Kirstie can help you improve daily living functions—like bathing, dressing, toileting, eating, walking—through assessment and appropriately tailored intervention.

She also helps clients with aids and equipment assessments and may make recommendations for modifications at home to improve independence and safety.

Needing to unwind and relax more? Suffering anxiety? Kirstie knows the difference between being mindful and having a mind that’s full and loves sharing relaxation techniques.

UK-trained Kirstie draws on experience in hospital settings and community, as well as private practice, working with clients who have needed post-surgical rehabilitation, neurological rehabilitation for acquired brain injury and dementia, and mental health support.

She’s excited about providing the occupational therapy you need, when and where you need it.

“You’re in the driver’s seat in your own environment.”

Kirstie’s happy to be in the passenger seat, helping you navigate to better results for independent living.

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Maree Kasberger, psychologist

Psychologist Maree Kasberger joins Therapy Pro with a track record to support her belief in achieving positive change in clients’ lives.

Maree can help Therapy Pro clients with psychological assessments and interventions, behavioural support and advice including writing and developing Positive Behaviour Support Plans, individual and family counselling and psychometric assessments.

She brings more than a decade’s experience working with individuals who have physical injury, mental illness, chronic illness or addictions as part of employment services, workplace employee assistance and occupational rehabilitation programs.

Maree has particular expertise in work assessments and job-readiness skills acquisition, as well as stress management techniques.

“Confidence, self-esteem and motivation are all facets of life I enjoy exploring with clients – and growing.”

Maree holds a Bachelor of Psychological Science from the University of Queensland and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Counselling from Australian Catholic University.

As a crafter in her spare time, Maree  gets immense pleasure in turning fabrics, yarns and threads into items that stand out for their uniqueness. It’s a passion reflected in her professional life too, helping individuals see their uniqueness positively.

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Nancye Richardson, occupational therapist

Nancye Richardson has worked in the disability sector for more than a decade, using her skills as an occupational therapist to achieve positive outcomes for both child and adult clients.

While activities like dressing, bathing, toileting, eating, sleeping and sitting are everyday tasks for many people, her clients can find them challenging.

Nancye enjoys working in partnership with clients and their support network to identify and understand client priorities, goals and ways that they can use their skills and interests to increase their participation in everyday activities.

Support to adult clients may include equipment and assistive technology, manual handling techniques, safe travel options, continence and ways to develop specific skills.

Nancye is also passionate about providing tailored early intervention support to children who have disabilities (and often complex medical needs) and their families.

When working with children, Nancye believes in play-based learning and seeks family involvement so that play therapy activities can be incorporated in their everyday routines.

“Therapy needs to be fun as children learn through play. It is not an isolated activity with just me and the child. Family involvement is really important,” she says.

Nancye is a James Cook University graduate.

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Isabella Wise, speech and language pathologist

As a speech and language pathologist, Therapy Pro’s Isabella Wise understands the importance of mealtimes and communication for her clients.

Izzy’s role involves assessing and addressing challenges that affect literacy, language development, the formation of sounds, words and sentences and swallowing.

 

She can also prescribe aids to provide alternative non-verbal communication—and solutions are not always high-tech: “I can work magic with Velcro and laminate!” she says of her practical approach.

Izzy has worked in speech therapy roles in hospital and community settings; most recently, exclusively in the disability sector, supporting children and adults with speech, swallowing and communication challenges.

While supporting children and adolescents in their homes as well as at schools and child care centres, Izzy enjoys spreading understanding of alternative communication methods and ways to support communication with parents and other family members, child care workers and teachers.

Izzy is a University of Queensland graduate.

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Lina Kohler Holma, speech and language pathologist

Lina Kohler Holma, speech and language pathologist

For Therapy Pro speech and language pathologist Lina Kohler Holma, making a big difference in the lives of her Ipswich clients can be a subtle nod of a head.

Swedish-born Lina has travelled extensively around Australia, studied in Adelaide, now calls Brisbane home and Ipswich her workplace.

With a passion for improving the quality of life for people with a disability, Lina believes that communication is key and even a small change can make a huge difference.

Through her work, Lina hopes to find new ways for those with disabilities to find their voice by using alternative ways to communicate and with the right support from their communication partners.

“It feels amazing to know that I can make a difference in someone’s life by giving them the mechanisms to say what they want or don’t want and that a simple movement can enable this achievement.”

Lina previously worked with clients with neuro-developmental and learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, mobility impairments and acquired brain injuries.

She can assist clients with communication, mealtimes swallowing, dysphasia and development assessments and interventions.

Having the ability to make your own choice isn’t just about being heard. It builds self-esteem and confidence too. Lina is someone keen to listen, understand and support that.

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Jen Ryan, speech and language pathologist (lead therapist)

Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Jen Ryan helps her clients find’ their voice.

A speech and language pathologist, Jen works with children and adults who have communication challenges or swallowing difficulties.

Jen can assess and address challenges impacting language development, mealtimes, swallowing and literacy.

Jen has worked in the disability sector as a ‘speechie’ since 2004. She brings a wealth of experience and insights from supporting clients with speech and swallowing challenges brought about by a range of disabilities including intellectual and physical disabilities, autism and acquired brain injury.

Engaging and approachable, trusted and practical, Jen has a personality that sparkles–sometimes her face does too courtesy of glitter from her homelife.

“I value family time personally and that influences how I work with families. I better appreciate parents’ concerns and time pressures,” she says.

Therapy sessions with clients are fun, involving everyday activities, often with siblings, parents, carers or friends too so that ‘homework’ becomes part of everyday living rather than a chore.

She can also prescribe technological aids to provide alternative non-verbal communication.

Jen’s expertise is highly regarded in her profession: she’s been a university clinical educator helping train undergraduate students and she’s Therapy Pro’s ‘lead speech and language therapist’, ensuring our best practice delivery of speech and language therapy through clinical supervision.

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Jennifer Nelson, occupational therapist

For more than a decade, Therapy Pro Brisbane team member Jennifer (Jen) Nelson has drawn inspiration from the people she’s worked alongside who have disabilities.

Jen is an occupational therapist, a practical professional whose focus is on helping her clients achieve their goals in daily tasks.

For an OT, that may be anything from bathing, dressing and eating to being more attentive in a classroom or getting into the driver’s seat of a car.

She is also a qualified sensory integration practitioner.

Jen has worked with children and adults in Queensland and the United Kingdom, in hospital, community, school and government agency settings.

She has particular experience with children and young people diagnosed on the autism spectrum or with intellectual impairment, working with them both at home and in school settings.

“I was drawn to a career helping people and swore I would continue for as long as I cared. I get a thrill, sense of joy, in seeing the difference an intervention—whether it’s a different strategy or technique or aid—makes to a person’s life,” Jen says.

“Every single client has different dreams and goals. What’s important to you is what becomes my focus.

“I particularly love children’s spunk—their stories, their attitude. Whether it’s managing a star jump or toileting, the look of achievement, the satisfaction on the client’s face, is gold!”

Jen is a James Cook University graduate with post-graduate certification from Ulster University.

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NDIS Therapy Services

Therapy Pro is a registered NDIS provider of therapy services. Find out about our client-centred approach to help you achieve your goals.

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Therapy for Children

Getting the right supports to children at the right time can make all the difference. Here’s where you start.

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Join Our Team

If you’re a therapist who is passionate about their work and keen to make a difference, we really need to talk about you joining our team!

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