Coral Tree Family Service

 Family Support

Coral Tree Family Service

Coral Tree Family Service is a NSW state-wide tertiary referral service that aims to assist children and their families experiencing significant difficulties with mental health, behaviour, emotions and relationships. Many of the children Coral Tree sees have long-standing difficulties in their home, school and social environments.

Coral Tree offers intensive programs for families with a child 12 years and under. A referral can be made when responses to primary and secondary intervention has not brought desired outcomes. Examples of primary and secondary interventions are as follows:

  • Primary service: May include local community programs run such as parenting programs (e.g., ‘Tuning into Kids’, Triple-P parenting) and early intervention programs (e.g., Brighter Futures). This may also include involvement from local GPs, paediatricians, and school counsellors.
  • Secondary service: A community team or private practitioner/s, providing specialist mental health intervention for children and youth with severe and complex mental health problems and their families, such as Child & Adolescent/ Youth Mental Health Services (CAMHS/ CYMHS).

All services are provided in the context of the child’s family system, and so, all members of the household are active participants at Coral Tree. We work closely with local services and clinicians as these practitioners will remain the key providers for the families they refer. We work in an integrated way with an emphasis upon liaison with referrers, both prior to, and post admission, to ensure continuity of care.

What services does Coral Tree offer?

Our range of intervention packages is currently evolving and, at present, may include (but are not limited to) the following options:

  • Consultation/Liaison: This entails a period of involvement to support the referrer with their ongoing outpatient work with the family. In this model, the referrer would be an active member of the treatment team during the family’s contact with our service.
  • Day Attendance: This allows a family to attend Coral Tree for more in-depth assessment of current concerns and, when possible, to work in-situ with the family on a specific goal. Typically, key ‘working points’ are identified as part of the day attendance to assist the family and the referrer with ongoing treatment planning. Contact with the referrer is usually required at some point during the day.
  • Residential Program (Previously known as a Family Admission): This involves a 4-night admission (from Monday to Friday) that provides a goal-orientated treatment package.  In this model, individual, parent, family and group issues can be explored and contextualised, and the ‘living in’ nature allows for ample opportunities to seek alternative ways of relating and managing issues in the ‘here and now’ of family life. There are currently opportunities to provide families with a briefer residential program where appropriate.
  • Clinical School Program: This program is run in partnership with Arndell School; children will be enrolled in Arndell School while receiving clinical input from CTFS. It is expected that children will attend the Clinical School Program for a minimum of one term.

It is important to note that we aim to be flexible to best meet the needs of referred families and as such, they may move between intervention packages offered by our service.


Age: The referred child is aged between 2 and 12 years*. *The absolute upper age of a child at completion of involvement from Coral Tree is 13. Therefore, a referral needs to be made well in advance of this age to allow for wait periods and the possibility of more than one package of care.

 The service is available to families anywhere within NSW – both rural and metropolitan families have access to Coral Tree.


  • The entire family (everyone living in the household) needs to be willing to be active participants in the therapeutic process.
  • The child needs to be in a reasonably stable living arrangement with parents/carers who are prepared to engage with a family treatment model of care.


When to Refer to Coral Tree?

Referrers often contact Coral Tree when local intervention has not yielded significant therapeutic change and it is felt that the family could benefit from an extended period of in-situ assessment and treatment. The Coral Tree program is a brief, intensive intervention and is best conceptualised as an augmentation of the local treatment plan rather than as an alternative. It is essential, that the families seen have ongoing support in the lead up, and post Coral Tree involvement, in order to maintain and continue the strategies and recommendations made by the Coral Tree team.

Reasons for referral:

Difficulties with mental health, behaviour, emotions and relationships that are causing significant impairment and have not responded to primary and secondary interventions.

Specialist presentations: children who have suffered abuse, neglect and trauma, attachment disorders (e.g. reactive attachment disorder), sexualised behaviours and self-harming behaviours.

Out-of-home care populations: which may require assistance with parenting and understanding the child’s developmental and emotional needs from a trauma focused and systemic perspective.

Referrer Eligibility – Who Can Refer?

The key criteria is that the referring professional is able to provide family-orientated mental health intervention and is prepared to have this in place both before, and after, the family’s attendance at Coral Tree. We ask that referrers to remain involved and to keep the Coral Tree team informed about any changes to the family’s circumstances during their involvement with Coral Tree Family Service. Coral Tree accepts referrals from a range of professionals:

  • Child and Youth/Adolescent Mental Health Workers (CYMHS/CAMHS)
  • Whole of Family Teams
  • Child and Family Health (incl. FACETS, Dalwood and Spilstead)
  • PANOC clinicians
  • Community Services
  • Sexual Assault
  • ADHC
  • Non-Government organisations and Private Providers (Child Psychiatrists, Social Worker & Mental Health Nurses etc.) that are providing therapeutic family work.Note: We do not accept referrals from school counsellors, GPs, the Department of Education and Communities, paediatricians or practitioners that are purely providing case management.
  • Listing ID: 6774