Introducing Nadia, Founder of Veteran's Psychology and winner of the 2023 Power of One Award
Army psychologist Nadia Teong started a private practice to ensure veterans could access the mental health support they needed.
In two years, Veterans Psychology has grown from just her to 11 psychologists, all with an in-depth understanding of veterans.
Nadia served in the Australian Army fulltime for 11 years before transitioning to the Army Reserve.
It was only when she began working in the public service and private practice that Nadia discovered veterans were struggling to access psychological help.
ADF veterans can access free mental health support two ways.
They can go through Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling or they can use their Department of Veteran Affairs white or gold card entitlement to fund private sessions.
“Veterans tell us that it's really hard to find, firstly, a psychologist that's available, secondly, a psychologist that will accept a DVA card for payment, and finally, and potentially most importantly, a psychologist with an understanding of military issues or, better still, a lived experience of military life,” Nadia said.
“The way I got into the military was through the Psychology Internship Program and the Army, in fact the whole ADF, recognised that having a mental health professional who’s in a uniform, has gone through military training and deployed with the forces as they go, it builds instant rapport.
“There's a lived experience that’s shared between the mental health professional and the person receiving mental health support.
“I just couldn't believe there weren’t any psychologists who had left the military and set up a private practice that's focused on this.”
So, in 2021 Nadia created Veterans Psychology, a practice open to referrals, that accepts DVA cards and is staffed by professionals who understand servicemen and women.
The business has psychologists in Townsville, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne for face-to-face services, and also offers video telehealth and telephone consults to clients across Australia and even overseas.
“I now have 11 psychologists on my book and eight are veterans of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force,” Nadia said.
“Those that aren't veterans a hand selected by me because of their experience working in veteran contexts.
“Often, I'll ask at the end of an episode of care for feedback and nine times out of 10, the good feedback will include something along the lines of ‘it was really great that you knew the experience of being a veteran, because I didn't have to spell every acronym to you, I didn't have to describe to you what it's like to be on deployment’.”
Nadia said ensuring veterans and referrers knew Veterans Psychology existed had been her biggest struggle, but she was determined to keep growing to help more veterans.
“There's such a need for it,” she said.
“We see the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide is highlighting how many opportunities we have to improve how we can do business with veteran mental health.
“And we're providing one avenue that might contribute to solving that problem of accessibility and tailored mental health support for veterans.
“I'm really passionate about advocacy for veteran issues and I think there's certainly a place there for us to expand further to help the implementation of the recommendations from the Royal Commission.”
Nadia said her biggest achievement as a psychologist was seeing how helpful psychological intervention was for her clients.
“You see their lives turned around and they're functioning and feeling so much better than they were,” she said.
But as a business, the biggest success has been the growth of Veterans Psychology.
“I know many private practices struggle with getting enough psychologists to service their clientele,” Nadia said.
"But because we're such a niche service that's so focused on what I think is a really wonderful client group, I'm often approached by psychologists who wants to work for us, be they veterans or people who have experience with veterans.”
Nadia said it was “quite incredible” to be recognised in two categories of the 2023 Prince’s Trust Australia Beyond Service Awards.
She is a finalist in the Power of One Award and the New Mission Award.
“It's really humbling, and a little bit anxiety-provoking, but it's also quite reassuring that what I'm doing is worthy of publicity,” she said.
This story was written by Courtney Snowden, freelance copywriter and current serving ADF spouse, based in Queensland.
An initiative of the Prince’s Trust Australia Enterprise programme, the Beyond Service Awards are designed to celebrate the entrepreneurial achievements of Australia’s veteran and family business community.
The 2023 Beyond Service Awards are proudly sponsored by Gold Sponsor Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and Silver Sponsor Saab Australia.
For further information, contact Prince’s Trust Australia via email at: email@example.com.
Nadia is a Clinical Psychologist and the Founder of Veterans Psychology, a veteran-focused and veteran-informed mental health service.
Acknowledging the crisis of veteran mental health, Nadia seeks to support veterans by engaging clinicians with an understanding (oftentimes firsthand) of the military experience. Her aim is to improve engagement with mental health services and improve mental health outcomes for the military community.
Nadia is a veteran of the Australian Army and current serving Army Reservist in Sydney.
She served operational tours to Afghanistan and the Solomon Islands and is a mother to two small children based in Sydney, New South Wales.