Joanne Garfi



School Refusal


For over 30 years Joanne Garfi has treated and consulted to teachers, counsellors and parents in a manner that is easy to comprehend, devoid of the jargon and theories, and gets results in Overcoming School Refusal. As a psychologist who has worked extensively across primary and secondary schools Joanne has provided treatment, support and specialised training to whole school communities for many years. She has a special interest in the treatment of Anxiety and Panic Disorder and is well known for her work with school refusal, childhood anxiety, behavioural disorders and developmental issues. She also runs a busy private practice and is the author of Overcoming School Refusal: A practical guide for teachers, counsellors, caseworkers and parents.


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Overcoming School Refusal

Answers to questions teachers, counsellors and parents need to know!

School Refusal is a debilitating condition in which children experience extreme anxiety or panic attacks when faced with everyday school life. Childhood anxiety is increasing in the community and each year schools are challenged by the complexities of School Refusal. Despite its prevalence, it is poorly understood and poorly managed. How schools respond is pivotal as everyday counts. The longer the child is away from school, the more difficult it is to resume normal school life. When poorly managed the impact of School Refusal is far reaching and life changing. Some students fail to return to school full time and some never return at all. All experience serious disadvantage across the lifespan including, but not limited to: employment, relationships, social functioning and mental health.

This interactive, one day workshop explores the causes, co-morbidities and treatment of School Refusal in children and young people, along with providing step-by-step plans and strategies for educators, health professionals and parents to identify and address the problem. Combining educational and clinical perspectives, the workshop uses real case studies to demonstrate the varied reasons students disengage from school, and how tailored interventions and return to school plans, can meet the specific needs of individual children. This instructive workshop identifies and explores the complex workings of School Refusal and provides a structured best-practice approach to overcoming it. Topics include:

  • What is School Refusal?
  • How school refusal presents in the classroom and home.
  • Why do children refuse to go to school?
  • Why an informed and individual approach is needed
  • The impacts of School Refusal and why early response is critical in decreasing the length of absence.
  • Home schooling and distance education. Often touted as a solution to this problem. The advantages and disadvantages are explored.
  • What professionals can do: practical responses for workers at all levels.
  • What parents can do: engaging parents/ carers in a supportive role.
  • Treatment for school refusal: CBT, mindfulness, behavioural activation, boundary setting, exposure, cognitive restructuring and the role of medication.
  • Additional needs students: ASD and high-achievers.

Translating research and jargon into understanding and practical strategies this workshop is suitable for all principals and educators (P-12), health professionals, GPs, paediatricians, family support workers, residential carers, MH day-program staff, and parents/ carers. This workshop answers the questions asked by teachers, counsellors and parents alike.



"Excellent! Practical, applicable … lots of great ideas to use in school going forward."

Principal, Primary School

"Loads of information and strategies to use both as a teacher and a mum."


"Easy to relate to."


"Very clear explanations with practical strategies that I can use in the classroom."

Teacher, Middle School

"Lots of practical tips and resources."

Educational Psychologist




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