Emerging Minds

Supporting children's resilience in general practice

About the course

This course is based on the understanding that parental, family, or social adversity can have a direct impact on children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and that GPs are well placed to hold preventative conversations with parents to buffer children from these impacts.

It will introduce you to the PERCS Conversation Guide, which is a short, semi-structured and evidence-informed psychosocial discussion tool developed from consultations with GPs and parents. It supports conversations between GPs and parent-patients around the impact of adult health issues, and other family adversities, on children’s daily lives. It is a preventative and proactive approach that encourages shared understanding and decision making with parents.

Throughout this course you will consider how parental, family and social circumstances impact on children’s wellbeing, and how support can best be tailored to foster resilience in the lives of children.

The course examines preventative opportunities and entry points that exist in your engagements with parents, and provides examples of situations where:

  • a parent presents with circumstances or issues that impact on the child
  • concerns are expressed by a parent about a child’s behaviour
  • the GP holds concerns for the social and emotional wellbeing of a child after consulting with a parent.


Patients as Parents

This module explores the rationale for conducting preventative conversations with parents about their children’s social and emotional wellbeing. It introduces the PERCS Conversation Guide and looks at ways of conducting these conversations that are respectful and collaborative, sitting within everyday GP practice. It also features fictional demonstrations between a GP and parent-patient.

Applying the PERCS Conversation Guide

This module explores the PERCS Conversation Guide in detail, and in particular the five PERCS domains in a child’s life. It outlines the use of the example questions from the PERCS Conversation Guide and features fictional demonstrations between GPs and parent-patients.

Who is this course for?

This course has been specifically designed for GPs, and recognises the realities of general practice, the broad variety of doctor-patient relationships, and the array of circumstances that GPs work in.

The course incorporates an understanding of the pressures and complexities that GPs face. Throughout this course you will be asked to consider how family and social circumstances impact on children’s wellbeing, and how support can best be tailored to promote positive change in the lives of children, fostering their long-term mental health and wellbeing.

This course acknowledges the complexities of the Australian Medicare Benefits Schedule, and the challenges of time-limited consultations. It looks at enhancing GP skills and confidence in recognising opportunities to intervene sensitively in situations where a child’s social and emotional health might be affected by a parent’s physical or mental health condition.

It also recognises that these skills and opportunities are part of the day-to-day practice of many GPs in Australia.

Broad learning aims

Throughout this course you will have the opportunity to reflect on your current practice of engaging with parents about their children’s social and emotional wellbeing, and to respond to the stories and concerns of fictional parents.

You will be encouraged to identify your practice ethics and areas of strength, as well as areas where you see room for professional development.

This course supports the development of requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes in the following RACGP domains:

  • Domain 1: Communication and the patient-doctor relationship.
  • Domain 2: Applied professional knowledge skills of the RACGP Curriculum.
  • Domain 3: Population health and the context of general practice.

You can access more information about the five domains of general practice here.

Learning outcomes

Following the completion of this course you will be able to:

  • Identify entry points to engage in preventative conversations with parents about their children's social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Incorporate routine inquiry about children’s social and emotional wellbeing as part of appointments with parents.
  • Describe how adult issues can affect children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Apply the six principles for engaging parents in conversations about adversity and children’s social and emotional wellbeing.
  • Use the PERCS Conversation Guide, where there is a need, to have conversations with parents about children's social and emotional wellbeing.


For the purpose of this course, the term 'parent' encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

'Social and emotional wellbeing' refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. Social and emotional wellbeing incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths. Social and emotional wellbeing is integral to child development 1.

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

Social and emotional development’ involves the development of skills required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings 
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people 
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed 
  • regulate behaviour 
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships.3


GPs are human. It is important to put boundaries in place to ensure your own safety, and to attend to your own self-care and the care of your family by creating strategies that promote resilience. This will enable you to provide effective, long-term healthcare. 

Some essential tools for putting in place strategies for self-care include:

  • being prepared – thinking through the ‘what-ifs’ step by step
  • understanding personal signs of being overwhelmed
  • setting prompts that will notify you that you need to pull back
  • pre-determining how you will pull back, and how you know you will be okay to re-engage
  • linking into peer supports
  • engaging in, and prescheduling, regular stress-reduction activities
  • seeking opportunities to reflect on your experiences with your professional colleagues.

You will explore specific tips for self-care for yourself later in this course. These are also relevant to your staff and your family.

You can begin the process of self-care as you work through the course by being aware of your emotional responses. Please seek help if needed.

Here are some general tips:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you feel that you don’t need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If you find you are struggling please seek help. Visit the RACGP Mental health resources for GPs, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.



  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, p.6.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2009. A picture of Australia’s children. 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

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