What is ACT? ACT is a type of Cognitive and Behavioural Therapy (CBT). In ACT the emphasis is on accepting what is beyond our control and taking action on what is in our control. ACT also emphasises the importance of identifying values and then acting in accordance with our own desires and values. Mindfulness training (See Mindfulness Training below) has also become a part of the ACT approach precisely because Mindfulness helps us distinguish between what is real and what is psychic and gets us more oriented to the present moment, the moment in which action takes place!
What is an Addiction? An Addiction is the condition of attachment to a particular behaviour, activity, or thing. Addictions can be harmless or problematic. When dependencies are formed to harmful substances or behaviours, then addictions can ruin a person’s life by reducing their experience of life down to all facets of the Addiction. Some examples of problematic Addictions include; problem gambling, problem drinking, problem substance use, problem sexual activity, and problem spending. Breaking a pattern of Addiction can be extremely difficult for some people - even those with a strong will! Psychologists are trained to help people overcome their unwanted Addictions.
What is Anxiety? Anxiety is a physiological response felt in the body. It feels like nervousness, uneasiness, distress, and worry are affecting the body, as if the body is experiencing a danger. Anxiety may be brought on by a stressful situation in the environment, like having do public speaking, or go for a job interview, or sit an exam. These types of stressors can cause Acute Anxiety. However some people experience Anxiety on a daily basis without an obvious environmental stressor. This type of anxiety is known as Generalised Anxiety. Anxiety can be accompanied by significant psychological worry, like “over-analysing”, and “catastrophising”. Sometimes Anxiety can be so acute that it turns into a Panic Attack (see Panic Attack below). As humans we are always going to experience a bit of Anxiety, especially in stressful situations. However if you think you are suffering from excessive Anxiety, or are feeling anxious in the absence of a stressful situation then it is probably best to get some support. Psychologists are trained to treat Acute Anxiety, Generalised Anxiety, and Panic Attack.
What are the Benefits of Counselling? There is a vast range of benefits from psychological treatment. The overarching aim of psychotherapy is to reduce personal suffering by exploring the workings of your mind! This can be achieved in a variety of ways depending on the person, the problem, and the situation they are in. Sometimes being heard by an independent listener, who has your interests at heart, can be helpful enough to change the way your life is experienced. In other cases, basic skills training in communication in relationships with self and others, is enough to make a big difference. In some cases, a deep exploration and re-imagining of the whole life lived so far is necessary. It all depends! The Benefits of Counselling can be far reaching because if there’s something holding you back in life – like a past or present trauma, a broken heart, an addiction, low self-esteem and lack of confidence, a bad relationship at home or at work, a loss of drive and desire, a feeling of being unloved or being unlovable – then getting free of it will actually completely change your whole experience of life! As we say at Veevers Bryant Psychologists, we’re here to support you, to support yourself! Ultimately it is your relationship with your self that is going to matter. We’re here to get you over what’s holding you back and get you going again to pursue your dreams and desires with restored hope and enthusiasm.
What is the Better Access to Mental Health Scheme? The Better Access to Mental Health Scheme is an Australian Government initiative, which allows Medicare card-holders to obtain a rebate on psychological services provided by registered psychologists (and some other mental health practitioners). In order to obtain a rebate you must first be assessed and referred by your GP. Comprehensive information about the scheme is available at www.health.gov.au. For more information about eligibility and the process for qualifying download the .pdf file below at the following address: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/0F792912834609B4CA257BF0001B74FA/$File/patients2.pdf
What is CBT? CBT is a contemporary, evidenced-based psychotherapy, which identifies thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, with the aim of restructuring thoughts and changing behaviours, in order to improve that way you are feeling about your self and others. In CBT you work with your therapist in a rational, thoughtful manner to identify the unhelpful ways of thinking and going about dealing with the challenges that are getting you down, or are causing you unwanted levels of anxiety, in order to improve your approach to life and your sense of wellbeing, self-efficacy, self-regard, self-esteem, resilience, and general self-confidence. CBT is a mental workout, which focuses on unhelpful ways of thinking, like “catastrophising”, or unhelpful ways of behaving, like avoidance. CBT can be very helpful in helping you to overcome ways of thinking and behaving that have contributed to depression, anxiety, phobias, and other mental health problems.
What is Complex Traumatic Stress? Complex Traumatic Stress is a condition related to Post-Traumatic Stress (see PTS below) where multiple traumatic events over a period of time aggregate to form a traumatic psychological condition, which has many of the symptoms of PTS, and can be severely debilitating. It is not that any one traumatic event itself produces the Complex Traumatic condition, but it is the accumulative effect of trauma upon trauma that causes the disturbance. Constant workplace bullying after a difficult childhood of parental abuse and/or neglect could be an example of what might aggregate to produce the condition. Another example might be working for many years in an emergency service and accumulating the affects of many distressing emergency call outs. Psychologists are trained to treat PTS and Complex Traumatic Stress.
What is Counselling? Counselling, is a type of psychotherapy, which generally takes the form of a conversation between you and your psychologist. Counselling explores psychological difficulties that you are facing, such as feeling depressed, or anxious, about something in particular, or just in coping with the challenges of life in Melbourne! The conversation should feel supportive and work towards you obtaining your goals of overcoming your challenges, whatever they may be. You might work with your psychologist on all sorts of difficulties you may be facing which could include relationship difficulty at home, at work, or in your love life, or your social network, or it might focus on an eating-disorder, an unwanted avoidance behaviour, like school refusal, an unwanted phobia, or an unwanted addiction, and so on. While you work on your self, you should feel like your psychologist is in your corner being both supportive and also, at appropriate moments, being challenging!
Is Counselling or Psychotherapy for me?People come to psychologists for a vast range of reasons, with a variety of symptoms, issues, and complaints. Suffering is the one thing that those seeking psychological support have in common, as is the belief that things could, and should, be better. Some people don’t think that their particular problem is worth getting help for, and others think their problem is insurmountable with, or without, help. If you feel that you are suffering and that life ought to be better, instead of pre-judging whether or not counselling is right for you, get on the phone, reach out, and talk to a psychologist about your situation to find out if you could benefit. It might be that all you need is a psychological tweak, or, if necessary, a complete reformation!
What is Couple's Counselling? Couple's Counselling is a type of relationships therapy that aims at resolving difficulties couples may be having in their relationship. Couple's Counselling often deals with communication difficulties, sexual intimacy problems, varying visions of the couple’s future life together, such as planning for retirement, as well as facing, life-threatening illness, difficulties conceiving a child, IVF treatment choices, money issues, child rearing challenges, separation and divorce issues, and so on! Not losing sight of your relationship, whilst taking care of your self and your other responsibilities, is both a balancing act and a vital life skill!
What is Depression? Getting down about life is the normal human condition, whereas depression is when your mood is poor for an extended period. Depression feels like sadness, despondency, despair, hopelessness, misery, and a distinct lack of enjoyment going on far too long, and continuing regardless of the situation. Depression usually starts when a person experiences an upsetting situation, like the loss of a loved one, a tragedy, the loss of employment, or, perhaps, a series of difficult or unfortunate events, which naturally adversely affect the mood. Instead of gradually working through the upsetting and unsettling situation over time, the person who experiences Depression gets stuck in the low mood state, which perpetuates the feelings of being down and increases the sense of hopelessness about ever enjoying life again. What a vicious circle! Some people get Depression without a triggering event, and some people get bouts of Depression throughout their life. It’s probably best to get some help with Depression if you are feeling stuck and it doesn’t feel like it’s going away. Psychologists are trained to treat Depression.
Can Diet be affecting my mental health and wellbeing? Like sleep and exercise, there is good evidence that a healthy Diet can affect mood and anxiety in a positive way. However if your Diet, sleep, and exercise is already good and you are still struggling with the day-to-day challenges of life, or are experiencing psychological conditions like anxiety or depression, then you might like to seek psychological support.
What is Domestic Violence? Domestic violence is intimidating verbal and physical abuse of family members, usually, but not always, within the confines of the home. The trauma that results from Domestic Violence can be very damaging and debilitating, and it can also produce a great amount of shame. Domestic Violence is a very serious matter so if you are experiencing Domestic Violence and you are feeling unsafe then talk to someone you can trust about getting professional help. The effects of Domestic Violence on psychological stability and sense of self can be devastating and long-lasting, so, once a victim of Domestic Violence is safe from the abuser, Trauma-Focused Therapy (see Trauma-Focused Therapy below) is a way in which psychologists can treat people who have suffered from Domestic Violence.
What is an Eating Disorder? What we eat and body image have become such a big deal in Western Society these days that the pressure on what we eat and how we look is daunting. Some would contend that Eating Disorders, like Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, and Binge Eating, are on the rise due to this pressure, nevertheless eating disorders are reported to have been around for thousands of years. Eating Disorders can be life-threatening as they can deprive the body of the sustenance for the maintenance of life, and as such they should never be dismissed as a trivial condition. There is often a lot of shame and secrecy around Eating Disorders and worry on the part of friends and family. Psychologists are trained to treat Eating Disorders.
Should I Exercise? Like diet and sleep, there is good evidence around to suggest that moderate Exercise and robust mental health are related. If you are able to Exercise (see your GP if in doubt) then go for it. Moderate Exercise has been shown to assist in lifting depression and reducing stress levels (both physiologically and by self-report). However if your diet and Exercise is already good and you are still struggling with the day-to-day challenges of life or are experiencing psychological conditions like anxiety, or depression, then you might like to seek psychological support.
What is the cost for psychological therapy? At Veevers Bryant Psychologists you can rest assured that we do our utmost best to keep our Fees affordable. If you are a Medicare card-holder then you are entitled to government rebates for our service on the Better Access to Mental Health Services Scheme (learn more about the scheme above). Private health cover often includes rebates for psychological services. If you are on a TAC, Victims of Crime, WorkCover, or ATAPs program then there is no out-of-pocket cost for services. As you can imagine counselling is not a one-size-fits-all service. Remember because you are unique, so too are your challenges, and no-one can say exactly how many sessions you may need. If you keep in mind that you and your mental health are very important, then psychological treatment is a very worthy investment in your self! Our psychologists aim to do the best we can for you in the shortest possible time. Call us or email us for the details of your eligibility for rebates and your out-of-pocket expenses.
What is Grief and Loss Counselling? Grief and Loss Counselling focuses on supporting an individual to grieve the loss of a loved one or a treasured thing. Generally people are able to mange grief alone or by talking to friends and family, however for many good reasons, at times, grief can really be a difficult and painful period to get through. Talking to a psychologist about loss and grief can help the process of grieving and mourning. For some people the pain of losing a loved one can leave them so distressed that their grief can detrimentally impact on their day-to-day life, and eventually he or she may end up in a state of protracted depression and isolated by the loss of the normal connection with others. While grief itself is not a pathological condition, not moving through and out the other side of grief can be very debilitating. Psychologists are trained to assist you with grief and loss.
What is Hypnosis? Hypnosis is the process in which a person induces an altered state of consciousness, within which certain normal human capabilities are heightened, while others fade more or less into the background. The process might involve alterations in consciousness and memory, increased susceptibility to suggestion, the production of responses and ideas unfamiliar to the person in a normal state of mind, and/or changes in behaviour, perceptions or psychological processes Hypnosis can occur naturally when a person becomes totally absorbed in what they are doing and so it is a bit like day-dreaming. Hypnosis is not the same as sleep. The popular stereotype about Hypnosis is that the person hypnotised is under the control of the hypnotist and can be made to do whatever. However, you do not lose consciousness under Hypnosis, nor do you lose control over your mind and feelings, nor do you surrender your will to another person. Hypnosis can be an effective adjunct to psychotherapy, especially when applied to discrete conditions such as sleep disorders, nail biting, fears and phobias. Hypnosis can also be effectively applied for particular medical and dental treatments including smoking cessation, labour and childbirth, pain control, and minor surgical procedures.
What is Insomnia? Insomnia, or habitual sleeplessness, is a common problem. Lack of sleep, disrupted sleep, disturbed sleep, or even light sleep, is a real problem for mental health if it becomes a regular pattern. In some cases, getting back to a regular pattern of restful sleep can be as simple as a change of bedtime behaviour, in other cases it may require delving into a psychological disturbance and working through the torment and suffering. Psychologists are trained to treat insomnia.
Can I get a Medicare rebate when I see a psychologist? Medicare rebates are available for psychological services to Medicare card-holders who have been assessed by a GP for a mental health problem and have been referred to a psychologist. Also see The Better Access to Mental Health Scheme above.
Do I need Medication? Medication for some psychological conditions and disorders, in many cases can be very helpful, even necessary, in some cases. In order to determine whether you need Medication you should talk to your GP or psychiatrist, both who are licensed to prescribe medication. However it is probably wise to also consult someone trained in clinical psychology or psychiatry for a thorough assessment as there is good evidence that for mild to moderate psychological disturbances, psychotherapy is as efficacious as Medication, and therefore is a good option for those who don’t want to rely entirely on Medication. There is also good evidence for the better lasting effects from psychotherapy for mild to moderate psychological disturbances compared to Medication alone, and the combination of Medication in conjunction with psychotherapy is also effective, and often recommended for moderate to severe cases of psychological disturbance.
What is Meditation? Meditation is a practice to focus the mind and body. Meditation can take a variety of forms (see Mindfulness below) and is considered to be good for physical wellbeing and mental health. Some people get immediate benefits from Meditation and fall in love with it, while others find it pointless and, in some cases, unnerving. Sitting still, in a quiet setting, and simply focusing on the breath for twenty minutes is a fundamental form of Meditation. Visualisation, mantras, yoga niddra, and other approaches like Mindfulness Training can supplement basic Meditation. Psychologists are often trained to teach Mindfulness and many have experience and training in other forms of Meditation.
Do I need a Mental Health Care Plan? If you wish to obtain a rebate for psychological services then you will need to visit your GP to be assessed for a MHCP. It is best to check with your GP’s receptionist to see if you need double appointment, as a 15-minute visit to your GP may not be long enough to complete the assessment for a MHCP. Also see The Better Access to Mental Health Scheme above.
What is Mindfulness Training? Mindfulness Training is based on a Buddhist practice of meditation that focuses on patiently observing the activity of the mind and body in a completely non-judgmental way. With a range of techniques to get the mind to see its own mental productions in real time, Mindfulness Training gets you into the habit of being in the present! Used in conjunction with other CBT (see CBT above) and ACT (see ACT above) Mindfulness training is a contemporary approach to treating, among other psychological conditions: anxiety, depression, addiction, and pain.
What is OCD? OCD is a type of anxiety disorder where thoughts, often pertaining to safety, predominate and preoccupy the sufferer. The obsessive thoughts are then linked to compulsive behaviours, which are often aimed at dismissing or neutralising the thoughts. The condition can vary from a mild form through to such a severe form that some who suffer from OCD cannot leave home . Psychologists are trained to treat OCD.
What is Panic Attack? Panic Attack is the sudden onset of an overwhelming physiological response of fear and anxiety. It can happen quickly, out-of-the-blue, for no apparent reason. It can feel like there is a grave and imminent danger happening within the psyche. Some people experience it often and others infrequently. It can be very severe in intensity and prolonged in duration, which means for some people it can be mistaken as a heart attack. Panic Attack also can also be relatively mild. Psychologists are trained to treat Panic Attack.
What is a Phobia? A phobia is an excessive aversive reaction to something, or fear of something, or, in some instances, an excessive and irrational reaction to something. The thing that apparently causes the reaction could be inherently dangerous, or not. Some common examples of phobia include a fear of flying, a fear of heights, a fear of crowds, a fear of spiders, mice, snakes, and so on. Some people have phobias that are not worth treating as they rarely encounter the object that causes the excessive reaction, but some phobias really do disrupt a happy life and therefore are well worth seeking out a psychologist for their treatment.
What is Post Traumatic Stress? After a traumatic event such as physical or sexual abuse, or a sudden violent act, as can happen in war, or in a car accident, or workplace accident, which shocks a person, there is a possibility that a person may experience an acute trauma. Sometimes the victim recovers from the impact of the acute trauma, that is the initial shock, and returns to day-to-day functioning. However in some cases the person doesn’t recover as expected and he or she experiences day-to-day living with the shock of the traumatic event intruding into the present. People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress can feel jumpy, have generalised anxiety, be depressed, experience nightmares and/or waking visions of the traumatic event, and, in some cases, turn to drink, drugs and medication to cope with chaotic thoughts and painful feelings. Those who suffer from PTS often remain hyper-vigilant, have difficulty sleeping, and suffer the inability to function well enough to complete the basic tasks of daily living. War Veterans, victims of violence including sexual abuse, and people who have been mistreated by others in various different ways, or have been the victims of crime, are commonly known to experience PTS. PTS can be severely disabling. Complex Traumatic Stress is a condition related to PTS (see Complex Traumatic Stress above). Psychologists are trained to treat PTS.
What is Psychoanalysis? Psychoanalysis was pioneered by Sigmund Freud and developed by his followers. Psychoanalysis focuses on the effects of the unconscious on the psyche. Psychoanalysis aims at allowing aspects of the psyche, which have been hidden, to become conscious to the patient (called analysand). Relief from ongoing suffering is often reported as one benefit of discovering aspects of the psyche that have previously been inaccessible, but other benefits also arise from the work of Psychoanalysis which include getting to know oneself more comprehensively and function more effortlessly. As Socrates is believed to have said, “A life unexamined is a life not lived” and Psychoanalysis is a way of delving into one’s inner life, to discover the intrigues and machinations of the psyche. The process of Psychoanalysis can be helpful for those who have unsuccessfully tried other psychotherapeutic approaches to obtaining symptom relief, or for those who are intrigued to know more about the functions of the self, the psyche and the unconscious. At Veevers Bryant Psychologists we are trained in Lacanian Psychoanalysis, which is the fastest growing variant of Psychoanalysis worldwide.
What is Psychodynamic Psychotherapy? Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is an approach to psychotherapy that usually employs the theory and training of a psychoanalyst without the strict method of psychoanalysis. Psychodynamic Psychotherapy explores the unconscious and conscious aspects of the psyche by investigating aspects of the psyche, including the id, ego, and super-ego, ego-defences, fantasy and desire, dreams, slips of the tongue, bungled actions, unconscious patterns of behaviour, to name a few! Also see Psychoanalysis above.
What are Psychological Skills and Tools? Patients often ask for skills and tools to help them cope with their suffering. Some forms of psychotherapy, like CBT, ACT, and Mindfulness Training, supply the patient with Psychological Skills and Tools, such as "positive thinking", "emotional regulation", "de-catastrophising", "urge-surfing", "mindfulness", and preferable behaviours. Basic Psychological Skills and Tools, can be very helpful to relieve acute distress and start to make the changes you seek. However, it is usually the case that for changes to be maintained over the lifetime, then more comprehensive therapy is recommended. Working through psychological torment carefully and comprehensively with a skilled psychotherapist is less about the acquisition of Psychological Skills and Tools, and is more about developing a greater appreciation and understanding of the nature of your unique psyche, including its unconscious aspect.
What is Psychotherapy? Psychotherapy is the umbrella-term, which covers all forms of therapy that treat mental disturbances via a psychological pathway. This means psychotherapy is generally a talking therapy, rather than a medication or physical therapy. Psychotherapy requires the patient to speak to a psychotherapist about their suffering. Examples of Psychotherapy are ACT, CBT, Counselling, Psychodynamic psychotherapy, and Psychoanalysis.
What is Relationship Therapy? Relationship Therapy is often assumed to be another name for Couple's Counselling (see Couple's Counselling above). However people come to relationship counsellors together with another person from a range of different relationships. For example, a mother and daughter who might not be getting along, or a brother and sister, who have fought over the years, might seek out a relationship counsellor to look at improving their relationship. Relationship Therapy may even be for friends or colleagues who want to improve the quality of their relationship together. We are all in so many types of relationships and unfortunately they don’t always go well!
What is Self Esteem, Self Regard, Self Confidence, and Self Resilience? We hear these terms all the time and it’s easy to jumble them up but it is worth stopping for a moment and checking that we have them all! Self Esteem is a feeling of worthiness based on one’s own judgment; Self Regard is being able to see one’s self in a positive light; Self Confidence is feeling confident that we can meet the day-to-day challenges we face; and Self Resilience is being able to get going again when the going is tough and we have felt knocked down. A harsh view of your self can impact on these important attributes. Psychologists are trained to get you back to being able to feel good about your self.
What is Sexual Abuse Therapy? Like other trauma-focused therapy (see Trauma-Focused Therapy below) Sexual Abuse Therapy aims at reducing the traumatic impact of sexual abuse. Because of the shame often associated with sexual abuse the therapist takes care to ensure the therapeutic space feels safe and supportive. The therapy must proceed at the pace set by the patient and explore all possible reactions to the experience with a view to reducing the suffering and shame associated with sexual abuse.
What is Sexuality? Sexuality is, in its broadest definition, anything that relates to sex, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, sexual practices, sexual intimacy, sexual impotence, sexual health and wellbeing, love, sexual relationships, and so on. Sexuality is such an important area for all of us, as we are, by nature, sexual beings! As Sexuality is such a sensitive topic for many of us, even today, the assistance of a psychologist to work through Sexuality issues can be one way of improving our experience of life as sexual creatures!
What is Trauma-Focused Therapy? Psychological trauma can be extremely debilitating because trauma from the past can appear to be happening again in the present. Under safe working conditions, at a gentle pace, Trauma-Focused Therapy aims at reducing the overload of anxiety on the mind and body by gradually working through all the after-effects of the traumatic experience until the memories and associations are properly relegated to history and don’t ambush the patient in the present. Psychologists are trained in Trauma-Focused Therapy.
What is the Unconscious? The Unconscious is a hidden aspect of the psyche or mind. Whilst the Unconscious can never be known in a direct sense, its psychic formations - such as dreams, slips-of-tongue, bungled actions, symptoms, and even repetitive patterns of behaviour - can be interpreted to reveal the peculiar workings of the Unconscious. Psychoanalysis and Psychodynamic Psychotherapy is particularly focussed on the analysis of the Unconscious as it can provide a means by which you may be absolved of torment and become more able to proceed in life according to an understanding of your unique desire.