for October, 2016

Using the ‘F’ word: Tackling the obesity crisis kindly

Posted on October 28, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics from 2011-12, 62.8% of Australians aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese and according to Australian Doctor, 80% of adults and close to one-third of children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025.

The associated health risks and impact on the Australian economy is significant but knowing how to sensitively approach a person’s weight is reportedly a real issue even for many health professionals. (Australian Doctor; “Doctors need to be taught how to discuss their patients’ excess weight”,17 August, 2016, Dr Adrienne Gordon and Associate Professor Kirsten Black).

“Approaching the topic of weight loss with sensitivity, compassion and understanding will avoid a knee-jerk reaction and ultimately reap the best results”, says Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist.

“Using sensitive language and avoiding harsh words like ‘fat’ and ‘obese’ but instead focusing on the positive outcome of weight loss and the patient’s health goals is the best practice.

“Aside from it being the second highest contributor to burden of disease, understanding the psycho-social reasons for the obesity should also rank as a health professionals primary concern, Ms Smith says.”

Once the topic of the person’s weight has been sensitively broached, perhaps as part of a broader discussion about their physical and mental health, supporting the person with external resources and care is integral to the success of the intervention.

Addressing the underlying issues surrounding their weight can be difficult to ascertain and considering a holistic and collaborative approach can be beneficial for the person in managing and maintaining their long-term weight loss goals.

Despite being experts in behavioural change, psychologists seem to be overlooked as a resource for weight loss management. However, by using cognitive behavioural therapy, a psychologist can help patients address their thoughts and behaviours surrounding eating whilst addressing any underlying causes, like self-esteem issues or depressive disorders.

According to Kylie Ball, Research Fellow at the School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences at Deakin University, “Some of the most effective strategies for encouraging healthy living, exercise and positive eating habits come from CBT” (Australian Psychological Society; “Obesity: attaining positive outcomes” Rebecca Camilleri and Rebecca Mathews)

Many of the clinical psychologists at Psychology Consultants have specialised knowledge and experience in weight management and are committed to achieving long-term success for client’s who present with these concerns. For more information on our team of Clinical Psychologists, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website.

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Fit Minds

Posted on October 10, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

During Mental Health Week 9-15th October 2016

Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

If you have ever watched an episode of Sex in the City,” you might notice that all of the characters seem to have therapists. They openly and willingly talk about their problems over lunch; “my therapist says I should…”

In fact this is true of most American sitcoms and probably reflective of a more open and honest culture and attitude towards mental health and the importance of feeling balanced and healthy.

Aussies, well, we are a bit different in this regard and generally anyone who needs a therapist “must be crazy” right? Wrong.

The trend to have a personal trainer and/or a gym membership is on the rise with Australia’s health and fitness industry booming. Evident by the popularity of shows like The Biggest Loser and supplemented by the government’s efforts to support healthy lifestyles, this is more than just a trend but a long-term commitment to our nation’s physical health.

But what about our mental health?

Dr Jillian Millar, Clinical Psychologist at Psychology Consultants, Brisbane, likens being a psychologist to being a personal trainer.

“Every single one of us is susceptible to struggling with the ups and downs of life, the stress and pressure we face can catch up with us all.

I see the role of Psychologists as similar to a Personal Trainer for the mind; you don’t have to be unhealthy before you can benefit from prioritising your health and wellbeing.

Sometimes we help clients who are in crisis and may only want or need a short term intervention, other times people may choose to engage in regular psychotherapy to help maintain good mental health and functioning” comments Dr Millar.

So what better time than during mental health week 9-15th October, to take a step back, reflect, and value the importance of your own mental health?

And remember, if you feel like life’s pressures are getting too much, speaking to a professional can really help put things in perspective and provide strategies to help you deal with life’s ups and downs. There is no shame in it; your mind is a vital organ – as important as your heart or lungs.

Check out our team of male and female clinical psychologists on the Brisbane Psychologists page.

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Managing Emotional Distress: What to do when life hurts

Posted on October 2, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

By Kylie Layton, Clinical Psychologist

Have you ever heard anyone say “Everyone else seems to be able to cope, why can’t I”? It is a question that people repeatedly ask as they struggle with the emotional distress that life brings, and their comparison of this distress with their perception of other’s lives. Social media and media in general provide constant access to images highlighting the success and happiness of other’s lives and delivers messages about the things we should be doing for our health, careers, and relationships. This constant stream of information sets us up for emotional distress when we find our lives fall short of these expectations.

Emotional distress is, in fact, a part of everyday life, and is usually the result of a difference in our experience of what we want or expect and what we’ve got. When we encounter these differences emotions naturally arise and, the more our reality differs from our expectation, the more intense the emotional experience. Our quest for happiness and success, coupled with availability of other’s lives for comparison, will continually produce this unpleasant emotional experience. So how can we improve our ability to navigate our unpleasant emotional experience?

1. Acknowledge our emotional experience. Without a conscious awareness of our emotional experience we tend to act on ‘autopilot’ and unconsciously choose familiar actions to allow us to move through or avoid our emotional experience. If these behaviours are unhelpful this process is likely to lead to further distress. By acknowledging our emotion we take the first step to creating the space we need to choose how we would like to respond.

2. Understand what the emotion is telling us. Our emotions are our instincts and our insight into our needs, desires and values. Emotions provide information about the situation and direct our behaviour in the future. Guilt, for instance, is the emotion we feel when our actions are different to how we feel we should have behaved. By understanding that this is what we are feeling we can recognise a need to behave differently in the future.

3. Validate our emotional experience. By reminding ourselves that this is what human beings feel when faced with this difference in expectation and reality, that this feeling is here because there are things that matter to us, and that this feeling is here to help us navigate life, we provide ourselves with permission to have this feeling as well as acknowledge that life can be painful.

4. Allow our emotion. Because of the unpleasant nature of emotional distress, we often have a desire to get rid of the emotion we are experiencing; it is unpleasant and we don’t want to feel it, so we try to do things that get rid of it. Sometimes this works, but often it makes things worse by increasing our distress. For example, we may experience anxiety and then start to worry about having a panic attack thereby becoming anxious about our anxiety. Research indicates us that emotions tend to come and go like waves, if we resist the urge to avoid them or fight with them, and try to give them a space to be, then they will run their course naturally.

5. Choose how to respond. By acknowledging, understanding and validating our emotion we create the ability to consciously make a choice about how to deal with our emotion. We can consider what the ideal outcome is in the circumstances; think about our values, what we stand for as a person, and aim to make a choice that is in line with the life we are wanting to live. This is still possible to do even while we are experiencing emotional distress.

If we can learn to view ALL emotions as a normal part of life and recognise that life is going to be messy, painful, and disappointing at times then our expectations are likely to be more in line with reality and thereby produce less distress. As health practitioners, acknowledging and validating a patients emotional experience, and helping them to understand the informative nature of the emotion, will not only make the patient feel heard und understood but encourage them to experience and run the course of their emotion rather than avoid it or fight with it. This in turn allows the patient space to make decisions that are in line with their personal values and goals for their lives.

For more information on Kylie Layton and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants, visit the Psychologists page of our website.

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