for August, 2017

Rehab for the Soul after Stroke

Posted on August 31, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

During Stroke Awareness Week 4-9th Sept

This week is Stroke Awareness Week with this year’s campaign aiming to educate people on the “fast signs” of stroke, like blurred vision, loss of movement and drooping face. Knowing the signs and acting early is key to minimising the impact of stroke and improving rehabilitation outcomes.

With ample focus on repairing the physical impacts, as psychologists, we are naturally inclined to also ask how the person is coping emotionally and psychologically after suffering a stroke. Mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety are common after stroke, not only because the condition affects aspects of brain functioning directly, but also due to the physical changes and personal challenges that may result.

Emotional recovery is a major part of the rehabilitation journey and some attention should be placed on the person’s emotional wellbeing. As well as changes in general mood, many stroke sufferers can feel traumatised or angered by the experience and live in fear of a second occurrence. Speaking with a mental health professional about your thoughts and feelings after stroke, may help alleviate stress and psycho-social symptoms whilst improving physical effects, like sleep that are integral to the recovery process.

Similar to the tools that are provided in physical therapy, stroke survivors can also be provided with a mental health tool kit filled with personalise strategies to help cope with the challenges that lie ahead. Although mood disorders and emotional strain are common after stroke, recovery is also very common, with psychotherapies like cognitive behavioural therapy having positive effects.

Like the late Napoleon Hill famously said; “The body will achieve what the mind believes”, and getting the right help to regain a positive perspective and the self- confidence to embrace life, is imperative to a holistic rehabilitation.

The Stroke Foundation offer a number of resources and support for the emotional and psychological recovery including Enable Me with useful advice and podcasts from a range of professionals.

For more information on our team of Clinical Psychologists and their areas of expertise visit

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Selfies causing mental health problems

Posted on August 30, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants
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Like most new crazes, they come with a side of commentary and debate and the selfie fad is not exempt. At risk of over-analysing simply taking a photo of oneself; the selfie craze is sending people over the edge by promoting narcissistic and self-objectifying behaviour that relies heavily on reward and social approval.

“The mounting pressure to be approved and rewarded by ‘likes’ or follows, can lead to a downward spiral, unravelling the person’s deep seeded doubt and insecurity that may have lead them to this digital space in the first place,” said Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist.

Particularly with the Gen Y’s, selfie obsession has become a real problem with people becoming disconnected from the real world on a search for the perfect post. Not only does the craze promote self-objectification, it removes the ability to be mindful and enjoy the present moment.

The term narcissism was coined by a German Psychiatrist, Paul Näcke (1851-1913) and refers to a beautiful greek mythological character, Narkissos who fell in love with his own reflection. But more often than not, narcissists are deep down insecure people with a burning hunger for acceptance and approval.

It would be extreme to suggest that anyone who has posted a selfie falls into this category, after all, we are probably all guilty of a cheeky selfie-snap. However, the trap that many people unintentionally fall into, when it comes to social media, is becoming obsessed with posting photos only to wait for other people’s digital approval.

Considering the said ‘approval’, is so flippant and empty that is takes a nano-second to offer; why is getting ‘likes’ so important in this social-media obsessed age?

Perhaps it’s because it provides such an easy platform to show others your worth and popularity. For some, it represents a chain of money, a myriad of business opportunity and possibility. And for others, it’s more innocently, just a way of telling your story to the world and knowing it has been received. A little soap box, you otherwise would not have the opportunity to stand on.

The most important thing when using social media is to really think about your reasons for posting and to exercise caution if you feel you are placing too much value or significance on the number of likes or follows you receive.

A good question to ask yourself to bring it all back to reality is; if I received a real-life compliment about this photo I am posting, would it have equal worth?

If you are struggling with personal or emotional problems, speaking to a professional counsellor or psychologist can help you get back on track. For more information on our team of clinical psychologists, visit

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The art of accepting a compliment

Posted on August 25, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

Every human being is worthy of a compliment. The baffling thing is, the majority of the us, find taking a compliment totally flustering. Personal compliments trigger strange reactions that range from slight to total embarrassment and for the more discerning, rearing feelings of distrust…. pondering what exactly does this person want from me?

So why is this the case? It is because we are taught to be humble, modest and not show off, or is it our inner sceptic questioning the real reason for the compliment? Maybe, it’s because we spend too much time admiring others, when we should, from time to time, take a step back and value our own abilities, accomplishments and personal qualities. If that sounds rather narcissistic to you, then you are probably not good at taking a compliment- right?

The real art in accepting a compliment is in how you receive it. Deflecting a compliment doesn’t make you humble, there are many other ways to remain humble, whilst still taking on board what other people see as winning personal qualities. So here are a few simple ways you can work towards taking praise on board. 

Stop with the negative self-talk

You are worthy of a compliment, not matter what your inner monologue throws at you. One of the reasons some of us find accepting a compliment difficult, is because it challenges our inner self-belief. Challenging negative thoughts is difficult and not something that will change over-night. Once you are aware of the physical and emotional cues that come with negative self-talk, you can stop, breathe and start to challenge those negative thoughts.

Only counter-compliment if it’s sincere  

A common knee-jerk reaction is to deflect the compliment by giving one back, which is as transparent as rice paper, unless it’s sincere. A better response can be to include the person (if appropriate) in the compliment or express how much the compliment means to you. For example; “Thank you. I couldn’t have done it without your help” or “Wow, thank you, that means a lot to me.”

Last of all- Just Say Thank You!

Sounds easy, right? Not only does saying ‘thank you’ allow you to accept and reflect on the positive praise, it respects the person who has given you the compliment. 99% of the time, there is no ulterior motive, the person genuinely wants to show that they value you as a person. Now it time to start valuing yourself.

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What would your friends say at your 80th birthday?

Posted on August 22, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

During Senior’s Week 19-27th August

By Erika Fiorenza, Clinical Psychologist

Values are our heart’s deepest desires. They are about who we want to be on an ongoing basis. There are hundreds of different values. Some common examples are: authenticity, acceptance, challenge, caring, fun, honesty, independence, gratitude and kindness.

One way to clarify your values is the ‘80th Birthday’ exercise.  Imagine it’s your 80th birthday and someone close to you was giving a speech – what would you like that person to say about the person you have been?

In therapy, we help people identify their values and how effectively they are living by these values.  Often, painful thoughts and feelings can get in the way of living in line with our values.  For example, feelings of anxiety, and worry about what people think, can lead to avoiding social situations, and therefore a move away from values like connection and caring.

In a challenging situation, being able to tune into our values can give us some direction.  Making moves in the direction of these values means living a richer, more meaningful life.

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Why psychological distress should not be a normal part of ageing

Posted on August 19, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

During QLD Senior’s Week 19-27 August 

Liz Bamford, Psychologist, Psychology Consultants 

We are all ageing, let’s face it, it’s a beautiful human reality and try as we might to reverse the process, not even the most esteemed scientist has the cure. As we age and particularly beyond 65 years, we accept a new normal, where health conditions are part of daily life and things start to slow down. Although, this is inevitable, many older adults may also accept that feeling of psychological distress are a normal part of the ageing process.

Research findings suggest that as we age, feelings of psychological distress may increase and for some people this may be a symptom of depression or anxiety. Sometimes this emotional distress is triggered by a life event, such as a change in accommodation, death of a partner, or adjusting to a new or worsening health conditions.

Despite the ageing population and rising levels of psychological distress, there are more young people seeking psychological help than the older section of the population.

So why is this so and how can we change it?

Over the last decade, mental health campaigns and industry based initiatives have helped enormously to reduced stigma associated with mental health issues. That said, the social perception of mental health issues being common, is relatively new and for the older generation it may feel counterintuitive to ask for help when feeling sad, lonely and ‘not quite right’.

Feelings of powerlessness amongst the ageing population is common, particularly when experiencing physical changes and this can transcend into emotional and psychological difficulties. Although these feelings are common, this does not mean they are to be expected and should be ignored.

It is just as important for older adults to talk about their feelings and emotional experiences, as it is to present physical complaints to the doctor. Like the physical complaints, if left untreated they may worsen.

Talking to a psychologist can help to understand what might be happening when feelings of sadness, worry or frustration are overwhelming. A psychologist can also devise strategies for dealing with new realities of life and manage feelings of sadness, worry, grief or loss. If you are experiencing emotional or psychological distress that is interfering with everyday life, don’t accept it as normal, speak to your GP about the best steps forward.

Read more about Liz Bamford, Psychologist

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Dear Diary….The therapeutic benefits of putting pen to paper

Posted on August 10, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Dr Stan Steind, Clinical Psychologist

Therapeutic writing; it’s the new technical term for something that’s as old as the ink well itself, perhaps even older. So rather than claim it as a hot new trend, we are here to pay homage to the age-old art of writing down your feelings….with a pen (gasp)!

With technology and more specifically social media taking the world by storm, our ability to share (and overshare) has never been more accessible. Back in the day, people and especially youngsters, wrote a diary to vent their feelings but technology has somewhat replaced putting pen to paper. But does the digital space provide the same opportunity to be true to yourself and express your real emotions?

Social media provides a platform (or soap box) to create a brand for yourself, your business and everything in between; pets you are not exempt. People’s online profiles are usually an embellishment of their normal more vanilla lives and as a result, social media can sometimes create feelings of inferiority and insecurity. So, what does this analogy have to do with writing a diary, I hear you ask? Even though our society has become increasingly expressive, with the ability to share our lives, every waking moment, often those stories don’t convey the real you.

Enter….the good old written diary. This age-old little gem offers a safe haven to say whatever the heck you like with the added benefit of scrunching it up and throwing it in a real-life bin, should you ever feel the urge. Although some people may feel Microsoft word offers the same benefit, your digital footprint is permanent, not to mention grammar and spell check getting in the way of pouring your little heart out.

Strong research backs up the mental health benefits of therapeutic writing with American social psychologist Dr James Pennebaker leading the way since the 1980s. Research aside, the fact that humans have been writing diaries for centuries is testament to the theory that writing down your emotions and taking time to reflect before making your next move is powerful.

For those of you who haven’t contemplated writing a diary since year three, it can be a little confronting but here are a few basic steps to get you back into the groove:

  1. Buy a really nice diary or piece of stationery that you love.
  2. Pick up time when you can allocate 10 minutes to yourself. This may be first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
  3. Start writing! It may seem like written diarrhoea but writing anything that comes into your head with no censor will help you to get your emotions on paper. Remember no-one has to ever read it.
  4. Read what you have written
  5. Reflect on what you have written. What sort of emotions are being conveyed?

By writing down a whole raft of uncensored emotions that may have been stored up, you are releasing emotions and developing new personal insight. Although therapeutic writing has many health benefits, if you have experienced trauma or are easily overwhelmed, consulting your doctor and a psychologist before starting this exercise is advised.

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