for September, 2017

Do you freak out without your phone?

Posted on September 22, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

Our ability to completely switch ‘swipe’ off from the world has set a new-age challenge, with many of us so addicted to our phones that the idea of switching it off or leaving it at home is totally absurd. In fact, so absurd that for many people, particularly amongst the younger generation, it causes a great deal of stress to be without one’s phone.

Many people report feelings of stress when they don’t have their phone with them and this feeling is warranted, after all, the device in many cases has replaced large parts of our brain, namely our memory and imagination. All jokes aside, research has shown that in high stress situations, a person’s phone can provide some relief, acting as a security blanket. Staying connected is important; an inbuilt part of the human psyche, so when faced with stressful situations, being able to reach out is only natural. However, if you are unable to function without your device neatly tucked in your back pocket or hot little hand, you may need to reassess the reasons for your not so fluffy security blanket.

Research shows that the connection between mental illness and phone use depends on the reasons for use and using a phone to avoid boredom or high stress situations has little correlation. The fear of new technology amongst the public is nothing new and has been occurring for generations as each new tech fad replaces the last. The most important thing to remember when it comes to our personal devices is to not to let it replace human interaction, social common courtesy and the ability to make good use of our brain.

It is also important to set a good example for the little people in our world by not always resorting to your phone to fill gaps and fix boredom. Being bored is an excellent way to make use of your imagination, have a conversation, learn something new, and notice the world around you.

Set yourself a little challenge this week by leaving your phone at home for the day and see what differences you notice in yourself by the end of the day.

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Music speaking volumes for teens

Posted on September 20, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants, Brisbane

Music- it’s an amazing universal language that for centuries has been used to create ambiance, calm and excite crowds, cut through cultural barriers, prepare for monumental moments, reminiscence and reflect. And these days, this melodic and wonderful language is being used more strategically as a form of therapy. Recent scientific research into music therapy across a range of age groups, affirms what we anecdotally know, that music regulates mood. This revelation is particularly relevant for parents with teenagers whose hormones may have gone haywire with a brewing mood to match.

If you haven’t tuned into the YouTube sensation by Peter Denahy, “Sort of Dunno Nothin”- Google it for a laugh! The lyrics takes the micky out of communicating with teenagers, with answers like ‘Sort of, Dunno, Yep, Nope, Nowhere’. The ballad provides a good giggle, if you are a parent enduring these trying years, it might lift your mood and provide a lighter perspective.

Perhaps though, the stereotypical image of the grunting teenager, complete with grim look, digital device and earphones firmly plugged, stands to reason. They are niftier than we give credit for, self-regulating, using music as their tool to escape, lighten, relax or sometimes brew in whatever flavour mood they are experiencing.

If you take a walk in their shoes, you may empathise and remember how challenging this stage of life can be. Putting aside the physical trials and tribulations of teenage-hood, is more mounting pressure than ever before, causing stress and anxiety particularly amongst high school students. A 2016 study by Mission Australia revealed the top two concerns for teens aged 15-19 years, were coping with stress, school and study problems. Recognising the enormity of the issue and the mental health ramifications, The University of Queensland’s, Dr Genevieve Dingle (School of Psychology), developed the ‘Tuned In Teens’ program, designed to help high school aged students, regulate their emotions through music and in turn reduce stress and anxiety. For many teens who have tuned into the program, it has literally been music to their ears with results showing this form of therapy, that has stood the test of time, has real life worth.

As amusing as the ‘Sort of Dunno Nothin’ tune is, teenagers can find it very hard to verbalise their thoughts and emotions and parents can find this disconcerting, challenging and infuriating. Music, offers the opportunity to break through the verbal barrier and regulate mood by communicating through visualisation, bodily sensation and making sense of feelings through the thoughts music provokes. Better yet, if the music is a shared experience with parents also tuning in, it can act as a conduit to better understand how their teen might be feeling. To further advocate our tongue-tied teens, recent research shows that the human brain goes through some pretty dramatic development during these years, with physical changes to the frontal lobe affecting the synapse that are responsible for decision making, judgement and control.

We all have experienced, the lift music can provide, making you feel happy, enlightened and relaxed; just imagine a bar or a gym without music.  On the flip side, we’ve all probably experienced the sadness it can sometimes bring, darkening our mood and making us feel angry or resentful. It is important when it comes to teens, to monitor the types of music they are listening to, also ensuring the earplugs are not always accompanied by a screen.  Encouraging teens to unplug, get some fresh air and exercise, provides the ultimate trifecta for natural mood enhancement.

If your teenager is struggling with stress and emotional problems or you would like some parenting strategies, speaking to a psychologist can be a positive step forward. Find out more about our team of Clinical Psychologists at

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Being kind to yourself as the first step to helping others

Posted on September 14, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0

On RUOK Day- 14th September 2017

Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants

The four prompts to starting a conversation on RUOK day this year are; 1. Ask 2. Listen 3. Encourage Action 4. Check In

This process is great and represents a small but powerful act of human kindness. Perhaps as well, the preparation for these four steps, could be to first check in with yourself, asking yourself, AM I OK? As the famous psychologist Jack Kornfield once said, “Compassion, without self-compassion, is incomplete.”

Practicing self-compassion, that is treating yourself with the same level of kindness as you would others, does not come naturally for many people. However, being kind to yourself by soothing the inner self-critic and softening negative thoughts can lead to a better sense of well-being and inner strength that enables you to also practice compassion towards others in your life.

Try following these six steps to begin practicing self-compassion:

Turn your attention to yourself, and become sensitive to your own thoughts and feelings. Step out of living on autopilot and become aware of your experiences.

If you identify areas in which you may be struggling or suffering, see if you can understand that suffering and be accepting and non-judgemental of yourself.

Know that suffering is a part of life, and a part of what it is to be human and to have these tricky human brains. Rather than criticising ourselves, we can approach ourselves with empathy and understanding.

And we can feel sympathy for ourselves. Not a pitying kind of sympathy, but rather a feeling that what we are going through is really hard and we feel moved by that feeling.

With a fundamental sense of care for our own well-being, we can bring our innate caregiving motivation to looking after ourselves and working out what we can do to help.

And finally, we can ask ourselves the key question: What is it that I really need, or would help me, in this moment of suffering?

So, remember that today, during this national day of awareness, as well as having the wisdom and courage to ask others RUOK, also look within and ask yourself that very same question. As the aeroplane safety video says regarding oxygen masks before take off, “fix your own mask first, and then help others.”

If you are struggling with negative self-talk, persistent anxiety or depressed mood, talking to a mental health professional can help you move forward and start living the way you want to live, Visit our website for more information and to view our team of clinical psychologists  

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