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Psychology Consultants Celebrates 20 years

Posted on February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants has a lot to smile about, as 2019 marks the privilege of helping people for 20 years.

Windsor local, Dr Stan Steindl, who started his career at Kids Help Line at age 19, officially established the Psychology practice on 1 January 1999, bringing in the New Year with a new purpose and mission in life; to help others and alleviate suffering.

The then Canon Hill practice, started as a one-man band and now 20 years later operate from two sites in Morningside and Newmarket with 20+ Clinical Psychologists and admin staff.

“At first I spent quite a lot of time waiting for the phone to ring. When it did ring, it was usually my mother calling to see how things were going,” comments business founder, Dr Steindl.

“But gradually things got busy and by 2000 I was bringing other Clinical Psychologists in to work with me.”

Queensland is home to more than 426,000 small businesses, an important core of every industry sector. They are in every community in every region, represent over 97% of businesses state-wide, and employ approximately 44% of all private sector workers (https://www.business.qld.gov.au/starting-business/advice-support/support/small-business/small-businesses-qld).

“Small business can be tough, with a very precise recipe required for growth and success; for us it came down to good partnership, government support and of course clients who needed our help,” says co-owner and Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith, who joined the practice in 2005.

“Recently a client expressed her gratitude and stated that I had helped her immensely and had changed her life”, continues Ms Smith.

“I thought, wow, I am privileged to be in such a position to be able to offer this and that makes my work worthwhile”.

The business saw significant growth after the introduction of the Medicare Benefits Schedule initiative, that commenced 1 November 2006 and in 2019 employs 20 staff across two practice locations at Morningside and Newmarket.

“When the business was first established there was no Medicare rebates, with people accessing psychological therapy through private health insurance or Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and sometimes through other insurance claims such as third party insurance or Workcover”, says Dr Steindl.

Dr Steindl says that after 20 years in business, he feels most satisfied knowing that he has now worked with hundreds of people to try to help alleviate suffering.

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Welcome Dr Madan to our Newmarket Practice

Posted on February 6, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Psychology Consultants warmly welcomes Dr Madan to the Newmarket team. Dr Madan is a Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist who enjoys working with people of all ages with mild-to-severe mental health conditions. She completed a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of Queensland.

She has practiced in Australia, London, and Ireland, in a variety of settings, including government services, community neuro-rehabilitation, private clinics, and hospital inpatient and outpatient services. She has specialised experience in treating a range of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, emotion dysregulation, trauma, and adjustment difficulties following major life transitions (e.g., grief and bereavement, trauma, separation, and parenting).

Dr Madan utilises a range of evidence-based therapy techniques in her practice including Cognitive-Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness and Positive Psychology. Her therapeutic practice focuses on enhancing emotional awareness, managing difficult emotional experiences (stress, anxiety, anger and depression) while working towards developing more positive patterns of communication and behaviour. She is particularly passionate about developing targeted interventions aimed at bolstering individual resilience and coping with loss, trauma, and disability. Dr Madan has published in peer reviewed journal articles that have examined hope and psychological adjustment to chronic illness and disability.

Dr Madan works from our Newmarket practice on Monday as well as Thursday 2:30-7:00pm & Friday 2:00-6:30pm. Please contact reception to make an appointment (07) 3356 8255

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How to quieten the mind

Posted on January 10, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Do you ever feel like a little rat running on a wheel? Or is your mind like a circus with so much going on, you don’t even know what to cast your eye on. You are not alone; the constant noise and pace of our modern world causes many of us to feel stressed and overwhelmed, often impacting sleep and overall wellbeing. It can be difficult to quieten your mind but not impossible if you prioritise it, and as the New Year rolls around, what better time make a fresh start.

Here’s a few ways you can drown out the noise and quieten your mind in 2019.

  1. Just Breathe.

Deep, deliberate breathing promotes calm behaviour, encourages focus and with the right technique will help you relax and prepare for the task at hand. Combined with a mantra, something like ‘I am prepared, I am focused, I will do my best’, deep breathing can help you feel more in control. By breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth, more oxygen will be circulated to the muscles and brain, thereby improving concentration and reducing stress. Check out the ‘Compassionate Initiate’ on Sound Cloud: https://soundcloud.com/jamesn-kirby/sets/compassionate-mind-training

  1. Prioritise Exercise

We all know the benefits exercise brings, but it can sometimes seem like yet another thing to add to your busy to do list. The key to incorporating exercise into your daily regime, is choose a physical activity that you actually enjoy. Just a technology free walk in the great outdoors can be soothing for the soul and give you time to think things through.

  1. Practice Yoga or Meditation

It’s not for everyone but Yoga, has proven benefits to mind and body. According to Washington DC based Sleep Foundation, a lack of physical activity as well as stress and too much screen time are the leading causes of sleep disturbance. Combining physical activity and meditation through yoga, is for many people a very effective way to help the mind and body relax. The meditative effects of yoga on the body are very similar to the process of falling asleep, whereby the heartbeat and brain waves become slower.

  1. Turn up the tunes

Music has been clinically proven to help regulate our emotions and so when feeling stressed, overwhelmed or even a little sad, playing the right tune will help alter how you are feeling. Creating a ‘quieten your mind’ playlist can be a great way to chill out and destress.

  1. Pat your pooch

The benefits of animal therapy are clinically recognised worldwide, used for psychological conditions like Posttraumatic Stress Disorders, as well as Anxiety and Spectrum Disorders. Simply sitting, patting or walking your protective and loyal pet, who loves you unconditionally, can lower stress levels.

  1. Take a break from technology

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. But all of the noise and distraction of technology can make it very difficult to be present and even harder to quieten the mind. Try allocating some screen free time into your day and see if you feel calmer.

For more articles like this, follow us on Facebook or to view our team of Clinical Psychologists, click here. 

 

 

 

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In 2019…I will get more sleep

Posted on January 8, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Kathryn Smith, Psychology Consultants

Is getting more sleep one of your New Year resolutions? If so, well done for prioritising your health, with sleep being the absolute pillar, impacting your physical, emotional and mental health. But perhaps you need to reframe your thinking and rather than aim for more sleep, aim for better sleep. Remember, not all sleep is created equal. Often people quantify good sleep by hours spent asleep, when the quality of sleep is far more important.

So how many hours of sleep do we need? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states working adults should get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. However, this varies between people and can be gauged by how you are feeling during the day. In fact, it is your activity, thinking and behaviour during the day, that is pivotal to how you will sleep at night. Worrying about sleep, is the absolute worst thing you can do for sleep. Ample physical activity, a healthy diet and screen free evenings are all good friends of sleep.

If you are finding ongoing sleeplessness is affecting your health and wellbeing, talking to a Clinical Psychologist can be helpful in developing practical long-term strategies to manage insomnia. The use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to treat insomnia has proven effective in that it takes a holistic approach looking at social, emotional and environmental aspects of a person’s life to unfold what is causing the sleep problem.

Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith and Psychiatrist Dr Curt Gray have been effectively treating insomnia with CBT through their long-standing group programme, Towards Better Sleep. Unlike sleep medication, CBT is not a quick fix and takes time to work, which is why the programme spans across 6 weeks, focusing on education, behavioural techniques, correcting faulty thinking and relaxation strategies.

A group setting has proven an effective setting to treat people with sleep problems, allowing participants to share their experiences and learn from one another in a more cost-effective way.

The next Towards Better Sleep programme commences on 14th February 2019 from our Morningside practice. For more information or to register your interest in the programme, visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au or email tbs@psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Battling with your return to work?

Posted on January 6, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Dr Stan Steindl has some helpful ways to make the back to work transition a little bit easier.

1. Cut yourself some slack. Ease back into your first week with slightly shorter hours and a less demanding workload, where possible. Be kind to yourself. Imagine your own kids and the way they find going back to school hard, and support yourself a little bit like you might support them.

2. Take time to plan and set goals for the year, both personal and work. This is a real opportunity to stop and think about what you want this year to be like. I’m not really referring to New Year resolutions. More just giving yourself a chance to think about your goals and identifying what you want to get out of the year.

3. Look after your health – exercise regularly, eat well, Look after your sleep and drink lots of water. This is a new beginning, and there is a bit of a long road ahead, so getting into routines and habits early with balanced lifestyle can help to sustain the work ahead and make it more enjoyable.

4. Make a plan for the weekend, something to look forward to. In fact, have a think about other recreation or holiday plans for the coming months. Having little things to look forward to along the way can be very helpful.

 

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Power of Human Connection

Posted on November 11, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

Connecting the dots during National Psychology Week 11-17th November 2018

#Connecttothrive

This year’s Psychology Week focuses on the ‘Power of Human Connection’ encouraging people to ‘connect to thrive’. With Christmas approaching, this theme is very timely, providing the perfect opportunity to take a break from the pressures of work and our fast-paced world and reconnect with people around you, your friends, family, neighbours and those within your community.

The Christmas break is for many people a joyous and relaxing time, but for others it can be tough, and feelings of loneliness can be difficult to ignore.

Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist, explains; “loneliness is not just about being alone, but rather a lack of meaningful connections with people.

“When you have that deeper connection, you feel a sense of being understood, and a feeling of belonging and affiliation. And with that comes safeness and joy.”

There are strong correlations between loneliness and depression and anxiety with research showing prolonged loneliness negatively impacts the brain and can lead to stress and a range of mental health concerns.  The increasing prevalence of the condition, and the health impacts of loneliness, have recently become a concern of the Australian government, who have announced a $46 million contribution towards the community visitors scheme, designed to reduce loneliness in older adults.

But loneliness isn’t a new feeling, there have always been lonely people in the world. So what is it that has caused this condition to become so prevalent?

Dr Stan Steindl explains; “What’s happened is the world has evolved and the way we interact has changed yet the basic systems of human survival have not.”

“We still have a deep primitive need for human connection but the way we now communicate and live, is less communal, less physical, and more distant, fleeting and impersonal, and so we can quite easily become disconnected from one another.”

It would be easy to point the finger at social media and online communication for our lack of interpersonal connection, but isn’t this just a modern form of human connection? Dr Steindl observes that for many people, online communication is an important source of interaction, while for others it can detract from natural human interaction. He comments, that like anything, there are trade-offs and it’s about getting the balance right for you.

But like most conditions, it’s not as simple as it sounds. More often than not, people who suffer from loneliness find socialising a challenge and forming those true human connections is easier said than done.

Dr Steindl comments, “There are various competencies around communication, listening, understanding and empathy that are key in forming meaningful relationships.”

“Some people have an innate ability to relate while others need help developing these skills.”

“The good news is, with professional help, you can learn how to be more empathetic, how to listen to others and be more understanding, not only of others but of yourself.”

“We have complicated brains that we are born with and some people are more susceptible to certain conditions, like loneliness, and that’s not your fault.”

“We work with people to help them not feel too critical of themselves and their loneliness, but rather take steps towards better self-care, having the wisdom and strength to reach out when you are suffering.”

The Australian Psychological Society has put out a list of helpful ways to work on connecting with others to reduce loneliness. You can find them here along with a range of helpful mental health resources.

Shifting your perspective to values those meaningful human connections rather than counting the amount of relationships or friends you have, is a positive step towards a more confident and fulfilled you. Fostering these true connections by continuing to work on what makes that connection special, will help you both to thrive.

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Opening up about depression in the workplace

Posted on October 8, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

During QLD Mental Health Week 6-14thOctober 2018 

#QMHW #valuementalhealth

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist: Psychology Consultants  

We’ve heard it time and time again, ‘depression is an illness, like any other physical illness’ yet still, so many of us suffer in silence, working the 9-5 with no inference of the daily inner turmoil. Despite world-wide mental health campaigning, there is still some work to do in reducing the stigma associated with mental illness. Leading employees to believe they must hide their illness, fearing it may hinder employment prospects and affect attitudes held towards them. But hiding behind depression, pretending you are okay, can be exhausting, may worsen symptoms and will achieve nothing in breaking down the unnecessary stigma associated with the illness.

Having that important conversation

Although lagging behind other countries in workplace wellness, it is certainly a strong focus for Australian government and businesses with many business recognising the need to prioritise their employees emotional and psychological wellbeing.  Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith comments; “Over the years I have seen many clients who have realised the benefits of disclosing their illness with their employer. Opening up and having ‘the conversation’ did not put their long-term employment at risk but rather resulted in more flexibility and the ability to attend important appointments.”

Finding an ice-breaker, like RU OK Day, observed by most workplaces across the country, could be the ideal time to have that important conversation with your manager, HR resource or a colleague you trust. Keep the conversation brief and professional and if you are comfortable with it, impart some knowledge on the illness and how you best manage it. It may also be helpful to reassure your employer that you are capable of the job whilst outlining the areas where you may, at times, need support or additional time.

Taking a holistic approach to the ongoing management of depression

If you have depression, it is important to accept that you will need ongoing help and support and part of that is supporting yourself with the right daily tool. Looking at the illness holistically by addressing all aspects of your life, including, work, social and physical will help you to feel in control and maintain a healthier balance.

Therapeutic writing is commonly prescribed as an going way to note daily moods and make sense of your thoughts and behaviour. It helps to pinpoint what affects your mood, thereby enabling you to do more of what makes you feel good and less of what makes you feel bad. This seems awfully simple, but you are whether suffering from depression or not, reflecting on your daily thoughts, encourages mindfulness and can be quite enlightening.

Another well-known mood enhancer is exercise, even a short amount of physical activity taken on a daily basis, can boost serotonin levels, increase energy levels, improve mood and sleep. Sleep is also pivotal to mental health, so it is important to ensure you are encouraging your body and mind to rest. You can read more about good sleep health here.

Following the right diet for depression, eating mindfully and at the right times of day/night plays an important role in encouraging positive mood and mindset. Extensive researchshows the powerful effects certain foods and diet has on mood and mental health. As the old saying goes; “You are what you eat”.

Talking to people about your illness and surrounding yourself with a support network of medical professionals, friends, work colleagues and family, will reduce feelings of isolation and assist in recognising early warning signs of a depressive episode.

Lastly, learning to love and support yourselfby accepting the illness whilst not letting it define you, will give you the strength you need to continue on the wonderfully complex journey of life.

You can read more about managing depression here and view our team of Clinical Psychologists here.

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Postnatal depression

Posted on October 3, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

MUM’S THE WORD

By Kathryn Smith- Clinical Psychologist

Queensland Mental Health week  is upon us, acting as a timely reminder to speak about a topic which is not often spoken about. We are bombarded with ads on TV depicting how wonderful motherhood is, and whilst it is for many, for some it is a daily struggle.

Recently I was asked to speak at a Perinatal Mental Health Forum. The main topic of focus was Postnatal Depression and how can we help these women deal with this problem and why are they continuing to fall between the cracks?

It is estimated that 1 in 7 women will experience post-natal depression and 1 in 10 men will also experience this.  This is not the same as the “Baby Blues” typically experienced within the first week following birth but quickly resolving. This consists of depressed mood, loss of appetite, exhaustion, poor sleep, often poor attachment to the baby and sometime suicidal and homicidal ideas. Tragically, some of these ideas are acted on if the symptoms are so severe and the parent cannot see any other way out.

Most that experience post-natal depression, often feel guilty for having these symptoms and are too scared to reach out due to the fear of perhaps losing their baby. They also feel like such a failure as “everyone else” seems to be coping and they are constantly reminded of this at Mother’s groups and Facebook posts. They are not filled with a sense of wonderment that is portrayed in the media and feel everyday as a constant struggle with no enjoyment.

Prevention of this is often better than a cure. A topic of discussion at the forum was how do we assist couples with transitioning into parenthood and really prepare them for the relentless demands a new baby will bring? Also when they are beginning to struggle how do they reach out and who do they talk to?

For any parent that is relating to this, it is important to realise that you are not alone and this is not because you are inadequate. It is important to begin a conversation with someone about how you have actually been feeling and to be brutally honest. This can be with another family member, friend or even your GP. It is important to ask for help, even if they are not the person to do it. There are also some organisations that have phone support and resources, they can also direct you to an appropriate service provider. PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia) is one such organisations that offers such support. If depression is left too late, it can have dire consequences on a relationship and the family functioning.

If we begin to speak about Perinatal Depression more, and reach out more, we may be successful in building more programs and gathering more support for this often untreated and debilitating condition. Instead of “Mum’s the Word’, let’s spread the word and make this everyone’s business.

For more information on PANDA visit www.panda.org.au

Clinical Psychologist Kathryn Smith works at Brisbane based practice, Psychology Consultants, her bio can be viewed at www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Coffee- Friend by Day- Enemy by Night

Posted on September 5, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

Coffee- Most people live for it and there has never been a better time to own a cafe, with Australian coffee culture deemed one of the most advanced in the world.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation Australia, 1 billion cups of coffee are consumed per year at cafes, restaurants and other outlets in Australia in 2006, with consumption of coffee doubling over the past 30 years.

But what does all this caffeine consumption mean for our sleep? With sleep problems also on the rise, affecting 33-45% of Australian adults, we must look to our lifestyle for possible causes.

The hard truth is caffeine is a drug, one that promotes alertness by inhibiting the sleepy chemicals in our brain. And although it’s perky effects kick in very quickly (within 30-70mins), its effects also linger in the system for 3 to 7 hours and up to 24 hours before fully vacating the premises. (source: Sleep Health Foundation).

Caffeine is also a diuretic and may keep you running to the loo at night. So if coffee rules your day but plaques you by night, you may want to reconsider the timing of those flat whites.

If you are struggling with ongoing sleep problems, consider the benefits of group therapy, with insomnia programme, Towards Better Sleep. The next programme, runs over 6 weeks, commencing on 4th October from Psychology Consultants Morningside. Visit the Towards Better Sleep page to find out more about the programme.

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The difference between stress and anxiety

Posted on August 21, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

When feeling stressed, you may also feel anxious, and this leads some people to believe they may have an anxiety disorder. From the outset, it can be difficult to spot the difference as many of the physical symptoms are the same, like heart palpitations, sweating, insomnia and headaches. To make a diagnosis even more complex, prolonged stress can lead to anxiety and depressed, which is why it is so important to learn how to manage stress.

The key difference between stress and anxiety is the period of time in which symptoms are felt. Stress is a normal inbuilt response to a threat, also known as ‘the fight or flight response’ and without it, our race would not have survived. However, for some, stress is not helpful in making that deadline or responding to demands, but instead causes physical decay and emotional distress. And although stress may induce feelings of anxiety, this is different to a diagnosed anxiety disorder.

An anxiety disorder is defined when anxiety is persistent, out of proportion to reality and significantly interferes with a person’s daily life. An anxiety disorder can be typically accompanied by intense uncontrollable worry, avoidance of real or perceived anxiety provoking situations and panic attacks. Speaking to a psychologist may help you deal with anxiety by equipping you with strategies to manage the symptoms and keep panic attacks under control.

Anxiety can be caused by a number of things that present as risk factors contributing to the development of an anxiety condition. Such factors include a genetic predisposition, stress and lifestyle, chronic health conditions, substance abuse and mental health conditions just to name a few. So although there are some key differences between stress and anxiety disorders, the two things are linked and that is why it is so important to not let stress get out of hand.

Symptoms of Stress

Recognising stress can be a challenge because it often manifests before we have had a chance to put a lid on it.  How each of us experience stress varies considerably, with some people becoming irritable and others losing sleep. Stress is typically recognised across four main areas: Physical, Thinking, Feeling and Behaviours. It is important to learn your unique stress symptoms so you can get on top of it, before it gets the better of you.

Here is a table which may help:

 

Physical Thinking Feeling Behaviour
Headaches Forgetfulness Irritable Difficulty sleeping
Muscle stiffness Difficulty concentrating Hopeless Procrastinating
Tight chest “I can’t do this…it’s too much” Numb Increased smoking/alcohol use
Nausea “I don’t have time” On edge Clenching jaw
Weight gain/loss “I should be able to sort this out” Stressed Snapping at people
Tiredness “Do I have to do everything around here?” Desperate Staying in bed
Skin conditions “I don’t want to talk to anyone” Vulnerable Avoiding people

 

Coping with Stress

There are a number of things that can reduce life stress. Learning how to respond differently to stressful situations, taking time to relax, adding some physical activity and eating well, breathing techniques and actually having some fun are helpful strategies.

Other strategies include time management and improving communication skills.

If you think you may need additional help to manage life stress, ask your GP about a Mental Health Care Plan and referral to a psychologist. This provides a Medicare rebate for psychological treatment. Alternatively, you can make an appointment directly with Psychology Consultants as a private client.

 

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