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Simon Learnt to Control His Anger

Posted on March 7, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
aggressive-man

Simon is a 45 year-old happily married man with two daughters. A litigation lawyer, he seems successful and has many friends.

However, recently at a school P&C function, Simon became verbally and physically threatening towards a friend about an issue which had been brewing for some time. Making a terrible scene in front of school acquaintances, Simon was extremely embarrassed about his behaviour.

Although his wife said not to worry about the incident, Simon decided to see a psychologist to prevent such an outburst reoccurring.

After our meeting, Simon discovered several life patterns where anger and aggression were present. At work, he can be aggressive as a part of his role. Socially, he recalled incidences of aggressively throwing golf clubs after a poor shot and getting very upset when a friend made fun of his football team.

Simon understood that although anger is not an inherently bad emotion, it can be expressed inappropriately. And inappropriate anger usually stems from irrational beliefs. It was this inappropriate anger and aggression that Simon wanted to control.

Together, Simon and I successfully worked on ways to control his anger and aggression. We developed an action plan and over several weeks, Simon was able to practise his plan:

  • Control angry and irrational thinking by becoming aware of thoughts when angry and choosing to have a more helpful attitude.
  • Use relaxation such as breathing, muscle relaxation, and imagery to control the body sensations associated with anger.
  • Do something incompatible to what you do when your angry such as forcing yourself to smile or laugh.

Simon now feels confident he is able to control any inappropriate anger because together we can take steps towards change. www.believeinchange.com.au 

For assistance with anger management please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our psychologists enquiries@psychologyconsutlants.com.au

 

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What to do when your child’s FOMO spirals out of control

Posted on February 23, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
FOMO

By Danielle Corbett, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants, Newmarket

For those of you that don’t know what FOMO stands for, don’t fear you have missed out. FOMO or Fear of Missing Out, is not actually as new age as your average 15- year-old might think.

More traditionally termed ‘The grass is always greener’ this primal human instinct to stay connected has recently been heightened by our addiction to smart phones, ipads, computer screens…and wait for it….social media.

Teenagers haven’t changed much over the generations, except that they now socialise or “hang out” online, rather than in shopping malls or at the local park, partly due to parental concerns about personal safety.  So instead of gossiping and doing all those adolescent behaviours in real life, they now watch it happen in real time on a screen.  To be on social media is to feel connected to their peers.  And just like in real life, events and interactions online can go pear-shaped rather rapidly.  The difference is though, if you are teenager and you go offline for an hour, suddenly you have missed the biggest dust-up or fight of the year, and on the social outer.

Social media get a pretty bad rap from health professionals across the world but what is so bad about staying connected, after all it’s a hard-wired human response? In fact, there is a dedicated part of the brain, the amygdala, part of the limbic system, specifically designed to detect whether our lives are in danger. Now it’s quite ridiculous to suggest that missing out on a Snapchat or Facebook Messenger event is life threatening but it triggers the same flight or fight response in our brains.

But jealously issues aside, our newfound need to be connected every waking moment is causing other psychosocial problems, particularly within the adolescent set.

Clinical Psychologist, Danielle Corbett, who specialises in adolescent psychology is seeing more and more cases of ‘FOMO’ related stress and anxiety.

“I am seeing many young clients who are in a state of vigilance with difficulties living in the present moment and it is this state of living that causes social and emotional problems such as anxiety and stress.

“Basically, social media is opposite of mindfulness in our youngsters, and in particular, girls are struggling with feelings of personal inadequacy, and difficulties living in the present” Ms Corbett said.

Recent research from University of Chicago found that social media is even more addictive than cigarettes and that getting your fix is equally as urgent to social media users.

Ms Corbett professional advice is; “Instead of trying to quash the urge completely, adolescents and those struggling with social media should embrace the need to be connected without letting it control your life.

“Learn to curb the overwhelming drive to be connected online and redirect it to communicating in real time with real people” she said.

Practicing mindfulness is another way to counteract some of the unwanted stress caused by social media. A few easy ways you can put this into practice are, enrolling your child in extracurricular activity, encouraging face to face socialisation (as this also helps build their adulating skillset), limiting internet times or allocating phone free time whilst going for a walk together. Parents might even find this this allows you to reconnect with your child who in a blink of an eye will have left the fold for good.

For more information on Danielle Corbett and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

 

 

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Chronic Pain – More than a Pain In The Neck!

Posted on February 20, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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By Dr Claire Jensen, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Consultants, Newmarket.

Unless you have suffered chronic pain, it is very difficult to imagine the stress it places on a person’s life, not to mention the impact on those around them. Without intervention, chronic pain can significantly reduce a person’s quality of life, lead to sleep problems, exhaustion, stress, relationship and work dysfunction, as well as mental health problems.

According to Neuroscience Research Australia (NeuRA) one in five Australian adults suffer from both severe chronic pain and either depression or other mood disorders, costing the country $35 billion a year.

Despite this it is only in the last two decades or so that Chronic Pain has received the increased research and funding it requires. We now know much more about how we can support chronic pain sufferers to manage their pain levels, reduce the vicious downward cycle of pain and improve quality of life.

Like most modern medicine, taking a holistic approach is considered best practice and this extends to chronic pain management, where practitioners take a biopsychosocial approach assessing; the biological, psychological and social aspects of the person’s situation.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Claire Jensen, who is extensively trained in chronic pain management stresses the importance of engaging a holistic team of professionals that you can trust to assist you to manage all aspects of your pain.

“Many clients avoid seeing a psychologist as they are worried others will think ‘Your pain is all in your head!’ but Cognitive strategies, including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), mindfulness and relaxation can be just as important as pain medication or physiotherapy,” she said.

“Pain is a subjective experience and thus whatever pain the client describes is the true experience for them. Pain is certainly not ‘all in a person’s head’ but the brain and body are closely linked and thus it is a great asset to learn how to access the brains natural medicine cabinet, i.e., how to assist the brain to relax and release helpful chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine.”

Clinical Psychologists can help chronic pain sufferers work through the daily struggles that present, offering strategies that will help the individual manage their pain, improve their mood and sleep, as well as recognise how unhelpful thoughts feed into the pain cycle. This in turn leads to an increased quality of life and reduced risk of associated depression and anxiety.

Many chronic pain suffers feel trapped within debilitating negative thoughts that influence our mood, memory, function and ability to enjoy everyday life. CBT has been extensively researched for its positive effect on managing negative thoughts associated with pain, through adaptive coping skills, such as distraction and relaxation, that produce calming thought processes.

Another more recent technique embraced by health professionals across the world is mindfulness. Leading the way, Professor Jon Kabat-Zinn brought mindfulness to the forefront of chronic pain management to separate the person’s thoughts, moods and emotions from the pain itself.

Dr Claire Jensen says “Mindfulness is about increasing a person’s ability to choose which thoughts are most helpful for them to pay attention to. Increasing aspects of control is important for individuals with chronic pain who often feel like they have lost all control due to pain”.

Dr Claire Jensen practices from Psychology Consutlants at Newmarket. To read more about Dr Jensen visit: psychologyconsultants.com.au/teammemberprofile/dr-claire-jensen/

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Why Being Angry Could be Making you Sick

Posted on February 8, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
Image By: Craig Sunter https://flic.kr/p/dcZ5Tp

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

We all get a little worked up at times and let’s face it, sometimes we ‘fly off the handle’ and this is okay. Feeling angry is a normal human instinct; a hard-wired response in our brains but for some, anger is like a raging inferno ready to burst into flames at any time and this is not a healthy way to live.

Recent studies have shown that this type of uncontrollable anger not only affects your immediate quality of life but can put you at risk of long term health concerns including anxiety, depression and even cardiovascular disease.

The good news is there is a way forward and the first step is identifying the problem and then learning to manage your anger.

So why manage your anger if it’s a normal human instinct I hear you say? Older theories encouraged venting anger as a good release and way to get past the problem, however researchers have now found that this only exacerbates the problem fueling the internal inferno for future outburst.

This is not to say we should ‘bite our tongue’ but managing anger and expressing it in a more controlled way provides a release without the negative side effects, allowing you to focus on the underlying issues triggering anger.

Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith says; “Part of anger management is mindfulness, being aware of your body and recognising the triggers that make you angry.

The next step is more technical and involves personalise thought response before, during and after an episode, that allow you to tame the beast, so to speak.”

Each person’s management style will be different but here are some suggested thoughts that might help you keep your cool and minimise the aftermaths: 

1. Just breathe. It sounds simple but taking a deep breath in and exhaling gives you time to think before you respond.

2. I am not going to let them get to me. I am in control of this situation.

3. I am not going to judge them; their opinion is not important to me.

4. Let’s not take this so seriously. Is there a funny side to this?

5. I can’t change them or this situation with anger but I can change my thinking.

If you or someone you know has problems with anger, seeking professional help will allow you to develop personalised management strategies and address underlying emotional and psychological issues. Psychology Consultants has a large and diverse team of Clinical Psychologists based at Newmarket and Morningside who are committed to helping people from all walks of life with their emotional and psychological hurdles. Visit the Brisbane Psychologist page of our website to learn more www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Is this how you started your working year?

Posted on February 3, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
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If you are tired of waking up tired and would like 2017 to be the year of ‘better sleep’, Towards Better Sleep group insomnia programme might be the answer you have been looking for.

A frequent excuse for not turning up to work is tiredness due to not having a good night’s sleep. The Reawakening Australia report conducted by Deloitte in 2011, estimated the financial cost of insomnia to the health care system to be 118.7 million and in excess of 1.5 billion dollars to the workforce annually. Evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression and an increased risk of other co-morbid conditions creating an even more significant impact on the workforce.

Towards Better Sleep is a cognitive behavioural therapy group programme designed to equip insomnia sufferers with long term strategies to correct faulty thinking and behaviour and enjoy the health benefits of better quality sleep.

Facilitated by Psychiatrist Dr Curt Gray and Clinical Psychologist Psychologist Kathryn Smith, TBS has been running for over 15 years with people across Brisbane reaping the rewards of better quality sleep.

A group setting offers participants the opportunity to share their stories, and learn from the experiences and ideas of other insomnia sufferers, in a private and confidential environment. It also allows the therapists to treat more people in a cost-effective way.

The first programme for 2017 commences 16th February and costs $380 in total. As the group sessions are a medical service, provided by a medical practitioner a medicare rebate can be provided. Places are limited so register today by contacting reception tbs@psychologyconsultants.com.au or call (07) 3356 8255. For more information on the programme visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au 

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Being Present Is Your Greatest Present!

Posted on January 23, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
Mother holding a hand of his doughter outdoors

How to learn from our children’s natural gift of living in the moment

By Dr Claire Jensen, Clincal Psychologists, Psychology Consultants

When the clock struck midnight and we ventured into the clean slate of 2017, many of us reflected on how we can better ourselves. One very simple resolution that struck a chord, was a mother’s pledge to delete social media apps from her phone so she could be more present. With a simple click of a wriggly cross, she would make a monumental difference to her ability to be present on a daily basis.

As parents we have the task of trying to meet our needs and that of our children simultaneously. This hefty feat is made even more difficult by modern technologies that act as constant temptations to multitask, by either checking our phone, email or other social media. Of course we are all entitled to a bit of our own time out and “argh, that online bill needs paying ASAP!’. However, when we are constantly dividing our attention it often leads us to feel stressed, unfulfilled and means we miss the beauty of the present moment.

Mindfulness is state of whole mind and body awareness focusing on the importance of our present experience rather than that of the past or future. It has been proven to reduce stress and the severity of depression, anxiety and ADHD in children and adults alike. The way we act as adults has a significant impact on a child’s opinion of themselves and their personal resilience. Being present with your child, playing with them undistracted, helps them to feel worthwhile and reinforces their natural tendencies to live in the moment.

Ellen Langer and team, a world-renowned mindfulness researcher found that children not only prefer to interact with mindful adults, but actually devalue themselves following interactions with mindless adults (Langer, Cohen & Djikic, 2010 as sited on www.kidsmatter.edu.au)

So, whatever your goals for the New Year, finding small ways to practice mindfulness can greatly benefit your wellbeing, and in turn reinforce the act of being present for our children.

Dr Claire Jensen, clinical psychologist recognises there is increasing pressures and stressors on parents, making being present a real challenge.

“Committing to daily mindfulness is like any other behaviour change… it seems difficult at first! But the more we practice, it becomes less of a chore and more of a habit that benefits not only ourselves but also those around us” Dr Jensen says. 

Herein lie a few simple ways you can practice mindfulness daily:

  1. Start your day mindfully by stretching each part of your body and noticing how it feels. This can be a fun activity with a child as you can ask them how each body part feels today. Start with “How are your feet feeling today, Sam?” All the way up to the face and hopefully a SMILE! Or if you have older children see if they will join you on a yoga mat to start the morning stretching together.
  2. Be in the moment. Take time to notice the present. Ask yourself (and a child if appropriate). What can I see? Feel? Hear? Smell? And Taste? It is amazing the things you will notice that the multitasker in you has previously missed.
  3. Mindful activity. Fully engage in an activity, distraction free. This can be alone or with a child. It sounds strange but a hair brushing ritual whilst focusing on breathing and enjoying the moment can be very relaxing for parent and child alike. But if this is not your thing it can be anything from playing, reading, to using technology… as long as you fully engage, you are living life to the fullest in that moment and isn’t that what it’s all about!

Dr Claire Jensen has recently joined our Newmarket practice and is available for appointments from March 2017. Claire has a wide range of experience and is able to work with adults (18+) who present with a range of clinical disorders and concerns including: depression, anxiety, stress, chronic pain, adjustment difficulties, grief and loss, anger, substance use, trauma, disordered eating, gender issues, sexual health concerns and other behavioural or emotional problems.

Visit the Brisbane Psychologist page of our website to read more about Dr Jensen and our team of Clinical Psychologists practicing from Newmarket and Morningside.

 

 

 

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Breaking Christmas Bads – How to make your weight loss resolutions stick!

Posted on January 2, 2017 in Uncategorized - 0
WeightLoss

With the excessiveness of the festive season a distant memory (except for those pants that no-longer fit) and the calendar diary looking fresh and inspiring, most of us take the time to reflect, look forward and set goals for the year ahead. Interestingly (and maybe a direct correlation with said festive cheer) statistics show that ‘weight loss’ ranks as the number one New Year’s resolution.

So why do we set this goal, year after year, and why do we so often fall short of achieving it?

Perhaps this is because our weight loss goals are slightly unrealistic? Commencing a hardcore exercise regime whilst eating gluten free, carb free, organic salads might be difficult to maintain unless you are an elite athlete or live with ‘The Commando’.

So here are are some tips from Clinical Psychologist, Kathryn Smith, on how to keep your New Year’s resolution going strong.

    1. Practice Mindful Eating. What does this actually mean I hear you ask? Try observing the textures, taste, smell and even sound, enjoy and savour the food. The more you observe, often the more satisfied you feel.
    2. Break Bad Eating Habits. A phrase you will often hear from the mouth of a child is: “I’m hungry” when a lot of the time they are actually bored and not in fact hungry. Well… adults do this too. So next time you find yourself staring into the pantry, ask yourself’ “Are you actually hungry?”
    3. Sit Down to Eat. Avoid eating on the fly. Sit down, put down your phone and make a proper experience out of eating, you might find you enjoy the food and count the meal as one.
    4. Weigh up your options. If you are unsure of the caloric value of what you are about to devour, look it up, as often this information is quite enlightening and can clarify a source of previously discounted kilojoules. Don’t mistake fat free or gluten free for being kilojoule free!
    5. Check in with reality. It sounds hideous but a weekly weigh in will help keep you on track, it’s hard to know how you are doing without a set of scales or a measuring tape.
    6. Wait and See. Research indicates that it takes on average 15-20 minutes for the stretch receptors in our stomach to send a message of satiety to our brain. So before you rush off for a second helping, maybe wait and see.
    7. Be Kind to Yourself. Take a self compassionate viewpoint and be aware of your self-talk. Gently encourage yourself as you would a friend if you make some poorer choices or do not have the expected weight loss. Avoid the “all or nothing approach” as many people will give up their new regime as soon as they have missed something.

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.

If you think a psychologist could help you with your weight loss goals this year, check out our team of male and female clinical psychologists on the Brisbane Psychologist page of our website.

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Random Acts of Festive Kindness

Posted on December 11, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0
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For some, Christmas is the best time of year, a time to relax, reset and spend time with family and friends. For others, Christmas is not quite so jolly and may be a poignant reminder of those lost or just an emotionally stressful time due to finances, family or illness.

Being mindful of everyone’s situation at Christmas can be hard, especially if you are feeling jovial, after all ‘tis the season to be jolly’. So rather than spoil the mood just add to the spirit of the season by acting with generosity, compassion and kindness.

Even the subtlest acts of kindness can be very meaningful to those that are struggling, a simple smile and a wave to a lonely neighbour or letting someone in the very long line, go first.  Don’t forget the person behind the store counter that you may be frustrated with after waiting in line for 20 minutes. They are people too, with real needs and emotions, asking them, “So, how was your day?” and actually listening to their response is unexpected and can go a long way.

Other more obvious charitable acts, include supporting a charity by purchasing greeting cards, donating to a food bin at your local shopping centre or sponsoring a child at Christmas.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Stan Steindl who sits on the board of the global movement, Charter for Compassion, admits that living compassionately can be hard. Often we would like to act more compassionately but putting words or thoughts into actions can be difficult.

“Living compassionately takes a lot of courage, and it helps us and others to feel healthier and happier. Think through your motivations and affirm your commitments. Then, if you take a risk and act with compassion, you won’t regret it” said Dr Steindl.

And finally, don’t forget yourself, in the words of Dalai Lama “If you have no compassion for yourself then you are not able of developing compassion for others.”

Psychology Consultants have a diverse team of male and female clinical psychologists committed to the health and wellbeing of their clients. To view the team and their areas of interest, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website.

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Want to maximise the holiday cheer? Make sure to keep control of the beer..

Posted on November 22, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0
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Dr Mark Wetton, Clinical Psychologist

For many Australians, it wouldn’t be Christmas holidays without a few glasses of sparkling, or a few beers. Alcohol has both desirable and undesirable effects – sometimes people end up doing things that they regret which can turn a time of celebration and relaxation into a time of sadness, hurt, or even physical injury. So to maximise the holiday cheer and minimise these undesired effects, here are a few things to consider:

Alcohol affects thinking

Alcohol has both stimulating and sedative effects on our brain. One of the most concerning sedative effects is that as we get more intoxicated we have decreased ability to think about long-term consequences. This means that we tend to live more “in the moment”, and to not worry about what is going to happen the next day, hour, and or even minute – so it is pretty easy for some people to do things that they might later regret…

Alcohol affects our emotional state and ability to control emotion

The stimulating effects of alcohol can improve our mood and make us feel happy, while the sedative effects usually reduce anxiety and reduce emotional control. So even though a person might initially be more relaxed and chatty after a couple of drinks, as they get more intoxicated they might get overly angry or behave in a way that they will later regret…

Alcohol affects memory

Alcohol interferes with our how our memory works resulting in people often forgetting events that happened when they were very intoxicated. Often we only realise that these gaps in memory exist when friends ask us about our own behaviour on that night and we can’t remember!

The interesting part of this effect is that with only a couple of drinks in the system our memory can still work quite well, so people usually remember the experiences from the early part of the night – the times where the positive effects of alcohol are the main experience. However, if the person keeps drinking and the level of intoxication increases, our memory doesn’t effectively store the experiences from the later part of the night – the part of the night where people might be less in control of their emotions and not able to think about long-term consequences. And because of this effect, we may never learn from these experiences and may keep making the same mistake…

Some people have an easier time controlling their drinking, but control is important for all

Due to their genetic makeup or drinking history, some people can’t control their drinking once it starts. They tend to get a very positive emotional experience once they start drinking, and then get stuck in the ‘chasing the feeling’ mode all night… And due to the effect of alcohol on thinking about long-term consequences, they aren’t at all worried that they might get so intoxicated that they do things that they will later regret…

The best advice is to try to control your drinking, and to learn whether that is possible for you (some people may not be able to drink in a controlled fashion at all!). For most people there is a rate of alcohol consumption that will bring you the ‘upsides’ of alcohol while minimising the ‘downsides’, and this might be something to keep in mind before you start!

So how can we maximise the holiday cheer? Well, here are some ideas to try:

1. Know your limit of drinks per hour, not per night – the rate of drinking is more important for risk management than the total number (though drinking a lot of alcohol on any day can cause you serious health issues if you do it regularly).

2. Eat food with alcohol – this slows the effect of alcohol and makes it more controllable.

3. Always plan an easy way to get home without needing to drive if you have drunk too much – have a designated driver/enough money for a cab tucked away somewhere safe.

4. Try out the new ‘What’s Your Relationship with Alcohol’ website developed by Queensland Government Department of Health:

http://www.mydrinkingchoices.qld.gov.au/

5. Consult the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for the responsible use of alcohol:

https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/health-topics/alcohol-guidelines

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