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Why is Good Enough, Not Good Enough Anymore?

Posted on February 21, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

No one wants to be average anymore. Our society seems to be in constant pursuit of perfectionism. We are expected to be the perfect student, perfect parent, perfect employee or boss and look our best at all times. We are bombarded with messages through media about how we should behave, what we should think and how we should feel. It’s no wonder that most of us are left with the feeling of falling short of expectations.

Low self esteem according to one of the leading self compassion researchers, Dr Kristen Neff, is on the rise despite programs being rolled out in primary school years to stave off this potential issue. Interestingly, as Dr Neff notes, self esteem in western societies is largely based on how we perceive ourselves in comparison to others. We are often validated by how many rewards we receive, compliments, the type of house we live in, the clothes we wear, the car we drive and how well our children do at school. You don’t have to go too far on social media sites to see someone that seems to have it better than you. Facebook, Instagram and alike seem now to be sites to simply show the world how great you are. This is further promoted by TV shows such as “The Real Housewives of Melbourne” and other so called “reality” TV. At the end of the day, we look at ourselves and ask why don’t I have that, why can’t I live like that, why am I not successful and ultimately why am I not happy?

If self esteem is based on being better than someone else then aren’t we endorsing everyone to be above average? And if this is so, as Dr Neff asks, “How can we all be above average? Isn’t that illogical?”

As a psychologist, I spend a lot of time with people telling them it’s actually okay to be average. It is also okay to feel disappointed at times and even fail. These experiences, despite being somewhat unpleasant, provide us with the opportunity to learn and to grow. If we expect a perfect result every time, we are actually more likely to give up rather than try, try again.

Happiness doesn’t need to be pinned on perfectionism. Often the pursuit of perfectionism leads to a sense of unhappiness and in some cases anxiety and depression. When there is a perceived failure (in other words something that may be considered as average), the sense of failure seems so overwhelming that it can lead to self hatred. A perfect example of this is the student striving to get perfect results. The emotional cost of this pursuit often produces significant distress which ironically is what they are trying to avoid.

Some parents also fall into the trap of being the perfect parent. Right from the birth, parents are bombarded with messages of what they should do. When a new mother is not successful at breastfeeding, instead of hearing the message “that’s okay”, she often is made to feel guilty and a failure. When we get a bit cranky with our children or express our frustrations, again we feel guilty. The late D.W. Winnicott, a paediatrician and psychoanalyst, introduced the concept of the “good enough mother”. He commented in his writings that it takes an “imperfect mother to raise a child well”.

So what does this all mean? Should we stop striving?

Well, the answer to this is no. We should still strive to do our best and set personal goals as this actually makes us feel good. We should however base our goals on what is important to us and not what is simply reflected back through societal trends and media. We should be forgiving of ourselves when we do occasionally fail and congratulate ourselves when we achieve.

Finally we should celebrate being average… Let’s face it after all we are in good company. So next time, when we see some impossible platitude posted on social media or perceive someone to be doing better, remember good enough is still very much good enough.

To read more about Kathryn Smith and our team of Psychologists visit the Team pageof our website.



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Self-Compassion the New Tool Tackling Negative Body Image

Posted on February 11, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

According to the 2015 Mission Australia Youth Study, Australian youth are placing body image in their top three personal concerns with the trend increasing from 20.4% in 2012 to 26.5% in 2015, sending a strong message that we need to address this problem that can lead to serious mental health issues.

Clinical Psychologists, Dr Stan Steindl of Psychology Consultants and Dr Kiera Buchanan from Centre for Integrative Health, regularly treat patients with negative body image, weight and eating concerns, leading them to join forces to tackle this alarming trend with a new therapeutic approach – self-compassion.

Commencing 24 February 2016 in Wooloowin, the Clinical Psychologists are embarking on an 8-week program that uses self-compassion as therapy for people who emotionally eat, binge eat or feel distressed about their weight.

Enormous efforts are being made to understand body image concerns and how they may develop into eating disorders, and one mechanism receiving specific attention over recent years is severe and harsh self-criticism.

Clinical Psychologist, Dr Steindl who recently joined the global movement, Charter for Compassion, is a strong advocate for the use of compassion in therapy and hopes to help people by exploring self-criticism as a cause of body image concerns and eating disorders.

“The program is designed to help male and female adults develop skills in self-awareness, kindness, courage and compassion towards oneself to better manage eating, weight and body image concerns” said Dr Steindl.

“We need to set an example for our youth with healthy body image and positive self-talk, especially parents of young children, as negative body Image can quickly lead to eating disorders that cause devastating effects on a person’s life, including impaired psychiatric and behavioural effects, medical complications, social isolation and an increased risk of death, including suicide,” he said.

Dr Kiera Buchanan urges, “The program is not a quick fix or replacement for standard therapy and is not appropriate for people suffering from anorexia or other eating disorders.

Participants will benefit from a relaxed group setting and a positive environment where we can learn from one another’s experience and allowing professional therapy to be more financially accessible”, she said.

The program takes a more holistic and alternate approach to treatment by reflecting on how we treat ourselves and the impact this has on our mental state and aims to provide participants with long term strategies for overcoming eating problems, weight and body image concerns,” said Dr Buchanan.

A GP referral is not required to participate in the program, which costs $50 per session and is not subject to a Medicare rebate. To book your place in the February program, call Centre For Integrative Health on (07) 3161 0845.

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Avoiding Regrets this Australia Day

Posted on February 3, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

By Dr Stan Steindl & Prof Jason Connor

Australia Day is fast approaching as a day to celebrate what’s great about Australia and being Australian.

For many, it’s also the day that marks the end of the festive season. Children return to school after their long summer holiday, and work returns in earnest for the rest of us. The strong sense of national pride, public holiday and ominous reality of the return to work culminate in a national party, with friends and family coming together for fun and frivolity.

The problem of alcohol in the mix

Australia Day celebrations often involve heavy drinking. Contrary to media publicity, Australia’s per capita alcohol consumption is similar to that in other high income countries. However, according to the The World Health Organisation, Australia’s alcohol consumption has slightly increased, while it has dropped in the US, UK and Europe.

Our culture promotes heavy sessional (“binge”) drinking which greatly increases the risk for alcohol-related harm. Recent research in Victoria found that on Australia Day, compared to an average day: ambulances receive more than double the calls to attend to intoxicated young people; three times the number of young people needed treatment for injuries from assaults; and there was a sharp increase in alcohol-related presentations to hospital emergency departments and hospital admissions.

Each year, articles (such as these in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane) appear in the media reporting on the problem of excessive drinking on Australia Day. These articles warn of the harms associated with excessive drinking are typically published just prior to Australia Day. Despite these warnings, statistics seem to be getting worse, not better according to WA Department of Health data from 2008 to 2012 (summarised here)..

One trap, long understood in alcohol treatment and prevention, that these articles offer unsolicited advice and issue dire warnings. Bottom line, people don’t like being told what to do and typically resist authority figures who try to do so.

The problem of poor prior planning

Drinking often occurs in response to situational and emotional triggers. Professor Allan Marlatt described the way people and their environments interact to cause heavy drinking. He identified elements of “high risk situations” that trigger drinking, including certain days, places, people, heightened emotional states or during certain activities. Australia Day is a great example of a number of these elements increasing risk.

Heavy drinking often occurs unconsciously in these situations. Urges take over, and in the absence of a plan, before long you are asking yourself:

“I just don’t know how I got so drunk!”

The next day the consequences hit home and the regrets kick in. We can be left reeling from our drinking on autopilot the day before.

Stepping out of autopilot can be enormously empowering and self-determining. Instead of being reactive to these events, you might pause to consider what really is the way you want to approach a day like Australia day.

Take the opportunity to reflect on personal motivations

The good news is that there is a whole field of study that focusses on how to enhance people’s motivations to better manage their drinking. The approach, first defined in Professors Bill Miller and Steve Rollnick’s 1991 book (and then two subsequent editions), is called motivational interviewing (MI). In reviewing the most effective treatments for Alcohol Use Disorders, one of the world’s leading medical journals, the Lancet, recently identified MI as having among the highest level of evidence. MI invites us to stop and consider our own personal motivations, more clearly understand our goals and values, and guide ourselves towards how we want to live our lives.

Practically, there are five key motivational considerations when planning for Australia Day. So, rather than others trying to tell you what to do about your drinking this coming long weekend, you might consider, just privately to yourself, the following:

(1) What would you LIKE to change about your drinking this Australia Day?

This is an important first step. And if the answer is that you would like to change nothing, then that is fine. On the other hand, you might find that managing your drinking feels like a good idea. Think carefully through your different options. What would feel right for you? Perhaps consider how you would like to remember this Australia Day.

(2) What are your personal REASONS for making these changes?

Managing the amount you drink needn’t be about why someone else thinks it’s a good idea, although heavy drinking often negatively impact on others. Think instead about what you see as the benefits for you and those around you. Consider the positive impact this can have on your health, safety, relationships or finances. There may also be other reasons for managing your drinking that are very personal and unique to you.

(3) What is it that makes managing your drinking this Australia Day IMPORTANT to you?

Next, start to drill down to the importance of managing your drinking. How does more moderate alcohol consumption fit better with your personal values? Think about the person you want to be, the relationships you want to have, and the contributions you want to make. Consider how managing your drinking this weekend could take you in a direction that is important to you.

(4) If you were to make these changes, HOW would you go about it?

People often want to manage their drinking, but sometimes lack the confidence to take action. Carefully define how you might achieve these changes. Consider developing an action plan, such as setting personal limits, keeping track of how much you drink, limit how much alcohol you have available, or garnering support from others.

And now, if you like, it’s time to commit!

You’ve thought about what you’d like to do about drinking on Australia Day, the reasons you’d like to do it, what makes managing your drinking important to you and how you would go about it. These are four important considerations in preparing for change. The fifth key consideration? It’s time to commit!

Commitment is a vital part of behaviour change. It’s beyond what you could, should or would do, and is about what you will do. Decide on your Australia Day drinking plan and then commit to it. Tell a family member or friend about your commitment.

Have a think about commitment: what will you do to manage your drinking this Australia Day?

For more information on Dr Stan Steindl and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants, visit http://www.psychologyconsultants.com.au 

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Shifting the Christmas Pud

Posted on February 3, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0
By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

It is that time of the year again when most of us have over-indulged. We have spent the Christmas season in the company of our loved ones and also in the company of some of our most loved foods. Now with the New Year looming, we step back onto the scales to see that we may have gained a few kilos over the festive season and we begin to make New Year resolutions about getting fitter and shedding those extra kilo’s. But many of us fail – and why is this so when we start out with good intentions?

Often the answer to this question is that our goals around health and weight loss are unrealistic or difficult to maintain. Imagine you are playing a sport and every time you attempted to kick a goal you continued to fall short. After a while, you begin to ask the question “What’s the point?” and then you come to the conclusion of giving up

Diet and exercise often fall into this category. So instead of aiming for the same goal, the idea is to move the goal posts closer. So in practical terms, if you haven’t been exercising at all, it’s not realistic to expect that you will do intensive one-hour exercise sessions 5 times a week. Rather it would be more practical to aim for a mild to moderate exercise session of 1 to 2 times a week. Once you are successful with maintaining this, then you can either increase the intensity, duration or frequency. It is also best to try and set your exercise sessions at the same time and day as let’s face it, we are creatures of habit!

Now what to do about eating?…

Eating is one of those essential activities we must do. It is very tempting to go on a popular diet but not always practical, and it often doesn’t teach us what we need to eat when we reach our goal weight. An easier way to begin controlling your diet and reducing your energy intake is to begin to be mindful of what you are eating, when, how, how much, how often and what are your thoughts about it.

Below are some simple tips on mindful eating habits that are likely to lead to weight loss and maintenance.

  1. Be sure to notice what food you are eating. Observe the textures, taste, smell and even sound. The more you observe, often the more satisfied you feel.
  2. Ask yourself “Am I hungry?” Often we eat simply out of habit rather than need.
  3. Make eating a purposeful activity. Attempt to avoid eating food on the run or whilst doing other activities as this often discounts the experience of ingesting and enjoying food.
  4. Be mindful of the energy content of food and drinks. If unsure, 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. Monitor your weight weekly. Without this feedback, it is difficult to know if you are on the right track.
  6. Observe your inner experience. 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. Finally be mindful of your self talk. Take a self compassionate viewpoint. 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.

Remember, to win the war, you may need to lose a few battles.

Each day is a new experience and presents a new opportunity.

Be kind and nurture yourself.

Happy New Year.


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Spread the word! Prehistoric answers to modern questions.

Posted on February 3, 2016 in Uncategorized - 0

By Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist and Adjunct Associate Professor

A big chunk of the modern human brain functions in exactly the same way that it did thousands of years ago. Largely, this means our actions are still motivated by threat and drive systems. The evolutionary science and theories around the development of the human brain and these motivational systems are described in the work of Professor Paul Gilbert.

On the one hand, our threat system insists that it is “better to be safe than sorry”. In other words, our primitive brains much prefer to err on the side of mistakenly identifying a threat when it is not there, rather than miss the presence of a threat that is there. The result, of course, is heightened vigilance, anxiety and avoidance, and anger and aggression. Check out the great work on anxiety by Dr Dennis Tirch and anger by Dr Russell Kolts.

On the other hand, our drive system insists that we always “strive for something better”. This includes us seeking some of the fundamental resources necessary, such as food, shelter and sex. It also means wanting more, striving for success and dominance, as well as avoiding inferiority and shame, and generally focuses on gratification for ourselves and those close to us, potentially leading to selfishness or greed.

These threat and drive systems are extremely powerful motivators, even in modern humans. To our credit, there are many great examples of human progress. We have had the philosophy of the Ancient Greeks, the golden rule of religions, the age of enlightenment and development of human rights, the scientific revolution and the advent of democracy. But, despite all this, we still often feel, think and behave just like our ancestors from tens of thousands of years ago, those earliest Homo sapiens.



There are now well over 7 billion people in the world. The mere fact that this number keeps climbing proves one thing: human beings aren’t generally inclined towards killing other human beings! In fact, while cruelty and violence is certainly part of our make up, it is not all or even most of who we are. Human beings have a basic orientation towards affiliation.

Our ancestors survived because of their ability to look after one another, support one another, and comfort and soothe one another. This included, of course, our vulnerable young, but we looked after everyone, young and old, strong and infirm, all members of the tribe. And this worked really well. Those tribes of early humans that looked after one another and cooperated were able to thrive.

As aspects of the human mind, culture and sensibilities have continued to develop, human beings now have an exquisite opportunity to reflect on ourselves and how we operate in the world. Do we still want our behaviours to be dominated by the threat and drive systems? Do we want to allow those systems to create a world of divisiveness and enmity?

Or do we want to find a way to organise our threat and drive systems so that they can still helps us survive and get along in the world, without fear and greed pervading our species and motivating us to do terrible things to each other?

The soothing system is our chance to do that. Each and every one of us has this system as an integral part of our brains. And it is a source of great compassion. We just need to bring it front of mind and deliberately cultivate it in ourselves, expanding our ability to care for others beyond ourselves and our immediate family, friends or community.

By activating this soothing system, and cultivating compassion as the primary motivator to help organise our other systems and ourselves, we can:

  1. Become more aware of others throughout the world,
  2. Understand each of them as a whole person, and
  3. Begin to see them as just like us, and a part of the same common humanity.

People, ourselves included, are made up of many facets and need not be defined by the labels and biases we may presume of them. We can cultivate a compassionate attitude towards all the peoples of the world. Let’s face it, with progress, technology, communication, travel and the like, the world now is on the verge of being one tribe, living in one village. We are all in this global village together and we have the opportunity to start looking after one another.

By the way, it’s ok to get scared sometimes. Of course we can worry, say, about people we love being hurt, injured or killed and therefore act in ways to keep them safe. And it’s ok to be aspirational. Much of the good in the world has come from the ideas and efforts of human beings striving for something better. We just want to have that third piece of the puzzle, the soothing system, that organises threat and drive in a way that means others don’t need to suffer.

So, I invite you to stop for a moment and carefully think: What might it be like to take a compassionate attitude into your life? How might you start to think and feel? What might you start to do? Perhaps you might commit to doing something today?

Have a look at this info-graphic from my friend and colleague Dr James Kirby…a great way to start the day being your compassionate best.

jamespictureI will conclude by way of an example. In the context of current world events we might find ourselves thinking (or hear other people saying): This country’s going downhill! It’s unsafe. Those people are coming in here, taking our jobs. And most of them are criminals and murderers!

And then we might respond to ourselves from the perspective of the soothing system with: It’s ok. Thanks for the warning. It can be scary when things change. I’ll stay alert to the possible problems, but today I want compassion to be my guide. I want to see if there is something I can do to help.

For more information on Dr Steindl and the team of Clinical Psychologists at Psychology Consultants, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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Mental Health in a Nutshell- National Psychology Week 8-15 November 2015

Posted on November 11, 2015 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Dr Jillian Millar, Clinical Psychologist

It is National Psychology Week and this year’s theme is: ‘think well, be well’. Often when we discuss mental health issues there is a tendency towards viewing it from a negative or unwell perspective. Statements like “He’s gone crazy,” or “She has a mental health problem,” demonstrate how many of us do not take an active role in maintaining our mental health, at least not until it reaches breaking point. This year’s theme attempts to get people talking about and reflecting on mental health and the need for our focus to shift towards wellbeing.

I have often described seeing a Clinical Psychologist as similar to going to a Personal Trainer. People visit PTs for a variety of reasons ranging from trying to lose weight and get into shape, through to rigorous training for accomplished athletes. So why wouldn’t we visit a CP to help us examine our thinking patterns and help get our minds into good shape? Psychotherapy isn’t just for when we are experiencing problems; it’s also about reaching your full potential, improving your relationships with others and with yourself; it’s also about self-discovery, insight and awareness of oneself. In the end you are the one individual you have to spend the rest of your life with – so why not gain a greater understanding of yourself.

There are a few fundamental actions we can all take when striving to improve our mental wellbeing. Firstly, make sure you are getting some exercise. This is crucial to regulating our moods, improving the quality of our sleep, helping us become physically healthy as well as mentally healthy. Getting a good amount of sleep is also important. There is a Goldielocks aspect to sleep, not getting enough rest can cause difficulties, but oversleeping can also be problematic and make us lethargic. Then there is ‘just the right amount’ of sleep, which allows us to function at our best. This does vary from individual to individual and generally falls somewhere between 6-8 hours a night for an adult. Under or over sleeping wreaks havoc on our moods and tends to heighten most emotions and stress, while reducing our concentration and tolerance levels.

Next on the list of ensuring mental wellness is good nutrition, eating a relatively healthy balanced diet with occasional treats is the aim. We’ve all heard about being ‘Hangry’ (hungry angry) and an unhealthy diet can make us feel rather unmotivated. Another very important step for maintaining mental health is to get involved in life and activities: be an active participant in your family, friendship circles, local community, and socialise! Yes that’s right, feeling like you are a part of something helps us experience a sense of belongingness and contribution, which are great mood lifters. Plus it allows us to create positive memories and build support networks that then help us through the tough times. Lastly, try to approach life with openness and curiosity. Perhaps if we shift our focus from judging and critiquing things towards experiencing and understanding them we might feel a lot healthier and happier.

It’s time we all started prioritising our mental health just as much as our physical health. You don’t need to be sick to benefit from psychotherapy. Visiting a Clinical Psychologist gives us a chance to reflect on how our lives are going and the choices we are faced with, the decisions we make and the patterns that eventually emerge in our functioning. Psychotherapy provides a space for us to examine and explore our internal experience of the world and develop our self-knowledge.

Here is a link to a brief 3 minute YouTube clip elaborating on the benefits of psychotherapy for everyone in achieving good mental health. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxuZiqY5ypU

Take the time to value your mental health! 

For more information on Dr Millar and our team of Clinical Psychologists, visit www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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CONVERGENCE: Cultivating compassion through meditation and musical accompaniment

Posted on November 2, 2015 in Uncategorized - 1 comment - 0

By Dr Stan Steindl, Clinical Psychologist

Finding ways to cultivate compassion in society remains an important priority. Over recent years, spirituality, science and the arts have converged to discover just what might work. Guitarist, Dr Anthony Garcia, and myself have begun a collaboration to explore this convergence, drawing on ancient meditative practices and the emotional potency of music to enhance the cultivation of compassion and self-compassion.

Convergence_CB Sleeve Art Proof (1)

The findings of an early pilot study of CONVERGENCE were presented at the recent UQ Compassion Symposium. The study included 28 participants, mainly tertiary-educated females, who took part in a 2-hour workshop of compassion meditation to live musical accompaniment. I provided the spoken word meditations and Anthony performed the musical accompaniment. The three meditations were Affectionate Breathing, Loving-Kindness to Others, and Loving-Kindness to Self. The participants were assessed in terms of motivation and commitment towards compassion and self-compassion using a brief questionnaire developed specifically for the workshop.

GraphConvergenceInterestingly, while all participants were highly motivated towards both compassion and self-compassion prior to the workshop beginning, it was found that participants’ sense of their ability or confidence regarding both compassion and self-compassion were lower than other aspects of motivation. It was also found that motivation towards self-compassion generally, and ability or confidence specifically, significantly increased from pre- to post-workshop. This suggested that the CONVERGENCE workshop may help to increase ability and confidence towards self-compassion.

These were very encouraging results, although a few limitations of the study are acknowledged. It was a pilot study with a fairly homogeneous sample. Also, the measure used to assess motivation and commitment towards compassion and self-compassion was not psychometrically developed. In fact, there is a need in the area of compassion research to develop reliable and valid tools for assessing motivation and commitment towards compassionate and compassionate action. Nevertheless, CONVERGENCE did seem to offer many possibilities as a novel combination of meditation and live music to help cultivate compassion and self-compassion, especially confidence, and is well-worth further exploration.

If you are interested at all, you can find the slides for the little presentation I did with Dr Anthony Garcia at the UQ Compassion Symposium on Convergence here:


For more information on Dr Steindl visit our site http://www.psychologyconsultants.com.au

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It’s the Thought That Counts

Posted on October 6, 2015 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

It’s Mental Health Week again and we are all reminded that we need to take care of our minds. But what does this really mean?

If I stopped the average person in the street and asked them what it means to be healthy, a typical response would involve the importance of regular exercise, maintaining a good diet, sleeping well and being within the healthy weight range. Rarely does the average person mention the importance of healthy thinking.

According to Beyond Blue around 1 million Australian adults will experience depression and 2 million will experience anxiety within a year. These are staggering statistics! These disorders can then go on to have a significant impact on our family and loved ones, work place and health care system.

No one is immune.

Depression or anxiety does not discriminate on age, gender or socioeconomic status. It has even impacted well known celebrities including Johnny Depp, Emma Stone and John Cleese. Closer to home, this year we have seen Troy Luff, a former Sydney Swans player, and Darius Boyed, an NRL player, both declare their battle with depression. Even those we may perceive as having it all can be affected. 

So how can we avoid being a statistic?

This is probably not as easy as it sounds as there are a variety of influential factors which may predispose us to these problems. Often at the core of these illnesses, is our thinking. We are frequently kind to others but have a tendency to be critical towards ourselves. Sometimes our thinking does not quite match what is actually going on and we can lose perspective. We can easily blow things out of proportion, jump to negative conclusions or beat ourselves up for not achieving the “perfect” result. When we begin to rehearse this thinking style, it becomes a well learnt script and we begin to apply it to everything until our daily life appears bleak or fear provoking. We then begin to act as if these thoughts were true.

I think, therefore I am…

As a Clinical Psychologist, one of the number one rules I attempt to instil in people I see with depression or anxiety, is to not say anything to yourself that you are not prepared to say to a friend. When someone tells me the story about how they did a terrible job and they may as well give up as there is no point to trying and that they are an absolute loser, I will ask “will you say that to a friend”? Of course they say “N0”! When asked why the answer is “no”, they will reply because “it will upset them and hurt their feelings”. Well, different rules don’t apply to us. It’s not okay to say mean things to ourselves and expect to feel good.

Here are some simple tips to mind our thinking….

  • Speak to yourself as a friend. Be kind, forgiving and loving.
  • Ask yourself are your thoughts in proportion with what is actually going on? Can you think about this in a different way?
  • Are you being too critical and expecting perfection when good enough is okay?
  • Are you jumping to conclusions and allowing these negative assumptions to impact on your decisions? Maybe you need to wait and see.
  • Make a daily gratitude list. Name three things that you appreciated during your day.

If all else fails, its okay to ask for help. We are all human after all…

If you are feeling depressed or need help, call Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline 13 11 14

Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist

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

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A Shout Out to the Life Promotion Clinic on World Suicide Prevention Day

Posted on September 9, 2015 in Uncategorized - 0 comments - 0

World Suicide Prevention Day is 10 September 2015. The theme this year is Preventing Suicide: Reaching Out and Saving Lives. This year’s theme encourages us all to consider the role that offering support may play in combating suicide, including reaching out to put people in touch with relevant services.

As a Clinical Psychologist, there are occasions when I have the deep privilege of working closely with someone who is in such personal turmoil that they are overwhelmed with thoughts and urges to take their own life. They may be feeling hopeless, isolated, misunderstood and desperate, and they may be suffering unbearable physical or emotional pain. And so, a part of them feels like death is the only escape.

This opportunity to work with such people is indeed a privilege because one of the greatest risks for people who are considering taking their own lives is that they feel faced with many insurmountable barriers, both internal and external, to seeking support. If they have come to see me, and they are willing to share their suffering and their tragic intention with me, then we have a chance to create a safe place to discuss it and explore the options for support.

One such option which I have found to provide an excellent service for people facing these life or death choices is the Life Promotion Clinic.

As described on their website: “The Life Promotion Clinic [supported by the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University] was the first outpatient clinic in Australia to provide specialised treatment for suicidal behaviour. The primary goal of the Clinic is to reduce morbidity and mortality associated with suicidal behaviours.” Staffed by specialist psychiatrists, psychologists and a mental health nurse, referrals can be made to the clinic for intensive support for people either acutely or persistently expressing suicidal intention or behaviour.

According to the National Mental Health Commission (2014) Review of Mental Health Programmes and Services, Australia’s suicide rate has remained largely unchanged for the past decade, if not with a slight upward trend. Data from 2012 suggests that there were approximately 12 age-standardised suicide deaths per 100,000 people in Australia. Late last month, Lifeline Chairman John Brogden said that suicide is a national emergency, with 23,500 Australians taking their own lives since 2005.

Suicide is complex, difficult to predict, and people face barriers to accessing the support they need, especially when they feel the only option is to be admitted into inpatient hospital care. They often don’t know what services are out there to provide support. The National Mental Health Commission review made a number of recommendations, not least that we:

  • provide access to adequate services, ensuring that therapeutic interventions are tailored to the complexity and severity of individual need, and
  • ensure first responders and health professionals who are likely to encounter suicidal people are appropriately trained in communication and intervention skills.

From my experience, the Life Promotion Clinic is at the forefront of providing these kinds of expert services to people facing these life situations and decisions.

Life Promotion Clinic: www.griffith.edu.au/health/australian-institute-suicide-research-prevention/research/life-promotion-clinic

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