Archive

for May, 2020

Finding the right fit

Posted on May 22, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Photo credit: Emma Simpson Unsplash

How to make the most out of therapy

Taking that first step in reaching out for professional help can be one of the hardest steps in the journey to psychological and emotional wellness. Like any relationship, finding the right fit is imperative to long term success and finding the right fit in a psychologist is no exception. Our large team of male and female clinical psychologists are trained across a broad range of areas and draw on evidenced based therapies to work with clients, adapting the therapeutic model to suit client’s individual needs. The combined knowledge and expertise of our team of clinical psychologists complement each other allowing us to service and help a wide range of clients with diverse needs.

Feeling Comfortable

It is important that you feel comfortable with your psychologist and develop a rapport where you can answer those difficult or confronting questions that can naturally feel a bit uneasy. You should feel like your psychologistis batting for you; working with you to achieve a common goal. Professional relationships are two-way to and in order to achieve your goals or resolve underlying issue or concerns, you must give back and commit to the plan that you have collectively composed.

Set some boundaries and expectations

Good communication is key, as is setting some boundaries around your professional relationship, like how often you will have sessions and how and when you can contact your Psychologist between appointments. Your psychologist may discuss your individual therapy needs and the frequency of appointments at the start of therapy. Typically, in the beginning, regular and frequent appointments will be scheduled and gradually this will be tapered off as indicated by therapeutic progress. Attending scheduled appointments will assist in your treatment progress and prevent relapse.

Do your homework

Therapy is most effective when you utilise what you learn in the sessions by integrating it into your everyday life. Typically, most therapy sessions will end with a homework assignment and review the progress with this at the start of the following session. It is also recommended to take notes at the end of each session to help you remember things or to write questions down that you would like to discuss at the next session.

Feeling comfortable, understood and respected are the pillars of success for a strong relationship with your psychologist. With the current state of the world, investing in your health and wellbeing has never been more important. If you feel you need psychological or emotional support at the present time, don’t hesitate to speak to your GP about a mental health plan. The next step is researching your psychologist to find the right fit for you.

To peruse our team of clinical psychologistswho are available both in practice and via telehealth, click here.

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AM I OK?

Posted on May 11, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

The importance of the daily mental health check

The situation the world is facing and has endured over the last few months, would have been previously unimaginable, affecting every human being on the planet; physically, financially, socially, emotionally and psychologically. The impact of this global pandemic has been devastating, and we are living through a part of history that future generations will marvel at, and perhaps have to cope with the potential ongoing aftereffects.

As we all learn to ‘cope’ with our new way of living, it’s more important than ever to keep our mental and emotional wellbeing in check.  Just as we would for physical symptoms, we need to check in with our emotional selves daily and kindly ask; ‘Am I okay’?

If the answer is ‘No’, or even ‘I’m not sure,’ then don’t brush those feelings under the carpet. Asking for help or talking about your feelings with someone you trust has never been more important. Remember there is no shame in asking for help; it is an act of courage and will only lead to a better coping and resilience. And when we feel better able to cope ourselves, then we can also turn our attention to supporting others!

During this time, clinical psychologists have taken to offering therapy via telehealth as we strive to maintain a way of safely relating, while continuing to help people manage their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Telehealth is therapy via phone or online platforms and has many proven benefits.

People can experience a range of barriers when taking those first steps towards professional help and many of these can be resolved by telehealth or online therapy. Barriers like, how to discretely fit a therapy session into your work day, as well as the emotional step of physically attending a therapist’s practice. Telehealth allows people to seek psychological help and therapy from the comfort and safety of their own home, and with discretion and convenience.

Clinical psychologist, Dr Nicola Spence, shares her honest views on telehealth; “To be honest, the prospect of offering psychology sessions through Telehealth did not sound appealing at the beginning. I didn’t believe that it would allow me and the person to form as significant a relationship and might not be useful. Reluctantly, I commenced Telehealth sessions due to the COVID19 pandemic. I have been really surprised by how well the sessions flow and how, with some simple tweaks, I am still able to deliver effective therapy strategies and tools. Even with people I am meeting for the first time, we have been able to connect and work well together. I completely understand the hesitancy some people may feel about having their psychology sessions using Telehealth. My best advice would be to give it a go and try it out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”.

Heightened levels of anxiety are to be expected at this time as we try to manage the many changes and uncertainties that COVID-19 has brought. If you are experiencing anxiety, anger, sadness or a whole range of other possible emotional responses and concerns during these difficult times, talking to a clinical psychologist can help to develop personal strategies to manage your feelings. To view our team of Clinical Psychologists, all of whom can provide telehealth sessions, head to the Brisbane Psychologists page of our website. If you would prefer to come into the practice, many of our clinical psychologists at Newmarket and Morningside are still offering face-to-face sessions whilst adhering to social distancing and hygiene regulations.

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The Ultimate Test

Posted on May 4, 2020 in Uncategorized - 0

Words by Dr Nicola Spence – Clinical Psychologist

COVID-19- it’s the ultimate test of our resilience! Humanity is being challenged to survive, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Japanese scholar, Okakura Kakuzo once wrote; “The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings”.

Aptly defined by studies undertaken by Department of Mental Health & Learning Disabilities, London; “resilience comprised the ability to frame difficult life events in positive terms, accept what cannot be changed, manage worry and anxiety effectively, develop psychological flexibility in the face of change and continually seek opportunities for growth.”

So how do we build resilience in a time when we are faced with set-backs, financial worries and a new social dynamic that defies humankind?  Dr Nicola Spence provides some insight into how we can build resilience in the face of adversity.

Make choices about what and who you pay attention to

What we pay attention to matters. It affects our emotions, thoughts, behaviours and relationships. If we spend our time absorbed in reading negative news stories and thinking or talking about the ‘what if’s of the pandemic we fill our mind with worries and end up feeling stressed and low. Making choices to limit the amount of time we spend reading or hearing about the pandemic and only getting our information from reputable sources (rather than our Facebook feeds!) can really help us to put some boundaries around the amount of worrying content coming ‘in’ from the outside world.  We can also make a conscious effort to seek out the exceptions and look for the positive or heartwarming stories of the pandemic – communities coming together, recovery rates growing, the planet rejuvenating.

Pay close attention to holistic health

Staying healthy is more than diet and exercise. We also need to pay close attention to getting good quality sleep and exercising our mind and staying connected with others. Some ways to improve sleep include; taking time out from technology in the evenings, having a regular routine, reducing caffeine and alcohol and getting daily exercise and fresh air. Mental exercise that includes practicing mindfulness, meditation or relaxation can help to improve cognitive function. In a time when we must be mindful of relating safely with one another, technology has become a vital part of staying connected. Telephone or video calls help us to keep in touch and give and receive care. It is not quite the same as physically connecting but it’s a good second place during the pandemic. Consider ways you can use your senses to keep the presence of others in mind and feel close to them. Sending voicemails rather than text messages so your voice can be heard, video calling instead of telephoning, reminiscing and looking through old photos or letters, virtually sharing a meal or activity with loved ones.

Finding a sense of purpose

In the face of adversity, finding a sense of purpose is a vital building block of resilience. Many of us have experienced changes in employment – redeployment, redundancy or being stood down since the outbreak of COVID19. These challenges can impact on our self-esteem and have us question our self-worth and sense of purpose. Carving a sense of routine and predictability is helpful. We are in extraordinary times so try to keep your expectations of yourself in check. Accept that there’s lots going on right now that is out of our control and you can only do your best. Look for ways to make a difference and have some control over what we can control. If it’s feasible for you to do so consider making a contribution to help others; such as volunteering for the Queensland Care Army or the Adopt a Healthcare Worker initiative.

Practicing Compassion

You may have noticed that you have felt more unpleasant emotions recently, started or increased behaviours that you know are unhelpful or noticed you have become withdrawn from others. All of these things are understandable reactions to us feeling a sense of threat. We likely find it easy to feel compassion for others being affected by the pandemic; every person who has caught COVID19, the healthcare workers on the frontline, the people in the ‘at risk’ health/age groups, people unable to attend their loved one’s funerals. Whilst feeling compassion for others is good, it’s just as important that we practise self-compassion, and allow ourselves to receive compassion from others. If your self-critic is causing mayhem – criticising your emotions, pressuring you to do or achieve more, berating you for not keeping more contact with loved ones – ask yourself “would I think this way about a friend if they were in the same situation?”. We often hold ourselves to standards that we would not hold for others. It can take practise to develop a more self-accepting, self-compassionate relationship.

Ask for help when you need it

There is no shame in asking for help. Reaching out to friends, family and professionals like Psychologists is an act of courage and a positive step forward towards living your best life.

Telehealth during COVID19

During this time of isolation, Psychologists have taken to offering therapy via telehealth as we strive to protect you, ourselves and the community physically, whilst continuing to help people manage their emotional and psychological wellbeing. Telehealth has many benefits. Research has shown that it is an effective way to receive psychological and emotional help and that those who use it tend to be happy with it. For more information on telehealth appointments visit our website.

About the author- Dr Nicola Spence

MA (Hons), DClinPsy, MAPS
Master of Arts (Hons) – Psychology, Doctorate of Clinical Psychology
Membership: Australian Psychological Society

As a Clinical Psychologist, Nicola is often working in different roles; therapist, supervisor, leader, trainer. No matter what hat she is wearing her goals are the same – to help people to cope with whatever life is throwing at them, to help them grow and to support them with figuring out how to get to where they want to be. She works with people to find the right ‘fit’ for them in therapy and draws on therapy models that research shows to be effective.

Nicola has trained in and practices a number of different therapies, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT), Motivational Interviewing (MI), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Brief Solution Focused Therapy (BSFT). She has also studied approaches for helping people to cope with traumatic experiences, including trauma-informed care and trauma-focused interventions.

Nicola’s areas of interest include working with people who experience a range of difficulties, including :

  • anxiety (e.g. phobias, OCD, social anxiety, generalised anxiety)
  • depression
  • trauma and stress
  • psychosis
  • self-esteem difficulties
  • occupational stress
  • addictions

Nicola has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in both the UK and Australia since 2011, having obtained a Doctorate of Clinical Psychology. She has worked in different roles in mental health since 2005. She considers it a privilege to be trusted with people’s life stories and to be able to make a difference in their lives. Nicola currently works in private practice and also in public health as a Psychology Professional Leader. The Psychology Board of Australia have approved Nicola as a Clinical Supervisor.

Nicola is taking telehealth appointments on Thursday & Friday; please phone (07) 3395 8633 to make an appointment or to discuss how telehealth appointment may work for you.

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