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Natural treatment for insomnia

Posted on August 15, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

We all know how it feels when you’ve not had enough sleep- tired, cranky, irritable, unproductive and overwrought. Even the simplest task can seem overwhelming and this is largely due to the fact that your brain and cognitive function is not operating at optimal levels.

Although bouts of bad sleep are normal and to be expected in our fast paced society, chronic sleep problems and ongoing insomnia (difficulties with sleep for 3 months or more) should not be ignored. According to the National Sleep Foundation, evidence suggests that people with insomnia have a ten-fold risk of developing depression and an increased risk of other co-morbid conditions.

So how do you break this vicious cycle of bad sleep, poor health and its myriad of negative repercussions and say goodbye to a dependence on sleeping tablets? Research suggests that the most effective long-term treatment for insomnia is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), a psychology based treatment that addresses behaviour and thinking around sleep.

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 and the final one for 2019 commences on 10th October from our Morningside office. 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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Brooding Badly – How to Stop Obsessive Thinking

Posted on August 1, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

When we are stressed or dodging one of life’s many curve balls, it’s common to become obsessed with the subject matter and it can be hard to stop thinking about it. Also known as obsessive thinking or rumination, the mental merry-go-round can be difficult to get off, it’s metaphoric dizziness often interrupting sleep and inducing stress. It has also been known to lead to anxiety and depression. Similarly, those experiencing depression or anxiety, commonly ruminate and their experiences may present in what is often described as ‘catastrophic thought’.

Although it’s normal and sometimes even helpful to ‘workshop’ problems or decisions you’ve made, when there is no solution in sight and the thoughts are becoming obsessive and interrupting daily function, you’ve almost certainly tipped the scales to an unhealthy level of rumination.

Obsessive thinking has been known to lead to depression and anxiety as the negative thought increases the brain’s stress response leading to higher levels of cortisol. It also leads to dangerous physical symptoms of stress like high blood pressure and heart problems.

So how do you short-circuit obsessive thoughts?

The first step is to recognise when you are thinking this way and to know where to draw the line of healthy vs unhealthy rumination. This is the most difficult step as people prone to rumination see it as ‘workshopping problems’ rather than brooding badly! If you find yourself reacting irrationally to the present, it might be because your mind is elsewhere, perhaps dwelling on negative thought. Regularly checking in with yourself and understanding your own individual signs will help you recognise the signs of rumination.

Being mindful and present can also help you let go of past decisions and actions that cannot be changed. Practicing yoga can be a positive way to physically commit to mindfulness, as the ancient art focuses on being present and grateful for the now.

Exercise is a known distractor when negative thoughts are overwhelming you. Walking with a friend or socialising can also be helpful in shifting the focus to more positive and enjoyable experiences.

As cognitive behavioural therapy is focused on stopping negative thoughts in their tracks and replacing them with more positive, helpful ones, it’s world renowned as one of the most effective treatments for alleviating cognitive distortions. A Psychologist can help guide you through the process of breaking down these thoughts and perceptions and how these may affect your emotions and behaviour.

If you need help with obsessive thoughts or your general health and wellbeing, Psychology Consultants has a large team of experienced, male and female Clinical Psychologists committed to helping you thrive.

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How much sleep does your teenager need?

Posted on July 31, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Researchers have identified that sleep deprivation in youth is on the rise with an estimated 25% of adolescents affected by some form of sleep disturbance. Much like babies, during adolescents our biological sleep patterns change meaning we don’t fall asleep until later, making that 6am alarm clock a real killer!

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers required between 8-10 hours of sleep a night for their minds and bodies to function at optimal levels but due to lifestyle factors only 15% of teens actually sleep this much.

It’s a well-known fact that teenagers have delayed melatonin secretion at night and then elevated in the morning, meaning their body clocks don’t match their lifestyles with school commitments expecting them to rise early.

So how do we prevent sleep deprivation in our teenagers and help them achieve their best at school and maintain good mental health?

Tips for Sleep in Teens

  • Allow sleep ins on the weekend
  • Encourage early nights
  • Make Sundays early to bed night
  • Try to limit screen time within 1 hour of bed
  • Avoid scheduling activities early in the morning
  • Talk to your child about good sleep health

Allowing your teenager to relax and take time to be in the present, will also help them unwind and prepare for good sleep. Encourage taking 10 minutes during the day to be mindful of daily stress and pressure and try to put it in perspective.

Taking some time to sit, relax, take a walk or do yoga can help unwind and focus on the present. Getting regular exercise but not within a few hours of bedtime also has proven to improve sleep in children, adolescents and adults alike.

Lastly, practice what you preach. Set an example by being present yourself, reducing your own screen time and focusing on healthy lifestyle habits.

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How to deal with adolescent depression

Posted on July 25, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

It’s a well-known fact that during puberty your child will experience a large surge of hormones, which leads to a variety of intense and unpredictable moods.

A term known as “doom and gloom” is said to be a normal part of teenage development, whereby hormone fluctuation causes them to have low mood, disrupted sleep and low energy levels.

The difficulty for parents is recognising the difference between “doom and gloom” and clinical depression, as many of the symptoms are the same.

It is difficult to separate the symptoms but typically clinical depression will present as a longer lasting low mood (longer than 2 weeks); be more likely if you have a family history of depression; present if your teenager is experiencing very low self esteem and his behaviour is dangerous or riskier than usual.

Depression is also more likely in certain personality types, for example those who seek perfection or have very high standards, or those that do not communicate well and bottle everything up.

It is important to not underestimate your parental intuition when assessing your teenager’s behaviour. You may know if something is just “not right” and be able to recognise that its more than just teenager moodiness. If this is the case, or you are unsure, it is important to seek professional help from your local GP who will make an assessment and put a mental healthcare plan in place. Depression can be caused by many different factors, including heredity, biochemical imbalances in the brain, personal and work-related stress, bereavement, trauma or long term personality traits. Not all people who feel sad are necessarily depressed and the severity and frequency of symptoms will vary from one individual to the next.

How a Psychologist can help?

The teenage years can be a challenging time for parent and child and communication may be broken. A psychologist can assist teens with a range of concerns from mood disorders like anxiety and depression through to social and emotional challenges, equipping them with practical coping strategies for every day life. We have Clinical Psychologists at Newmarket and Morningside who specialise in adolescent counselling, including, Dr Mark Wetton, Miranda Mullins, Dr Stan Steindl (16+) Danielle Corbett, Elizabeth Galt, Cathy Dart and Kylie Layton.

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What is CBT Treatment for Anxiety

Posted on July 17, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

One of the most well-known psychological practices for overcoming irrational thoughts and anxieties is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This involves challenging irrational thoughts as they enter the mind and shutting them down as to change action and behaviour. Once the thoughts are being cognitively challenged, the next step as a part of CBT is to overcome the specific phobias is by facing them front on. For many people, confronting the fear in real life situations, as stressful as it may be, is the only way out.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is evidenced based form of therapy used by our team of Brisbane Psychologists. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based therapy which focuses mostly on the way people think about things (including their attitudes and beliefs) and the way they behave. CBT is based on the understanding that thinking negatively is a habit, and, like any other bad habit, it can be modified. It helps people identify where their thoughts and actions are negative, and then to replace these “bad habits” with more helpful thoughts and responses.

CBT utilises both cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. Cognitive therapy aims to identify and evaluate the unhelpful thoughts (or cognitions) that lead to negative feelings (e.g. depression, anxiety) and behaviours (e.g. avoiding friends). The treatment focuses on questioning thoughts and restructuring these with positive ways to think about difficult situations. Behaviour therapy is goal-oriented and aims to help people change unhealthy or unhelpful behaviours that cause them to suffer or lower their quality and enjoyment of life. For example, people who are depressed often enjoy fewer pleasurable activities and so your psychologist would work with you to identify pleasurable activities and develop a plan to increase your participation in them.

Finally, CBT not only helps you to understand, manage and challenge thought and behaviour patterns, but can also provide you with a range of useful and practical strategies to enhance your productivity, well-being and your ability to cope with various situations in everyday life.

Exposing people or animals to things repeatedly so that they become so familiar and unstimulating, is what psychologists refer to as ‘Exposure Therapy’. This form of therapy is widely considered the most effective treatment for anxiety disorders and specific phobias. Essentially, the theory is based on facing your fears directly, not only by challenging the thoughts but by carrying out the feared action or immersing yourself in the feared situation to gradually decrease your sensitivity to the fear; in the end make it ‘boring’.

There are several variations of exposure therapy and your psychologist can help you determine which strategy is best suited to you. Exposure therapy can be a stress provoking experience and is best practiced under the guidance of a psychologist who will create a safe environment for you when undergoing this treatment. A gradual approach is often recommended with each confrontation or experience revealing new realities, building confidence and gaining power over those irrational thoughts and fears.

However difficult confronting those fears may be, the long-term benefits, far outweigh the short-term discomfort, setting you free to live life to its fullest. If you are a prisoner to your fears, take action today by seeing a psychologist. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

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Caring for the Carer

Posted on July 9, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Caring for a loved one with dementia is a massive responsibility and although it can be rewarding it can also take a major toll on the mental and physical health of the carer. Statistics show that 1 in 10 people over 65 years have dementia, ranking the disease as the third leading cause of national disability burden.

Carers are often strapped aboard a rollercoaster of emotions experiencing an array of feelings from love and tenderness to guilt, despair, anger and intense worry. The weight of responsibility gets heavier for the carer as the patients loses their independence and the journey often bring great sadness to those who bear witness. During this journey it is of utmost importance that carers ensure they are prioritising their own physical, mental and emotional health.

Dementia is terribly sad for friends and relatives to witness, as the degenerative state of the disease closes all windows of hope. As humans we naturally seek out positives as we grapple at snippets of the sufferer’s former self. When it comes to degenerative disease, seeing the positive rather than weighing in on the negatives, is crucial to emotional health. Children are often wondrous in these situations, taking a fresh and unique perspective. Rather than shy them away from the person it can be helpful to encourage their visits and allow them to understand what is transpiring.

Communication is the key when it comes to expressing feelings in all situations but particularly when it comes to caring for someone with dementia. Denying feelings, even if they are ones of anger, guilt or exasperation, will not be helpful in the long run. Confiding in a friend or a professional about how you are feeling, will not end in judgement. This is a great life challenge and practicing self-compassion is vital to your mental health. Cry, talk to a friend or a professional, write a journal; just let the feelings out, they cannot heal when they are trapped inside.

Taking time out from carer duties to enjoy something you love is one way you can be kind to yourself. Exercise and meditation are both effective outlets, helping you to relax and improve mood, sleep and cognitive function.

Learn to find some joy in a time that may not seem like your happiest and remember, the person may not remember who you are, but you can still honour and remember who they are.

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Mindful Self-Compassion Training Workshop

Posted on July 8, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Presented by Dr Christopher Germer and Tina Gibson 4-5th September 2019

For someone to develop genuine compassion towards others, first he or she must have a basis upon which to cultivate compassion, and that basis is the ability to connect to one’s own feelings and to care for one’s own welfare…caring for others requires caring for oneself.

– Dalai Lama (2000) –

About the Workshop

This workshop is an introduction to Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC), an empirically-supported training program based on the clinical perspective of Chris Germer and the pioneering research of Kristin Neff.

MSC combines the skills of mindfulness and self-compassion to enhance our capacity for emotional wellbeing. Mindfulness is the first step—turning with loving awareness toward difficult experience (emotions, sensations, thoughts). Self-compassion comes next—bringing loving awareness to ourselves. Together, mindfulness and self-compassion comprise a state of warm, connected presence during difficult moments in our lives.

Burgeoning research shows that self-compassion is strongly associated with emotional wellbeing, coping with life challenges, lower levels of anxiety and depression, healthy habits such as diet and exercise, and more satisfying, compassionate relationships. Self-compassion includes the capacity to comfort, soothe and validate ourselves, but also to protect and provide for ourselves, and to motivate ourselves to achieve our goals.

Learning Objectives

Fortunately, self-compassion can be learned by anyone. After participating in this two-day workshop, you will be able to:

* Practice self-compassion in daily life

* Understand the science of self-compassion

* Motivate yourself with kindness rather than criticism

* Handle difficult emotions with greater ease

* Manage caregiver fatigue

* Practice the art of savoring and self-appreciation

* Teach simple self-compassion exercises to clients

Program activities include talks, meditation, experiential exercises, and group discussion. Participants will directly experience self-compassion and learn practices to evoke self-compassion in daily life. No previous experience with mindfulness or meditation is required to attend the program.

About the Presenters

Dr. Christopher Germer is a clinical psychologist and lecturer on psychiatry (part-time) at Harvard Medical School. He is a co-developer (with Kristin Neff) of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program which has been taught to over 50,000 people around the world. Dr. Germer is also the author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion, co-author of Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program and The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook, and co-editor of Mindfulness and Psychotherapy and Wisdom and Compassion in Psychotherapy. He is a founding faculty member of the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy as well as the Center for Mindfulness and Compassion, Cambridge Health Alliance, Harvard Medical School. Dr. Germer teaches and leads workshops internationally on mindfulness and compassion, and has a private practice specializing in mindfulness and compassion-based psychotherapy. https://chrisgermer.com/

 

Tina Gibson is an experienced and passionate Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) and Mindfulness Teacher, having facilitated programs within the Education System, Cancer Support, Women’s Health and the general community. She has a sound knowledge of health and education stemming from years of experience working with diverse populations in the roles of Kinesiologist, Health Care Worker, Rehabilitation Counsellor, Health Educator and Emergency Paramedic. Tina is currently the only Certified MSC Teacher Trainer and Mentor in Australia, having taught alongside both Kristin Neff and Chris Germer. She currently offers MSC programs and workshops. Tina also provides ongoing support to past MSC particpants and community practice sessions. Tina is a member of the International Advisory Council for MSC and the Mindfulness Teachers’ Network SA. http://www.adelaidemindfulness.com/

 

 

Workshop Dates and Times

Wednesday, 4 September – Thursday, 5 September 2019.

8.30am arrival and registration for a 9am start.

Workshop concludes each day at 4.30pm.

Workshop Costs

Early Bird Rate: $650.00 (before 5 August 2019; this rate will be applied automatically at checkout when making a booking)

Student Rate: $399.00 (contact the event organiser for a student code to enter at checkout when making a booking)

General Admission: $695.00

Fees include GST

Location

Victoria Park Golf Complex
309 Herston Road, Herston, QLD 4006

Contact Details

Dr Stan Steindl: stan@psychologyconsultants.com.au 

Cancellations

$50 cancellation fee up to 14 days before the workshop, $100 cancellation fee for within

Book Tickets Here

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The difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist & counsellor

Posted on June 30, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

What is the difference between a psychologist, clinical psychologist, psychiatrist, and counsellor?

This is a commonly asked question of new clients and those considering therapy. This article sheds some light on the differences and similarities of professionals whose common goal, put simply, is to help better feel better.

Psychologists study human behaviour in their undergraduate and postgraduate degrees before undertaking supervised experience and gaining registration. They do not have a medical degree; however, many have postgraduate qualifications or doctoral level qualifications in clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists have specialist training in psychological assessment and therapy with diagnosed psychiatric and/or mental disorders.

Psychologists generally assist people with a range of everyday problems such as stress and relationship difficulties. They also provide counselling and therapy for people with diagnosed mental disorders, such as anxiety disorders or depression. They help people to develop the skills needed to cope and function better, and to prevent ongoing problems.

Clinical psychologists and psychologists cannot prescribe medication. Their treatments are based on changing behaviour and emotional responses without medication. There is a considerable amount of evidence showing psychological treatments are effective on their own, as well as in combination with certain types of medication.

Psychiatrists have a medical degree, which involved six years of studying general medicine, followed by further study to specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness and emotional problems. Psychiatrists treat the effects of emotional disturbances on the body and the effects of physical conditions on the mind. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Some combine medication with other forms of therapy.

Source: Australian Psychological Society http://www.psychology.org.au 

A Counsellor assists people to “develop understanding about themselves and to make changes in their lives.” According to the Psychotherapy and Counselling Federation of Australia (PACFA) http://www.pacfa.org.au it is expected that they “work within a clearly contracted principled relationship that enables individuals to explore and resolve issues of an interpersonal, intrapsychic or personal nature”.

There are different types of counsellors such as rehabilitation counsellors, marriage and/or family counsellors, school counsellors and others. Each may have very different qualifications and experience levels, which can be enquired about by potential clients. In Australia there is no mandated minimum training and qualification framework in place yet, though many counsellors are voluntary members of professional counselling associations, and are working towards this through PACFA, their peak body.

PACFA maintains a national voluntary register of counsellors and psychotherapists who have satisfied its minimum training standard. Also refer to http://www.theaca.net.au for more information on counselling.

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Sleep Anxiety & The Power of your Mind

Posted on June 27, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

A global study conducted in February 2019 by Philips surveying over 15,000 people across 13 countries has revealed that worrying has kept over 51% of Australian adults up at night over the past three months, with illness and technology as other dominant disturbances.

The irony of this finding is that worry, or sleep anxiety as we like to call it, does nothing but exacerbate sleep disturbance and so the vicious cycle continues. On a more positive note, the study found that people do recognise and value the importance of sleep, and as a nation over half (63%) of Australian’s experiencing sleep disturbance have taken active steps to resolve the issue. On the flipside, Australians are more likely to use sleeping tablets than any other country- a worrying notion in itself.

So how do we stop the vicious cycle of sleep anxiety and drug reliance to help aid sleep?

Never underestimate the power of your own mind! After all, if worry has the power to stop your mind from rest, the power lies within to counteract such thoughts with more positive, soothing and naturally tranquilising ones.

Enter, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), a form of therapy that has been scientifically proven to improve long term sleep health and reduce the reliance on sleep medication. Breaking the sleep anxiety cycle begins the minute you wake. After a restless night, you wake up tired and irritable which provokes anxiety about how you are going to cope with work, family commitments and other daily pressures. As the day continues you worry about how you might sleep that night and so the vicious cycle continues. Stopping the pattern of worry, requires acknowledging the thought as it enters your mind and replacing it with more helpful thoughts. This the has a flow on effect with positive thoughts leading to behavioural change. An action plan that involves a commitment to changing lifestyle choices that may be inhibiting sleep (read more about these below) and establishing a better bedtime routine may provide real comfort.

Often, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to sleep with a bunch of habits that are seriously unhelpful. Here are 5 common habits that are serious sleep killers.

  1. Worrying about sleep during the day. This is a number 1 ‘no-no’.
  2. Drinking too much caffeine, particularly after 2pm
  3. Overindulging in alcohol during the evening. Not only will this keep you up to the loo; alcohol is a major sleep inhibitor, affecting your natural circadian rhythm. Read more about this in “Mind the Booze if you want a good Snooze
  4. Exercising within 3 hours of bedtime. Although exercise is key to overall health and beneficial to quality sleep; be mindful of working out too close to bedtime as it produces too much physiological arousal which is not preparing our body for sleep.
  5. Gluing yourself to a screen. Technology is a sleep killer with the blue/green light omitted interrupting your natural circadian rhythm. If the technology is work related, you are also not allowing your mind to destress and decompartmentalise work life from home life.

Sleep Specialist Dr David Cunnington has been involved in ongoing research on using CBT for insomnia. Recent research published in June in Annals of Internal Medicine showed that on average people went to sleep 19 minutes faster and stayed asleep 16 minutes longer after CBT. This is similar to the effects of sleeping tablets but without the long-lasting negative effects.

Group programs like Towards Better Sleep, utilise CBT and focus on sleep education, behavioural techniques, correcting faulty thinking and relaxation strategies. Group therapy in treating insomnia has proven effective as it offers participants the opportunity to share stories and learn from the experiences and ideas of other insomnia sufferers, in a private and confidential setting. It also allows therapists to treat more people in a cost-effective way. To register for the next programme commencing Thursday 18th July visit Towards Better Sleep  or email tbs@psychologyconsultants.com.au

 

 

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Teaching Children about Anxiety

Posted on June 16, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Anxiety problems in children are very common, probably more so than other better-known behavioural problems like conduct disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. But how can we help children who suffer from anxiety?

Anxiety and fears in children are often obvious from an early age. Children from age five can present with phobias, obsessive-compulsive problems, social fears and shyness, or separation anxiety.

Anxious children usually fear particular things (for example, strangers or separation). They will talk about their fears and will avoid the situations or activities that they fear. It’s a common misconception that talking with your child about their anxiety will make it worse. Some parents may feel like talking about their fears or focusing on them will exacerbate them, but it can be really helpful in allowing your child to better understanding the symptoms and how to manage them.  So, what can parents do to help children who are experiencing anxiety?

  1. Ask your child about their  fears and talk openly and honestly about them.
  2. Listen to what they have to say and observe their behaviour.

Tip: Telling your child “not to worry” is generally ineffective. Think about how this makes you feel when you are worried or anxious.

  1. Teach them about anxiety. Tell them it is normal to experience anxiety. It may help to relate to your child’s anxiety with feelings you may have experienced when you were the same age.
  2. Discuss the feelings and physical symptoms that arise when your child is feeling anxious. Helping your child to recognise the symptoms will go a long way in helping manage them.

The main thing to consider is “Is my child’s anxiety interfering with his or her life?” If the answer is “yes” then it is worth doing something about it.

But what can be done for anxious kids? The answer is that teaching kids practical skills through cognitive behavioural therapy goes a long way to helping them manage their own anxiety.

At Psychology Consultants, children can learn how to identify their anxiety, how to manage the physical symptoms of anxiety, and how to think more realistically. We can also help them expose themselves to their feared situations and reduce their anxiety reaction to those situations.

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