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Caught in an Anxiety Fog?

Posted on March 17, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Kind of like driving a car in a bad fog, it’s hard to think clearly and make good decisions when you are overwrought, overwhelmed and feeling anxious. If only clearing your brain fog was as easy as turning on the windscreen wipers. It may not be quite this simple but there are some simple ways to think more clearly and make better decisions when you feel like anxiety related brain fog has taken hold.

Although ‘brain fog’ can be caused by a number of medical conditions, this article focuses on what to do when you have anxiety related brain fog. The first step is to identify that it is anxiety that is clouding your vision and impairing your cognitive function. The next step is to stop focusing on your anxiety. It is common when entrenched in a bout of anxiety to become obsessed with how you are feeling, to worry about how it may impact on your family, work and life. Internally focused thoughts will only worsen symptoms of brain fog, that may include, a lack of concentration, fatigue, irritability, intense fear and irrational thoughts. It can be difficult to acknowledge that you are becoming internally focused when you are in the thick of it but by understanding your stressors and what triggers your anxiety, you can take better control of your thought process.

Anxiety related brain fog results from elevated stress hormones causing the body to react by suppressing the rationalisation and core memory part of the brain (the cortex and hippocampus) and increasing areas of the brain (the amygdala) designed to respond to danger. Once the mind recognises that there is no real threat or danger, stress levels will reduce, the body will calm and anxiety will ease.

Everyone’s external stressors or triggers are different and it’s important to recognise what causes you to have an overly anxious mindset. A calming mantra that works for you when you are caught in the thick of anxiety can be very helpful in reducing stress levels. In treating anxiety, psychologists often use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help people identify when their thought patterns are negative and replace them with more helpful thoughts, resulting in more positive behavioural outcomes. Part of cognitive behavioural therapy in treating anxiety is monitoring your ‘self-talk’ and testing realities of negative talk by evaluating the thoughts that lead to unhelpful fears and beliefs.  The treatment focuses on questioning the negative thoughts and beliefs that lead to the feelings of anxiousness in various situations.

Working with a Clinical Psychologist to design your own personal strategies to manage anxiety may help you feel more empowered and in control of your mind. Whilst addressing any underlying causes of your anxiety may help you to overcome it in the long run.

For more information on anxiety treatment, visit http://psychologyconsultants.com.au/anxiety/

To view our team of Clinical Psychologists, visit the Brisbane Psychologists page here.


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What to expect from Group Therapy

Posted on March 13, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Group therapy can be confronting and off-putting for some people; let’s face it, talking to strangers about your struggles is not for everyone. But when it comes to treating insomnia or eating problems, it’s really very effective, enabling people with similar personal problems but completely different life experiences to share and learn from one another.

Most groups and in particular, our insomnia program, Towards Better Sleep, offer small groups of no more than 9 participant the opportunity to learn about insomnia treatment approaches in an intimate and confidential setting. Towards Better Sleep, is run over four, one hour sessions typically spread out over 6 to 8 weeks.

With the guidance of two experienced facilitators, participants come away from the program equipped with clinically proven methods for better sleep. Once more, the group setting allows participants to gain a new perspective on sleep and learn how others might deal with their individual situations.

TBS Facilitators: Kathryn Smith & Dr Curt Gray

Towards Better Sleep facilitators, Dr Curt Gray (Psychiatrist) and Kathryn Smith (Clinical Psychologist) have been running the group for over 15 years and have witnessed first-hand the profound results of the cognitive behavioural therapy program.

“When you are struggling with something like ongoing insomnia, it can be hard to believe that anyone else can be doing it as tough as you but once they start the program, they quickly see how common their experiences are”, says Kathryn Smith.

“When you are surrounded with people who have taken the courage to reach out for help and take charge of their life, there is a high level of respect and validation amongst the group”, notes Ms Smith.

Another key benefit of group therapy is the extra change in your back pocket, with it being a more cost-effective way to see a therapist. You might also find when surrounded by others who are in a similar situation, that there is an added level of support that cannot be found in individual therapy.

Working in a group to overcome problems, like insomnia can also reveal personal insights that you may not otherwise have recognised. Facilitators work to ensure that group therapy is a safe, confidential and welcoming space, allowing you to learn more about yourself to improve your outlook and general wellbeing as well as the task at hand.

The next Towards Better Sleep programme commences on Thursday 18th July. To learn more about it or to register visit www.towardsbettersleep.com.au






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Welcome Dr Nicola Spence to our Morningside practice

Posted on March 13, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

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

Nicola has worked as a Clinical Psychologist in both the UK and Australia since 2011. She has held various positions in the fields of adult mental health and forensic mental health over this time and we are now pleased that she is joining the team at Psychology Consultants, Morningside.

In her work, Nicola uses an integrative approach, drawing on various therapy modalities to adapt therapy to best suit the needs of each person. She primarily draws upon the evidence-based therapies of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Compassion-focused Therapy (CFT) and Motivational Interviewing (MI).

Nicola’s areas of interest include working with people who experience a range of difficulties, including anxiety (e.g. phobias, OCD, social anxiety), depression, trauma and stress, self-esteem difficulties, occupational stress and addictions. In addition to offering direct intervention, Nicola is also passionate about the development of others and offers clinical supervision and training to other clinicians.

Nicola works from the Morningside office on Thursday & Friday; please phone (07) 3395 8633 to make an appointment.

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Psychology Consultants Celebrates 20 years

Posted on February 19, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Welcome Dr Madan to our Newmarket Practice

Posted on February 6, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

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

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

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

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

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How to quieten the mind

Posted on January 10, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

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

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

  1. Just Breathe.

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

  1. Prioritise Exercise

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

  1. Practice Yoga or Meditation

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

  1. Turn up the tunes

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

  1. Pat your pooch

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

  1. Take a break from technology

Our ability to completely switch ‘swipe’ off from the world has set a new-age challenge, with many of us so addicted to our phones that the idea of switching it off or leaving it at home is totally absurd. In fact, so absurd that for many people, particularly amongst the younger generation, it causes a great deal of stress to be without one’s phone. But all of the noise and distraction of technology can make it very difficult to be present and even harder to quieten the mind. Try allocating some screen free time into your day and see if you feel calmer.

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




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In 2019…I will get more sleep

Posted on January 8, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

Kathryn Smith, Psychology Consultants

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Battling with your return to work?

Posted on January 6, 2019 in Uncategorized - 0

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

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

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

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

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


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Power of Human Connection

Posted on November 11, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opening up about depression in the workplace

Posted on October 8, 2018 in Uncategorized - 0

During QLD Mental Health Week 6-14thOctober 2018 

#QMHW #valuementalhealth

By Kathryn Smith, Clinical Psychologist: Psychology Consultants  

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

Having that important conversation

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

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

Taking a holistic approach to the ongoing management of depression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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