Issues we work with
Anxiety is our body’s natural response to danger or pressure. It helps us stay more alert and focussed until the stressful situaton passes. However, for some people these anxious feelings do not go away when the ‘stressor’ is removed. In addition, these anxious feelings may happen without any particular reason or cause and can be on-going. This persistent, excessive worry is referred to as an anxiety disorder, and can be so distressing and debilitating that it interferes with a person’s day-to-day life.
Anxiety is the most common health condition in Australia affecting one in three women and one in five men at some stage in their life (beyondblue.org). Children are also impacted by anxiety. Anxiety Disorders can take different forms and include, general anxiety disorder, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, amongst others. People report being some physical symptoms as being immobilising, including a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, and feeling shaky and faint.
While anxiety is common, it is also very responsive to treatment. The sooner people seek treatment the more likely they are to recover. Psychological therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for most people affected by anxiety disorders. Our psychologists can help you to develop ways to understand and manage the impact anxiety is having for you, developing useful strategies to reduce your symptoms and improve your day-to-day life.
We all feel sad or low at times to time. With depression, people experience these feelings intensely, for long periods of time and sometimes without any apparent reason. Depression is a serious psychological condition that affects your physical and mental health.
Depression can affect adults and children & teenagers, with a variety of symptoms that will affect people in diferent ways. Some symptoms include: feeling extremely sad or emotionally numb; feelings of worthlessness; loss of interest or pleasure in life; changes in appetite, sleep, libido; and/or difficulty with memory and/or concentration, amongst others.
Depression may be triggered by a stressful event, like loss or stress (reactive depression) or following child-birth (post-natal depression). It might also be part of an disorder (bipolar disorder) during which the person may experience cycles of ‘manic’ highs and depressive lows. For others, the symptoms may be so extreme that they experience symptoms of psychosis. Depression may occur without an obvious trigger or some people may have a genetic predisposition to depression.
Depression can be mild, moderate or extreme, and treatment options will vary accordingly to reduce and even eliminate symptoms. Life choices, such as exercise and diet can be useful, and evidence based interventions range from psychological therapy, support programs, medication, a combination of therapy & medication, or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Addiction is a physical or psychological need to do, take or use something, to the point where it could be harmful to you. Addictions change how your brain and body work, impacting the way you feel, think and make decisions. People may become addicted to substances, like alcohol or drugs (prescription or non-prescription) or to gambling, sexual gratification or, more recently identified, to computer gaming. Being addicted to something means that not having it causes withdrawal symptoms or a ‘come down’. Because this can be unpleasant, it’s easier to carry on having or doing what you crave, and so the cycle continues. Often, an addiction gets out of control because you need more and more to satisfy a craving and achieve the ‘high’.
Some people might develop substance abuse disorder after using substances as a coping strategy following a difficult time or in an attempt to mask symptoms of other mental health difficulties. Some studies suggest that addiction is genetic, but environmental factors are also thought to increase the risk. Stress, and emotional or professional pressure, unemployment or poverty can all trigger addiction.
People may or may not know they are addicted. The symptoms that indicate you, or someone you know, has an addiction include:
- repeating something even though it interferes with your life
- stealing or selling things to continue the addictive behaviour
- losing interest in other things
- being angry, violent, moody, or depressed
- seeing changes in eating habits, sleeping habits, or weight
- feeling sick or shaky when trying to quit.
Addictions can have devastating effects not only for the person with the disorder, but also for families / friends of the person. Treatment may take time, and may include multiple relapses throughout treatment. However, overcoming addiction has been shown to be easier to achieve and more sustainable with psychological support, enabling those experiencing difficulties with addiction to make changes required to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
Eating disorders are one of the most complex of mental illnesses and can be associated with major medical complications. They are characterised by dysfunctional eating hehaviours, distorted beliefs about food, and its impact on them, extreme concerns about eating, food, body image and/or weight. Some of the specific manifestations include bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, body dysmorphia, purging disorder, restrictive/avoidant food intake, pica.
Eating disorders occur in children, teens and adults, affecting those from all cultures, genders and socio-economic backgrounds. Though frequently under-reported, eating disorders affect approximately 9% of the population.
Symptoms may include: obsessive thoughts about food, body size, eating patterns; frequent changes in weight; using food as a way to manage distressing emotions; secretive behaviour around food; excessive exercising, amongst others.
People experiencing an eating disorder may go to greta lengths to hide their behaviour and may experience deep shame and/or guilt.
Treatment often involves a multi-disciplinary professional team, including psychologists as a key member of that team. Our psychologists provide an experienced and sensitive approach to the effective intervention and support of those with eating disorders.
Wellbeing Clinic is not a crisis centre. Should you require immediate support please contact 000 or go to your local hospital emergency department.
Crisis supports include:
Suicide Call Back Service
Suicide is a major health concern in our community with many sectors working together in an attempt to reduce the rising number of people dying by suicide. Men, women and both younger and older teens are all included in those who die from suicide each year.
Many people who die by suicide have experienced a mental illness, however, many people who live with mental illnesses are not suicidal and many people who die by suicide do not have a mental illness. Suicidal behaviour indicates deep unhappiness, not necessarily a mental health issue. Research has also identified several factors that increase the risk of suicide, such as age, gender, Indigenous peoples, difficult life events, recent discharge from psychiatric care, poor mental health and knowing someone who has recently died by suicide.
With effective treatment and social support many people who have attempted or considered ending their lives go on to live full and productive lives.
For those who may be discharged from hospital and/or those who are not in crisis but may have suicidal thoughts or mental health concerns our psychologists can work with you to improve your mental health and increase suicide prevention strategies.
Experiencing a traumatic event can be distressing and shocking. Traumatic events can include accidents, natural disasters, experiencing violence, or through traumatic work cicumstances such as the military or emergency response personnel. A trauma response may occur from an event that you directly experienced or you witnessed another person/s experiencing. It may feel overwhelming and you may feel you will never stop thinking about the event or feeling the distressing feeling from the event.
While it is normal and appropriate to be affected by the traumatic event and experience fear, anxiety, numbness, agitation, muscle tension, increased alertness, sleep difficulties, amongst other symptoms, for most people these symptoms begin to lessen after several weeks, particularly with the support of friends /family. For some people these distressing symptoms persist or worsen, continuing for more than a month. Approximately 25% of those experiencing a traumatic event (or a series of traumatic events) will develop PTSD.
Evidence-based treatments include trauma-focused therapies, community support and, in some cases, medication. Our psychologists can assist with intervention and therapies for those affected by trauma, trauma-related disorders and PTSD.
Our relationships /couples therapists can assist couples to identify problematic areas in your relationship and help you to navigate through the conflict and towards the goals you both have for your relationship. Using the most current relationship research-based strategies, including that by renown relationship specialists Dr John and Julie Gottman, we can assist you to develop emotional security and intimacy, improved communication, compassionate dispute resolution skills and strengthened relationship bonds.
Counselling sessions involve both partners, however, if beneficial, individual support or skill development can be provided individually by another Wellbeing Clinic psychologist.
The Gottman Methods Couple Therapy is based on over 40 years of research by Dr’s John and Julie Gottman, from the Gottman Institute in the US. It’s aims are to teach couples how to implement the empirically researched and tested skills that strengthen marriages and identify and address those actions that cause relationships to deteriorate and fail.
Relationship counselling can also assist those people who have decided to end their relationship, particularly where there are children involved.
An adjustment disorder is a group of symptoms that can occur after you go through a stressful life event. The symptoms, which can include feelings of stress, sadness, hopelessness or other physical symptoms that affect your ability to cope with the event. Diagnosis of adjustment disorders is based on identification of major life stressors, whether your reactions are as might be in an expected range based on the stressor and how much /how long they impact your ability to function.
Many people with adjustment disorders find treatment helpful, and often need only brief treatment. Others, including those with persistent adjustment disorders or ongoing stressors, may benefit from longer treatment. Treatments for adjustment disorders include psychotherapy, medications or both.
Psychotherapy is the main treatment for adjustment disorders. It provides emotional support; helps you to adjust to your normal routine; helps you to understand how the event affected you so much; teaches you stress-management and more effective coping skills to deal with stressful events.
Anger is a normal human response to certain situations. However, when anger is unregulated or expressed in ways that frighten and/or threaten others (e.g. yelling, swearing, throwing things, physical violence, intimidation, etc.) it becomes an anti-social, problematic issue.
Anger can also cause significant problems in interpersonal relationships, employment, and education, and can result in the involvement of the law.
Our psychologists can help you to identify problematic anger that affects you and/or the people around you. We can also teach techniques to help you manage (regulate) your emotions that lead to the inappropriate anger, and help you develop ways to express anger in more appropriate ways.
Stress is an expected human response to challenging situations. We have evolved over time to be able to experience a range of stressors and recover from them. A small amount of stress, such meeting a challenge or deadline can actually be helpful. It can lead to increased alertness, energy and productivity. A complete lack of stress can lead to reduced motivation and performance.
Stress triggers off the ‘fight or flight’ response, preparing the body to take action against potential danger. Hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol are released, causing the heart rate, metabolism and breathing rate to speed up.This works well for short-term threats but if the stress response goes on for too long, it can have damaging effects on the mind and body.
Stress can be caused by our circumstances or by our own attitudes and expectations. In today’s world, some people seem to thrive on stress but many others report high levels of stress with negative effects on their health.If stress is greater than our ability to cope, it can lead to physical and mental health issues and cause problems with relationships and work.
Stress management is a set of techniques and strategies intended to help people deal more effectively with stress in their lives by identifying and understanding the specific stressors and taking positive actions to minimize their effects.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by stress and unable to cope, contact one of our psychologists to assist you to develop strategies that will help you to manage it.
Personality disorders are mental disorders that cause suffering, so understanding them is important to enable people to seek the help they need. Personality disorder refers to a long-term pattern of thinking, behaviour and emotion that is extreme and inflexible. It causes distress and makes it difficult to function in everyday life. People with personality disorders find it hard to change their behaviour or adapt to different situations. They may have trouble sustaining work or forming positive relationships with others.
There are many different types of personality disorder, including Paranoid, Antisocial, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant and Dependent Personality Disorders. Some people with a personality disorder may appear withdrawn, some dramatic and emotional, and others odd or eccentric. The one thing they have in common is that their symptoms are severe enough to affect many different areas of life. People often develop the early signs of a personality disorder in adolescence. The exact number of Australians suffering from personality disorders is not known. People with personality disorders also have high rates of coexisting mental health conditions such as depression and substance abuse.
Due to the nature of these disorders, it can be difficult for people to recognise they have a problem or to seek help. Treatment is available for people with personality disorders, and psychotherapy, particularly DBT, has been shown to be effective in can help them to develop insight into their condition, manage symptoms and relate more positively to others. The first step in seeking help is to arrange a mental health assessment.
Changes in family circumstances can be very difficult to manage. From the emotional, financial and physical difficulies that come from the end of the relationship to supporting family and children through to a new type of family, it can be an incredibly difficult and painful time for all involved.
We have a registered Family Dispute Resolution (FDR) practitioner who can assist you through this process of assisting you to work out arrangements for your children post-separation and may negate the need for expensive, stressful and drawn out legal/court proceedings.
The blending of families can also be a very challenging time for all parties involved. We can assist the parents by helping them dvelop strategies to support each other in their new roles and also by assisting them to identify and manage some of the difficulties experienced by the children in adjusting to the new family unit.
For any family members needing additional supportive counselling we have our psychologists available within the clinic.
Our forensic psychologists can provide assessments and reports for those who are involved in legal proceedings, particularly for criminal court matters. These reports may assist in the court proceedings and/or sentencing recommendations.
Due to the nature of completed a comprehensive assessment and report, we require a written request at least one week prior to the assessment, together with the provision of any documentation for review. We also require the assessment to be scheduled a minimum of four weeks prior to the court date.
We also provide intervention services for those with forensic behaviours.
Our highly committed Autism Services team have developed a strong reputation for the delivery of innovative and effective treatment for those children, and adults, with ASD or other developmental disorders. Our ASD team have had effective outcomes through both the individual and group programs we offer.
Based on the empirically supported principles of Applied Behaviour Analysis, individual programs are created to target specific skills and develop behaviour management strategies. Each skill is broken down into small, manageable steps. Skills are then expanded and generalized into natural settings. Intensive intervention programs can be implemented by parents or carers. Research has shown that parental involvement in therapy improves generalization and development.
Functional analysis of the target behaviour is also used to identify the reason that the behaviour is occurring. A combination of proactive and reactive strategies are then developed to reduce unwanted behaviour and to teach appropriate alternative behaviours. Wellbeing Clinic uses a positive approach to behaviour management, with a strong emphasis on reinforcement for the presence of preferred behaviour.
Home or child care visits are used to observe the child in his/her natural environment and to make recommendations for families. Environmental strategies such as sensory or communication support can be developed according to the family’s specific needs. Behaviour management techniques can be demonstrated and generalization for the child is improved.
Wellbeing Clinic psychologists can also assist parents to understand what is happening and training them with the specific skills that apply for their family situation. Support and skills training includes:
- Issues for parents following diagnosis
- Understanding and managing difficult behaviour
- Communication problems in verbal and non-verbal children
- Social impairments in ASD
- Specific training to assist your child reach their potential.
Providing parents with the knowledge and skills to work with and support their children gives the best opportunity for the best outcomes for children and their families.
Behaviour management is often developed in collaboration with speech and occupational therapists to support the child’s communication and sensory needs.
Wellbeing Clinic is a registered provider with NDIS.
Grief is a natural response to loss – be it bereavement, loss of relationship, pregnancy, job or other. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief is likely to be.
Grief can be overwhelming, affecting your emotions, thoughts and behaviour, and every aspect of your life. Grief can leave you feeling sad, angry, anxious, shocked, regretful, relieved, overwhelmed, isolated, irritable or numb. People often report feeling like they ‘are not coping’ around 3 months after their loss, due to the increasing intensity of feelings at this time. However, it is around this time that the initial shock and accompanying numbness can start to lessen, allowing the raw feelings of loss to emerge. It is also at this time that our social contacts often begin to return to their own routines, increasing the feelings of isolation. Importantly, these are still natural responses to loss.
Everyone experiences grief differently with some people grieving for weeks and months, while others may describe their grief lasting for years. For those people who feel overwhelmed or isolated in their grief, or for those who feel unable to grieve it may be helpful to speak to one of our psychologists for supportive grief counselling.