We have put together a list of common questions and answers
How can therapy help me?
Seeking help does not mean there is something wrong with you. Everyone can benefit from talking to someone who has a neutral viewpoint and who is not closely related to you or the situation. This type of professional relationship can be healthy and beneficial for your growth and future
What can I expect in my first appointment?
To be treated with respect and compassion. Therapists will work through any questions you have and discuss confidentiality. Together with your psychologist you will work towards a shared understanding of what is happening and why. Therapists will work with you to set goals for therapy
Do I need a referral to see a psychologist? How many sessions can I have?
No, however, if you are eligible to claim a Medicare rebate, you will need a written referral from a psychiatrist, paediatrician or GP. Your GP also needs to complete a Mental Health Care Plan. There is no limit to the number of sessions you can have. However, Medicare provides a rebate for a maximum of 10 individual sessions in a year. If you require more than 10 sessions you can check if your private health insurer offers a rebate on psychology sessions. 10 group sessions with the 20 individual sessions
Would talking to a psychologist be good for me?
There are many reasons for talking to a psychologist. Are you troubled by feelings, behaviours, thoughts or concerns that prevent you from functioning to your full capacity or from feeling happy and fulfilled in your life? If you have concerns about the following, seeing a psychologist might help – Relationships, Life Changes, Criticism, Worry, Energy, Coping, Sleep, Concentration, Mood, Food, Self-Control, Enjoyment, Anger, Confidence, Emotions.
COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY
CBT or “Cognitive Behavioural Therapy” is a form of therapy that helps clients to identify and change unhelpful actions (behaviours) and thinking patterns (cognitions). CBT focuses on your present thoughts and behaviours and how they affect how you feel.
Numerous research studies over many years have supported the effectiveness of CBT, and for some problems (e.g.,depression), CBT has been shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medications in minimising and treating symptoms. This type of therapy is helpful for people experiencing a wide range of difficulties and with all age groups (children, adolescents, adults, and older adults). The types of problems CBT addresses include anxiety (including panic, phobias, generalised anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder), depression, stress, anger management, low self-esteem, adjustment difficulties, managing and coping with the effects of health problems (e.g., fatigue, pain), eating disorders (e.g., bulimia), post-traumatic stress disorder, and bipolar disorder.
CBT requires a comprehensive assessment where a psychologist will find out what is going on for you and what is contributing to and maintaining those issues. Your psychologist will develop a treatment plan for you, which will require you to work with your therapist as an active participant in your therapy. You will also be required to practice strategies provided by your therapist between sessions (“homework”). This may include completing forms, practising strategies that you have learned in sessions (e.g., breathing and relaxation techniques), and performing actions (for example, doing things that increase or decrease behaviours). Your therapist will work with you to identify unhelpful thoughts and behaviours that may be contributing to your difficulties, and to replace these with more realistic, effective thoughts and behaviours. CBT aims not only to help you with your current problems, but to provide you with the skills to be able to reduce the likelihood that you will experience similar problems in the future.
Schema Therapy is essentially a combination of specific aspects of a range of therapies, including cognitive, behavioural, experiential, interpersonal and psychoanalytic therapies. The aim of Schema Therapy is to examine a client’s history so that core unmet needs from childhood can be identified. Identification of these unmet needs helps to determine unhealthy beliefs (schemas) that are impacting on a client’s present life.
Research shows that Schema Therapy is most effective for people who have had lifelong patterns of difficulties, or for whom standard therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, do not result in sufficient improvement. This type of therapy has been shown to be helpful for both individuals and couples experiencing chronic depression, interpersonal difficulties, and other long-standing psychological issues.
Schema Therapy comprises three stages. In the first stage of therapy, your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment aimed at identifying your schemas. You may be requested to complete questionnaires and to engage in experiential techniques (for example, imagery). In the second stage of therapy, the emotional awareness and experiential phase, your therapist will help you to get in touch with these schemas and learn how to become more aware of them when they are impacting on your everyday life. In the third and final stage of therapy, the behavioural change stage, your therapist will guide you in replacing negative, habitual thoughts and behaviours with alternative thoughts and behaviours that are more likely to work better for you and improve your day-to-day life.
ACCEPTANCE AND COMMITMENT THERAPY
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a mindfulness-based form of Cognitive Behavioural therapy. The overarching aim of ACT is to help you to achieve two main goals: (1) to effectively handle painful thoughts and feelings, and (2) to create a rich, full and meaningful life. The ACT approach suggests that our attempts to control, limit, or push away inner experiences cause emotional suffering, by way of constricting our lives and disconnecting us from what we value most.
Research evidence to date has shown that ACT can assist people with a range of psychological problems, including depression, anxiety (including obsessive compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder), stress, pain, eating disorders, addictions, and psychosis. ACT has been shown to be effective for individuals and couples, as well as in group therapy.
ACT requires a comprehensive assessment where a psychologist will find out what is going on for you and what is contributing to and maintaining those issues. Your psychologist will develop a treatment plan for you, which could involve you working with your therapist as an active participant in your therapy. You might practice techniques between sessions (“homework”), involving, for example, mindfulness strategies that improve your present moment awareness, and/or complete work sheets to clarify your personal life values. Over the course of therapy, your therapist will take you through the as many of the six principles of ACT that are warranted, so that you can learn skills to help you to accept and experience uncomfortable emotions, to distance yourself from unhelpful thoughts, and to connect with the present moment in order to achieve your goals and to live by your chosen values. This could involve engaging in experiential and verbal techniques aimed at targeting avoidance of emotions, both with your therapist during sessions and as homework between sessions.
The Triple P- Positive Parenting Program is about teaching parents a range of parenting techniques that increase parental competence and are helpful in managing child behavioural problems. The program increases the knowledge, skills and confidence of parents, and may not only assist parents with current difficulties, but also prevent children from developing some problems, such as severe behavioural, emotional and developmental problems. The design of the Triple P program allows treatment to be tailored to the needs of individual families.
Triple P has been shown to be effective in helping parents to manage a wide range of problems experienced by preschool, and primary school children, including aggression, fears, nightmares, bed-wetting, bullying, and low self-esteem. This type of therapy has also assisted parents of teenagers with issues such as dating, peer relationships, depression, and anxiety. Parents managing difficulties associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome and Downs Syndrome, have also found strategies provided within the Triple P framework to be helpful for themselves and their children. The Triple P program also comprises a range of strategies to assist parents coping with marital conflict, separation, depression, anxiety, and stress.
At the commencement of the program, your therapist will conduct a thorough assessment of aspects of your child’s functioning, which may require you to complete forms between sessions. Your therapist will also consider aspects of your functioning and parenting style that may impact on your parenting, which may require you to complete questionnaires. Your therapist will then formulate a treatment plan, and work with you on strategies to appropriately address difficulties that you are experiencing with parenting your child. Your therapist will help you tailor these strategies to your family and may role-play these strategies with you in sessions. You will be required to use these techniques with your child in between sessions. Your therapist will also work with you at each session to address any difficulties you have in successfully implementing strategies with your child. The Triple P program aims not only to assist you with current parenting difficulties, but to provide you with a range of strategies that you will be able to generalise to a variety of problems that may arise as your child moves through developmental stages.
Emotion-Focused Therapy is a type of therapy aimed at promoting healthy emotion regulation. Emotions are a valuable information system, however with traumatic experiences this system can become altered. Many people who enter therapy experience either heightened emotions (e.g., excessive anxiety, guilt, or shame) and/or suppression of others (e.g., healthy assertion, joy). Emotion-focused therapy is based on emotion theory and attachment theory, and can help clients to:
- Differentiate between different emotion states
- Regulate maladaptive emotions and increase adaptive emotion states.
- Use emotions as a guide
- Allow for greater levels of emotional intimacy in relationships.
- Overcome traumatic experiences, particularly childhood experiences of abuse, trauma or neglect.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy encompasses a range of different therapy approaches where the focus is on understanding and becoming aware of thoughts and feelings that were previously outside the person’s conscious, in order to provide relief from emotional pain. Much of the work is focused on how childhood experiences affect us as adults, in particular the development of self esteem, coping skills and patterns of interpersonal relating. It is generally a longer-term therapy approach which focuses on character and personality change as well as symptom relief.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy may provide clients with:
- A sense of support and understanding for distressing issues
- A greater understanding of how their own internal dynamics affect mood, behaviour and relationships
- More choices and options for problem-solving and coping
- An opportunity to work through and process distressing memories from childhood
- A sense of self cohesion, identity and greater self esteem.