5 Delightfully Therapeutic TED talks


These 5 delightfully therapeutic TED Talks are perfect when your head is a cacophony of critical chatter or your brain barrages you with blasts of self-blame. Take time, less than 18 minutes, to listen to a voice other than your own which is, after all, just telling you a story that you’ve probably heard many times before.

All these speakers know how hard it is to be human and yet still inspire us to be better. Clients tell me these talks make you feel that you’re ok, even if you’re not perfect.  TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a not for profit organisation spreading ideas in the form of powerful talks. Before you start listening,  scroll to the bottom of the post for some therapeutic listening tips.

1. The Power of Vulnerability

Let’s start with Brene Brown. Her first talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one I’ve listened to many times and encourage most clients to listen to.  If you’ve ever thought your vulnerability was a weakness then this talk is for you.  Its funny, poignant and uplifting.

2. Listening to Shame

Brene Brown is so inspiring she’s got two on the list.  Listening to Shame is for anyone who bows their head and thinks “I’m not good enough”.  Again, Brene is funny, engaging and delightfully confronting.

3. The Gift and Power of Emotional Courage

Psychologist Susan David explores the power of the so-called negative emotions.  Try this talk if you’ve ever believed you shouldn’t feel the way you feel or if you try to avoid negative emotions.

3. Your body language may shape who you are

Need a boost to your confidence?  Amy Cuddy challenges us to change our posture to change our confidence.

5.  Ze Frank – Are you human?

And because we all need to laugh, take Ze Frank’s test: Am I a human being?

Therapeutic Listening Tips.

Don’t let the words just drift aimlessly over your head.  Engage with the speaker, as if they were talking directly to you.  Here are some questions you could ask yourself, maybe you could even take some notes.

  • If I was raving to a friend about this talk, what would be the three most important points to share?
  • What new ideas does the speaker give me?
  • What one action can I take today after listening to this talk?
  • How did I feel while listening to this talk?
  • Is there something I didn’t understand? Who could I discuss the ideas with?
  • What do I disagree with the speaker about? Who can I talk to about this?

Which was your favourite talk? I’d also love to know what talks you’d add to the list, and they don’t just have to be TED talks.  Let me know in the comments below, or on Facebook.  

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Creating calm and safety

Image may contain: living room, table and indoorA warm welcome, a cup of tea, a comfy place to sit, beautiful surroundings, gentle music and the waft of fragrant oils.  We hope our clients experience a sense of calm and safety as they enter our counselling space at Little Window – Counselling, Psychology and Wellness. The house, with frosted glass windows, provides complete privacy and scatters a soft light through the rooms. A sanctuary and an inward-looking space. Ideal for reflection.

Created with intent

Image may contain: living room, table and indoorThe directors of Little Window, psychologists Thania and Christina, created this space with intent. They lovingly chose and positioned every item for the rooms and behind their artful decoration lies neuroscience. Their intention is to provide a calm and safe space, which helps interrupt the fight, flight or freeze response clients often experience. These responses begin in the amygdala, the area of the brain that processes memory, interprets emotion, and often drives impetuous decisions.  At Little Window our clients have an immediate experience of a soothing environment which helps calm their amygdala.

You would hope most counselling spaces are designed like this but I can assure you they’re not.  For a comparison, look at one of my first posts Honoring the Psychologist’s Chair.  My clients and I sat for seven years in a cell-like room on those dirty grey chairs. While I believe I still offered good therapy and together we did good work, Little Window enables me to do better.  Each day I am grateful to have found these people and this space to work in.

Creating calm and safety for yourself

Woman drinking teaThe space around us can be a reflection of our internal world and vice versa.  If we create calm and order in our external world it may help calm our internal world.

Do you have a favourite chair, a soft jumper or a throw to snuggle in? Does a pet sit at your feet? Can your eyes rest on the beauty of nature and art? Does soothing music, good conversation or the laughter of children fill your ears? Do you allow yourself the pleasure of savoring good food? Do you mindfully light fragrant candles or stop to smell the roses?

I hope its possible to create a small space in your world that’s serene?  Where is that for you?  What have you included in your calm and safe space?

Today I come to you as the Reflective Psychologist.

I always love to read your comments and thoughts in response to my posts.  You can do that below or on the Facebook page.

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Victims voices
and stories
often silenced.

A parent abuses a child, yet that same parent is also responsible for feeding and sheltering the child. Fear of retribution deftly silences the child.  No adults are seen as safe.

Condemnation and punishment await an unruly and antisocial boy, who has no words to describe his chaotic emotional world or the abuse he is experiencing. Opportunities for disclosure are lost.

A teenage girl internalises her shame, silenced by the myth of the perfect family. No one would believe what happens in her family. The self-inflicted slashes on her thighs scream her pain, but no one hears.

The young woman sexually assaulted at work doesn’t complain. She believes she’ll lose her job. Her workmates don’t understand why she no longer joins them for Friday night drinks. They mistake her withdrawal for snobbiness and stop inviting her. The #MeToo campaign hasn’t changed her world yet.

A separated parent, hearing that the Family Law Court sometimes view a complaint of child abuse against the other parent as vexatious, remains silent. They long to see their child.

A victim of institutional abuse does not have the education, power, money, or skills to fight a monolithic organisation. Those with power and money use delaying tactics to maintain silence, perhaps like Lucky Cardinal Pell.

We seal our lips

A psychologist writing the biography of a Forgotten Australian is advised by pillars of society not to publish. Although hopeful we are only silenced temporarily,  I dread that it will be forever.  I swear and rant against this suppression, yet they assure me silence is in the best interests of the victim.

My friend. who I will now call Ms Fogotten Australian, is both despondent and infuriated. Once again her voice is silenced…….. Oh and we can’t tell you why, so please don’t ask.

Are you silenced?  Let me know how, either in the comments below or on the Notforgotten facebook page.

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Estranged mothers and adult children

woman sadIt’s Mother’s Day tomorrow in Australia. A day when many families come together to rejoice in the loving bond between mothers and children. A day to celebrate the blood, sweat and tears that ooze out of mothers while raising children. But for some families, it’s a day of heartbreak. There will be no bunches of flowers or boxes of chocolates. Adult children and parents can become lost to each other. That’s tough.

Those that choose to break the relationship with their parent or child, often see it as a move of self-preservation. For some reason, the family dynamics have gone awry and the person, unable to stand the emotional turmoil, chooses to leave. A broken attachment can feel calmer and safer Continue reading

Lucky Cardinal Pell

PellCardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic leader, was committed to stand trial for historic child sexual offences last week.  He is currently on leave from his role as treasurer of the Vatican and the Holy See. The Holy See is the central governing body of the entire Roman Catholic Church and operates from within the Vatican City. The Vatican City is an independent state located on Vatican Hill in Rome.  This high-ranking position puts Cardinal Pell third in charge after the Pope – that’s a position that wields a lot of power and controls a lot of money.

After two months of deliberation, Magistrate Belinda Wallington ruled, on 1 May 2018, that Continue reading

The Birth of a Book

I’m writing my dear friend’s biography, which has the working title of Not Forgotten.  It’s been a labour of love, but often, more like hard dull labour than passionate love. I have felt like a pregnant elephant, holding this huge story deep inside me for the longest time.  But elephants only gestate for two years, and this book has been in production for over four years.  I now know that four years is not unusual for a book.  The process seems endless – interview, research, write, get feedback from readers, edit, interview more people, write, get more feedback from readers, edit.  Repeat multiple times.  Then become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, drown in self-doubt, pick yourself up and get going again.

I blogged in 2015 for a year. The purpose was to hone my writing skills while my husband Steven and I enjoyed six restorative months away from our busy lives, travelling the world.  Those posts are still here, now mostly irrelevant, but I can’t bear to delete them.  Since then I have continued to work on Not Forgotten. Now I’m firing up the blog again to motivate me through the final stages of labour – getting it from a manuscript to publication.

During the gestation period Not Forgotten has led me to thought-provoking places; the magnificent State Library of Victoria, an orphanage for critically ill children in China, a psychiatrist’s room, a rock climbing expedition and decaying buildings in Far North Queensland.  I have become the keeper of my friend’s family history, with cupboards overflowing with documents, diaries and photos of people I do not know.  My life has been enriched by the growth of a cherished friendship.

I can’t wait for you to meet my friend in Not Forgotten. I know you will be astonished at her courage, I hope you will admire her, as I do.  In 1954, at just two-years old, she was placed in St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol.  My friend is one of 500,000 so called Forgotten Australians. This dismal label describes a group of adults who, as children, were mistreated and ignored in Australian institutional care between 1920 and 1970. These children spent their childhood in State, church and charity run orphanages and homes.

Sixty years later my friend courageously gave evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.  Her life has been a battle to recover from the abuse that was perpetrated against her as a child.   Its been an honour to hear and record her story.  Now I just need to find a way so you can hear it too.

The Seduction of KPI’s

How easily seduced are you?

I guess the answer depends on who or what is doing the seducing.

Let’s put this into context. I’m talking about the age old problem of becoming seduced by the task, at the expense of the end game, or the bigger picture.

"KPI" Tag Cloud Globe (key performance indicator data targets)The quality, or absence of key performance indicators can do that to you. We all deserve to know where we are heading, how our success will be measured, and what role we play in getting there.

I for one want to know (or at least be reminded) that I’m on the right track and focussing my effort on the things that matter, so having a quantifiable and regular measure to keep me on task is welcomed. This could be a self-imposed measure, one Continue reading

Women’s Work is Never Done

TableRecently we went to the launch of Be Enterprise, an innovative social enterprise program of Logan Women’s Health and Wellbeing Centre. The evening combined the launch of the program with a healthy amount of fund raising. The invitation to attend had been extended to me by Liz Irvine, Chair of the Board, and since I’d had a role in her being on the board in the first place it was an offer I really couldn’t refuse.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a women focused event and it was great to step outside my normal routine. I felt recharged after the night as I listened to women with conviction and passion speak about the work they do to make a difference to women’s lives.

Shannon Fentiman MP – Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Member for Waterford reminded us that the gender pay gap is still alive and well, with woman being paid, on average, 17% less than men. I thought of a recent conversation Continue reading

What have you left behind?

Have you ever stopped to think about what you’ve got to show for the years you’ve invested into your career? I’m not talking about your pay check, but the other tangible and intangible results or outcomes that you can hang your hat on and say with pride…..I did that.


I guess that’s exactly what I’ve done over the past week whilst packing my office and readying myself to leave the Queensland Government. I’ve been there eleven years, and it’s the longest period I’ve spent with Continue reading

The times they are a changing

Sometimes, the easiest thing to do, is to do nothing. Maintaining the status quo is comfortable. Many years ago, I remember asking Anne, “What’s wrong with easy?”  I still like that question by the way.

take_a_chanceChange is difficult, change is confronting, and change is risky. Change takes you out of your comfort zone, so why would you want to go there if you didn’t have to? If life and work is treating you well, providing the rewards and personal satisfaction you desire, then there is no need for change. You just need to nurture the things you have and embrace them.

P1140500 (2)After returning from our six month adventure, there was no status quo. There was no normal. There could have been though, if we let it happen. It would have been very easy to step back on to the treadmill of work and life as we knew it, and that’s what we did……..well at least initially Continue reading