It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday 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 estranged 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 →
The profession of psychology is undergoing a feisty and invigorating shake-up, triggered by the Medicare Benefits Schedule Taskforce Review into Mental Health. For too long psychologists have trustingly left the management of their profession to the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) which is supported by the Australian Health Practitioner Agency (APHRA). We now realise that these organisations have not advocated proactively for most psychologists, nor for mental health clients, and the result has been a fractured profession. A cohesive mental health service for the Australian community can only be provided through unification.
There are now many more psychologists clamouring to be heard, stimulating hardy debate, challenging untested myths and demanding a united and yet diverse profession to meet the needs of mental health clients in Australia. If you are a psychologist, look at the Australian Association of Psychologists (AAPI) and Reform APS (RAPS) websites and join the Australian Psychologists closed group Facebook page. These forums have re-ignited my interest in the profession of psychology, dormant for many years, having long ago let my APS membership expire for lack of relevancy.
All psychologists are registered practitioners with APHRA under the general registration standard. A false dichotomy has arisen between psychologists with a clinical endorsement and those without. Those with clinical endorsement have been privileged financially (without any evidence of better outcomes) and are falsely assumed to have greater expertise, knowledge, and education. In 2018 there were 29,982 registered Psychologists, with only 29% of them having a clinical endorsement. Eighty percent of psychologists are female.
We must celebrate the richness of diversity that different pathways to registration as a psychologist bring to the Continue reading →
You came quietly into my counselling room, looking a bit unsure, eyes cast downwards. Hesitant to speak.
It had been tough to pluck up the courage and ask your GP for a referral to a psychologist. You hardly ever see your GP and felt uncomfortable when they asked about your mental health and living situation. You gave the GP brief answers, just wanting the appointment over and done with. This stuff so hard to talk about.
Starting your treatment
You left the GP with a Mental Health Care Plan for 6 sessions, a bit surprised to learn that they’re not free because most psychologists can’t afford to bulk bill. Ouch, this is more expensive than you anticipated. You also learned that you can only have 10 Medicare subsidised sessions each year. Still, you think, 10 sessions must be enough for the psychologist to “fix” you. Why else would they only give you this many? It seemed like quite a lot of sessions at the time.
It was so hard for you to come to the first appointment. Initially you tell me you are “just a little bit depressed and anxious”. By our fourth session, you’ve trusted me enough to share the Continue reading →
Today, 13/3/2018, Cardinal Pell received a maximum sentence of six years for the sexual abuse of two teenage boys, after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1966. He will be eligible for parole in three years and eight months.
While handing down the sentence Chief Judge Peter Kidd said Pell been “breathtakingly arrogant” and “brazen and callous” in his offending.
That Australia’s most senior Catholic leader has been found guilty of child sexual assault astounds me. No longer is the Catholic church successful at covering up its heinous deeds.
Pell is now guilty and imprisoned. It’s likely that others who have been sexually abused as children, and who have remained silent, may now be considering legal action against their perpetrators. Before you embark on a marathon legal journey, read Survivors and Solicitors, and make sure you have a strong team with you.
Original Post 8 May 2018.
Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic leader, was committed to stand trial for Continue reading →
I’ve never met so many enraged psychologists as I have in the last six months. We’re channelling our pent up fury by pounding keyboards, our battle cry is echoing loudly through social media and Members of Parliament (MP’s) are being accosted at every opportunity.
And that goes against everything I know about my usually sedate and contemplative colleagues.
Life of an enraged Psychologist
Let me tell you a bit about the life of a psychologist. We work with vulnerable people in our Continue reading →
My new year started on safari in Kenya. One of the many amazing highlights of this trip was walking with the giraffes on Crescent Island, Lake Naivasha. It was like wandering through the Garden of Eden and it was easy to imagine the birth of humanity here.
Watching the gentle and majestic giraffes inspired my new year wishes.
How to live like a giraffe.
Walk with dignity, purpose and pride.
Hold your head high and look beyond the petty irritations of life.
Remain calm under all circumstances.
Stay connected and protected by your family and friends.
As a couple’s therapist, I’m always on the lookout for new ways to build connection and intimacy with couples. I was delighted when I discovered an ex colleague of mine, psychologist Iris Goemans, had created Mindful Coupling. This innovative tool for couples is like a delicious box of chocolates, full of unexpected delights. I asked Iris to tell me more about Mindful Coupling…
What is Mindful Coupling?
Mindful Coupling is a relationship card set designed to help couples reconnect, reawaken and rejuvenate their relationship. It includes 30 powerful weekly actions and 64 intimacy-building questions to strengthen a couple’s bond, deepen their connection and enhance intimacy.
What inspired you to create Mindful Coupling?
Love is one of the most profound emotions known to human beings. Romantic relationships can provide a deep source of fulfilment and can be a very meaningful part of our lives. However when I looked around me, I noticed very few relationships that were actually doing well. I noticed many couples feeling dissatisfied in their relationship and disconnected from each other, and that this was causing a lot of anguish. As a wife and mother myself, I understood that feeling disconnected can easily happen, especially when you’re running a household, looking after children, maintaining jobs, and generally trying to keep on top of all the other things life throws at us. People tend to think that the grass is greener on the other side, but it’s actually greenest where you water it. Continue reading →
Survivors of child sexual abuse, who courageously gave evidence toThe Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, are now torn between applying for compensation through the Redress Scheme and/or launching legal proceedings against the perpetrating organisations. Neither pathway is easy and neither has a guaranteed outcome. Historical child sexual abuse cases are notoriously difficult to win given the passage of time, lack of witnesses and the legal requirement for detailed information. Survivors and solicitors embarking on the marathon journey into the world of trauma and legal processes need to be well prepared.
Acknowledge the legal process will trigger trauma symptoms
Applying to the Redress Scheme or undertaking legal action is likely to be distressing. Revisiting the abuse, providing statements, and arguing your case may trigger flashbacks, nightmares and other trauma symptoms. During this time be proactive in care for yourself.
Gather a support team
Invite someone, other than the solicitor, to join you on the journey and be your support person. Ask them to accompany you to appointments, read information, discuss the case with you and retain the focus in appointments when you are distressed. Give consideration to who you would ask. Another trauma survivor may also be triggered by the process. Perhaps there could be more than one person to assist you.
Inform your family and friends that the legal process is likely to be stressful and lengthy. Try and be clear about what you need e.g. “After appointments, I may be distressed, can you spend some time with me?” “Can you come for a walk sometimes to help me manage the stress?” “I may just need a hug or my handheld, will you be able to do that for me?”
Access support through a psychologist, counsellor, social worker, or caseworker and schedule regular appointments in advance.
Commit to a rigorous self-care plan
Legal cases may go on for years and are stressful. They are indeed a marathon and not a sprint. Continue reading →
How has life, and the way we date, changed since Rhonda and Arthur met and married? This couple, my inspiring parents-in-law, Stevens loving Mum and Dad, and wonderful grandparents to my children married on 1 October 1955, 63 years ago. They have enjoyed over 60 years of loving.
The first date
They met on a blind date. For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s where friends set up a date for you with someone you don’t know. Kind of similar to Tinder except you didn’t get to stalk their Facebook page to see what they looked like.
Rhonda and Arthur courted. The definition of courting for their time would have been “be involved with (someone) romantically, with the intention of marrying”. The urban dictionary today gives the definition as “traditionally courting would include no sexual activity but today that is not usually followed”. I didn’t ask them which definition they followed, and I don’t ask my kids which kind of courting they do either.
Let’s take time out to acknowledge and celebrate stepfathers on Fathers Day. Over 20% of Australian children live in step or blended families, therefore, thousands of men are stepping into an ambiguous and difficult role.
Those passionate and delightful “in love” feelings couples experience in a new relationship don’t necessarily encompass your new partner’s children. And kids don’t Continue reading →