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The Mood & Mind Centre

Psychology Clinic

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New Year Intention - Mindfulness: What it is & what it is not

Posted on 26 January, 2023 at 4:25

Written by Mirinda Smith (January 2023)

New Year Intention - Mindfulness: What it is & what it is not

 

The New Year can be a beautiful time to reflect upon the year that was and ask yourself what you want to create more of in the year to come. I’m personally a fan of new year's intentions rather than resolutions. An intention has the space for flexibility and is rooted in the sentiment of growth and evolution rather than changing and fixing (which can kind of be a subtle micro aggression against yourself and we don’t need that ;) )! I know a lot of people often have the intention to bring more mindfulness and presence into their lives, so here is a little insight into what that actually means.

 

Mindfulness is consistently gaining more and more popularity and has kind of become a bit of a buzz word…but what is it actually all about?

 

The Western psychological perspective from Jon Kabat-Zinn defines mindfulness as, “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally…in the service of self-understanding and wisdom”.

 

Similarly, the Eastern philosophical perspective of mindfulness can be summed up in one of my favourite passages from The Radiance Sutras:

 

“Watch for a moment in which two opposing perceptions occur, wanting to go and not going, knowing and simultaneously not knowing.

In the midst of this dilemma, let go of both perceptions and jump into the interval between.

Reality flashes forth, your being is the shining field of awareness, the continuum in which the opposite play”.

 

Essentially, mindfulness is a practice that stems from meditation. It can support us to create space within ourselves by learning to simply notice what is in a given moment, without the need to react or judge it as one way or another. It is the ability to be aware of the opposing perceptions, the dualities, the good and the bad, and accept them in the moment with equanimity…there is plenty of time to make interpretations later on ;)

 

However, mindfulness is not about developing this blissful state in which our mind is completely clear of thoughts! It’s called a practice for a reason…because let’s be honest we never truly master it, we are all human beings living in a very beautifully flawed human world and as long as we are living, our minds will be thinking.

 

It’s also not just about sitting still in meditation for hours on end. The beauty of modern mindfulness is that you can apply it to suit your own unique needs; that could mean going for a walk and truly being present noticing your surroundings, it could be having a shower and paying attention to the water cascading down your body, it could be sitting drinking your morning tea or coffee savouring each sip, or as simple as closing your eyes and taking 5 deep belly breaths.

 

So, take a moment and ask yourself how can you embody your intention of mindfulness and bring it into your life each day?

 



Behind the Scenes at The Mood & Mind Centre

Posted on 8 December, 2022 at 17:15

 Written by Grettchen Hopkins (December 2022)

Behind the Scenes at The Mood & Mind Centre




The role of our receptionists and administration team at the Mood & Mind Centre, I can only best compare to that of a duck on the lake. Welcoming clients with a warm smile and a cup of tea (or cold water during the scorching months of summer) is just the fluffy feathered part that you see floating above the water. Behind the scenes are the busily kicking webbed feet of the duck keeping us moving forward. Our many roles and tasks can be as varied and numerous as our personalities and we are all striving toward the same goals;

★ excellence, growth and professionalism in our work and

★ warmth, kindness and respect in our approach to clients.

 

Our duties fall between ensuring the business runs smoothly and effectively while providing a comfortable and smooth process for our sometimes vulnerable clients. A standard day for me as Practice Manager can include anything from appointment scheduling, responding to emails and tracking referrals to financial reconciliations, human resources and workplace health and safety. As such, the need to be versatile, flexible and calm in my approach toward staff, clinicians and clients is of utmost importance and I strive to achieve that each and every day.

 

Being a part of and contributing to our team is the source of my strength, the interpersonal relationships that I have developed and consistent support I have received make a role like this not only challenging but hugely fun and rewarding. It is a privilege to work with such a unique and fantastic group of people.

 


 

The Benefits of Group Therapy

Posted on 18 August, 2022 at 4:40

Written by Eve South (August 2022)

What is Group Therapy?

 

Group Therapy is a form of psychotherapy which involves the gathering of multiple clients and one or more therapists. This form of treatment can be found in a variety of settings, including but not limited to hospitals, community centres and private practice. Group Therapy is commonly used alongside Individual Therapy, however it can also be attended in isolation. Each group program covers a specific topic and works towards a unified goal shared by group members. There are a wide variety of topics covered within Group Therapy, with some of the most common being: Depression, Anxiety, Anger Management, Chronic Pain, Social Skills, Stress, Domestic Violence, Grief and Loss, and Parenting Skills.

 

What Can You Expect?

 

While every Group Session is different, depending on the aim of therapy and the personal style of the therapist, there are a few common themes which can be expected. Most sessions will involve a mix of psychoeducation, group discussion and skills training, targeted towards the therapeutic goals. Group size ranges but typically involves between 6-10 participants, who will all gather in a private room where the chairs may be facing the front, or more typically arranged in a circle with members facing each other. The level of discussion shared amongst group members varies depending on the appropriateness for the topic, though you can expect general introductions and friendly conversation at minimum.

 

Benefits:

 

Research shows Group Therapy is effective for a range of problems and disorders, and is overall reported to be a positive and beneficial experience. There are extensive benefits to this form of treatment, including:

 

Accessibility: Group Programs allow shorter wait times and lower costs, as multiple patients are able to be treated at once.

Qualified Guidance: Sessions are run by a trained mental health professional, following a program developed to target specific problems.

Catharsis: While it is difficult and daunting to be vulnerable, the ability to share your personal experiences in a safe and supportive setting can be extremely relieving and rewarding.

New Perspectives: While the sessions are run by a professional, the information and perspectives shared by other group members can be invaluable. Everyone has individual coping mechanisms and strategies which can be shared and discussed amongst the group, further developing your tool kit.

Expanded Social Support: While each group member will have their own unique experiences, Group Therapy can be a great place to meet people and expand your social circle, with people who have some understanding of what you’re going through.

Hope: Group Therapy typically has members in varying stages of treatment. Those in the early stages of their journey can find inspiration and hope through hearing from members further along in their treatment process. Likewise, it can be a really rewarding experience for members in later treatment stages to see how far they’ve come and impart their knowledge and insight.

 

Listed above are just some of the endless benefits to Group Therapy. The Mood and Mind Centre is currently in the process of developing a range of Group Programs. Keep a look out on our social media platforms for details regarding program topics, costs and upcoming dates. If you’re interested and think Group Therapy may be beneficial for you, reach out to reception or your Individual psychologist for more info-new and current clients welcome!

 


Depression in later life

Posted on 15 August, 2022 at 3:45

Written by Nejla Regis (August 2022)

 

Geriatric depression or depression in older adults occurs more commonly than we think, and it does not discriminate based on gender or ethnicity. However, a crucial point to note is the prevalence of geriatric depression is higher among those with physical or cognitive impairment, such as reduced mobility and dementia. Other factors include retirement, loss of a loved one, and economic instability. So how can we help a population group that is the bedrock of Australian society and have contributed so much to our community?

 

 

Here are a few things you can do to help your aging loved ones:

1. Help them to build a social support structure around them: this can be as simple as a regular chat over a cuppa, frequent phone calls to check in, and researching/organising social activities for those that are capable and willing to participate. Social activities with their peers may include but are not limited to, arts and crafts, book clubs, group walking/games. Having a “social convoy” reduces loneliness by facilitating chances to participate in new or much-loved activities along with those transitioning through similar life experiences (Antonucci et al., 2014).

2. Having an open and honest conversation about housing arrangements and speaking about the benefits of living in residential communities (when your loved one is unable to look after themselves). While it may sound daunting, in most cases these facilities are purpose built to support those with reduced mobility, by giving them a feeling of autonomy, while preserving their privacy, and having the added benefit of social interaction.

 

If you notice any severe changes in physical or mental health of your loved one, be sure to seek the help of a healthcare professional such as their GP. Their GP can help them find the care they need, even by referring them to a psychologist to assess risk factors and tailor a treatment plan just for them. These plans have been proven to alleviate symptoms of depression using evidence-based techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.

On a final note, don’t forget that if they maximise the positives and minimise the losses, your loved one will shift to a healthier mindset.

 


Mindfulness for the Whole Family

Posted on 1 June, 2021 at 22:40

Written by Jessica Parker (May 2021) 


Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in stress reduction and overall happiness. Mindfulness has so many benefits to both physical and mental health, one researcher went as far as to say that he believes the practise of daily mindfulness will be seen as important for one’s health as diet and exercise.


Children and adults of all ages can benefit from mindfulness; however, children are uniquely suited to benefit from mindfulness practice. Habits formed early in life will inform behaviours in adulthood, and with mindfulness, we have the opportunity to give our children the habit of being peaceful, kind and accepting.


There are many ways to incorporate Mindfulness practise into our lives that the whole family can enjoy together. My favourite is Mindfulness eating. This involves using all our 5 senses to be completely present while eating. When doing this with younger children I like to get them to pretend that we are aliens from outer space who have never encountered this food before. Let’s imagine we do this exercise with an orange. We could notice the texture and shape of the orange, hold it up to the light and see if we can see through the segments. We could smell it, we can smell our hands and notice the zesty fragrance has transferred to our fingers. We could take a bite and hold a piece in our mouth and notice the texture and flavour and notice how our tongue automatically moves the orange around and how our mouth starts to water. As we swallow, we can notice the feeling in our body. With this attitude of curiosity and non-judgement, we can turn endless activities into mindfulness practise.


I challenge you to think about what other everyday activities that you could turn into mindfulness moments for your family to be present with. Have fun!

 


How to Support a Loved One with an Alcohol or Other Drug Problem

Posted on 3 April, 2021 at 4:55

Written by Melissa Copeman (April 2021)


Having someone you care about misuse alcohol or other drugs can be confusing and distressing. Harm not only occurs to the person misusing the substance but to their families as well. Relationships deteriorate, there is often financial difficulties, and there may be abusive behaviour towards you. Recent statistics from the National Drug Strategy Household Survey show us whilst some illicit drug use is at an all time high, alcohol use has decreased in men over 18 years of age. However 1 in 4 Australians are drinking alcohol at risky levels, and 1 in 10 people will experience alcohol dependence.


Whilst many feel helpless and frustrated when trying to support loved ones through their addiction or recovery, there are some very effective and positive things you can do to help:


• Be armed with knowledge. Research the signs of abuse or dependence, as well the various treatment options available. Do a bit of the initial leg work so that when you talk to your loved one, you have all the relevant information at hand


• Listen non-judgementally and talk through your concerns in a calm and caring manner. Be specific about what worries you, what you see in their behaviour or attitude. Most people will be very sensitive to being judged and if they feel they are, they might not be willing to listen to anything you have to say


• Choose a time to talk when your loved one has not been drinking or using drugs


• Know the difference between support and enabling. Supporting someone means you hold them to account for their behaviour and you let them experience the natural consequences of their behaviour. You assist them to get help, but don’t do everything for them. Enabling your loved one, for example, might be if you make excuses for them when they have been drinking or using drugs, or if you were to give them money when they have spent all their money or alcohol or drugs. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own behaviour.


• If your loved one is dependent on the substance, it’s really important to understand that addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition, therefore, relapse is often a part of the process and shouldn’t be seen as a failure. You can help your loved one by understanding the process of addiction and recovery and help them to see that they can learn from a relapse so that they can put strategies in place to make different choices in the future


• Get your own support too. It can be extremely emotionally draining supporting someone through these issues. Make sure you are looking after yourself and make time to do the things that help you to live a fulfilled life

 

 

 


5 Common Traits of Healthy Relationships

Posted on 9 March, 2021 at 3:45

Written by Jessica Parker (February 2021)


As we finish up the month of love, lets look at some of the most common traits of healthy relationships and some of the ways that you can introduce them into your own relationships.


1. Showing Affection: Affection is the Number One reason couples seek therapy (Doss et al., 2004). Affection in relationships is essential to get a feeling of satisfaction and support from your partner. A few simple ways to show your partner more affection is to give your partner your undivided attention when he or she is talking to you, make eye contact, give them a hug or just add a little more loving touch to your daily life. A little bit of affection can go a long way.


2. Communication: Effective communication in a relationship not only helps the couple make sure their needs are being met, but it also helps you to be more connected to each other. To improve communication, make sure you say what you mean, and make your feelings and your needs clear. While it may be tempting to avoid conflict, there is no substitute for the trust that is built in a relationship with open communication.


3. Making up after an argument: While we are all human and conflicts do happen in all relationships, the signs of a healthy relationship is the couples attempts at making a repair after a rupture. After an argument has happened try cooling off, apologise, validate your partners feelings and attempt to understand what may have triggered the conflict in the first place.


4. Appreciation: Couples in healthy relationships tend to feel gratitude not only to what their partner does, but who they are as a person. Research has found that showing appreciation can prompt both partners to think and act in ways that help them signal gratitude to each other and promote a desire to hold onto their relationships. One way to incorporate more appreciation into your relationship is before bed name one thing that you appreciated about the other person that day.


5. Sharing your dreams for the future: We all have dreams and desires that we want to share with the people we love. One thing that successful relationships have in common is that the couples in them make plans for the future. Making plans builds a bond and a stronger sense of security. So sit down with your glass of wine or cup of coffee and share those wishes for the future.

 


Relationships

Posted on 9 March, 2021 at 3:30

Written by Colette Dekker (February 2021)


With our busy lifestyles, maintaining a work-life balance during a relationship, could be challenging. All too many find it difficult to put their partner first. Then how do one balance the increasing demands of a career with the real-life responsibilities involved in maintaining a happy long-term romantic relationship?


Here is some practical (some obvious) advice:


1. Be completely present.

Think about it. How many times have you been with someone you care about, but at the same time you're:

  • Scrolling endlessly through your Facebook newsfeed
  • Thinking about what you have to do tomorrow
  • Half listening to them
  • Talking nonstop about your projects, and neglecting to ask them about their day

2. Keep things black and white.

When you're at work, work. When you're not at work, stop working. Make your home an asylum where you can escape the day-to-day madness.

It's okay for the two of you to get some extra work done in the evening, as long as you have set aside designated time for your partner. When you get home from a long day, your first instinct shouldn't be to open your laptop and continue working. Take some time to reconnect and recharge with your partner.

If there are kids, schedule “us” time after they went to bed. Unwind together.

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, and therefore a no work zone. Make the rule of no phones and no laptops in bed.


3. Stop glorifying 'busy.'

When people ask how you are, do you automatically reply with, "So busy!" as if it that were the highest-value state you could be in?

If it is, stop filling your calendar with low-leverage work and start adding your partner into it more often. Create non-negotiable dates with your partner and make a physical or digital reminder for yourself, this way you are more likely to take those dates seriously. You'll start treating date night as a priority and be less likely to forget about it.


4. Create more time.

Open up your schedule for your relationship by outsourcing mundane tasks. Hire a cleaning service, have healthy meals delivered to your doorstep or hire a personal trainer to get you up earlier in the day for your workout.

All of these things add up to more hours available to spend with your partner. And, if and when something does come up with work, your partner will be more supportive of your taking time off to deal with it.


5. Be proud of your relationship.

Consider your relationship goals as important as those for your career, and celebrate your successes when you reach significant milestones.

A successful relationship comes with hard work, so don't be afraid to show off a little.


Undoubtedly, you know several entrepreneurs who have divorced several times. And almost always the reason is a drop in communication. So, don't suffer the same fate. Ultimately, what good is a life full of business success when you have no one to share it with?


In the end, putting effort into your relationship will result in your emotional and physical health as well as a thriving career.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Playing Video Games

Posted on 24 November, 2020 at 21:30

Written by Jessica Parker (October 2020) 


Picture this scenario, you have just called your child down for dinner and you are met with a reply somewhere along the lines of ‘Ah mum I’m in the middle of a game, 10 more minutes please!’ Sound familiar? Most parents worry that their children and teens are playing too many games and are going to be negatively affected by them. It’s completely common to worry as video games have been under fire by critics ever since they first appeared. If you had to Google "harmful effects of video games," you will find all sorts of scary articles. So, the question is are these negative claims true or are there actually benefits to playing video games?

 

Looking into the actual research that has been done on the impact of video games, you find a very limited amount of evidence of any negative impact and in fact, considerable evidence against those claims. There are several well-controlled research studies that document positive effects of video games on mental development. In fact, video games are highly stimulating utilizing nearly all parts of the human brain and leads to high level thinking as well as the development of fine motor skills. With the intensity and complexity of each game comes quick analysis, thinking, strategizing, learning to deal with stress and inductive reasoning followed by hypothesis testing (Tumbokon, 2018). Research has also shown the cognitive benefits of video games such as, improvements in basic visual processes, improvements in attention and vigilance and improvements in executive functioning. We also see a number of findings which show that video games can help those who suffer from mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, antisocial personality disorder (APD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer’s disease. Excitingly, there is also a lot of research currently being done of the therapeutic use of video games.

 

Of course, however, not all screen time is created equal. We know for example the damaging effects social media can have on a child’s self esteem and sense of worth. My suggestion would be to consider quality over quantity. Get to know what your child or teen enjoys doing with their screen time, are they playing stimulating, engaging games or are they mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. This can be a wonderful opportunity for bonding time with your child or teen as well. Ask them questions and get to understand their games with genuine interest and curiosity rather than negativity and scepticism and you will be amazed at what you learn.

 

Am I an Introvert or Could It be Social Anxiety?

Posted on 10 September, 2020 at 7:00

Written by Jessica Parker (August 2020)


Have you ever wondered if your Shyness or Introversion is a little out of the ordinary, perhaps a friend or family member has expressed some concern about your avoidance of certain social situations? Well you are not alone. Working in private practice I often see people, particularly young adults who are trying to find their place in the world, come in feeling distressed that being ‘introverted’ is affecting their work, family, and/or social lives.


So, what is the difference between being an Introvert and having social anxiety?

 

Well Introversion is a trait, meaning it is part of your inborn personality. Introverts simply prefer to unwind with more solo, often quiet activities. After attending a party or spending time in a large group of people, introverts often feel a need to recharge by spending time alone. There are lots of strengths and benefits to being an introvert.


However, if you feel that your choice to avoid certain social activities is more fear driven, then it could be social anxiety.


What is Social anxiety?


While many of us feel some anxiety from time to time, whether it be giving a big presentation or going for a job interview. Social anxiety involves intense fear and avoidance of certain social situations that interferes with daily routine, work, school, or other activities. These situations are often so distressing that you get anxious just thinking about them or go to great lengths to avoid them. Situations that are commonly feared by people with social anxiety include: Talking in front of others, attending parties, talking to strangers, eating in front of others, waiting in line, talking on the phone and speaking to people in authority.


The feared situation usually creates an immediate anxiety response. The symptoms of social anxiety include: Blushing, fast heartbeat, trembling, sweating, nausea, trouble catching your breath, dizziness and feeling that your mind has gone blank.

 

Signs and symptoms of social anxiety disorder can include persistent:

  • Fear of situations in which you may be judged
  • Worrying about embarrassing or humiliating yourself
  • Intense fear of talking with strangers
  • Fear that others will notice that you look anxious
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause you embarrassment, such as blushing or sweating
  • Avoiding doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoiding situations where you might be the centre of attention
  • Having anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
  • Enduring a social situation with intense fear or anxiety
  • Spending time after a social situation analysing your performance and identifying flaws in your interactions
  • Expecting the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation

 

The good news is that psychotherapy has been shown to effectively treat social anxiety disorder. While the above is not to be a substitute for a professional psychological diagnosis, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms it may be useful to see a mental health professional who will create an individualised treatment plan to help you effectively cope with your anxiety.



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