In my clinical practice, I take an approach that is largely based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) methodology. CBT is basically about identifying those thought patterns and behaviour patterns that are responsible for our well-being (or for our suffering), and finding ways to modify them so that we function more effectively and more happily. It is a collaborative approach that involves the client being the "expert" in their own existence, and me being the "expert" in mental processes, where together we can design a process of change that will lead down a healthier path to a brighter future.
Within that framework, I tend to employ a variety of tools (depending on my client's needs and experiences), including Schema theory, positive psychology, behaviour modification, and the use of narratives and metaphors for understanding life circumstances. I also focus on mindfulness and self-observation as useful tools for daily life (as well as for growth). This being the case . . . while an important part of my work with clients takes place in my rooms, the bulk of it occurs in their lives, as they observe, challenge, practice and modify the way they go about things. (Some may call it "homework"!)
Since the beginning, a significant proportion of my practice has involved working with trauma victims and survivors, particularly those from a military background. Sufferers of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) often have quite complex emotional issues to deal with, but I very much value the work that I do in this area. Other typical areas of my work include depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, anger management, relationship breakdown, and mid-life/change-of-life issues. None of us are immune to these challenges, and frequently my clients are experiencing more than one at a time.
For the past 5 years, I have devoted part of my practice to working with athletes at all levels of sport (junior to Olympic). My work with athletes is quite similar to clinical work, in that it also involves identifying thought and behaviour patterns that will either help or hinder, and working to strengthen the positives. I work with athletes from a variety of different sports (cycling, tennis, golf, as well as team sports), and can provide both individual sessions or group workshops and seminars.
I often pose the question (to school groups), "What mental skills do you think YOU use in your sport?" There is usually a handful of relevant suggestions . . . but here is a list of the most commonly needed mental skills that I help athletes to identify, develop and strengthen (in no particular order):
- Focus - Concentration - Alertness - Distraction - Awareness - Relaxation - Arousal - Commitment - Determination - Organisation - Composure - Self-talk - Mindfulness - Optimism - Planning - Goal-setting - Visualisation - Motivation - Confidence - Resilience - Self-control - Acceptance - Competitiveness - Pain tolerance - Adaptability - Consistency - Balance - Assertiveness - Intuition - Humility - Intensity - Relentlessness - Coping under pressure - Self-discipline - Decisiveness - Risk-taking - Insight - Mental toughness - Patience - Perspective - Presence
That's quite a list of skills to master! And that's why working with a psychologist (if you're a serious athlete or sportsperson) can be so vital to your success. Most top athletes these days have a psychologist (or a mental skills coach) on board to keep them on track mentally and emotionally, especially when things get challenging. If you want to know a little more about my approach, check out my Facebook page and read some of my posts on various sports-related topics.
I have been facilitating group programs and running seminars and workshops for over 16 years, usually with specific populations (such as veterans or athletes) by request. There are various different formats that any group seminar or workshop might take, most commonly (a) a psycho-educational (teaching) style of seminar, where relevant information is presented (and questions sought), or (b) an experiential (interactive) workshop, where participants are more actively engaged in tasks that facilitate learning.
The benefits of group seminars for sporting organisations are that it minimises the cost of getting information across to large numbers of athletes, promotes the sharing of experiences between athletes, encourages the understanding and development of targeted skills for those athletes, and provides coaches and managers with ongoing ideas for further developing their athletes' mental strengths. I have run seminars for visiting schools and clubs from around Australia and overseas (UK, Japan, USA), who have booked me in as part of their package with the Runaway Bay Sports Super Centre.
Veterans' group programs are typically run by request from the Veterans and Veterans' Families Counselling Service (VVCS), as part of their ongoing commitment to the mental and emotional well-being of our defence forces personnel (past and present). If you fall into this group (or are a family member of a defence force member), contact VVCS on 1 800 011 046 to see what they have on. They run programs on depression, anxiety, stress, sleep, anger, relationships, and various other needs.
I am available to run groups for an hourly fee, so if you have a specific idea in mind, or a group visiting the Gold Coast region, drop me a line via the "Contact" page and we'll see what can be arranged.
How does it work? Just give me call (or send an email or txt), let me know why you're getting in touch, and we're already underway. It's that easy . . . even if you're not sure that you need my help.
Do I need a referral? No, you don't need a doctor's referral to see a psychologist. However, if you would like to take advantage of the Medicare rebate (which covers at least half of the fee), then a referral from your doctor is the starting point.
How long do sessions last? And what happens? Sessions typically last 50-60 minutes. Psychologists don't prescribe medications (or administer them) . . . we just talk. And it's not like one of those "couches" you might see in movies. Just chairs, a sofa, a desk and a table. It's like a healthy chat!
Do I have to bring anything? Only your referral, if you have one. Otherwise, we'll discuss anything we need to during the session. (Oh, and you'll need some form of payment, but "online" is okay.)
How long will I have to keep seeing you? Well, that depends on the nature of the problem. Usually I like to see some results within a few sessions, but some people take a bit longer. And others, when they have addressed one issue, decide they'd like to keep coming back to address other things.
What does it cost? That often depends on whether you have a Medicare referral or Private Health cover. But usually, a whole "episode of care" (6-10 sessions) costs less than getting your car serviced.
If there's anything else you're curious about, or want to ask about before you commit to anything (and there's really no "committing" . . . you can cancel or stop any time you like), just give me a call and we'll make sure you're fully informed before you make a decision.