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Critical incidents
Critical incidents are scenarios which are unforeseen and surprising. The sudden and overwhelming stress of traumatic events can produce harmful emotional and physical responses in the most level-headed employees.

It’s important to intervene to situations like these quickly to resolve issues that could lead to more lasting psychological effects, medical issues and potentially affect workplace performance.

The purpose of these interventions is to provide a rapid solution. Attending a critical incident as soon as possible is crucial to address any fears or worries, quickly before they escalate and become overwhelming.

After an incident such as this, a person’s mental health and well-being can be just as important as physical health. Feeling that you have been listened to and supported after a traumatic event can reduce the likelihood of the person feeling alone or helpless. A psychologist can help to give coping strategies after the event. With this support employees can quickly get back to normality after the trauma.


This blog was written by Lucia Sibley, Communications Manager.

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Schizophrenia Awareness

Schizophrenia has a huge range of symptoms and manifestations, with people experiencing schizophrenia suffering from varying combinations of symptoms. Thus, different people need different management strategies.

One major mainstay is your social and support network, friends and family. Schizophrenia can cause irrational and negative thoughts which could lead to isolation and suspicion. Don’t let these negative emotions and cognitions push your friends and family away or convince you that they are ‘out to get you’. It’s important to take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings to identify signs of ill health and pick up on early warning signs. Reality check with your friends and family to determine what is real and what is being influenced by Schizophrenia.

Find the right psychologist for you. Find someone who will listen to you, understand the difficulties that you may be going through can cause and a psychologist that ultimately believes in you. Developing a positive relationship between client and counsellor will provide a strong foundation to tackle schizophrenia head on and provide the best outcome for your health.




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Conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. It happens and to some of us more often than we want!  Managing conflict early is the key, before it escalates and affects the work we do. When conflict is managed we see improvements in confidence, and can reveal our strengths. When left unresolved it will result in stress and anxiety which leads to problems in communication.

Supports such as Employee Assistance Programs, Conflict Coaching and Leadership programs can assist in providing tools to manage the conflict at hand. Whether it be putting the conflict into perspective such as, is this current situation tapping into an unresolved past issue and if so how can I address the present relevant issue at hand. What to say or not say in your script. This is your director’s version of what to say in your style and how to use language to resolve rather than dissolve the relationship and how to work on addressing the obstacles along the road to recovery. The earlier assistance is sought the better equipped the individual can be in addressing the conflict. So, the best time is now before the tension or heat in the conflict rises. In the workplace getting guidance from People and Culture can assist even whilst using your EAP service. When you think ‘should I speak to someone about this?’ Then the answer is Yes. You’ll thank yourself later knowing that you’ve acted early.

This blog was written by Lucia Sibley 

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While a lot of work has been done in recent years to try to reduce the stigma associated with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, it does, unfortunately, persist.

One clue to the reason for this possibly lies in the very name of the condition: the word “disorder” has less than positive connotations.

When I’m working with a child or adolescent with ASD, one of my goals is to help replace that stigma with a realistic understanding of someone on this spectrum can be; identifying potential strengths that are anything but disorderly.

Someone with ASD will often display superior attention to detail, persistence, and a heightened ability to understand technical information.

And how often are we told that people with ASD lack empathy, or don’t like other people? It’s a widespread negative stereotype. And it’s untrue.

People with ASD may well need to learn to identify and understand social cues, such as body language, emotion, and social norms, all of which tend to come more easily to “neurotypical” people.

But these skills can be developed. In fact, one of the things I find most satisfying about working as a psychologist in this area is seeing how people can adjust and master these skills, overcoming the distress caused when social interactions don’t go as well as planned.

Diagnosis of ASD is an involved process that includes multiple health professionals. Generally, parents or teachers first notice unusual patterns of behaviour in early childhood. The first step towards diagnosis involves a GP referral to a pediatrician. Multi-disciplinary assessment is likely to include a speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and/or a psychologist.

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Five Reasons why employees don’t use their EAP (Employee Assistance Program) – and why they should


1. Shame and fear of repercussions

Despite increasing public recognition that caring for our mental health is essential and nothing to be ashamed of, some people still feel that there could be social repercussions and career consequences of consulting a professional. In fact, EAPs promote early intervention that can prevent more serious conditions and they are completely anonymous. Psychologists’ professional ethics prevent them disclosing the identity and issues of employees who take advantage of EAP sessions.

2. The issue must be work-related

Relationship and family issues are intimately connected with workplace issues and performance. Stresses in one area generally flow into the other and it can be impossible at times to distinguish chicken from egg. An EAP recognises that and in many cases even provides assistance to an employee’s family. Dealing with troubling circumstances in one sphere generally results in universal improvements in well-being and attitude.

3. Time Pressures

Precious few if any people are ever taught the strategies essential to balancing work commitments and the demands of personal, relationship and family demands. Little wonder then that so many of us are constricted by feelings of guilt and/or victimhood and wrong-headed notions such as beliefs that we can’t or shouldn’t spare the time to seek help. Psychologists are trained to identify and sort out those conflicts and provide practical tools and tactics for dealing with them. They can show you how to handle difficult people and situations and help you work smarter and more efficiently.

4. Thinks that talking won’t help

The fiction of the strong and silent type who never needs help mercifully died with John Wayne. Keeping things bottled up generally has predictable, explosive consequences. Psychologists are experts in the science of the mind, and all the research shows that their interventions work.

5. EAP is too complicated

Simple, quick and easy. These three words perfectly describe the EAP services at Psychology Melbourne. And there’s one more: effective.



This months blog was written by Lucia Sibley, Communications Manager. Edited by Charles Wright


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This Blog was written by Clinical Psychologist Natalie-Mai Holmes and edited by Charles Wright

Many of the popularly imagined stereotypes about people with bipolar disorder involve energy, creativity, instability, and euphoria.

Extremes of mood are often recognised as mania and depression. Mania is when the initial humour on friends’ faces reflect your feelings of being highly creative, powerful and euphoric. Depression, to their looks of concern, and even fear, as you seem to lose control, become fearful and drop into the deepest, blackest cave. The moods are intense, long-lasting, disconnected from apparent causes, and enduring. They can last for months, or even years.

The exact cause of the condition is unknown. Contributing factors or possible triggers include genetics, brain chemicals and stress. Treatment depends on severity and may include medication, social support, psychotherapy and lifestyle management.

A psychologist can assist through teaching strategies to challenge negative thinking patterns, which may prevent depressive episodes. Being more self-aware may prevent symptoms from escalating, and by being more mindful, one can more easily spot and figure out what, if anything, to do about the strengthening mood. Often medication and therapy go hand in hand to provide a healthy sense of control and balance.

Developing and maintaining strategies also includes learning to look after yourself; finding an inner sense of balance and developing rewarding relationships with others. Being aware of what makes you feel positive and balancing opportunities to satisfy your differing needs, helps to build resilience in the face of the challenges that bipolar disorder presents.

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(This blog was written by psychologist Gavin Sharp)

Most of us spend a lot of time worrying about money - or at least the lack of it - and with steadily increasing power bills, gas bills, petrol bills, health insurance bills etc., coupled with successive years of static wages, the pressure and the number of people affected by it seems to be mounting every day.

Financial stress takes a toll on our mental and even our physical health. It can disrupt our sleeping and eating patterns, damage or even help terminate relationships and affect our job satisfaction and performance at work, providing even more fuel for our anxieties to feed on.

And as if that were not enough, many of us scan the range of available options and choose some of the worst: gambling, perhaps, and/or or self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. At a time when we most need a clear head, our capacity for rational decision-making too often deserts us.

Talking to a psychologist can help there. A skilled psychologist can help us uncover unconscious thought patterns that convince us that convince us our problems are insurmountable and sabotage all our efforts to get things back on an even keel. They can also alert us to practical solutions such as free financial counselling from organisations like Financial Counselling Australia, ASIC Money Smart and the Salvation Army, and savings programs offered by a partnership of several banks, community organisations and government funding.

Psychology Melbourne can advise on the availability of rebates for psychological counselling. Too many people avoid acting on, or even acknowledging financial problems, which is a great strategy only if you want to worsen the situation.

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(This blog post is by Psychologist Kate Baxter)

Wouldn’t it be lovely if months or years after your set them, your goals had the same motivational impact, rather than dropping off one by one. 
That's probably unrealistic, but there are some things you can do to keep your intentions. One massive thing you can do is - accomplish one thing, however small, every single day towards your goal.  If, for example, exercising is your goal, it could be that you do a 4-minute high intensity work-out rather than your usual 30-minute walk; or visualise how you would feel if you maintained this goal throughout the year.  The mind loves to revert to what it knows, and constantly leans towards the easy way out, so get to know your vulnerabilities. Be vigilant for the self-talk that will undermine those goals and prepare yourself with some good comebacks so you won't find yourself going along with the negativity. 

The more you move in the direction of your goals - which takes conscious effort - the more you will create stronger neural pathways in the brain, and the less often you'll get bogged in those familiar ‘lazy’ patterns.

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(This Blog is by Psychologist Daniel Quin)

It’s stating the obvious but men do experience work, school, relationship, and personal stress.  What is concerning is approximately one in five Australians will experience mental symptoms, each year. For men and women the most common mental health problems are anxiety and depression. However, where men differ is their seeking of help for their wellbeing. Men are significantly less likely to see a GP or a psychologist and report their concerns.

Growing up in country Victoria and playing Australian rules football I participated in the culture of: “Harden up”. It’s perhaps not surprising that the rates of suicide, violence, and alcohol abuse are worse in men, particularly in rural areas.  It is heartening to see events like Movember, sporting organisations, and workplaces encouraging men to seek help when they are struggling.

All too often men (and women) keep on soldiering on, feeling terrible about themselves, using alcohol to cope, or being irritable towards friends and family. Some men have been doing this for so long that they don’t know any other way. Seeing a psychologist can be an important step in making changes to improve irritability, relationships, etc.

Choosing a psychologist is a crucial step. Personally, I like working with men and women alike but some people have a preference for a male or female psychologist, and this is fine. Sometimes a GP referral or the Psychology Melbourne matching service can recommend a male psychologist. More important than the gender of your psychologist is the “fit” between the person seeking psychological support and the psychologist.

 

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Last week, on ABC Radio 774's John Faine Show, Melbourne family law expert Caroline Counsel mentioned the tragic phenomenon of parental alienation, in which one parent poisons a child (or children) against the other, with the aim of inducing the child to exclude the targeted parent from their life. She mentioned that in these situations, it is vital to consult a psychologist to work out what is going on before taking legal action.

Coincidentally, only days later, The Guardian reported that a parent alienating a child faces the prospect of losing access to the child themselves, under a process being trialled by the UK's Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass).

The tactics deployed in these cases can range from constant belittling, criticising and blaming the other parent, limiting or interfering with contact with the parent or insisting on personally supervising visits, destroying photographs, banning discussion and insisting that the other parent does not love or has failed the child, leading to the child resenting or rejecting the target. In some cases offending parents recruit a child to spy on the other parent. Some might make or encourage allegations of sexual misconduct.

The article highlighted just how prevalent these incidents are: in Britain, it is estimated that these attempts occur in between 11 to 15 per cent of all divorces involving children, with devastating effects for the other parent, to say nothing of the harmful effect on the child. 

An earlier Guardian article explored parental alienation in more depth, raising criticisms for instance, that claims of parental alienation are merely a tactic used by men to seize custody from wives alleging abuse.

The evidence of parental alienation suggests however that it is a real and increasing problem which is unfortunately not at all rare in Australia. Fortunately, the article reveals that once identified, the effects on children can be reversed quite quickly with psychological intervention.

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