Discover the courage to live wholeheartedly

Blog

Brave Therapy™ is a blog site created by Andrea Szasz, a Psychotherapist and Counsellor living and practicing in Sydney, Australia.

Psychotherapy is Evidence Based

Mental health issues are constantly in the news. We are suffering  from relational problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and so on. These ‘disorders’ or other mental health diagnoses are often stem from untreated traumas in our life. Our government and the media only seem to know about one way of treating these life challenging issues and that is with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The mental health plan only supports cognitive based treatments. While CBT and other cognitive based treatment are very useful, often powerful, they do not work for everyone and for all issues, especially not for trauma. Sadly psycho-dynamic psychotherapies, body based or attachment focused psychotherapies are not supported or promoted in Australia.
But we are not just our cognition or behaviors. We are our bodies, nervous systems, our souls and our relationships with other humans and nature. When we become fragmented it is not just our thoughts that need to change so we can change our behaviour. We need support to integrate and grow so we can live in peace with ourselves, others and the planet.
We know this now from the discipline called Interpersonal Neurobiology and countless research of different psychotherapeutic models. I wrote before about the self-perpetuating monopoly of CBT in our country, you can read about it here.

I included here some short and some longer videos from experts of the field of psychotherapy. If you are struggling please do your research and find a therapist who you feel safe with, who has the qualifications and expertise and can work in ways that feels right for you.

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

The Age of Loneliness. Why do we need Psychotherapy more than ever?

In my practice many clients walk through my door looking for support with their relational issues. As a trauma and attachment specialist I often imagine what their life was like at the start? Who was around, how did they learn how to relate, how did they learn who they are?

 

When we are born our personal selves develop through the relationships we have with our primary caregivers and via the reflections of our family and other community members. Our brains wire via thousands of small interactions of facial, vocal and feeling communications. If we have predictable, reliable and safe caregivers who attend to our physical and emotional needs we may develop secure, safe attachment. Later in life, relating to people and developing safe, mutually supportive and nurturing relationships may not be an issue if we were fortunate to have such a smooth start.

 

More often than not, this is not the case. We all have less then nurturing experiences as we grow up. Even ‘small’ things like mum having a hard time becoming a new parent or being busy with the other kids or working long hours can affect this developmental relational dynamic. Of course, bad things like trauma and neglect, divorce, lack of resources and abuse also happens. The spectrum of these experiences is vast and unique but each can affect the way we relate in our adult life and create personal challenges.

 

Psychotherapy is the perfect place to rewire our brains from the impacts of such experiences. Alongside a therapist you trust and feel safe with, you can discover the best version of yourself. Regular, weekly sessions can help you to develop the relational capacity that you yearn for and support you in understanding why you feel the way you do. The reflection of a caring, nurturing therapist empowers you to learn how valuable you are, as well as empowering you with knowledge of practical skills and strategies to create healthy and fulfilling relationships.

 

In the age of loneliness when we are more connected through machines than people it is important to have a space and practice of deep connection. Psychotherapy helps fulfill this intrinsic human need. We are neurobiologically wired for meaningful, deep connections. Our modern lifestyles do not support this so looking for it in other ways, such as weekly therapy, is vital for our well-being.

 

And trust me, you are worth it!

 

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Psychotherapist, counsellors psychologist, social workers, psychiatrists …….How do I find a therapist?

Since the Better Access to Mental Health Care scheme began in 2006, there has been a great deal of confusion in the public about who can provide therapy and mental health services. Making an educated choice about who you would like to be your therapist has consequently become even more complex. 
Being in therapy is a brave, vulnerable and courageous act. You need to be able to be appropriately met and supported when you decide to enter into it.
There are many modalities available, and this causes part of the confusion regarding how to choose your therapist. While all the different modalities show results, the main healing ingredient in therapy is the RELATIONSHIP.
The Better Access to Mental Health Care (BAMHC) scheme will provide you with 10 sessions per calendar year with a psychologist, mental health social worker and some mental health nurses, when you get a referral from your GP. While this can be great help for some, it can mislead others about therapy. More often than not 10 sessions are not enough for deep change. There is also no guarantee to be able to develop a good therapeutic relationship with the person you have been referred to. Your referral is also recorded in your file and the information can be requested by, for example, employers and insurance companies.
 
There are also the issues of education, and the services that can be provided under the BAMHC. In Australia, the main modality being taught in Universities for future psychologist and social workers is an evidence based therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). As a result, CBT has, sadly in my opinion, achieved a near monopoly in field of mental health care . 
 
The evidence base of CBT comes from randomised controlled trials. In these trials the only ingredient that cannot be controlled is the RELATIONSHIP. In the universities and private colleges that deliver the degrees in psychology and social work required for future BAMHC providers, students do not learn long term, in-depth psychotherapy that would help in developing RELATIONSHIPS with clients and patients.
There are couple of other modalities that can be provided by GP referred therapists offering the Medicare rebate, like some mindfulness based interventions and EMDR. However, if you are interested in other methods like somatic based-, psychodynamic psychotherapy, IPNB, Brainspotting, creative arts therapies and many others you are not able to use the BAMHC.
There are many great psychologists and social workers out there with many years of education (other than their basic university degree) who have a great capacity for building relationships, an aspect of treatment that we know is vital. You can find a directory of some of these practitioners here: Psychologists, Social Workers. I would suggest to do your research about their education, experience and their experience in therapy themselves.
Personally I did not pursue my clinical psychology degree because in a university lecture, in front of a room full of prospective psychologists, the professor jokingly said: ‘Some people say a psychologist should have their own therapy as well, how ridiculous!”. Almost everyone was laughing….
That attitude did not fit in with my integrity, so I become a Psychotherapist and a trauma expert.


Other options than using the BAMHC:
Psychotherapists are professionals who have training in long term, in-depth psychology, and psychotherapy. The methods that they use can be varied; somatic based, psycho-dynamic, Jungian,  mindfulness based and so on. They can specialise in different mental health issues and life challenges.
Usually their education has a post-graduate component of 3+ years of psychotherapy training and they are required to have their own therapy as part of the training or as part of registration with their governing professional body. The training has a practical and experiential component of working with clients regularly,  weekly or twice weekly basis for long term. The training focuses on how to develop a  RELATIONSHIP.
Psychotherapists charge, generally between $100-$180 per 50 minutes and often work on a sliding scale or have discounted places for people who have genuine financially difficulties. I charge $150/50 minutes and have 4 places a week that I offer people for discounted rate.
You do not need a referral from your GP to see a psychotherapist and therefore your mental health history will be not available for employers or insurance companies. Some private health insurance companies provide some rebate for therapy.
Places to find your psychotherapist: ANZAP, Pacfa, Gestalt, Jungian.
Some psychologist, social workers and mental health nurses also trained and offer psychotherapy.

Counsellors are professionals who have at least a 3 years degree in counselling or applied psychology. Counselling is usually offered for as a short term solution-focused treatment. Counsellors generally are experimentally trained and do learn skills to develop the therapeutic relationship and are often encouraged to have their own therapy. They charge similarly to psychotherapists. and often can be found on the same directories: Pacfa, Australia Counselling, ACA.

Psychiatrists are doctors who have specialised training in psychiatry. Some psychiatrist provide long term psychotherapy treatment. You can get a referral from a GP or approach a psychiatrist/psychotherapist privately. The fees are varied and there are some Medicare rebates and also the Medicare Safety Net can be used with some practitioners. The best is to do your research around these fees, or get your advocate to do so.
In my personal experience when I saw a psychiatrist for therapy, I payed $250 for the first 9 sessions then I was able to use the Medicare Safety Net and the rest of the year was free.
You can find psychiatrists here: ANZAP, RANZAP.

Some other great websites for finding the right therapist for you:

Often people opt-in to the BAMHC because of finances. Let’s do a little math based on weekly therapy for a year, say 45 sessions in total, calculating holidays and little breaks. This is information only to give you an idea. You have to do your own research before you see your therapist.
Recommended hourly rate for psychologists: $250/ 50 minutes or more
Psychologist rebate under the Better Access for Mental Health:
$124.50/ 50 minutes or more. 
$ 84.80/ 30-50 minutes. 
Calculating with a rate of $200/50 minutes first 10 session you pay $75.50 / per session $750.50 the remaining 35 session $200/hour comes to $7000. So you would pay $7750/per year.
Social Workers charge similar to psychologists. You can find out more here. Information on the rebate they can provide is here.
Psychotherapist $150/ hour for a year would cost you: $6750.
Psychiatrist who offers therapy and can see you and provide treatment under Medicare would cost varying dependent on the status of your
There is an other scheme than the BAMHC  is available in Sydney if you qualify, called PSS 

I hope this information helped to give you a bit more insight about who can provide mental health service or therapy, and how you can find the most suitable person for you.
I will be updating this post as I collect more information. If you have any suggestions to include something, please let me know by leaving a comment below.

References:
Korner, A., & McLean, L. (2017). Conversational model psychotherapy. Australasian Psychiatry, 25(3), 219-221.
Meares, R., & Jones, S. (2009). The role of analogical relatedness in personal integration or coherence. Contemp. Psychoanal., 45(4), 504-519.
Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Trust Yourself Summit – Transform Codependent Patterns & Express Your True Self In Any Relationship

Source: Trust Yourself Summit – Transform Codependent Patterns & Express Your True Self In Any Relationship

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

How to BRAVE the Holiday Season

How to BRAVE the Holiday Season

 

The holiday season is the time of the year when there might be some extra relational demands of us. While the festive season is generally a happy time, the reflections and celebrations can also be challenging. There are expectations; from family members with whom we may share some difficult history, or perhaps the opposite – we may find that we don’t have enough people to share in our experience.

Below is a small list of skills I’ve put together for you on the occasions when you might find yourself overwhelmed. The exercises are adapted from Somatic Experiencing®, The Daring Way™ (Brené Brown’s work), and are also informed by the Polyvagal Theory.

Breathe. Wherever you are, this is the easiest option to start regulating your nervous system. Practice three counts in-breath (via the nose) and five counts out-breath (via the mouth), pushing the air out. Repeat this sequence three times and practice at least three times a day. This technique will help you to engage the calming part of your nervous system – the part we refer to as the parasympathetic nervous system.

Remember a recent day or time when you felt most like yourself. It could be a day when you had a good session at yoga, a superb coffee in bed, or that time you spent with people who you connect to. It can be anything really. As you remember, and recall the sense of being most like yourself, feel the sensory experience of that. You may have a sense of expansion into your chest, maybe you feel tall or a sense of spaciousness in your stomach. Stay with the experience and let it grow in your body. You can practice this for a couple minutes per day. This can be really useful in situations when other people’s thoughts and actions can get overwhelming, like a Christmas gathering 🙂

Awereness or orienting is a skill that you can also practice anywhere and anytime. When you reach a location, take a couple of minutes to arrive. Notice your feet, then if you are sitting down, notice the support that the seat provides. Slowly, gently moving your head, neck and eyes, look around. This seems very simple I know, but it helps your nervous system to relax by giving you chance to reduce any implicit triggers and to notice safety.

Values are the lights that help us to show up in difficult situations, as Brené Brown says. So, carrying our values inside our bodies when we show up to a difficult holiday gathering can make a difference. Choose a couple of your values; compassion, or gratitude or maybe integrity. Think of one of them and check in with your body – where do you notice this value? Is it in your heart or more in your stomach? Don’t mind if this does not make sense in a cognitive way, we are looking for sensory experiences here. Stay with the sensation of the value, see if a colour comes up, see if there is a shape that is appearing, and go on like that, finding all the sensory details that you can. You will see how good it feels noticing that this value that is so important to you already lives inside you, and it will support you in challenging situations.

Empathy is not an easy skill to practice in difficult relational situations. I still suggest to go with; ‘everyone is doing the best they can, with the tools they have in that moment’. If you find yourself in tricky situations where, for example, your aunt makes comments about your body at a NYE gathering, instead of getting really angry or hurt, think about why is that so important for her? Did she learn somewhere maybe that looking a little different can be dangerous? Was she bullied when she was your age because of how she looked? These are just ideas, but you get the drift. Go easy, go kind with yourself and with others. You can also gently tell this aunt that you feel fabulous in your skin and hopefully she does too.

 

Wishing you a safe, peaceful and fun Holiday Season.

Love from

Andi

Brave Therapy™

 

PDF to download the skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Brave Therapy on WordPress.com

Take the first step towards healing now and contact me to book an appointment.

Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Being willing is not enough. We must do. - Leonardo Di Vinci

Sign up to the mailing list

Yes Please!
Discover the courage to live wholeheartedly