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

National Psychotherapy Day

For the national psychotherapy day I put together a little questionnaire to ask about experiences in therapy.
The themes that came up were not surprising to me. Most people who answered the questions were appreciating their therapy experiences. Naturally there would be a bias because most people who this questionnaire reached are interested in psychotherapy. I used Nvivo 12, a qualitative research tool to look at some of the themes, answering to the following questions:
1. Please tell me in a few sentences about your therapy experience.
The main theme was that therapy has been a life changing experience to most. Helping people to open up and feel more whole and having better relationships with themselves and others.  For some there has been some disappointing experiences with therapists who were not trustworthy. Most participants mentioned that the relationship with their therapist has been very important.
2. How did having therapy or counselling affected your life?
The main theme of this question is best described with a quote from one participant:
“Piece by piece, it has opened me up to a new lease of life and taken away the mental handcuffs of my old life”
Others felt that being in therapy has saved their life. One person found that therapy has been a slow process that has not changed their life significantly.
3. Did you ever wish that your parents had the chance or the willingness to engage in therapy or counselling? Please explain.
The general answer to this question was a YES!
“I do wish that they had both the willingness and the chance, because if they had that, then it would make my healing easier. Also, I think that outside of my experience, my parents are both very traumatised people whose lives have been reduced by their experiences in childhood. If they could engage in therapy, then their lives would be improved. I wish that for everyone, not just my parents, therapy is an incredibly useful tool for self realization”.

I really hope that psychotherapy becomes less stigmatised and more accessible to all people.
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National Psychotherapy Day on the 25th of September

Dear Brave Therapy Friends, I am collecting stories of therapy or counselling experiences for the National Psychotherapy Day on the 25th of September. The survey is anonymous and I will use Nvivo 12, a qualitative data analysing software to comply the information into themes. I might use some quotes from the answers, without identifiable information. I would love you to consider answering my questions here:

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5 ways psychotherapy can help to improve your life

  1. Psychotherapy helps us to develop a positive outlook for the future. Resolving past traumas, less then nurturing experiences and attachment disruptions is the main aim of therapy. Being heard, seen and supported in emotionally sensitive way can help to connect to our positive sense of self (Meares, 2000).
  2. Learning to relate via the safe containment of the therapeutic relationship helps us to develop better connections with people. Often our relational wirings or attachment styles are developed in our early childhood. There has been some research showing that our attachment state of mind (Hesse, 2008) can be rewired in 5 year  spent in a relational and emotion focused therapy (Meares, 2005)(Haliburn, 2009).
  3. Our bodies often hold a lot of unprocessed emotion and basic, instinctive self-protective responses (Haliburn, 2009; Levine, 1997). Working through the traumas that are held in our bodies and processing the emotions; meanings that attached to these, can reduce the accumulated stress that often erodes our body-mind causing illness (Mate, 2005).
  4. Leaning self-regulatory techniques like mindfulness meditation in therapy can introduce more balance in our life. It can lead to better decision making and generally better lifestyle choices (Davis & Hayes, 2011).
  5. Regular therapy can improve brain-function and can help with memory (Dichter, Felder, & Smoski, 2008). Neuroplasticity is a relatively new term, means that our brain has the capacity to change and heal, which is great news for us! (Wallace & Brenner, 2019).

Lets celebrate National Psychotherapy Day on 25.09.2019!

If you like to learn more, get in touch.






Davis, D. M., & Hayes, J. A. (2011). What are the benefits of mindfulness? A practice review of psychotherapy-related research. Psychotherapy (Chicago, Ill.), 48(2), 198-208. doi:10.1037/a0022062

Dichter, G., Felder, J., & Smoski, M. (2008). Effects of Psychotherapy on Brain Function: Brain Imaging Studies Indicate Changes. Psychiatric Times, 25(10), 34-38.

Haliburn, J. (2009). Attachment and the Conversational Model. Wesmead Think Thank. Sydney: Psychvisual.

Hesse, E. (2008). The Adult Attachment Interview. In Handbook of Attachment (2 ed.).

Levine, P. A., Frederick, A. . (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experinces. California, USA: North Atlantic Books.

Mate, G. (2005). The science of psychoneuroimmunology [Response to review article: When The Body Says No. The Cost of Hidden Stress, 2005; 51:248]. Canadian Family Physician, 51, 489.

Meares, R. (2000). Intimacy and Alienation: Memory, Trauma and Personal Being. East Sussex: Routhledge.

Meares, R. (2005). The Metaphore of Play; Origin and Breakdown of Personal Being (3rd ed.). East Sussex, England: Routledge.

Wallace, M., & Brenner, A. (2019). How People Change: Relationships and Neuroplasticity in Psychotherapy. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 25(1), 71-72. doi:10.1097/PRA.0000000000000356


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How secure are you? Notes on Attachment Theory

We are not born with a developed self. As babies we do not know consciously what we need and what we want, not even what we feel. We  learn how to regulate our nervous system and our affect via our primary attachment relationship. Our brains get wired via emotional and sensory interactions with our primary caregiver, and it is through these interactions that we get to know our body and begin to develop a sense of self.

When a baby fusses around, the good enough mom (Winnicott) will try to figure out what is going on for that little being. The baby learns in an implicit way that her actions have certain, if everything  goes well, predictable consequences. The secure base of this relationship helps us to explore the world around us. Through this process we develop our self-agency, and learn that our actions and intentions have an effect and create responses from people around us (Knox, 2011).

Difficulties in developing secure attachment in the first few years of life can interrupt the self-development process. The consequences of these interruptions can leave us with serious relational, psychological, spiritual and physical health problems.

Attachment theory views the sense of self as essentially relational. The unconscious sense of self is formed by internalisation of a relational dynamic between self and other (Knox, 2011).

Here is a little video that explains attachment theory:

Or you can read about it here:

The self experience or attachment states of mind as adults, can be described using the four attachment styles according to McLean (2013):


I am free to ask for help as I am lovable. Others are useful and reliable. I can express emotions openly, and clearly. I value relationships. I have a strong sense of agency.

Dismissive or Avoidant:

I have to do everything myself, others are not helpful or they will reject me. Being needy is shameful. I avoid or minimise feelings. My focus is on being independent, strong, achievements, fun and material success.  My childhood memory is scarce.

Preoccupied or Anxious Ambivalent:

I can’t do it by myself but others are not trustworthy. I feel anxious, angry or blaming. I often feel helpless and hopeless. My memories can be vivid. I am often overwhelmed.


I can’t do it, but others will make it even worse. The ones that should help are frightening or frightened. I often feel dreadful, disconnected, confused, fragmented, bad and afraid.


The research shows that attachment patterns are enduring through the lifespan and transmitted through generations.  The good news is that attachment patterns can be changed via supportive secure relationships and in-depth psychotherapy. Anyone can have as we call it earned secure attachment.

If you relate to the any of the insecure or disorganised attachment states of mind (above), it might be worthwhile to find an attachment informed psychotherapist. To move towards security, therapy needs to be regular, emotional based interaction between the responsive and safe therapist and the client. It is important that therapists have their own therapy and know their own attachment styles (Wallin, 2007).

For example an avoidant therapist might not be best suited to an avoidant client. They might have fun or intriguing, intellectual conversations but the client won’t be able to move forward towards security.

Therapy needs to integrate the emotional and implicit parts of the brain and body system, The use of creative, conversational or somatic, body-based resources can be very effective in the therapeutic relationship (Meares, 2007, Levine, 1997).

While there are many simple online resources to find out your attachment state of mind, the most reliable and validated assessment tool is the Adult Attachment Interview. It can be an expensive and somewhat time consuming adventure to have your AAI done, it can help clearly identify the clinical focus of therapy and possible unresolved traumas and losses (Hesse, 2008). It is especially useful for future or young parents, people in the helping industry, and generally for people who feel they might have some attachment related problems.

I am a reliable coder of the AAI, if you have any questions about it, please shoot me an email.

My hope is that we collectively can move towards more security to ourselves and all others.


Collaborative Formulation: Listening with an ear for attachment, Using markers of attachment to inform collaborative formulation. Dr Loyola McLean (2013).

Hesse, E. (2008). The Adult Attachment Interview Handbook of Attachment (2 ed.).

Self-Agency in Psychotherapy Attachment, Autonomy, and Intimacy Jean Knox,
PhD, MBBS, MRC Psych. (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology) . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition (2011).

Schore, A. (2013). The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company.

Meares, R. (2005). The Metaphore of Play; Origin and Breakdown of Personal Being (3rd ed.). East Sussex, England: Routledge.

Levine, P. A., Frederick, A. (1997). Waking the Tiger: Healing Trauma, The Innate Capacity to Transform Overwhelming Experiences. California, USA: North Atlantic Books.

Hesse, E. (2008). The Adult Attachment Interview Handbook of Attachment (2 ed.).

Kathy Brous at

Wallin, D. J. (2007). Attachment in Psychotherapy New York The Guilford Press



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Free Masterclass to Help You Heal from Childhood Trauma

Break free from your past, heal your wounds, and live a life filled with self-love, peace & healthy relationships!

This is a fantastic and free online program by some of the leaders in the field of healing developmental trauma.

I hope you have a chance to watch, learn and heal.




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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

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