Within a supportive environment Alison provides the space to contemplate, connect to and create a path to positive change that can be integrated into everyday life. A range of evidence-based therapeutic techniques provide the opportunity to resolve or manage issues and enhance one’s quality of life.
Alison has a well-developed understanding of the complexities of a broad range of psychological disorders and therapeutic interventions. Her work applies the standards and ethical guidelines of the Psychology Board of Australia and the Australian Psychological Society (APS)
These approaches include:
- Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
- Interpersonal therapy
- Relaxation strategies
- Skills training
- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
- Psychodynamic counselling
Mindfulness involves learning to pay attention to the present moment rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. This kind of attention nurtures greater awareness, clarity and acceptance of present-moment reality. It wakes us up to the fact that our lives unfold only in moments. It involves developing an attitude of acceptance toward yourself, as opposed to criticism or judgment.
Research shows that mindfulness can:
- Reduce stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms
- Increase resilience and peace of mind
- Enhance cognitive performance e.g. concentration, memory and processing speed
- Improve study and work performance
- Improve relationships and overall wellbeing
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is recognised as having the highest level of research evidence for the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by the Australian Psychological Society (EBPI Review 2010). Over 300 studies have been published showing EMDR to be effective for treating depression, anxiety, phobias, addictions, body dysmorphia and other mental health issues. EMDR has been used effectively with adults, children and adolescents.
EMDR is popular because treatment outcomes occur in a shorter period of time than some other treatments and the changes have been shown to be permanent. It integrates elements of many effective psychotherapies in structured protocols that are designed to maximize treatment effects. These include psychodynamic, cognitive behavioral, interpersonal, experiential, and body-centered therapies. EMDR is an information processing therapy and uses an eight phase approach.
How does EMDR work?
In deep sleep, we have rapid eye movements. When we sleep and dream, the rapid eye movements activate parts of the brain that are designed to process experiences so we can make sense of them. This processing system enables us to heal and gain peace around traumatic experiences that are charged with disturbing emotions, body sensations and images. We know that eye movements during dreams are very similar to what happens during EMDR.
Emotional problems can get locked in the brain and nervous system. Once this happens, they’re hard to shift. If the anxiety associated with the problem is high, just talking about the problem will not always help. EMDR shifts the painful emotion. The memory and the picture are still there but it’s as if the sting has gone. For example, if you have a spider phobia, talking yourself out of it just doesn’t work. With EMDR, the stuck feelings, in this case the spider phobia, are shifted. The fear associated with the spiders can be desensitised and the feeling is discharged.
It’s a similar process for someone who has undergone a traumatic incident, such as an accident. Their body heals but the emotional trauma and panic often remain. EMDR can process and shift these feelings.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Understanding that our thoughts have a major impact on how we feel and therefore respond to any situation or experience is the basis for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. The mind creates a story about what’s happening rather than allowing us to see what is actually there. These stories can very quickly become what we think is our reality and we loose our connection with both what is real and the world around us. By recognising and reframing our thoughts and underlying beliefs we can make significant changes to our sense of wellbeing.
The practice of mindfulness and being in the present moment in combination with CBT allows a deeper awareness, involving our physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual being, to be explored.
Children pass through a series of developmental stages where behaviour is dynamic, changing and evolving. Psychodynamic therapy explores the meaning behind behaviour to build an understanding of what that behaviour might be communicating and provides a framework to understand child and family dynamics. What they “do” might be the only way a child or adolescent is able to communicate something about their feelings. Recognition of this is important for parents and how they respond impacts on how the relationship develops. This understanding takes time and requires parents to sit with that uncertainty while they try to make sense of events. It is this uncertainty that if ‘contained’ allows trust and security to develop.