Forum Questions

Question: I have long term issues with anxiety and depression. For the last few years I've needed to seek help in the form of therapy, but I find I can't open up. Most recently I've tried counseling face to face, and on the phone. I can't talk about my issues - I become stricken with panic as thoughts and answers to questions come rushing, and within a ... Read more..

Question: If I see a psychologist on medicare - does this leave a record? Will this information be able to be accessed by anyone else (i.e. employers, courts etc?) What records are kept? How are they stored? I understand this is different for different professionals but I am curious to find out more? Answer: Hello. If you see a psychologist and you're rebat ... Read more..

Question: Hello, I am wondering what is the expectation in terms of missed sessions. If I go on holidays, am I expected to pay the therapist for my regular sessions even if I give them advanced warning? Also a situation occurred recently where I missed exactly half a session due to my therapist telling me the wrong time. I was surprised to find that I was c ... Read more..

Question: I've been thinking about going to a psychologist and was told to ask my doctor for a referral in order to claim the medicare rebate. Can you tell me, will I be required to disclose to my GP the nature of my problem? Others in my family go to the same doctor so I don't really want him to know the full details as he also sees the persons concerned a ... Read more..

Question:  Sometimes in my work I encounter people who admit to being 'frightened' of me. I am a female who has lived a strongly independent and confident life. I am assertive but not, I think, aggressive - I don't get angry at people, but I don't suffer fools easily and don't mollycoddle subordinates. I give them the tools and instructions to do their ... Read more..

Question: I saw a therapist for 6 months when my wife and I separated 3 years ago and found the experience very helpful. Since then, I have felt increasingly disenchanted with my choice of profession - I am an IT consultant to medium/large size businesses. A good friend and colleague half jokingly said I'd make a great therapist. Little did he know that I'v ... Read more..

Question: What physical danger is my girlfriend and her mother in, from her new male partner? He is now living with them and showing symptoms of a narcissistic personality. We have all heard on many occasions how his mother wanted him aborted, how his father continually beat him as a child, how he doesn't have to take any crap from anyone ect. Thankyou, Pat ... Read more..

Question: When I have highs they are followed by lows and the higher I go the harder I fall. Consequently I now avoid feeling good in order to avoid feeling bad. This is okay except that life has become meaningless much of the time. I wouldn't say I'm unhappy, but then I wouldn't say I'm happy either. So where does that leave me? Somewhere in no-mans-land. ... Read more..

Question: My question was prompted by reading Clare Mann's article in your magazine about work-life balance or integration as she calls it. My husband has been working long hours for years - the company requires this of ALL their employees. I've read that it is the same for most people particularly those working in managerial positions. He likes his job but ... Read more..

Question: My 19yr old daughter bites her nails until they bleed. She says that it helps to alleviate the pressure when sitting her exams. She also says that it doesn't bother her so it shouldn't bother me. I think this is an awful habit however and would like her to develop more positive 'coping' behaviours. I am also worried that her studies are causing he ... Read more..

Question: My son has developed over the last 12 months, an inability to control his anger, which is generally initiated by his girlfriend. He is attemping to help her by redirecting her focus away from hard drugs to her strengths and continuing her secondary education (she is 19, he 22). But the issue distressing this family, is his anger. He becomes very v ... Read more..

Question: Many psychologists say they use evidence-based treatment. Does this mean medications like anti-depressants that have been tested and proven not to have harmful side-effects? Kind regards, Debbie Answer (1) No Debbie, it does not mean this. Though some psychologists may recommend medication, they cannot legally prescribe it and must refer you to ... Read more..

Question:  Hello. I am suffering from anxiety which has become worse over the last few years and is developing into paranoia. I need some advice on the best way to treat this and underlying issues. My difficult childhood left me with a lot of pain, anger, and a general bad feeling about myself. I am seeing a psychoanalyst and while there is some slow sm ... Read more..

Question: Last night I went to do my shopping as I normally do on a Thursday night but after spending what seemed like an eternity driving around looking for a park I gave up and went home. I'm not one for road rage but I can tell you, I was really fuming. Today, driving to work without my morning cup of coffee (no milk) I was trying to figure out why I've ... Read more..

Question: My question is for counsellors who help people make career decisions. I've just finished year 12 and looking to enrol at Uni. I'm leaning towards secondary teaching as an occupation but might defer so I can work in the real world for a year or two before continuing my studies. Doing this, I could buy a car and save money to pay for my education. I ... Read more..

Question: I was sexually abused from 5 years of age until I was 15. I also had the trauma of 2 major strokes when I was 7 years old. Some days I feel like everything around me falls apart, and I keep thinking to myself is this all life was suppose to be? I have problems trusting people and letting them know what is really going on in my mind, as it feels lik ... Read more..

Question: Why do psychologists need 24 hours' notice to cancel an appointment? I rang at 9am to reschedule an 11am appointment and 2 days later received an invoice in the mail for the missed consultation. I was told that this is standard practice policy. I could accept it more easily if I forgot to turn up or neglected to call but I don't understand how the ... Read more..

Question:  How do I know if my anxiety is an anxiety disorder or just normal anxiety? Thanks, TG - Lismore Answer (1)  I suggest you discuss your signs and symptoms with a therapist who could then advise you as to what they think. I believe the term "disorder" is probably a bit overused in any case and sometimes only serves to divorce sympto ... Read more..

Question: I can't be sure if I'm getting worse or just worrying more but for a long time I've had trouble going places and getting things done on time. I procrastinated as a teenager getting my school work completed by the due date and as an adult I'm late to special occasions, even my own brother's wedding. My friends and my family now expect me to be late ... Read more..

Question: My question relates to your use of the word 'good' in the context of therapy. I am currently writing an article on how the process of democracy impinges on individual mores. Some would say that what is good for all is also good for the individual. If this were true, would it then mean that what is good for the individual is best determined by a ma ... Read more..

Question: It says on a psychologist's website that dancing is good for a person's mental health. I don't dance but I walk an hour most nights and it definitely helps keep me in good spirits. When my husband walks with me, we often end up talking about things that we would usually avoid talking about. Sometimes the conversation has a healing quality to it. A ... Read more..

Question:  How is Complex PTSD treated? I was in an abusive relationship that ended 10 months ago. I am in no danger from this man, but my fear is becoming all-pervasive. I am having more and more episodes of "re-living" the events, and the feelings and fear are greater now than they were at the time. I have read about Complex PTSD and it seems to fit w ... Read more..

Question: I've started going to another doctor. Although very competent, and no doubt because of this, my previous doctor's practice turned extremely busy. One day I waited an hour and a half to see her. Talking about it with the person sitting next to me, we discovered that we had the same appointment time to see the same doctor. It wasn't like this in the ... Read more..

Question: A few months ago I went to see a psychologist and was surprised to find that he works in the front room of his home. There were no indications of family members close by so it didn't deter me from going back. I'm curious as to whether this is traditionally how it's been and working from an office building is a relatively new custom. Thanking you k ... Read more..

Question: I'm interested in doing some therapy but I'm confused by what I've been reading in self help books. One line of thought is that therapy helps to get rid of the things in your life that you don't like or that cause you pain but there is another view that therapy helps a person to integrate. The first one gives me the impression that we create who we ... Read more..

Question: My 11 year old daughter has developed a nervous tic. Our family doctor wasn't too concerned, he said to ignore it and eventually it will go away of its own accord. That was just over a month ago and if anything, the problem has gotten worse. How would a psychologist treat a tic disorder... would you classify it as a type of anxiety? Thanks, Sharon ... Read more..

Question: I would like to know how many therapists are aware of the loss, grief and trauma suffered by tens of thousands of Australians raised in the 584 orphanages and children's homes Australia once had. I feel frustrated and hurt when I ask therapists and social workers what they know about this and whether they were taught about it in their courses at U ... Read more..

Question: My life partner broke off our relationship soon after someone we knew got AIDS and died towards the end of last year. I can understand his reaction, although I was more sad than scared. At least, if I was scared, it made me want to move closer to him rather than away. He has since moved interstate but I can contact him if I want to. Every now and ... Read more..

Question: I am one of a group of guys between the ages of 18 and 24 living in a run down hostel. We're all on disability pensions for different psychiatric disorders. I'm dependent on medication I get from a local psychiatric clinic. I've had some training and had jobs in the past but most people aren't very sympathetic and expect me to do things I can't ma ... Read more..

Question: I am hoping you may be able to guide me to where I can find some sort of residential programme to help my 17 year old son who has had psychological counselling since the age of 11. There appears to be very little "assisted help" for those who do not have a specific tag such as aspergers but who are psychologically disturbed or have a "personality ... Read more..

Question: My partner is a Vietnam veteran. He was having counselling at the Wesley Unit of the Mayo Private Hospital in Taree (3 hours drive away!). His psychologist has taken a position in Newcastle and the Dept of Veteran Affairs no longer fund 'out of area' counselling. Can you advise what services exist for Vietnam veterans to get ongoing psychological ... Read more..

Question: I'm experiencing increasing anxiety and it is interfering with my ability to study. I went to an orphanage reunion last year that upset me a great deal, emotionally I was all over the place with sudden outburst of anger one minute and deep sadness the next. I didn't expect to react the way I did, but it really affected me adversely for a couple of ... Read more..

Question: For the last five weeks I've been seeing a 19 year-old woman, and I just found out that she has a learning/mental disability. I don't know its title; basically she's 19 and has the mind of a 15 year-old and she can't do things like drive. The only thing I noticed before being told (that was even close to indicating her disability) was how she at t ... Read more..

Question: What is the ratio of males/females that go to a psychologist and do they go for the same reasons? Lindsay Answer: I am unable to give you an accurate figure but anecdotally females generally outnumber males in help-seeking behaviors. Both men and women are challenged by the range of mental health, psychological, social and personal issues. Women ... Read more..

Question: I've been going to a counsellor to try and work out why my relationships don't last. I don't know anything about my counsellor's private life and yet I seem to have made the assumption that because she is a trained professional, she wouldn't have problems with her partner (if she has one). Do counsellors have better relationships than the rest of ... Read more..

Question: What is the basis of attraction between patient and therapist? Is it the same as any other romantic attraction, or is it viewed differently by health professionals? Answer (1) The question of attraction in therapy is a complex one. The very nature of therapy stimulates phantasies, longings and other emotions. However, though it seeks to re-acti ... Read more..

Question: Last year I went to a counsellor for several consultations and I decided not to tell my wife. The matter didn't really concern her. However, as I don't normally hide anything from her, part of me feels uncomfortable about this. The main reason for my reluctance is that my wife has it in her mind that only people with a mental illness need counsell ... Read more..

Question: My therapist has gone overseas for 3 months and even though I was told well in advance, I'm missing her support terribly. Back when we discussed the possibility of my being referred to someone else it felt like she was trying to get rid of me. I know that this isn't true so I just told her that I understood her situation and I'd be fine until she ... Read more..

Question: When Adolf Hitler looked at his country, he saw a nation where his fellow non-jewish germans were being dominated by the jews. When Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. looked at his country, he saw a nation where his fellow black americans were being dominated by the whites. Both these men took action to liberate their people. When I say it like that they s ... Read more..

Question: At the age of 20 I found out that my dad is not my biological father. When I confronted my parents they discussed it with me openly. They separated two days later. They assure me they had already planned to go their separate ways and that it was just 'bad timing'. I chose not to contact my birth father, who I refer to as my 'sperm donor', or even ... Read more..

Question: My husband and I seperated one year ago and I feel my 16 year old daughter is not coping well with the changes that have taken place since then. She will not talk to me or even admit that she is upset but I have found her crying on several occasions lately. I know that she also cuts herself and I want to seek professional help for her but I am not ... Read more..

Question: I discovered my husband had another affair/fling recently and we have separated. I was devastated as 3 years earlier he had been unfaithful but I decided to give our marriage another chance then, as he seemed truly sorry and committed to reconciling. It was a long and difficult road but I felt we were on our way to again being a happy, loving coup ... Read more..

Question: In the documentary film "What the bleep do we know?" one of the women speakers said that our attempts to be positive are generally superficial and that below the surface we are more negative than we realize. In my albeit limited experience, popular psychology starts and finishes with appearances, possibly never penetrating to the core of who we are ... Read more..

Question: Is it true that some personality types do better in group therapy than they would in one-to-one therapy? If so, why don't more health practitioners make this sort of therapy available as one of their services? Answer (1) I was told many years ago by a clinical supervisor, those who exclusively undergo individual therapy may become very well perso ... Read more..

Question:  I've read that good communication includes three things: mirroring, validation and empathy. This requires the person listening to suspend their own thoughts/agenda so that they can experience being fully present with the other person. The person talking then feels 'seen, heard, accepted... and therefore safe'. I can understand how this works ... Read more..

Question: It's over a week since my girlfriend and I spoke to each other all because of an arguement we had on Valentine's day about where we would go for dinner. She wanted to go some place expensive and I went along with it but wasn't happy about spending so much on a meal. She got uptight because I wasn't talkative enough, which caused an exchange of not ... Read more..

Question: I've been submitting answers to questions in the forum - along with other regulars - for the past few months. Many people benefit from the responses besides those who ask the questions. Some email me with further information privately. I love reading the different perspectives brought to the forum, so much so I wish more practitioners would join i ... Read more..

Question: Do you think of your work as being mostly preventative or curative? Answer (1) Certainly a bit of both from time to time but in general, I consider my work to be mostly reparative and facilitative. Answer provided by David White, Psychotherapist Answer (2) I don't think of my work as mostly preventative, as by the time someone seeks therap ... Read more..

Question: My husband and I disagree about how long to allow our 2 month old first born to sleep in her cot in our bedroom. We both want what's best for her without ignoring our own needs, and would be interested in your opinion if you have one. Also, has there been any research done in this area? Answer (1) Yes, there has been thousands of research artic ... Read more..

Question: I've noticed behaviours in one of my new students that are clearly obssessive compulsive. Does this get worse and develop into a full blown disorder if left unchecked? I'd appreciate some advice on whether I should say something to her parents. There is no school counsellor at the school where I teach. Thanks. Answer (1) OCD behaviours and ritu ... Read more..

Question:  I feel that there are a number of "blockages" in my life at the moment and have taken some time out to try to heal myself. I am really interested in moving forward but feel quite bamboozled by the number of modalities. How do I know which therapy technique will work for me? Or do I just leap in, pick a local practitioner and go from there? ... Read more..

Question: I know that people have doubts from time to time, but my doubts are taking over my life and my dreams. My partner and I have been together for ten years and we are engaged to be married, but I keep putting off choosing a ring. I used to get upset that he didn't do certain things, or thought a certain way. But now I just accept that he wont or doe ... Read more..

Question: My estranged partner, diagnosed as narcissistic and obsessive compulsive, is making life very difficult for me and our young daughter. He criticises me in front of her and tells her that mummy is sick in the head. I am patient to a degree, but I don't know how to deal with this. He has an episode at least once a year, usually around the same time, ... Read more..

Question: Do you think our legal system will ever allow charges for psychological assault? Answer (1) Interesting question! Given that emotional abuse often has a long-lasting impact on an individual in the way that they see themselves, how they see others, and the relationships they have with others, I think it should be acknowledged as a crime by the l ... Read more..

Question: I am a psychotherapist in training. Can you suggest ways I might avoid burn out? Thanks, Ari Answer (1)  Ari, self-care is a crucial part of work with clients. We can only hope to go on assisting others in their journeys if we process the feelings, fears, uncertainties our clients arouse in us. Professional supervision to allow proper debr ... Read more..

Question: What impact does your case load have on the effectiveness of your treatment for depression? Answer (1) I assume you are asking how a therapist's case load may impact on the therapist's effectiveness in working with clients with depression. Ethically, I would need to ensure that I limited my case-load to a number I could confidently manage. In p ... Read more..

Question: In the movie Good Will Hunting, the psychologist takes the difficult 20 year old out of his office and they sit talking on a park bench. My guess is that it was probably a make-or-break move but I'd like to know what you think, and whether this sort of thing ever happens in real life therapy? Answer (1) In adolescent and young children work it ... Read more..

Question: Our eldest son of 32, moved in with a lovely new partner in February who has become a fantastic step-mum to our four year old grandson of whom they have joint custody with my former daughter-in-law. We have made it clear how fond we are of the new partner and how pleased we are with this relationship. We have always had a very close relationship w ... Read more..

Question: I met a nice girl at a new year's eve party and was mildly attracted but as we talked I learned things about her that turned me off. There is always something I can't accept! I was hurt pretty bad a few years ago when a long term relationship fell apart. Could this be why I am now so careful? Sometimes I wonder if I will ever fall in love again (a ... Read more..

Question:  My wife spends money we don't have and I don't know how to stop her. She always has an excuse "birthdays, Christmas, end of year sales etc." How can I get her to see that going more and more into debt is a serious problem? Tony Answer (1)  Tony, this is indeed a very serious and unfortunately, common problem, with a multitude of ... Read more..

Question: I read on another website a reply a psychologist wrote to a question about the difference between alternative lifestyles and mental illnesses. He said: " alternative lifestyle is living according to custom, behaviour, culture and attitudes that deviate significantly from the dominant culture. Mental illness, I guess, could look similar, excep ... Read more..

Question: Can you educate me on the purpose of the initial consultation? The psychologists I've seen, used the hour to get background information, and tell me what to expect in the following sessions. I thought the first meeting would be an opportunity for us to get to know each other - to see how we felt about working together - but the impression I get is ... Read more..

Question: My estranged wife has the symptoms mentioned in your article about borderline personality, although they didn't become fully evident until after we married. I'm worried about the impact her mental illness is having on our 3 yr old daughter. I feel bad about moving out, like I've abandoned my little girl. We have shared custody and I will continue t ... Read more..

Question: Hi, it's me again. I thought carefully about what you said, and you're right about how my boyfriend treats me. It is verbal abuse. If he hit me, I'd end the relationship immediately with absolutely no second chances. But he is chipping away at my confidence a teeny bit at a time, making it difficult for me to put my finger on what is happening. I ... Read more..

Question: I wrote in before about predicting violence. Thank you so much for your excellent replies. I also read the info on narcissism and it sent a chill down my spine. We had a blow up on Friday night. He got paranoid when I wasn't where I said I would be, so I broke it off. He then worked really hard to get me back without threats, just pleading, promis ... Read more..

Question: Does quoting statistics on relationship violence produce any change in the behaviour or in the culture that supports it? Statistics like a study by Access Economics that domestic violence costs Australia $8.1 billion in the year 2002-03 economy-wide. That it is ranked in the top five risks to women's health in Australia, responsible for more ill-h ... Read more..

Question: I'm the second eldest of 5 children, aged 18 to 29. In observing each of my brothers and sisters, and myself, I am continually amazed by how different we are, especially since we have the same parents and home life. For instance, I've a keen interest in self development and wouldn't think twice about going to a therapist if I wanted to, but I'm th ... Read more..

Question: I read Rabbi Harman's article and wonder whether one of the things he is grappling with is the issue of the wounded healer. Carl Jung said, 'The doctor is effective only when he himself is affected. Only the wounded physician heals. But when the doctor wears his personality like a coat of armor, he has no effect.' Do psychotherapists use their own ... Read more..

Question: I was interested to read your answers to the question about relationship violence, probably because I'm with someone who is at times, controlling and sneaky, but who also has a sweet and kind nature. As therapists you appear to be quite emphatic about the risks. Have you considered that the behaviours in question may be commonplace in the real wor ... Read more..

Question: I'm worried about my little sister. She is 20, just finished second yr Uni and is getting skinnier by the day, 5'6" and 44 kilos. When I ask her why she is losing so much weight, she makes light of it, saying it is just the stress of exams. I'm not aware of her having emotional problems but isn't this the cause of anorexia nervosa? Answer (1) 4 ... Read more..

Question: My question is about narcissistic personality disorder. Since everyone has some narcissistic elements to their personality, at what point is someone considered to have NPD? Also, what are the chances of such a person recognising their condition and wanting to do something about it? Jenny Answer (1) As with most "disorders", it becomes a disorder ... Read more..

Question: Can you predict relationship violence? I am in a new relationship with a great guy but he keeps checking on my whereabouts with text and phone calls at odd times and freaks if I don't answer. It's flattering to be so wanted, but I wonder where this is heading. He is a bit manipulative and some of my closest friends are scared of him. Answer (1) M ... Read more..

Question: Psychological treatment for depression, delivered over the internet, is reliable and effective, according to the results of research published recently in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The moodgym at Australia's National University is also providing CBT over the internet for preventing depression. Can this possibly be effective and is this th ... Read more..

Question: I read in a magazine article that when a relationship is over, removing photos and objects that remind you of your ex-partner is an important part of the healing process. After seven months separation I still can't bring myself to do this. Does living in the past mean that I have a problem with facing up to reality, letting go and moving on? Rach ... Read more..

Question: It seems the road to mental health is only open to the rich. The going rate for therapy seems to be over $100 a session. While I appreciate that practitioners need to get paid, what are the alternatives for someone who does not have the money? Answer (1) There are therapists who are willing to charge under the $100 an hour rate, which I feel is ... Read more..

Question: What do you enjoy about working as a therapist? Perhaps you could complete this unfiinshed sentence 'when I'm with clients I feel ......' Answer (1) Great question! I find working with clients to be an opportunity to have a personal glimpse into the lives of others, and I find that to be a very privileged position. Human behaviour fascinates me, ... Read more..

Question: What is an anxiety attack? How long does it last and what are the symptoms? Is it different from a panic attack? Answer (1) An anxiety attack is a sense of being overwhelmed with fear and a sense of being unable to cope with a situation, a number of situations, or with one's feelings. A panic attack is an intense rush of anxiety that tends to be ... Read more..

Question: After feeling dissatisfied working in the IT field I decided it was time to leave. Now I'm undertaking a Bachelor of Applied Social Science - Counselling with around 16 months remaining. I intend to further my studies with a Grad Diploma and then a Masters. So far I am finding it hard to find any kind of work either it be full, part time or some f ... Read more..

Question: My psychologist takes notes. Am I entitled to my file if I decide to pull out of therapy? Answer (1) You are entitled to see your file under freedom of information. Answer provided by Doreen Westley, Psychologist Answer (2) I'm not sure about your legal rights concerning this but why would you want to obtain notes taken for reference purpos ... Read more..

Question: Is it normal for a counsellor to write copious amounts of notes during sessions? Answer (1) I tend to write notes during the first session with clients, however I keep them as brief as possible, as I see my job as listening in the first instance, not writing an essay. A lot of important information can come out in the first session, and this can ... Read more..

Question: How does a therapist assess the appropriateness of disclosing personal information about him or herself to a client? Answer (1)  Self-disclosure can be a very powerful tool in counselling. It can strengthen rapport with a client by suggesting that the counsellor has a genuine understanding of being in the client's shoes, and by suggesting t ... Read more..

Question: Thank you for your article on men's attitudes to asking for help. I have seen males, young and old being badgered into counselling and agree with Mr Avisar that this is generally not helpful. Can you say more about how we can support men during a difficult time, especially when they are resistant to getting professional help. In your experience, w ... Read more..

Question: Thank you for your thoughtful answers to my previous question. I will be interested to read your comments on this thought and wonder what role you see for meditation and prayer in therapy. In my reading of history, epochs of mass destruction are followed by ages of anxiety. Eons of care are followed by ages of harmony. It is not a simple one to on ... Read more..

Question: The counsellor I go to has in her room two cosy chairs and I always sit it in the same one. The last time I went, the cushion that is usually on my chair was no where to be seen. I panicked. I like to hold the cushion on my lap and felt exposed when it wasn't there. I surprised myself by saying something, but was even more surprised that in spite ... Read more..

Question: I hear people speaking of 'the big picture' as if it were complete and finite, but the extent to which we perceive context is, as I understand it, always relative. No matter how much I am able to see, there is more that my limited perspective can not see. Doesn't this make the notion that we can choose to 'tell the whole truth and nothing but the ... Read more..

Question: I have an 11 year old son who has been diagnosed with ADHD, ADD, certain aspects of Aspergers eg lack of empathy. We need help. We have been through Toowoomba Child Mental Health, which was a waste of time and effort, and we have been to numerous doctors. I love my son very much, and this sounds awful, but I don't like being around him anymore, a ... Read more..

Question: I was wondering if you could recommend sites regarding pregnancy from one night stands. My boyfriend went home for his brother's funeral, the death was sudden and very emotional. I didn't go as I was overseas with my mother at the time. He got drunk one evening, and a friend who had always fancied him, decided she could be really 'loving'. As a re ... Read more..

Question: "Any addiction would seriously interfere with a marriage as someone's relationship with their addiction always comes first." This is from a therapist's answer to an earlier question. After the breakdown of yet another relationship I am realizing that my addiction is a problem. In the beginning of a new relationship I am highly motivated by strong ... Read more..

Question: There is a saying that whether or not you believe in God, you will find plenty of evidence to support your belief. Could the same be said of therapy? Answer (1) Interesting question! Faith healing still has its' advocates and the placebo effect is well known. However, I think one has to have a close look at what is actually being offered to some ... Read more..

Question: Could you please speak from your heart about the role of spirituality and faith both in your life and your work? I read between the lines of forum responses a technique approach to therapy such that, I come in with a problem and you provide the program and the tools to work on MY issue and you're somehow at a safe professional distance, perhaps di ... Read more..

Question: It is the school holidays and I wasn't able to get time off. My husband insists that our girls aged 11 and 14 are old enough to be at home during the day on their own while I'm at work (for 5 hours). The girls also like the idea but I'm not convinced. They get on well together and I trust them but I feel uncomfortable about leaving them. Can you s ... Read more..

Question: I would like to know more information on cognitive behaviour therapy or other effective counselling therapies for a person suffering from schizophrenia. Thanks, Lee Answer (1) Lee, CBT is supposed to work through training oneself to think differently about our problems and therefore, end up feeling differently about them. Hopefully better. Beca ... Read more..

Question: I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and when I read the book 'I hate you don't leave me' about BPD, I saw that it described me and my relationships, including with therapists. This has been a big problem and now I have found a therapist who seems to understand it. Is there any hard evidence that self-psychology can treat a person ... Read more..

Question: What is the difference between idealising transference and mirroring transference? Answer: This is essentially a highly technical question concerning Kohutian, Self Psychology, terminology. It encompasses some of the functions of the "self object" concept in relationship to therapeutic transferences. I could not do the explanation justice in a s ... Read more..

Question: Is it possible for a client to become dependent on therapy, perhaps as the only satisfying relationship they have? Answer (1) Being initially dependent on therapy is usually treatment phase related and a common enough phenomenon. However, one of the main ideas of therapy as I understand it, is to eventually free the client up enough from whatev ... Read more..

Question: I work with a woman who is quite a lot older. She is married but has no children and has no intention of having any. Her husband however does want a family and this is causing conflict in their relationship. I am very attracted to her in spite of the age difference but because she is married I've not told her how I feel. Anyway, she has been confi ... Read more..

Question: Before we got married my husband and I had counselling with someone who basically warned us that there were 3 main areas in which couples run into trouble - sex, communication and money. We are still together after 20 years and sure enough, all of these have caused difficulties for us from time to time. None, however has been as much a problem as ... Read more..

Question: What is erotic and eroticised transference, how often does it happen in therapy and how do you treat it? Answer: Any type of transference is basically a re-emergence of feelings attached to a person from our past and "transfered" to a person in our present. In this case, the therapist. It is mostly of an unconscious nature but can nonetheless, fee ... Read more..

Question: One of the reasons my marriage ended was that we were 'low conflict'. It's hard to believe that a relationship might be worse off by not getting into fights but apparently it can, and it's not uncommon. When I heard that this can usually be worked out with the help of a therapist, I felt hurt and very angry because while my husband was seeing a th ... Read more..

Comment: I posted the question starting off with I was told several times by my female psychologist that I was "very seductive." I would like to elaborate further because this has generated much interesting and thought provoking discussion. I would say David White has the answer which resonates the most with me. His definition of "very seductive" meaning " ... Read more..

Question: I have been to see several therapists over the years, and confess it has never occurred to me that my personal development depended on the therapist's capacity for empathy (or anyone else's for that matter). Call me ignorant if you like, but I've always thought my destiny and any healing I need to do along the way depends on something much less pr ... Read more..

Question: I was told several times by my female psychologist that I was "very seductive." However she continually refused to tell me exactly what "seductive" in psychological terms meant. I felt very unhappy and confused over this. Could you please explain to me what "seductive" means in psychologist/client language? Answer (1) Your unhappiness and confus ... Read more..

Question: At a school reunion, I was obsessed with how two of my class mates whom I hadn't seen in 30 years were so easily recognisable. The rest of us were forced to say who we were. For many it was because of the extra kilos, but some who hadn't changed size much at all, still bore little resemblance to what they looked like when they were younger. We end ... Read more..

Question: I've been reading the forum for several weeks but this is the first time I've asked a question. I was especially interested in the answer given to Abe because I myself am trying to decide on a therapist to go to. He was warned about certain types of therapists, called fuzzy seducers and emotional rescuers. I imagine some therapists may take offens ... Read more..

Question: I am torn between my responsibilities to my wife and teenage children whom I love dearly, and my attraction to guys. From a very young age I battled with my sexuality, and hated myself for it. My parents were alcoholics, abusive and very homophobic. I was sexually abused at the age of 11, and as a teenager I hated gay guys, because in my mind a g ... Read more..

Question: My questions relate to answers to two other questions posted recently. Someone was upset because her boyfriend was paying money to see a therapist, but rather than helping the relationship, it was making things worse. She said (if I may quote), "He thinks that I am jealous - it's more like a feeling of betrayal that he refuses to talk to me about ... Read more..

Question: I never thought that buying $2 scratchies could become a serious problem. Well, it has for me and my husband. We used to get one or two whenever we were passing a newsagent, now we go out of our way to buy them. We spend up to $50 a week but neither of us can afford that much money. We tried to cut back and succeeded until my cousin's boss won $25 ... Read more..

Question: The discussions about therapist neutrality and the one where the couple wasn't included in the therapy, leaving the person feeling betrayed, is great and has left me wondering. My partner is in therapy and this has been great for him but has left me thinking I'm falling behind in understanding him, me and us. He's completely open about what happen ... Read more..

Question: A year ago today, my mother died suddenly. Sorting through her belongings, my sister and I were amazed at how much stuff she had hoarded away in drawers and cupboards, beautiful gifts that never saw the light of day. It made me realise that I too can be overly precious about life. I recall being told so many times "you only have one life, don't ... Read more..

Question: I've noticed something about myself that I don't understand. My longest relationship lasted 21 years and the shortest, just two months. I have been with my present partner for two years. Since the age of nine I've had strong feelings for one person or another. I recently discovered that there is a part of me that does not want to have such feeling ... Read more..

Question: Does anyone know if there is any government/scheme that funds an individual to see a psychologist or psychotherapist, rather than a psychiatrist? I'm just wondering if the current system only funds keeping people locked in the medical system rather than enabling their rehabilitation through alternatives. Thank you for your time. Julie Answer(1) ... Read more..

Question: I'm concerned that my son is being bullied at school but if I ask him, he ignores the question by changing the subject or making an excuse that he has to do something. He is in his first year of high school (12 yrs old). His grades, normally A's, have dropped, and he has lost interest in mixing socially with others his own age. He is also on ed ... Read more..

Question: Is it common for someone with a mental illness to have more than one condition, for example schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder at the same time? Answer (1) In short, yes. Some psychological conditions actually have more things in common than they have separating them - a lot of overlap. For example, anxious feelings very often a ... Read more..

Question: I would like to know the extent to which therapists are trained to remain neutral when faced with a client who wants advice on whether he or she should stay in a relationship. I expect that where the client is clearly being badly treated by his or her partner, a therapist may urge the client to seriously consider leaving, but in many, perhaps mos ... Read more..

Question: If one of the persons I work for was to leave I could say I loved my job, but I can't count on that happening. He's been there longer than me and shows no sign of going anywhere soon. I would leave except I need the money. I've tried talking to one of my bosses who is sympathetic but nothing can be done. It is getting me down to the point that ... Read more..

Question: My wife and I met in our final year of high school and have been together ever since. We got married just over a year ago. Our relationship is solid except for a couple of things that are starting to cause problems between us. I feel a bit at a loss because I've not had much experience as far as women go. I sense she is not altogether happy and wa ... Read more..

Question: Why don't we appreciate what we have until it is lost, the ones we love, until they have left? Why do we remain complacent until it's too late? Answer (1) These are interesting questions - yes we humans are certainly strange creatures. I do not know why we tend to do this except maybe it is a way of protecting ourselves from the distress of worr ... Read more..

Question: My boyfriend of 4 years has been seeing a psychotherapist for the last 8 months and there is no change in his behaviours or attitude. Apart from the financial issues involved I resent that he pays money to communicate with someone else when he doesn't communicate with me. He thinks that I am jealous - it's more like a feeling of betrayal that he r ... Read more..

Question: My mother, aged 65, has always been troubled. She has been treated by phychologists and psychiatrists since around 25 years and has been medicated since that age with various products, ie valium, serapax to Prothiaden and Risperdal. Mum's psychiatrist regards her as suffering from schizo-affective disorder with a very high degree of generalised an ... Read more..

Question: I have an other child from a married man. Currently the father has no contact, by his choice. Our daughter is young so I'm not so worried about explaining all this to her yet, but I also have 6 year old twins who ask me a lot of questions. How do I explain the situation to my older daughters? Their father has contact with them and I was married to ... Read more..

Question: My father (who is no longer alive) was a very angry man - he hated everyone, especially his own family and he often took his frustration out on my mother or me. We managed to shield my younger sister from him most of the time. I think that as a kid I came to the conclusion that anger was bad news and I didn't want it in my life. Certainly, I didn' ... Read more..

Question: Is it okay to be deeply sad for 20 years and not call it depression? Answer (1) Some losses are irreparable and some grieving is without end. Some lives too swiftly taken for a complete goodbye and some loves too brief to fully mend a broken heart. I think of parents who miscarry, of children lost to illness. I think of whole communities, disposs ... Read more..

Question: What is betrayed by an illicit affair and why does it matter? Answer: In order to navigate relationship we have a well tried mental map, which most of the time shows us where we have come from, where we stand and where we're going. It's okay to not know where we are some of the time and to be surprised by where we're heading. However, in our most ... Read more..

Question: One of my younger sisters has been depressed off and on for many years, she also has a drinking problem. She started counselling 5 weeks ago. I'm worried because instead of getting better, she is experiencing higher than usual anxiety and regressing back to a child like state. I spoke to her counsellor by phone and she said that it is not uncommon ... Read more..

Question: My husband recently told me that he is no longer physically attracted to me. He maintains that he still loves me and after I found out that he nearly kissed a friend of ours and that they had been sharing intimate emails, I told him to decide one way or the other: if he wanted to make things work with me or split up. We have been together for 11 y ... Read more..

Question: I've been in a relationship on and off with the same guy for 5 years - he recently ended his short engagement to get back with me... several months have passed and now he has reneged and is not sure if he wants to be with me or his ex-fiancé or by himself. I have stopped seeing him - but there are so many issues, emotions, anger etc linger ... Read more..

Question: Is it a breach of ethics to treat/see 2 clients individually - not couples counselling - who are in a long term relationship? How can the therapist remain unbiased? Answer: This practice is not unethical as such but it's not a recommended practice. It can certainly present problems for both the therapist and the individuals involved. However ski ... Read more..

Question: I started therapy a year ago and resolved a number of issues. I'd like to stop but I don't know how to tell my therapist without hurting his feelings. He says he looks forward to our sessions, and I wouldn't be surprised if he tries to talk me into staying. I have the same difficulty telling my parents things that they wouldn't approve of. I' ... Read more..

Question: Hi, I'm looking for a good therapist in the Ipswich area Qld. I've suffered depression for many years, which is managed, most of the time. I have seen a psychiatrist in the past, also a psychologist. I like the idea of a psychoanalyst from reading here about the different types of therapy. I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere with the psychia ... Read more..

Question: I'm starting to get worried that I might have symptoms of schizophrenia. I don't want my family or friends to know but I probably should talk to someone. The question is who? I don't have much money to spare. Thanking you. Kevin Answer (1) Kevin, you don't say why you think you might be developing schizophrenia. You speak only of a "fear" th ... Read more..

Question: I think it is time I faced up to the fact that childhood experiences play a big role in how we get along as adults. I have tried to live a simple life but nothing is going smoothly right now. I've had a look at some of the counsellors and psychologists on your site and learned a little about the different approaches. Although this was helpful, i ... Read more..

Question: My wife and I have been married for nine years and we have two young children. I have no close friends, so other than my wife, there is no one I can talk to about personal things. I've been thinking more and more along the lines of seeing a counsellor but haven't as yet worked up the courage. Soon after the birth of our first child, the happy dis ... Read more..

Question: I used to like my life a lot but recently I've been withdrawn and mope around as if I were homesick. I'm turning 37 soon and don't have any children because my partner doesn't want any more (he has 2 teenagers from his first marriage). It keeps running through my mind that I don't have much time left. I would love to have the experience of bein ... Read more..

Question: I'm a male and my therapist is a woman. I've had ten sessions in just under three months. Twice now I've attempted to stop seeing her by making up excuses but this has backfired both times. My feelings for her are quite strong, and this is the basis of my dilemma. It has become awkward because I told her that I have these feelings but led her ... Read more..

Question: Could some one please explain the concept of transference. Is there anything which can be done to prevent this from happening? Answer: It's something like this.... A person or therapist I may be interacting with suddenly appears to have particular qualities or characteristics of people whom I knew/know from my past. These people in the past have ... Read more..

Question: My 14 year old daughter who has struggled with fluctuating weight since she was 9, put on a few kilos during the school break. She was worried her friends would notice and turn it into a big deal, so she started dieting and exercising extensively just prior to starting back at school. I have endeavoured to educate my children to be mindful of wh ... Read more..

Question:  I've not long returned from an overseas holiday and I can't get excited about being back at work. I don't know for sure what would be a more suitable career choice but I am certain that what I'm doing now is a bad match. A counselling type of job appeals to me but I would feel more confident if I had some way of figuring out if my pers ... Read more..

Question: The term mental health confuses me. I read so much about the need for a holistic approach and yet our language continues to be a 'bad fit' for how we humans now see things. Is this something we can fix or is it too late? Answer: "our language continues"... to me implies that we have to recognise and accommodate the "old" (and current in some cir ... Read more..

Question: My cousin is also a close friend of mine and has started doing drugs. He's 19 and I'm a couple of years younger. I don't think its my place to be telling him what to do with his life but it's getting to the stage where he could really mess things up. I want to help, I just don't know how. Answer: It is often the case that young people listen m ... Read more..

Question: I recently married for the second time. This partnership is much more compatible than my previous marriage in that we are quite suited. We have similar interests and temperament, and all things considered, I can think of no reason to be feeling anything but happy. Recently however, I have become more and more restless, bored even. I don't under ... Read more..

Question:  My husband has depression. We have 3 boys under 5 and really do struggle some days to enjoy each others company as my husband lacks energy and general happiness. Will this affect our children, will they understand and how will we know if they are feeling depressed? Answer:  Children are like sponges, they take in far more than we could ... Read more..

Question: I'm tossing up between doing a degree in social work and a degree in psychology. Can someone clarify what the main differences are between these two courses of study? I've been led to believe that the former is a tad easier and more practical than the latter. Answer: Though I am from neither discipline myself, I have worked closely with both dur ... Read more..

Question: I saw a psychologist when I was in my early 20's about a phobia I had. He helped me get over it gradually with hypnotherapy. Now, several years later it is starting to re-emerge. I don't understand why this is happening - I thought I was cured. Maybe I should try a different kind of therapy? Answer: Maybe you should. Phobias are an extreme o ... Read more..

Question: I've been told that I'm passive-aggressive... could someone please explain what this means? I think it's something to do with anger but that's all I know. Answer: Passive-aggressive is a term used to describe a certain way in which hostility is expressed and yet at the same time, disguised as something else. Eg: a shot at someone or something, p ... Read more..

Question: Does anyone know what the best course of action is when the counsellor you have been seeing for sometime refers you on to someone else and you simply can't make the same sort of connection? Answer: I would have assumed that before your previous counsellor had referred you on, there would have been very thorough and detailed discussions as to pr ... Read more..

Question: My teenage daughter has been seeing a school counsellor. I would like to talk to the counsellor before school ends for the year but I'm not sure if this is permissable. Am I allowed to enquire about her well-being? My daughter doesn't tell me anything about what is troubling her. Answer: School counselors are basically teachers with specific c ... Read more..

Question: Does a psychologist's course of study include pharmacology? Answer: No, not really! However, psychologists can and often do pick up some superficial pharmacological knowledge if they have an internship in a medical model institution but their academic courses provide virtually nothing substantial in this regard. If you feel you require this inc ... Read more..

Question: I'm sure my wife and kids don't mean to drive me crazy but at times they do. I get uptight and start yelling and picking a fight when really what I want is to just have some peace and quiet. I would like to pack them all off to someplace else during the school holidays, just a week or two so I could have the place to myself. This will never h ... Read more..

Question: How did counselling sessions come to be one hour long or thereabouts? Has it always been this way? Answer: Freud devised the analytic hour, as he felt that this was both a convenient time unit for charging a set fee and also, about the maximum time he was able to give someone his utmost, undivided attention and concentration. The analytic "hour ... Read more..

Question: I have a friend who says he manages to stay cool calm and collected because he simply trusts the Universe. I would like to have this unflappable approach to life but when I look around and see the injustice, the suffering, the cruelty, and the ignorance, I feel overwhelmed with sadness. It all seems so hopeless. How can I trust a Universe that d ... Read more..

Question: I have just finished my HSC and would like to have a break from study but my parents are worried in a major way that I might not resume studies. I have a good chance of getting into the course I want to do at Uni but the thought of going into more of the same is making me agitated. I'm sick of classes and assignments and exams and would really l ... Read more..

Question: I am plagued by nightmares, one night after another. This has been happening for several months and I believe it is because of a traumatic experience I had when I was very young. What I don't understand is why it took so many years before I started to have the nightmares. Everything else in my life is okay. Answer: You may very well be right ... Read more..

Question: I saw a show on TV during the week on teenagers and depression. I was struck by how anti-depressants affect individuals differently. Some were clearly helped and others suffered all the more. There was no explanation of why this is so. Could someone please elaborate a little on what scientific research has been done on the matter? Many thanks. ... Read more..

Question: My husband and I have been married for just over three years and known each other for six. Up until a year ago we had a very satisfying sexual relationship. I started a new demanding job around the same time. Since then my libido has progressively decreased to the point where I hardly ever get fully aroused. I have been blaming exhaustion for t ... Read more..

Question: Is there any protocol or regulation that prevents a therapist from having a relationship with someone who is a previous client? Answer: This sort of thing is generally officially frowned upon and in some cases, may even be a reason for deregistering a therapist, if a serious complaint is made. Whatever the circumstances, the therapist / patient ... Read more..

Question: My brother-in-law was injured in a work accident as a result of unsafe work practices. Three months later, his back is still bad and he can only do light duties, but must go back to work. He has developed an anxiety condition related to the incident, where he is in a constant state of panic - he won't answer the phone or see his friends, and he st ... Read more..

Question: Have you noticed that when something good happens, it is better if there is someone else present to share it with? Although this is true for me, it doesn't sit with me philosophically. I want to be able to see something beautiful and not have the experience diminished by the fact that I'm alone at the time. I have travelled extensively oversea ... Read more..

Question: For a couple of months I've been having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. I feel so heavy and tired I can hardly move, even though I've had several hours sleep. Some days I drink up to 3 cups of coffee just to get myself off to work. I saw my doctor about it but tests were clear. I can't think of any reason why I would be depressed bu ... Read more..

Question: Someone I work with gets on my nerves. I've tried ignoring him but I'm worried that I'm just bottling up my anger and will end up saying or doing something that will cost me my job. This is the last thing I want to happen. I live in Sydney's north shore and am thinking I should see a counsellor, but I'm also planning a holiday over Christmas a ... Read more..

Question: I'm confused about my feelings towards my best friend. I have a boyfriend but I enjoy the company of my friend (female) more. I've always considered myself to be straight when it comes to sexual preference and to be honest, that's exactly how I want it to be. I've tried not seeing so much of my friend in the hope that the feelings will go away ... Read more..

Question: I want to stop taking 1.5mg of Xanax and .05mg Rivotril prescribed by my GP who says I must accept that my brain needs them. I don't believe this, yet I can't find a Dr and/or Psychologist who can help me. I was initially prescribed Xanax due to a bad reaction to a one off dose of Prozac. I was told to take Xanax for 3 months then change to 2mg o ... Read more..

Question:  I am 12 and my sister is 10. Our parents are separated and our mother is dying from cancer. My Dad says he is not comfortable coming to our house to look after my Mum and I feel I have to do it all by myself as well as look after my sister. I cry a lot and don't know what to do. My mum does have a lot of friends but they are not there all the ... Read more..

Question: I would like to know whether I am co-dependant. What are the symptoms? I tried to end a 2 1/2 year relationship but felt so isolated and lonely and at the same time thinking of who I could find to fill the gap. My partner felt the same so we resumed our relationship but I am wondering if I need to work on areas of my life. Someone said to me that ... Read more..

Question: I'm worried about my best friend. Every now and again she gets hysterical and goes to pieces, and there doesn't seem to be any sensible basis for it. Something pretty bad happened to her when she was in high school, but I didn't know her back then. She doesn't like to talk about it now, so there's not much use me suggesting she see a psycholog ... Read more..

Question: I've lost interest in sex. This is not easy to admit out loud, especially since males are supposed to be always looking for it. It wouldn't be such a major issue except that my girlfriend thinks I'm losing interest in her. Last night she suggested I might be getting it elsewhere. I blew my stack. Not the best way to handle things, I know. I' ... Read more..

Question: I wake every night around 3am and can't get back to sleep. Is this something a psychotherapist can help with? I don't want to take sleeping pills. Grace Answer: Sleep difficulties are often stress related, so yes... psychotherapy should help. There are many aspects to addressing such an issue. The good news is... help is available, so you don ... Read more..

Question: My two children are living examples of 'chalk and cheese'. I have no trouble at all with my eldest. He is now 11. My other son however is causing me a great deal of concern. He is often defiant, rarely co-operative and generally gets on everyone's nerves. Is there some way to determine whether it is just his personality or whether there is so ... Read more..

It's a guy thing!

    Posted in in - Forum Questions

Question: I am worried about my lack of emotion. When faced with a situation that I think should have an affect on me, I don't feel anything much at all. My father passed away quite recently. We weren't particularly close but I expected to be a little more choked up than I was. Throughout the funeral I felt only a sort of numbness. I usually tell mysel ... Read more..

Question: I'm hoping you will be able to give me some advice. I am 42 and live alone. My children have left home and my husband and I seperated nearly three years ago. I have developed a habit of waking up in the middle of the night, going to the kitchen and bringing food back to bed. In the morning I don't normally remember what happened but the empty ... Read more..

Question: Someone said to me the other day that they liked that I never get angry. Seems a fair enough thing to say, but strangely enough the comment irritated me. Is it possible that the reason I don't get angry is because I don't want to risk not being liked? Answer: Irritation is an aspect of anger and the very fact that you were irritated can reassu ... Read more..

Question:  I've been going out with my girlfriend for nearly three years now and am starting to think about settling down. She says she won't marry me while I have a so called 'drinking problem'. Her attitude really annoys me - why should I give up one of the few pleasures in life? I don't get why she can't just accept me the way I am. Answer (1)&nb ... Read more..

Question: I have noticed a pattern in my menstrual cycle. The week prior to my period I feel lethargic and depressed. Often I wake in the night feeling intensely miserable. I try to have positive thoughts, get enough exercise, drink litres and litres of water and eat healthy food, all to no avail. Nothing seems to alter the situation. I'm wondering whether ... Read more..


    Posted in in - Forum Questions

Question: Is it ever permissable for a therapist to break confidentiality? Answer: In Australia as I understand it, we are bound by law to report to relevant agencies if someone tells us (and we believe) they are going to seriously harm themselves or another, eg suicide, assault, child abuse etc. Also, in the course of professional supervision a therapist ... Read more..

Question: I am 51 years old and have been suffering from panic attacks for more than 7 years. I have tried to get to the core of the problem by seeking help with a number of different practitioners but nothing seems to be working. Will I ever be able to overcome this mental disability? I've started to have bouts of depression and suicidal thoughts. Bott ... Read more..

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