In my 20 years of work in the palliative care and bereavement fields, it has become clear to me that the general public isn’t well informed about what to expect when we’re grieving. This can create problems for grieving people like:• Experiencing pressure from others about your grief process and how you’re meant to do it, be it that there is an expec ... Read more..

As attached as we might be to the idea of the "perfect family", one can't help wondering if such a family exists. After all, being in a family means having to deal with what feels like layer upon layer of imperfection ... disappointment, frustration, unfairness and loss. Experience is clearly trying to teach us that no person is perfect, no situation is ... Read more..

It may seem a little strange in a discussion about family relationships to talk about taking care of number one, but believe me it’s a really important and healthy thing to talk about and do, especially in a stepfamily. Why is self-care so important in a stepfamily? Great question! I’m glad you asked. Do you remember the safety announcement that al ... Read more..

One important piece of advice I would offer as both therapist and stepmother to another therapist working with stepfamilies, is try not to push too hard and too soon for change. Whilst sometimes our role as therapist is to bring things to a head or shake things up a bit in order to bring about change, if you push too hard and at the wrong time you will defin ... Read more..

We know from family research that gender is a crucial factor in stepfamily life. It really helps to have regular discussions with your partner about how you both are noticing gender issues and the effect gender issues is having on family harmony. Family research confirms that women in all types of families are more likely to notice when things aren’t going ... Read more..

With the Christmas decorations neatly packed away for another year, we are left to nurse our emotional hangovers, pondering the complexities of our extended family and the unfinished business that often re-surfaces over the holiday period. Have you ever wondered why our emotional age drops when in the presence of the people we grew up with? Family gathe ... Read more..

I never thought I was wary of intimacy and closeness before I came to realise this in my journey as a client with a psychodynamic therapist. The turning point of realisation occurred however not in a moment of a session, but during a professional development event where the issue of treatment length was raised. The speaker was a famous psychodynamic therapis ... Read more..


Marcia Watts     Posted in in - Library - Emotions

Gratitude is something we can overlook and yet it offers such powerful benefits to our mental health. There are many benefits of expressing gratitude ranging from better physical health to improved mental alertness. The word gratitude comes from the Latin word gratia, which means grace, graciousness or gratefulness (depending on the context). In some ways g ... Read more..

In this blog I’d like to focus on the issue of building trust and what this means for us as those seeking to grow, build community, and come along side others struggling on their way. Recent events ranging from terror threats in our neighbourhoods and overseas, fatal diesease alerts, high profile stars offering apologies for indiscretion ... Read more..

This week, being mental health week, I thought it was a good time to stop and reflect on all the things that maintain mental good health in my life. Good mental health can mean many things to many people but when I think of my own mental health I tend to think in terms of the things that contain, sustain, support and energise me.  I think in terms of wa ... Read more..

Betrayal is a breaking of trust and goodwill in a relationship that can take a long time to heal from and can leave us changed forever.  It has broken marriages, ended long term friendships and created rifts in families that can span generations.  It can happen suddenly and leave us feeling shocked, as in the case of an exposed affair. Or it ca ... Read more..

This story is about the experience of Embodied Imagination (EI) work, with a traumatic memory of sexual violation, by a group of teenage boys which a client I will call Miriam experienced when she was 15. Embodied Imagination is a therapeutic and creative way of working with dreams, memories and physical symptoms, pioneered in the late 70s by Dutch Jungian ... Read more..

Families, whether biological or chosen, are what give most people’s lives their shape. Most of our happiest and most tragic experiences are somehow connected with family. Families are flawed, complex, intense organic units whose members often fail each other in important ways. But family affection is the glue that holds lives together... and gives life ... Read more..

Raymond Carver came up with a memorable title for his 1981 collection of short stories. As a moniker, What do we talk about when we talk about love has it all. It points to the impossibility of coming up with exhaustive definitions of what we most value. Love, it tells us, is not a statistic, nor a science. It is an experience best understood as a question, ... Read more..

WHO KNOWS what pushes us over the edge? A middle aged woman I once interviewed said the depression that stole her life was a mix of childhood and genes. Parents who did not show her warmth or cuddle her set the scene, but it was not until she lost her job that she entered a tunnel from which there was no escape or glimmer of light. "I get so angry when I'm t ... Read more..

The purpose of the exercise We can have extreme emotional reactions to what comes to mind involuntarily. It may sound strange but anxiety and depression can come from just being freaked out by our own thoughts. We can become addicted to "great ideas" which are soothing and develop an aversion to "depressing ideas" which are painful. What we are doing here ... Read more..

From my experience as a couples' therapist in the last 15 years, modern marriage appears to be moving towards more of a state of impermanence with acceptance rather than permanence with denial. Married couples appear more willing to split up quickly once they realise they no longer want to be together. The days of individuals living in unwanted marriages f ... Read more..

We all seek freedom and independence. We also seek intimacy and union. Often these two drives or instincts are perceived as being in conflict. Sometimes the quest for intimacy and union results in anxious attachment, which makes freedom and independence look terrifying. Other times the quest for intimacy and union results in anxious avoidance which can mak ... Read more..

Whether you like it or not one thing becoming a mum forces you to do is to reflect on the mothering you received. If you had a close, nurturing relationship with your own mum you might just take for granted that your relationship with your own children will be the same. But what happens if you don't have a good relationship with your mum or your dad. Or if y ... Read more..

I just want to share a few snippets of my morning yesterday. 5.15am awoke to the blood curdling screams of daughter # 2, I jump out of bed still clutching the doona and do a full paced sprint down the hall to her room. When I open the door she is standing up in the cot smiling, "Hello Mama". It seems she needed room service and the bell was broken, poor dea ... Read more..

If you were stranded on a desert island as a new mum (unlikely I know but stay with me), what's the one thing you would take besides food and water? Well, I think the answer should be a support network. Not a bad analogy really likening the early months of motherhood to being on a desert island. That's how it feels sometimes. I see a lot of new mums in my p ... Read more..

I see a number of women in my private practice who have moved from full-time work into full-time motherhood. Let's face it, it's a big transition and we aren't always well prepared for it. Motherhood is joyous and it's also hard work. I have noticed that many mums have set expectations of what motherhood will be like. Sometimes these expectations are so st ... Read more..

Psychodrama? What's that? Well reflect for a moment with me, will you? Do you enjoy watching a sport? Do you have a favourite sport? If you don't please imagine being someone who does. Imagine going to a live football game and it is the grand final. It is 3 seconds before the time runs out; the teams are level; silence reigns as we await an umpire's decision ... Read more..

Chances are either you or someone you know has been prescribed anti-depressants. Sadly, they have become the default drug of choice. It's so much easier for a doctor to prescribe a pill that promises to help you feel better than to take the time to figure out what the real issues are that may be causing your depression. When "feeling low' and fatigued, ther ... Read more..

Lily, a sixth grade Japanese/Australian came home from her neighbourhood school in Tokyo and burst into tears. Next week's school lunch was going to include whale meat and having spent her holidays watching the whales frolic off the coast in her mothers homeland, she came to think of whales with the same regard one would have for a pet. Lily, at the tender ... Read more..

The source of our thinking about food goes back to the early philosophers. Famous philosophers in the Western tradition were definitely talking about food. But the way it was dealt with was to basically marginalize its importance. Food and matters of the body were considered mundane. Plato, one of the founding philosophers of Western thought, complains that ... Read more..

Many articles have been written to assist women determine whether or not they have postnatal depression. This article serves as a resource for mothers who, having already identified it, want to know more about how to live through postnatal depression. At the outset it is important to note that a variety of strategies will help different individual women. W ... Read more..

For most of history, it would have been considered absurd that people would choose mates on something as irrational as love. People have always fallen in love, but it was not the main reason for getting married. For thousands of years, marriage served economic, political and social functions. Couples were not to put their feelings for each other above the ... Read more..

There are many experiences in life which remind us that change is an inevitable part of living. We can either resist change or look for ways to find new meaning in our lives. Losing a loved one, for example, is one of those changes that throw our lives into chaos and disarray. Knowing that things will never be the same again, we are forced to see our world d ... Read more..

Cancer is the folk name for a form of illness that is characterised by uninhibited and infiltrating growth of certain types of body-tissue. Cancer cells, in contrast to healthy cells, have lost the identification with the tissue from which they originated and continue to live for the sake of growing. In doing so, they destroy the subtle functional order of t ... Read more..

They say opposites attract. I don't have statistics on this, yet many years of counselling people on relationship issues have proven this to me. The very opposing characteristics that fascinate one initially, tends to be what frustrates them as the 'honeymoon phase' of the relationship ends and the real relating begins. This is where the problems start. ... Read more..

Recently while waiting in line to be served at the supermarket I overheard the checkout operator comment to a customer that she had no skills; "that's why I'm working here!" As I moved forward in the queue I observed the range of skills she was displaying; customer service, cash handling and computer operation to name a few. Sometimes, we become so familia ... Read more..

I'm sure you've heard the words, "History is only a matter of interpretation." As they emerged out of an unconscious place the words in my poem above spoke my interpretation of life, my personal myth as an adopted person. When they came through me some 14 years ago I had no real understanding of the intensity of my feelings in relation to my adoption and wha ... Read more..

by Rotem Dan Mor A little while ago I guided a tour of second year students from the institute for democratic education (where I study) to the area where the Separation Wall is being built between the Palestinian community of Beit Suriq and the Jewish-Israeli community of Mevaseret Zion. The subject of the tour was the environmental effect of the wall in t ... Read more..

What is gambling? "Staking money on uncertain events driven by chance. The major forms are wagering (racing and sports) and gaming (casinos, gaming machines, keno and lotteries)." The term "Problem Gambling" includes, but is not limited to, the condition known as "Pathological", or "Compulsive" Gambling, a progressive addiction characterized by increasing ... Read more..

by Ross Farrelly Amazing isn't it how much faith we put in our schools. Right from the tender age of five when our children are so impressionable we send them off day after day to be taught by a teacher we have hardly met. How much do we know about the teachers who will educate them, the friends they will meet and the ideas they will be fed? Very little I s ... Read more..

by Ruth Whalen MLT (ASCP) & BA Many people claim that the drug caffeine is beneficial. However, as a medical technologist experienced in chemistry and immunology, I do not advise anyone to rush to Starbucks, Gloria Jean's or the nearest chocolate counter. According to chemical manufacturers, caffeine is dangerous when swallowed (1, 2) and when inhaled (1) ... Read more..

'The photo album is kept in remembrance of those we love and we trust our memory to them. It's the first and possibly the most sacred thing we grab if our home's on fire', I think out loud. Isabel, my 20-something grand-daughter and rebel art student, holds my hand and looks up at me with that special kind of wise young pity, reserved for very old and very s ... Read more..

For many men, the idea of seeking help, either medically or emotionally, is a serious challenge. They tend by their nature to prefer self-reliance. Resorting to external help may risk their sense of autonomy and independence, so they often ignore or minimise their emotional pains, even the physical ones. Research shows that in some cases this tendency can be ... Read more..

No, I'm not referring to Madonna's 1980's hit song. The title refers to a psychiatric condition found predominantly in young women - Borderline Personality Disorder. Symptoms include such things as: intense personal relationships, fear of abandonment, low self image, damaging impulsiveness, suicidal thoughts or self harming behaviour, feeling empty or bad, ... Read more..

In a world in which we are increasingly persuaded that all our discomforts should be dispensed with by way of a new drug, a new body, a new car or holiday, leisure activity, home renovation etc., etc., there is clearly no shortage of insecurities to exploit, nor 'products' to promise fulfilment. Inevitably, these remedies fail to deliver and insecurity resu ... Read more..

Analytical Hypno-Psychotherapy - Hypnosis as a tool in therapy. Hypnosis is one of those things shrouded in misunderstanding, by both many therapists and lay-persons alike. All too often the term Hypnotherapy is used in place of the term Suggestion Therapy. This happens so much so, that the two are considered to be the same thing. Suggestion Therapy may be ... Read more..

Many people nowadays lead isolated lives, especially with the range of convenient services and opportunities available for people to remain indoors and away from the world. Television, cable, internet, computers, mobile telephones, all enable us to remain 'connected' with people without actually leaving our homes. However, with this freedom of information a ... Read more..

Every time a natural impulse is denied (don't shout, don't cry, don't look, don't get too excited), we cut off from our aliveness, our connection with our biological pulsation; thwarting our ability to experience "streamings" - a cellular function that gives us feelings of security, belonging and wellbeing. Most of us lost contact with these streamings at su ... Read more..

It is important to ask for help. Many people feel deeply ashamed of having such thoughts, and are unwilling to tell others about them. This type of thinking can be due to depression, which is both physical and psychological in origin. With a broken leg, you would have no problem asking for help because in our culture, it is appropriate to get help with obvi ... Read more..

In all counselling the key element is the quality of the relationship that is formed between client(s) and counsellor. In my lifetime the art of counselling has grown to become a major profession. As with all growing movements there is a lively debate in place concerning the nature of this work and the theories that support it. As a counsellor of over thir ... Read more..

Communication is the biggest reason couples get into conflict. Communication refers to all aspects of what you say, but many of us only focus on the words we speak. In fact, you communicate in a multitude of ways including your tone of voice, eye contact, body language, choice of words, and your unspoken and unintended messages. You also use silences, pauses ... Read more..

At least 10% of Australian children are conceived in an affair. Some DNA studies put it as high as 15%. In 2003 more than 3,000 DNA paternity tests were commissioned by Australian men, and in almost a quarter of those cases, the test revealed that 'their' child had been fathered by someone else. Children conceived in an extramarital affair are vulnerable t ... Read more..

In the time I have been working I have noticed that people do not like to give themselves a pat on the back for things. Everyday, I witness people overcoming amazing trauma and difficulties. I sit with them as they grow and uncover new ways of being. I support them as they face the twists and turns of their relationships. These people aren't unusual - we are ... Read more..

Everyone is heading to the Net in droves to seek out Love, Romance and Sex!! It is becoming a totally acceptable and legitimate form of dating. No longer do we have to go to bars and clubs to meet our perfect match - we can find them from the comfort of our own home. All we need is a dial up connection and a crash course in cyber talk! I won't bore you with ... Read more..

Anger is a topic which brings many people to see me. I am still surprised to find how many people have negative perceptions about anger. It is certainly an awesome emotion. And all too often, anger has become associated with aggression and violence, through experiences of abuse, domestic violence and bullying. TV and movies further promote anger as a destruc ... Read more..

Therapy involves disclosing parts of us which we don't reveal to anyone - hurts from the past, thoughts that are different to others', feelings which seem "wrong" or inappropriate. For most people, talking about their deepest fears is quite a big deal. A significant degree of trust in the therapist is necessary for the client to open up. So it's not simple ... Read more..

Everyone dreams. But why do we dream? What do they mean? Should we bother paying any attention to them? And how on earth do we interpret our dreams and nightmares? Some people believe that dreams are irrelevant stories our mind tells us when we are asleep; like going to a movie marathon in our own bed. Others theorize that dreams simply occur as a result of ... Read more..

Puberty Girl is the result of over a decade of working with girls in their teens (9-12 year olds) and wanting to offer these girls something they could use as a resource. I deeply hope that Puberty Girl is a book that girls would want to pick up and read out of their own interest and curiosity, and not because their parents said they should. It is filled wi ... Read more..

The Tsunami disaster has deeply touched every one of us. Not since "September 11" has such graphic and distressing footage flooded our television screens. For most of us we have not, in our lifetimes, witnessed such an awesome destruction of human life. Nor have we been involved in such a massive wave of compassionate assistance for a remote community. The g ... Read more..

A Kind of Blessing

    Posted in in - Library - Emotions

Understanding the power of menstruation by Alexandra Pope, Author of The Wild Genie The stress sensitive barometer in women, the menstrual cycle is an exquisite system for sensing both physical and psychological wellbeing. Menstruation is an initiatory moment. Women can potentially open to a highly charged altered state, giving them access to a singu ... Read more..

When trying to get a message across to others, we may resort to submissive, manipulative or aggressive behaviours. "I" statements provide an honest and effective alternative. The 'recipe' for a 4 part "I" statement (or 'assertion statement') is easily learned. It is as follows: When you… (a description of the other's behaviour) I feel… (use ... Read more..

Chri$tma$ is here again! Shopping centres are full of decorations and bustling shoppers. Kids are finally enjoying school now that the pressure to be productive has diminished during end of year activities. Holidays are planned, camping gear or caravans are dusted off. A time where family members are drawn together often from around the country to catch u ... Read more..

In my years as a therapist, I have worked in a number of environments - doctor's surgeries, youth centres, training facilities, and private practices. The spaces provided to work in have ranged from ugly and depressing, through utilitarian and plain, to comfortable and friendly. In all of these working environments I have found myself 'attending to the spa ... Read more..

Enjoyable personal and work relationships often elude us. While some feel uncomfortable about getting close, many others endure power struggles, stone-walling, abuse and/or indecision about 'getting out'. Trying to pinpoint the events in our past that caused us to be the way we are, and making efforts to change ourselves or others, rarely helps. The harder ... Read more..

The winter break is well and truly over and has probably seen us overindulge on food and/or alcohol. Spring and summer are just around the corner, and the lure of the beach is getting closer to the forefront of our minds. At this time of year many of my clients start talking about their bodies, their weight and their self-esteem. The relationship we have wi ... Read more..

Creative expression is a soulful act. It connects us to deeper meaning in our everyday life. It is responsible for enhancing our lives in a multitude of ways. It is an essential aspect of a healthy and well-balanced lifestyle. When engaged in creative pursuits, people report feeling more relaxed, their heart rate slows, breathing deepens, and a meditative st ... Read more..

Panic is an awful thing to experience. If you have had it you would know - the terror, nausea, irrational thoughts, shortness of breath, racing heartbeat, hot and cold flushes, sweating, dizziness, numbness, tingling, trembling…many people feel like they are about to die! But then slowly you return to normal again. In my practice, I would see someon ... Read more..

Celebrating difference is, in my view, one of the most critical challenges we humans need to face. I say this because it seems to me that intolerance is at the heart of many of the issues we struggle with today, both personally and globally. If we could move from intolerance to acceptance, I believe the world would be a very different place. 'Difference' si ... Read more..

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