Areas of Expertise
Adjusting to a major stressor in life can be painful, difficult and challenging. Some common reactions can include:
- Feeling anxious and agitated
- Experiencing poor concentration and low energy
- Feeling overwhelmed and having difficulty making decisions
- Having difficulties communicating in relationships
- Experiencing changes in sleep patterns
- Feeling miserable or depressed.
I offer therapy that is evidenced based and tailored to each person's particular needs, founded on an understanding of their own circumstances and history, to help alleviate distressing symptoms.
Personal exposure to a life-threatening event(s), or exposure through other's experiences, can be an extremely terrifying and confusing experience. In these circumstances you may experience some of the these symptoms:
- Changes in your body – which can include a racing heart and/or rapid breathing
- Intrusive images – flashbacks or nightmares
- Worrying thoughts and severe anxiety (including avoidance behaviours)
- Changes in mood
- Events commonly associated with PTSD are military or combat exposure, sexual violence, physical assault, childhood abuse, life threatening illnesses or severe environmental factors such as weather-related events or a fire. They can also come from other highly distressing experiences.
Recommended therapies are EMDR or trauma focussed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
EMDR is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of evidence-based cognitive therapy that can be used to treat traumatic symptoms that can be better tolerated than other approaches.
Trauma focussed Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The two trauma-focused CBT approaches are based on the theory that negative emotions are connected to the memories of the traumatic event and affect how the person thinks about the traumatic event, which leads to PTSD. The two therapies take different approaches to reducing PTSD, and work equally well. Briefly, Prolonged Exposure (PE) focuses on reducing the intense negative emotions that are caused by memories or being reminded of the trauma. Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) focuses mainly on unrealistic and unhelpful thoughts a person has about the trauma. Detailed information is available.
Receiving sudden, distressing news about a serious or life-threatening change to your health can be a shocking, frightening and overwhelming. It also causes shock, fear and grief to your family and loved ones. It can overwhelming and difficult to process and manage important information while you are struggling to come to terms with the diagnosis, yet this is often the time extremely important decisions need to be made.
For example, when you are diagnosed with cancer, your life, and the lives of those close to you, are turned upside down. Doctor’s appointments are scheduled and happen very quickly. From the initial visit to your GP, to meeting the surgeon and then the cancer specialists (medical oncologists and radiation oncologists), - it can all seem overwhelming.
Psychological therapy and emotional support can help you and your family negotiate the cancer experience and manage the decisions to be made.
Couples coming to therapy know how difficult it can be to develop and sustain an intimate and satisfying, relationship.
The stress(ors) and demands of modern living and the issues that arise in work/life balance, parenting, financial pressures, physical and mental health issues, and elderly parents can all add to the complexity of maintaining our important intimate relationships.
Communication styles are learned early in life and can be helpful ways of communicating in the family growing up, but these styles can be unhelpful when in relationships where the learned communication styles of others are different. This can lead to clashes in adult relationships that can become entrenched, problematic, and lead to high levels of distress.
Similarly, people with different personalities are attracted to the differences of each person, but can struggle to manage these differences when life’s stressors lead to differing reactions and coping styles.
In Australia, it's estimated that 45% of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.
In any year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million anxiety.
Depression is a diagnosed if you experience at least five of the following symptoms for more than 14 days.
- Changes in mood (how sad you feel)
- Eating more or less
- Changes in sleep patterns - more or less
- Changes in concentration
- Changes in energy levels
- Suicidal thoughts
- Loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed in the recent past
- Feeling guilty about past events
- Feeling hopeless about the future
Psychological therapy involves a multiple-system approach, exploring some of the following:
- Thinking styles
- Practical ways of improving mood – increasing exercise, planning pleasant activities
- Managing stress, using relaxation techniques and mindfulness
- Goal planning and problem solving
Stress and anxiety are different experiences.
Stress is the emotional and physical reaction to an external event. The individual feels that they don’t have the resources needed to manage the experience. So, it’s common to feel overwhelmed, and sleep and appetite may also be affected. It can be normal to notice some physical symptoms such as headaches, racing heart, rapid breathing, and some aches and pains in your body. However, when the stressor is over or less intense, these symptoms should settle, for example, attending a job interview or walking into a party where you don’t know anyone.
Therapy focuses on the cause of the stress and how to deal with the consequences.
With stress, one usually knows what is causing the stress reaction. With anxiety, you may be less aware of the cause or specific trigger. It’s your reaction which becomes the problem. It can be a serious condition that can make dealing with daily life difficult.
Each anxiety disorder has its own particular symptoms. There are some common features that tend to fall into three categories
Physical - Symptoms that include a racing heart, rapid heart rate, clammy hands, agitation and nausea. This is known as the "fight or flight response". This is a response that prepares your body to race away or fight by flooding it with adrenaline and sending more blood to the organs that could be needed for sudden or extreme physical reaction. This is often misplaced in anxiety disorders where the threat does not require such a response.
Behavioural – avoidance of places or situations that make you feel anxious makes sense in the short term but leads to increased anxiety and fear in the long-term.
Psychological - apart from feeling worried and fearful, thinking about the worst case scenario in a situation and being terrified that you cannot cope with this should it occur keeps you anxious and frightened.
Psychological therapy focuses on addressing all these aspects of anxiety and their impact on the quality of your life.
Christina is an Board Approved Supervisor able to provide supervision to the following individuals:
- principal supervision to provisional psychologists completing the 5+1 internship program
- secondary supervision to provisional psychologists completing the 5+1 internship program
- supervision to provisional psychologists completing an accredited higher degree program (Clinical Psychology)
- supervision to provisional psychologists working in addition to their higher degree placements
- principal supervision to registrars in an approved area of practice endorsement program (Clinical Psychology)
- secondary supervision to registrars in an approved area of practice endorsement program