Author Archives: Paul Reid

Sexual Abuse Counselling Melbourne

Sexual abuse and assault is one of the most serious crimes that men and women face in Australia today. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the number of people with a principal offence of sexual assault and related offences increased by 19 per cent in the year 2013-14 and numbers have increase over the previous years and decades.

In comparison to the statistics on the global average of reported sexual assault of 7.2 per cent, the reported sexual assault of Australian and New Zealand women who are 15 years or older is at 16.4 per cent, over double the global average.

Given the increasing high numbers of sexual assaults that happen in Australia, the cultural stigmas still surrounding the reporting of sexual assault and abuse and the overwhelming and destructive psychological effects of sexual assault and abuse, psychological treatments such as counselling, psychotherapy and supports groups are much needed in our society to help those who have experienced sexual abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is classified as any sexual act that occurs without the individual’s agreement or consent that is violent, hostile and exploitative. Despite the high number of women who are sexually assaulted, as was previously mentioned, a lot of cases are unfortunately never reported to the police, as the victim and their families often know the perpetrator of the assault. Given the familiarity of the perpetrator to the victim of the assault, this can often create added conflict and suffering psychologically to the victim, particularly if the perpetrator is a family member of the victim.

The Psychological Effects of Sexual Abuse

Sexual assault and abuse is a highly traumatic experience. The psychological effects of the abuse can often be long lasting and devastating to the individual. The individuals who have been sexually abused often experience the incapacitating psychological symptoms of post-traumatic stress. Some of the symptoms of post-traumatic stress can be re-experiencing the memories of the abuse, persistent thoughts and nightmares of the trauma and avoiding stimulus related to the abuse, among many others.

Sexual abuse can also cause a disruption in your sense of identity, which in turn changes the way you relate to yourself, others and the world around you. The feelings of intense shame, confusing and conflicting emotions around guilt and responsibility and a decreased sense of worth can lead to self-destructive and risky behaviors.

Counselling and Psychotherapy Can Help

It is important to recognize that in all cases of sexual abuse, it is never the victim’s fault and that for each person the experience of abuse will be different. To how each person responded to the assault or abuse itself, to how the psychological trauma is experienced, the many meanings that the victim has made of the abuse and how the mind and body will respond to the abuse will be different in each individual case.

This is important for the person who has been abused to know, as it is important in the therapeutic process to speak about and to understand what has happened to you and how it has affected you in order to work through and to try and make sense of all the painful aspects of the abuse and its effect on your life. There is no set time for how long this can take and this is another aspect that will be different in each case.

If you or someone you may know has experienced sexual abuse, there are many resources out there that can help and I have listed a few of those at the end of this article. I work therapeutically with men and women who have suffered from sexual abuse and you can contact me either through phone or email if you feel counselling or psychotherapy would help you.

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Phone: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Resources:

CASA – Centre Against Sexual Assault

DVRCV – Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria

1800Respect – National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service

Phobia Counselling & Psychotherapy in Melbourne

The experience of anxiety can be understood, in some cases, as a signal and reaction to a danger, whether in a perceived threat from within the mind itself of the individual or a perceived threat in the external world. The anticipatory anxiety from an external sense of threat can help you to prepare yourself to ‘fight or flight’ from the situation that produces the sense of danger and threat.

In the case of an internal sense of threat, from thoughts or emotions that come from within the mind itself that feel overwhelming to the individual, the ability to respond to this internal sense of threat becomes a more complex and problematic situation. With this sense of threat, the individual feels the need to defend him or herself against these thought and emotions in order to reduce the feeling of anxiety that it produces within them. One of these defensive strategies that the individual can sometimes take to reduce this overwhelming anxiety is to produce what is known as a phobia.

What is a Phobia?

Phobia can be defined as an extreme fear of a particular object, such a particular animals like spiders or snakes, or a particular situation, such as leaving home or being in crowded places. Those who suffer from a phobia experience severe and overwhelming anxiety if they encounter the phobic object or are in the feared situation. As a consequence, the individual develop strategies in order to avoid the object or situations so to prevent the overwhelming experience of anxiety from occurring. In some cases, these strategies may become so elaborate that the individuals’ life becomes severely restricted and can be the cause of a great amount of suffering.

The Types of Phobias  

Specific phobias have been classified into four major subtypes, with a fifth category that do not fit into the other four subtypes.

  1. Situational Phobias
  1. Blood-Injection Injury Phobias
  1. Natural Environmental Phobias
  1. Animal Phobias
  1. Other Phobias

Why Phobia?

Although the function of a phobia can be seen in general terms as a way of limiting or avoiding the overwhelming experience of anxiety that the phobic object or situation produces, the underlying question of the severe anxiety that the phobia protects the individual is one that needs to be explored within the psychotherapeutic process.

How Counselling and Psychotherapy Can Help

Although the classifications of the different subtypes of phobia can be helpful to help place a phobia in a specific category, what is more important in the psychotherapeutic treatment of phobia is to speak about how and why, in your specific circumstance and in your unique history, the formation of the phobia came to be. Counselling and psychotherapy can help you to come to terms with and to work through all the sources of anxiety that the phobia has been established to protect you from.

If you or someone you know may be having difficulties with anxiety or phobias, please contact Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy via the contact details below.

Phobia Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au
Phone: 0420496599

Phone Counselling & Psychotherapy in Melbourne

Australians, like many people in the world, travel more and relocate more often to reside in different locations, in Australia and overseas, more frequently now than ever before in history. This can be due to numerous factors, like relocating overseas or interstate for employment opportunities, family reasons or a myriad of other reasons that bring people to make the choice to relocate. The choice to relocate interstate or overseas can sometimes come very quickly with little time to arrange everything required making the move as easy as possible and this can create disruptions to the many facets of an individual’s day-to-day life.

Due to the fact that people relocate so frequently, this can also cause disruption in the therapeutic process. Sometimes these opportunities or choices to relocate interstate or overseas can interrupt important counselling and psychotherapeutic work and although they want to continue their therapeutic work, the distance and time away through the relocation makes it a seeming impossibility. Although is it possible to continue the therapeutic work with another therapist in their new state or country of residence, many people are reluctant to start the therapeutic process with a new therapist. This is where counselling or psychotherapy over the phone can be a helpful, complementary and sometimes necessary tool that can be used to not only continue the therapeutic work but also in some cases, start the therapeutic work.

In this short article, we will be looking at some of the questions and practicalities that the process of counselling and psychotherapy brings when it is done at a distance and how it can be extremely useful and helpful to many people who want to start or to continue the therapeutic process at a distance.

Can Counselling & Psychotherapy Start Over the Phone?

As has been discussed previously, individuals want to start the therapeutic process for many different reasons and for the majority of people; coming in person for the therapeutic sessions is a simple task. However, for others, coming in to the sessions can be very difficult for reasons I will speak about later in this article. Thankfully, this doesn’t preclude the possibility of beginning and continuing on the therapeutic process via the phone. As speech, the vocalization of thoughts, feelings and everything else that comes into our conscious awareness, is the medium that we use in the therapeutic endeavour, as long as the phone connection is clear, over the phone counselling and psychotherapy can be just as useful, helpful and life changing as it is conducting it in the clinical space.

Some Challenges to Counselling & Psychotherapy Over the Phone

There can obviously be some challenges to the therapeutic process over the phone as well. Some people don’t like speaking over the phone and feel the need to be able to see the person that they are speaking to directly. Conversely, the opposite can also be true, that some people don’t like to see the person they are talking too and the phone can be a convenient way to avoid this. Some of the same difficulties that appear in the clinical space also appear through the process over the phone as well, as the same difficulties of speaking about and working through some of the more painful parts of their symptom can disrupt the process in many different ways.

The impossibility of “reading” body language can sometimes be seen as an impediment to some people in the therapeutic process and some therapists too, placing undue importance to “reading” body language. It is well known that body language isn’t a universal code that shares the same meaning and expression for everyone, as body language isn’t independent of the cultural and linguistic background of the individual. As one bodily gesture can contain and express a very different meaning from one person to another, the so-called reading of that gesture is impossible to understand without asking about what that gesture may signify. So, much like the therapeutic process in the clinical space, the person still needs to speak about that in depth in order for that to be communicated effectively.

Other Reasons Why Counselling & Psychotherapy Over the Phone Can Be Helpful

Outside of the choice to relocate to another state or country, some people can find it difficult to attend regular therapeutic session for a number of factors. Some of these can be agoraphobia, social anxieties, being temporarily out of the state or country, illness, immobility or sometimes the time of travel can create problems to regularly attend sessions in person if the person lives quite a distance away.

However, as speech is the medium of counselling and psychotherapy, short and long term counselling and psychotherapy over the phone is a helpful and complementary option to continue important therapeutic work or to start the counselling and psychotherapeutic process. Although counselling or psychotherapy over the phone is not for everyone, in some cases it can be the only way for people to start this important and healing process.

I have and continue to work with people who have started the counselling & psychotherapeutic process over the phone and others who have moved overseas or interstate and have continued the therapeutic work at a distance. I am happy discuss this possibility with you if this is something that may be helpful for you and to answer any questions you may have about this.

Phone Counselling Melbourne
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Ph: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Grief Counselling After Suicide – Counselling and Psychotherapy Melbourne

Suicide is a tremendous and tragic issue in Australia. Despite the greater focus and awareness on the issue of suicide in the past two decades or more, suicide has now been recognised as the leading cause of death in Australia for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and accounts for more deaths in Australia than car accidents.

In recent years, there has been an increase in youth suicide in Australia, with nearly twice as many young men between the ages of 15 and 24 dying by suicide than young women in 2012. More recent statistics in 2014 show however that there has been a concerning increase in suicide in young women between the ages of 15 and 19.

With such as tragic number of people from all ages taking their own lives every year, this leaves many family members, loved ones, friends and colleagues in a state of absolute devastation, confusion and bereavement. In this short article, we will be looking at some of the difficulties that may occur during this time and how counselling and psychotherapy may help you in this time in your life.

How Grief After Suicide Can Affect You

The impact of losing a family member or loved one to suicide is something that leaves a profound mark on your life, from which some people feel that they can never recover from. Different to the loss and grief of loved ones passing away from illness or in other ways that occur from external circumstances, the act of suicide can leave the individuals who are left behind with many overwhelming, unbearable and ambivalent thoughts and emotions that can leave them feeling that their life has been left in a state of paralysis.

These distressing thoughts and emotions can leave the individual trying to come to terms with this loss with an absence of understanding around the question of why this happened. This is a normal process of trying to make sense and meaning of any loss but with suicide, this meaning-making process may lead to intense feelings of guilt and self-reproachful thoughts of how you may have prevented this from happening or whether you may have missed any signs that this was going to happen.

These self-reproaching thoughts, feelings of guilt and blame towards themselves and others and the absence of understanding around why this happened can leave the survivors of this tragic act in a state of despair that they feel has no end in sight and can lead to depression and other mental health difficulties.

We all have diverse ways of coping with the loss and grief of losing a loved one and we all respond differently to each loss that we face in life. As individuals, we all have a unique relationship with each individual we meet in life and our response to losing a loved one to suicide is unique and specific to you. It is important to remember that there are no correct or incorrect ways with how you may grieve with the shock and loss of losing someone to suicide.

Grief Counselling After Suicide – How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

As it is known with facing the tremendous loss of losing someone, it is not the ones who passed who need the most help but it the ones who are left behind that need help the most and this is where counselling and psychotherapy can help.

If you or someone you may know wants help to talk about and work through the painful thoughts and emotions that you may be facing with this tragic loss, counselling and psychotherapy can help you to talk about, make meaning of and work through the confronting, painful and difficult thoughts and emotions that you may be faced with in this time of your life.

Grief Counselling After Suicide – Counselling & Psychotherapy Melbourne 

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Phone: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Resources Links:

LifeLine

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Beyond Blue
http://www.beyondblue.org.au

Mens Line
http://www.mensline.org.au/

Suicide Prevention Australia
http://suicidepreventionaust.org/

Living is for Everyone – Suicide Prevention in Australia
http://www.livingisforeveryone.com.au/Home.html

Internet Pornography Counselling in Melbourne

Masturbation, unlike most subject matters, is a topic that is rarely spoken about among people in everyday life and is an aspect of life that remains private to the individual. Even between lovers, this subject is seldom a topic of conversation and the fantasy of the masturbatory act is something that is rarely discussed or shared between intimate partners.

Within the cybernetic world of the Internet, the fantasy life of the individual that usually remains hidden can find the images and videos that are tailored to every form of sexual fantasy that are in a categorized format and are instantly accessible to anyone.

With the proliferation of pornography on the Internet and the wide spread accessibility of devices that can access these images instantaneously, internet pornography has caused many problems not only for the usually male individual involved in this behavior but also for their social life, work life, personal life and their sexual and romantic relationships.

Unlike my previous blog on this subject, which I recommend reading as well if you are thinking about getting therapeutic help for pornography addiction, this one will be looking a little deeper into the specifics around pornography addiction and how the therapeutic process can help you to work through the addictive compulsive behaviour of internet pornography addiction.

Easy Accessibility is the Problem?

The Internet provides something for everyone in the realm of pornography. As many people who have come to me to for help for pornography addiction, the easy accessibility of pornography becomes problematic and they feel that it is an issue of accessibility that is the problem. However, the easy accessibility is only a small part of the picture and their own attempts of trying to restrict their own access have little effect to stopping the compulsive behaviour.

The Fantasy  Life: Between the Individual and The Screen

This is because the problem obviously does not reside in the accessibility of internet pornography but within a number of factors that are outside of that issue. One of these factors is the fixation of some of the fantasies that produce a form of sexual satisfaction. The enactment of fantasy with pornography is filled with pleasure and instant gratification but also other negative emotions that come along side this source of pleasure.

The type of sexual satisfaction that is produced through the hours of trawling the internet and finally ending in climax, is the type of satisfaction that can cause many problems for the individual involved and also for their significant other.

The usually secretive nature of this compulsive behaviour and the nature of the fantasies and pleasure produced is filled with guilt, self-hatred and other destructive emotions about what they are doing, which has sometimes immediate or prolonged negative effects on their romantic and personal life. In some cases, this has lead to relationship and martial breakdowns once this secretive behaviour inevitably comes out.

How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

The fantasies between the individual and images on the screen that produces sexual satisfaction becomes difficult for the individual struggling with pornography addiction to leave behind. Although many have tried to stop their behaviour by trying to place limits on their accessibility to internet pornography and tried to create various strategies to curb their behaviour, the compulsive action doesn’t cease to stop and sometimes, the threats of their partners and their own wish for mastery over their compulsion aren’t enough for the individual to stop.

The sometimes difficult and confronting work of the therapeutic process can make it possible for the renunciation of this form of satisfaction that is obtained from pornography. As a result of the therapeutic work, you can leave this compulsion behind you and the emergence of the other forms of satisfaction can become possible in your life again.

I have worked with many individuals who have been struggling with internet pornography addiction in their lives. If you or possibly your partner is looking for help with this, please get in touch with me either via phone or email.

Internet Pornography Counselling in Melbourne
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Phone: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

 

Missing Persons Counselling: Ambiguous Loss

The subject of missing persons can be a very difficult subject to conceptualize for many people and, for the majority of people, it’s simply not a subject they ever think about or rarely hear about. For the people that go through the horrendous experience of a loved one going missing that have yet to be located, the mark of grief and loss that it leaves on them and the questions that it brings can haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Missing persons is a worldwide issue and something that can affect everyone, regardless of their age, professional background, ethnicity or circumstance. In Australia alone, the Australian Federal Police state that each yearapproximately 35,000 people are reported missing in Australia and, that while 95 percent are found within a short period of time, there remains approximately 1,600 long term missing persons who have been missing for more than six months. With this statistic alone, we can estimate that many 1000’s of people have been adversely affected by the loss of a loved one that has yet to return or yet to be located.

How People Go Missing?

There are different ways that a person can be identified as missing. Recently, the tragic event of the missing Malaysian flight in March 2014 is an example of where many people have disappeared and yet to be found. With the absence of the plane and the people onboard, and the facts surrounding the case remain ambiguous and unexplainable, the ability for the loved ones to work through the grief of the loss remains frozen. As Sarah Bajc, a survivor whose partner Philip Wood disappeared on the flight states, “You grieve for them not being there, “but you can’t really grieve for them because you don’t know that they’re dead. 

Missing in Action 

In periods of war and conflict, many people disappear and are never found or recovered. Known as Missing In Action, this leaves the family members and friends with the difficult thoughts and emotions of what may have happened and the absence of any remains or facts surrounding what happened, the mystery what may have happen can linger on for a lifetime. This not only effects the immediate family and friends of the person who is termed Missing In Action, but also can have intergenerational effects, as the stories told by one generation to the next about what may have or not happened to the missing person can permeate through the family.

Unexplainable Disappearances

In some cases, people have gone missing and are never found under circumstances that simply don’t make sense to the family that are left behind. In some examples of missing person’s cases, some people appear to have simply wandered off or disappeared without explanation. Some of these cases can be either attributable to the mental health concerns of the missing person or that they might have disappeared due to other means, either by foul play or accident. In other reported cases, some children and adults have disappeared while bush walking or hiking in National Parks and are never found while in the presence of family members by reasons that are as yet unexplainable.

Ambiguous Loss

With these situations, the term ‘ambiguous loss’ is one that begins to describe a state that is familiar to people who have experienced a loved one who has disappeared or remains missing. As Pauline Boss, a therapist who coined the term, states “You can’t use grief therapy with ambiguous loss because there’s nothing wrong with the person. There’s something wrong with the situation itself. This is about adapting to having no facts.”

As there remains the absence of the missing person and there is no verification or death and uncertainly surrounding what happened and whether they will return, the loss experienced differs greatly to ordinary loss. The place from where a person grieves when they lose a loved one isn’t there, as the object of ones grief is absent and the circumstances surrounding it are unexplained. As Sarah Bajc again once says of her missing partner “There’s a mystery to be solved here, and until we understand what happened, I don’t know that I can accept that he’s gone.”

How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

Counselling and psychotherapy can be a great help and service to those who have experienced the loss of a loved one who has gone missing. If you or someone you know are suffering from the loss of a missing person, I offer counseling and psychotherapy to those people to help them to find meaning in what has happened in their lives.

Missing Persons Counselling & Psychotherapy Melbourne
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Phone: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

OCD Counselling & Psychotherapy in Melbourne

Many people can have intrusive thoughts or engage in seemingly meaningless ritualistic behavior in different periods of their lives, especially when they are under high levels of stress and tension. For some people however, these intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours can lead to a life of quiet desperation and suffering when these thoughts and compulsions become unbearable and unmanageable in their lives.

This psychical disturbance is commonly known as OCD or obsessive-compulsive disorder and can cause a tremendous amount of suffering in a person’s life. In this short article, we will be looking at some but not all of the important aspects in obsessive-compulsive disorder and how counselling and psychotherapy can help with this potentially life-devastating affliction.

What are Obsessions and Compulsions?

Obsessions

Obsessions are classified as a disturbance in mental activity and are described as intrusive thoughts, images or impulses that the subject attempts to avoid, suppress or eliminate out of their minds by any means possible because of the content of the intrusive thoughts and/or images.  The individual who has these intrusive thoughts or urges are particularly disturbed by these thoughts or images because of the content of what these thoughts are, which sometimes have common themes around ideas regarding sexuality or aggression that the individual finds particularly disturbing, out of character or finds them foreign to who they are.

Compulsions

Compulsions can either be in the realms of thoughts and behaviors or sometimes both. Compulsions are usually thoughts or actions that can form into a ritualistic or ceremonial fashion that are used to try to suppress or eliminate the intrusive thoughts, images or urges that appear foreign to the individual. Much like the obsessional thoughts, compulsions can sometimes appear to the individual as meaningless, disturbing or completely nonsensical. Although these ritualized ways of thinking or behaviors may make no sense to them, they feel powerfully compelled to continue the compulsive thoughts or behaviors because the anxiety produced by not doing them may be overwhelming to them.

Why Do Some People Develop OCD?

As you may have noted by the previous section, compulsions appear as a defensive reaction to the intrusive thoughts that are disturbing and foreign to the person. So the question of why some people develop OCD and some others don’t is a difficult question to answer as a generalization that applies to everyone with this disorder.

This question of why some people develop OCD and others don’t must been seen as a question that is specific to the individual suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Although we are able to categorize symptomatic forms of behaviors that warrant the title of OCD, the thoughts and behaviors of the individual suffering from this will be highly specific to them and to their personal history, which would have a bearing on the significance on their development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

Counselling and psychotherapy has shown to have remarkable and sustained beneficial effects for OCD, not only in the short-term relief or change from obsessional thinking and compulsive acts, but also in the long term, where the intrusive thoughts or compulsive actions disappear completely and no longer burden the individual as the once did.

I have worked with many people who suffer from OCD and have helped them to unravel this burdensome affliction. If you or someone who may know may suffer from this, please get in touch with me via phone or email to book an appointment or I would be happy to answer any questions you may have about OCD or its treatment.

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

Phone: 0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

 

 

Sex Counselling Melbourne: How Counselling Can Help

Sexual life can be a complicated and highly complex part of human existence and as such, problems that relate to this part of our lives can arise seemingly without meaning or explanation and can cause many difficulties not only personally but also between couples as well.

Sometimes the problem of a lack of sexual desire can be a complicated interplay of not only personal forces and conflict in your own psyche but also relationship factors in-between two people that can create difficulties in enjoying your sexual life.

In some situations, a partner’s addiction to pornography can attenuate the desire for sexual relations and create disharmony in the relationship. In some other situations, past traumas can make the pursuit of sexual satisfaction and act of sex a very difficult prospect.

In this short article, we will look at some of the ways in which sex and sexual arousal can become problematic and how counselling and psychotherapy can help.

Aversion to Sexual Arousal

The excitement and emotions that can get produced in the body, whether through the thoughts of sexual fantasies, the act of foreplay or of sexual desire, can produce an emotional reaction that can be very unpleasant and will be avoided at all costs.

Intense feelings of anxiety and panic can be so overwhelming that the individual will avoid any thoughts, sounds or images that may produce a feeling of sexual desire or arousal in the body. Other common emotions that are avoided are the powerful feelings of disgust or guilt at the thought of sex or in the actual act of foreplay, being touched or kissed or the sex act itself. The aversion of these overwhelming feelings and thoughts that can get produced by sexual excitement are enough for the person to avoid all things related to sex and can sometimes create immense suffering and conflict in the mind and body of the individual.

The Lack of Sexual Desire

The lack of sexual desire or hypoactive sexual desire means that an individual has little or no interest in any type of sexual activity, whether in their fantasy life or reality. This can be a common complaint between couples where one partner has a desire for more sexual contact than the other and this can create disharmony and suspicion in a relationship. Although each individual and their relationship to sex must be understood on an individual basis, sometimes this can be related to other concerns and may not strictly be due to a lack of sexual drive.

Premature Ejaculation & Erectile Dysfunction

With sexual problems related to erectile dysfunction, the difficulty doesn’t relate to the issue of sexual desire or avoiding sexual fantasies or thoughts but achieving and maintaining an erection during sexual intercourse and sometimes, although not as common, during masturbation. This is the same for premature ejaculation, where the issues isn’t the avoidance of sexual feelings but that the ejaculation occurs before the man and his partner want it to. Both of these problems can cause distress for both the individual and their partner. In both these cases, it can be the perceived lack of control around these two issues that can cause both the sufferer and their partner a lot of pain and distress and can create further problems in a relationship and personally if it is not resolved.

If there are no organic issues that maybe the cause of these two difficulties, counselling and psychotherapy can be very helpful to work through the issues that may be causing this to occur and can lead to the cessation of both these problems.

How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

Counselling & Psychotherapy with all of these difficulties can be resolved or greatly diminished through the counselling & psychotherapy process. Whether the problem is very specific and situational in your life or these problems have been over your lifetime, the working through of the conflicts in your life that have played there part in the development of these difficulties can be overcome and you can begin to enjoy your sexual life again.

Sex Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Eating Disorder Counselling Melbourne: Anorexia and Bulimia

The normal functioning of ordinary bodily functions is something that we tend to take for granted on a daily basis and unless it is disrupted by injury or illness, it is something we simply don’t think about. With this in mind, the consumption of food is one of those regular functions that not only give us the energy we need to carry on with the tasks of everyday life but can also be a source of great pleasure and satisfaction for many.

However, the seemingly simple act of eating for some is the cause of great distress, suffering and is potentially life threatening for those who suffer from what is commonly referred to as eating disorders. In fact, some studies have suggested that the morality rates from eating disorders are the highest for any psychological issue; with studies estimating a six fold increase in death than the normal population, which is larger than deaths attributed to depression.

Although this article wont be able to go into the complex theoretical ideas around the topic of eating disorders, we will be able to look the two main types of eating disorders and how counselling and psychotherapy can help with these disorders.

What is Anorexia Nervosa?

In anorexia, the individual eats nothing beyond minimal amounts of food, so body weight sometimes drops dangerously below normal levels. An individual with anorexia is never satisfied with their weight loss and the gaining of any amount of weight can cause symptoms of panic, anxiety and/or depression.

An important aspect in anorexia is its relation to the individual’s mirror image. As people close to them may see them as emaciated and unwell, the individual suffering from anorexia may see him or herself very differently in relation to their bodily image. This distortion of the self-image may also lead or had already led to a greater emphasis on strenuous and often dangerous levels of exercise in order to reach the impossible self-image the suffer has in mind.

What is Bulimia Nervosa?

In bulimia, out of control eating episodes, or binges, are followed by self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or other attempts to purge the food. The hallmark of bulimia is eating a larger amount of food, typically, more junk food than fruits and vegetables, than most people would eat under similar circumstances. Just as important as the amount of food is eaten is the fact that the eating is experienced as out of control.

Another important criterion is that the individual attempts to compensate for the binge eating and potential weight gain, almost always by techniques of purging. Techniques include self-induced vomiting immediately after eating or the use of laxatives or diuretics and in some cases, both methods.

Counselling for Eating Disorders

As was noted at the start of this short article, anorexia and bulimia are very serious conditions that are potentially life threatening and cause great suffering and distress for those who suffer from these conditions and for loved ones around them. For some people who suffer from these conditions, hospitalization is sometimes required for some serious cases in collaboration with counselling and psychotherapy.

Counselling and psychotherapy for eating disorders can be a highly effective and often necessary part of the treatment for anorexia and bulimia. The professional and expert help with these difficulties that are provided through the counselling process can help you to get onto the road to recovery.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please know that help for this debilitating condition is available. I am available for counselling and psychotherapy for issues and difficulties related to eating disorders in Melbourne.

Eating Disorder Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Communication In Marriage – Marriage Counselling Melbourne

The essence of language has never been to serve the function of communication” – Jacques Lacan

One of the most common complaints between couples that are heard by friends, family and therapists alike is that their respective partner doesn’t communicate with them enough or effectively. This is an all too common complaint between all people at various points in life.  However, within the context of a marriage or a serious relationships, these communication problems in relationships can cause unnecessary suffering and, if it continues over time, can create so much tension and conflict that many relationships dissolve.

This short article will look at only four ways in which communication may be challenging in a relationship. Although each of the points covered could easily be greatly elaborated on, we will just spend a short time looking at some of the important communication barriers that can cause a disruption within a relationship and ones that might not have been considered to be the cause of a communication problem in a relationship.

What gets in the way of effective communication between couples?

  • Hearing only what we expect to hear

In communicating with your partner, there can be times when you think you are understanding what they are saying because you have either ‘heard it all before’, in the sense of not wanting to hear what is being said, or thinking you understand what is being said because the same combination of words are being expressed or the tone of the speech has its similarities to other discussions in the past.

This can cause communication problems because, in this sense, you have already decided the meaning of what is trying to be conveyed by filling in the gaps with your meaning of what been said, not what they might be trying to communicate.

This method of listening and communicating can create a lot of frustration between the sender and receiver of the message. That is because the sender is not being heard because the receiver has already decided what the message is and the receiver does not understand why the sender is getting frustrated because they think they already understand what has been said.

  • Fantasy fills in the silence

When there is silence between a couple in the middle of a discussion of some importance, silence often can play quite a big part in these communications. In the void of silence, fearful, enjoyable or anticipatory thoughts about what their partner may or may not say can appear quite easily during these times. This anticipation can get in the road not only what’s going to be heard next but also how you will respond to what’s about to be said, as your response has already been charged with the emotion of what has been happening in your mind.

  • Self-centered listening and understanding

Although this is a common way of how most communication is handled in everyday life, this self-centered way of listening and understanding can be one of the primary ways of misunderstanding what is trying to be communicated and can create a lot of disharmony within a partnership. If your only listening to what being said through the lens of your own self-image, and that means you relate everything that is being said to yourself, comparing yourself to them, assessing whether you have had better or worse experiences than them and evaluating how what’s being said is reflecting upon you, effective communication will become problematic.

  • Past traumas or past relationships getting in the way

As human being, we are in constant relationship and communication with other human beings and even before birth, the sounds of speech has its effects on us. However, particular traumatic events or past relationships can leave a distinctive mark on the way messages are sent and received and these can cause a disruption in how intimate you feel in communicating with your partner and also how you anticipate what you hear or how its interpreted.

How Marriage Counselling can help

Within and through the process of relationship counselling, it can be confronting but ultimately relieving experience to be able to identify, understand and work-through some of these communication blockages that can create a widening distance between two people and bring them back to a point where communication between two people can be enjoyable and effortless once more.

I offer relationship, marriage and couples counselling in Melbourne in private practice in Carlton. If you or your partner identify within one or any of this points raised in this short article and feel that marriage counselling maybe be a helpful process, please contact me via email on paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au or call on 0420496599.

Marriage Counselling Melbourne 

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

96 Elgin Street, Carlton

Phone: 0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

 

 

Addiction Counselling Melbourne

Drug and alcohol use is widespread in our culture and prevalent throughout civilization. Our knowledge about the effects of the many legal and illegal drugs and alcohol and the use of these substances have expanded over the last decades and many people now know someone, or have known of someone, who has or has had difficulties with substance use and abuse.

Addiction can come in many guises and sometimes it can be easy to overlook whether particular forms of substance use and abuse is considered a harmful dysfunction, as this often depends on the assumptions of the cultural group. Addiction to drugs and alcohol is the most commonly thought of addictions when it comes to clinical or cultural ideas of what addictions are, yet other forms of pleasure and satisfaction can also become a fixated compulsive behaviour that can rule over people lives in potentially destructive ways.

We will first take a brief look at some factors of addiction and then a look at other forms of addiction that don’t include drugs or alcohol.

The General and Individual Factors in Addiction

In the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol, there are the obvious generic aspects to their effects. Some of these include how the drug or alcohol affects your physiology and the long-term effects of the drug or alcohol abuse for example.

However, there is a common fallacy around substance use and addiction that all people are affected in the same way and hence, the effects for the individual of their drug or alcohol use, the path to addiction and the way to recovery follow the same progress and pattern for everyone but this simply isn’t the case. This avoids some important and overlooked factors in the field of substance use addiction.

What this generalized viewpoint avoids is the complexities of the individuals’ subjective experience of substance use and addiction itself. The relationship between the addicted user and the very specific effects that the substance of addiction produces on the individual is of vital importance to articulate and explore in therapeutic work. This is often an important aspect that gets missed or unexamined yet can be vital the therapeutic process.

Other Examples of Addictions

Two such compulsive behaviour outside of the commonly thought of addictions to drugs and alcohol that have been particularly destructive to peoples lives are known as ‘pornography addiction’ and ‘computer game addiction’. Although the object of these addictions isn’t typical, in so far as it isn’t ingested directly into the body as drugs and alcohol are, it nonetheless produces a particular form of satisfaction that becomes compulsively sought after and that can produce disastrous effects on not only the individual but to their relationships and the people around them.

Counselling For Addictions

It is important to remember that in addiction, no matter the form that is takes, there is often much more going on than just the use or abuse of the object of satisfaction in and of itself. It is also important to note that addiction can never be understood at a generalized level without knowing how the object of addiction affects you, how it relates to the rest of your life and what it function it plays in your mental and emotional life.

If you or someone you might know who is having difficulties with substance use or other types of addictive behaviours, I am available for counselling for addictions in Melbourne. Counselling and psychotherapy can help not only alleviate the symptoms of these behaviours but also to overcome and change the primary factors behind the drive for the addiction in the first place. 

Addiction Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

Ph: 0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Depression Counselling Melbourne

Depression is a highly complex and potentially devastating condition that affects people for all walks of life, regardless of age, gender, and cultural or socio-economic background. People who suffer from depression or who have suffered from this can testify to the fact that it can affect many or all aspects of everyday living, including your physical, emotional, psychological and social life.

It is a highly complex condition in that it can’t simply be understood as a set of symptoms in a simplified checklist under an ambiguous label such as depression, as this can lead and has lead to an over-diagnosing or misdiagnosis that can have serious consequences. Depression can also be potentially devastating to the sufferer and to the people close to them because if left without seeking help and treatment, it can potentially lead to incidents of self-harm to hospitalization and suicide

Although there’s not enough room here to explore all aspects of depression here, I will touch upon one in this article and will explore some of the others in a follow up article on depression.

The Common Signs of Depression

Before we look a little deeper into some of the important aspects of depression, we can first touch upon some of the more overt signs and symptoms that define the condition of depression. 

  • A diminished interest and pleasure in many or all activities in everyday life
  • Long lasting feelings of fatigue and loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness and thoughts of excessive guilt
  • The marked diminished ability to think and concentrate  
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal thinking

Some underlying features of depression

One of the important aspects of depression is its symptomatic connection to the experience of grief and loss. As has been noted by Freud in his seminal 1917 paper ‘Mourning & Melancholia’, the set of symptoms and others that relate to depression have a striking resemblance to someone who is going through the process of mourning. The one important difference between mourning and severe depression is the serious loss of self-esteem that happens with depression but not with grief and loss.

Unlike the experience of mourning, where it is clear to the individual why they are experiencing the painful emotions of grief and the accompanying emotions and thoughts that come along with the painful loss of a loved one, the loss that is associated with depression is can sometimes not be so clear to the sufferer, yet is intimately connected to the diminished self-esteem that occur in depression. As Freud (1917) states, “In mourning, the world has become poor and empty, in melancholia it is the ego (self) that has become so”. In many respects, the symptomatic expression of mourning and depression are very similar except in mourning, the loss occurs in the external world, in depression, the loss can be attributed to the individuals internal world. 

Counselling for Depression can help 

Counselling and psychotherapy for depression can not only greatly diminish the symptoms of depression but more importantly, to help you to overcome some the underlying causes for the symptoms of depression so that you can move forward in your life without them returning later on in your life.

If you or someone you know is showing signs of depression, it’s important to seek out the help, support and treatment that is necessary.

If you would like to go into counselling for depression in Melbourne or any other difficulties you may be having, please get in touch either by phone or email.

Depression Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
0420496599  
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Grief and Loss Counselling Melbourne: How Counselling Can Help

The one experience in life that no one can or has ever avoided, despite the many attempts that we have read about in the annals of history, in fiction books or in our own lives, is the experience of loss. The experience of loss is something that begins at the very beginnings of life and continues through life and happens on a daily or weekly basis.

However, not all losses are equal and the way in which people experience loss in not equal. For some people, there are some experiences of loss that can leave such an indelible mark that can be so difficult to overcome that the mourning process may seem to continue on indefinitely and from this more serious complications can arise.

As was mentioned above, not all losses are equal and individuals will experience the feeling of loss and grief in their own particular way. This is important to note as our cultural discourse on the loss of a loved one and place of grief has changed a lot over time and much like the other big challenges we all face in life, it can sometimes seem to be glossed over just because it happens to everyone. This can leave people with a profound sense of isolation and loneliness, just in the time when they will need the most support and time to go through the process of mourning after such a profound loss.

Coming to Terms with a Death of a Loved One

The death of a loved one, whether a partner or family member, is the most profound experience of loss and grief that we can have. When a loved one has died, the experience can bring with it many conflicting, ambivalent and painful emotions and thoughts that can change the ideas of who we are, who our beloved was and the world around us.

As these three concepts are interconnected with each other, the feeling of loss and the accompanying grief may not be as straightforward as we would imagine and this can bring about many unexpected thoughts and feelings. This experience and other experiences of loss and grief can bring about difficult thoughts and feelings of guilt and anger against you or your loved one, feelings of betrayal, isolation, alcohol and substance use and abuse, a loss of interest and enjoyment  everyday life and a turning away from the world.

Death is not the only loss

Although the loss of a loved one is the most profound loss that one can experience, there are many obvious and not so obvious losses that can have just as a debilitating effect on the individual. Some of these losses can include:

  • A loss of a Partner and/or Relationship
  • A loss of Career or Employment
  • A loss of limbs or disfigurement through an accident or assault
  • A trauma and/or sexual assault
  • Forced or sudden relocation of country

The Process of Mourning and How Counselling can help

The process of mourning that happens after a significant loss or change has happened can be a highly complicated and complex time and the working-through of this can’t be rushed. The task is often very painful and cannot be accomplished immediately or put into a specific time frame and must take its own course.

With that said, the process of counselling and psychotherapy also cannot be put into a specific time frame, as the working-through of all that comes up during this difficult time must be done at its own pace. The process of speaking through all of the difficulties of the loss, the complexities of the changes in your life through this time and painful emotions that arise in your time of grief can often be one of the most difficult and arduous experiences.

Yet through this time in counselling, the working-through of your loss can create a new sense of meaning around your loss and your life that can be a tough but ultimately rewarding and life changing experience.

I am available for grief and loss counselling and psychotherapy in Melbourne. Please get in touch via phone or email and I would be happy to talk with you and answer any questions you may have.

Grief and Loss Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

Ph: 0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

 

Infidelity in Relationships – Cheating Partners Counselling Melbourne

The act or fact of having a romantic or sexual relationship with someone other than your husband, wife or partner can be the most painful and bond-breaking act that a relationship can go through. The sense of betrayal that comes with the act of infidelity and when it gets found out is sometimes simply too much for the relationship to handle and leaves the betrayed partner with a sense of loss, grief and mistrust that can affect them for years to come.

What are some of the common factors around infidelity?

It is impossible to name all of the factors that can lead either partner to the act of cheating, as each relationship is a unique combination of two people with their own histories that they both bring into the partnership. With that said however, it is possible to name some of the factors that are spoken about in the clinic and what some of the common patterns that research in this field tends to find.

  • A lack of emotional intimacy and a feeling of disconnection
  • A feeling of instability in the relationship
  • A want to feel desired or as a reaffirmation of sexuality
  • Martial or Relationship unhappiness
  • An inability to enjoy sexual relations with one’s partner
  • Presented with the opportunity to have sex
  • The desire to have sex with other people

Can the relationship be rebuilt again?

For some couples however, although it shatters the sense of trust that is the foundation of their relationship, they can, through the hard and often painful work of talking through all the raw emotions, doubts and uncertainties that this experience has brought to their relationship in the therapeutic setting, slowly rebuild the sense of trust and belonging that was lost and the relationship can begin on the path of slowly being rebuilt.

A consequence of this slow rebuilding process through relationship counselling can bring the relationship to build a new narrative and to incorporate the changed sense of the individual’s and the relationships identity that includes the act of infidelity. Instead of the rejection of the act of infidelity in the relationship or denial that it has occurred or the many other ways that couples can be stuck with the hurt and betrayal that it caused, the relationship can be built on a new foundation that takes account of it and can together start to make sense of it and their relationship in a different way that can bring the couple to the level of trust and companionship in once existed.

An important factor to remember is that deciding to go into relationship or marriage counselling sooner rather later after the devastating effects of the infidelity have been brought out can prove to be more helpful to the relationship in the long-term.

Can relationship counselling be helpful to us?

Coming into relationship counselling to speak in-depth about the all the aspects that surround the act of infidelity, how it has affected the relationship and the many aspects of the relationship that lead up to this painful event can be extremely beneficial for each individual and for the relationship as a whole.

Although the outcome may be unknown at the beginning and throughout the therapeutic process about what direction the relationship might take and whether the couple with stay together or choose to separate, the very act of speaking about the problems the relationship faces and exploring together within the therapeutic environment can be a highly useful, productive and healing experience for the relationship.

Cheating Partners Counselling Melbourne

If your relationship has gone through the crisis that infidelity brings, relationship counselling maybe the help that is needed. Please call Paul Reid on 0420496599 to book in an appointment or ask any questions you may have regarding relationship counselling. 

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy
Phone: 0420496599
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Psychosomatic Counselling Melbourne: Unexplainable Pains That Don’t Make Sense

We all experience what are known as stress-related difficulties in our lives and no one is immune from the pressures that life can sometimes create. These stress-related problems can be expressed  in our body in a myriad of ways and disappear once the cause of the stress is removed. Yet for some  people, they suffer from persistent pains and unusual sensations in their bodies that don’t seem to make sense and can continue on for many years, despite attempts to find ways to alleviate them.

With the proliferation of complaints that permeate our society today and search for new meanings and terms that signify them (think irritable bowel syndrome and other stress related terms that have come into existence in recent times), the need to make conversion symptoms into a pseudo medical diagnosis and to try to make a universal meaning of it continues on to this day.

Yet, despite the many diverse treatments that are available for these seemingly organic problems of the body that cause the individual discomfort, the unexplainable pains still persist, seemingly untreatable by medical or non-psychotherapeutic approaches.

What Are Conversion Symptoms?

Conversion symptoms consist in the transposition of an intra-psychical conflict into, and its attempted resolution through, somatic symptoms, which may be either of a motor nature (e.g. paralyses of motor functions in different part of the body) or a sensory one (e.g. localized pains emanating from particular parts of the body).

What specifies conversion symptoms is their symbolic or metaphorical meaning: they are the expression of an idea or a group of ideas through the medium of the body that aren’t admissible to consciousness. These symptoms play the role of language in which repression can be expressed and find some form of discharge in the body without being directly accessible to consciousness.

This makes these pains and sensations in the body seemingly nonsensical and frustrating to the sufferer because no visible organic basis can be detected. Yet the pains and uncomfortable sensations are real and they can cause immeasurable difficulties and suffering.

The unknown meaning or meanings of the conversion symptoms, although the range of these symptoms appears in all people and in all cultures, are highly specific to the individual. Hence, the meanings of these symptoms cannot be thought of as type of knowledge in an intellectual sense of the word that can be applied across the board to everyone, ‘a one-shoe fits all’ meaning that helps everyone who suffers from the conversion symptoms.

The conversion symptoms need to be worked-through and brought into speech through the psychotherapeutic process on an individual, one by one basis. Through this process, the individual can find a place for this pain in their lives in a way in which allows for the symptoms to dissipate and to use that energy in a productive and less inhibiting way.

Some Expressions of Conversion Symptoms

Although conversion or psychosomatic symptoms can be expressed in the body in a myriad of ways, some of the expressions we see in the clinic are but are not limited to:

  • Persistent headaches with no organic basis
  • Gastrointestinal pains and difficulties in the gastrointestinal tract
  • Chest pains, strange sensations and tightness in the chest without an organic basis
  • Uncomfortable and persistence burning sensations in different parts of the body
  • Different forms of paralysis or decreased motor function in different areas of the body
  • Erectile Dysfunction

These are just some of the manifestations of pain and uncomfortable sensations in the body that have no direct organic cause and yet can cause the sufferer many difficulties in their life.

Help is Available

It is important is always consult a medical physician if you are or have experienced any of these problems and the problems are still persisting. If no direct organic basis for these problems has been detected or medical treatment hasn’t helped, counselling and psychotherapy for conversion and somatic issues is a highly effective treatment and can greatly alleviate the burden that these issues have caused.

If you or someone you might know might be suffering from these complaints, there is professional help available.

Psychosomatic Counselling Melbourne

Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy

Phone: 0420496599

Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

PTSD Counselling Melbourne – How Counselling & Psychotherapy Can Help

Investigations into the physiological and psychological effects of extreme stress have been a focus in psychological research for more than a hundred years (1) Psychological research into extreme stress reactions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been of primary importance and is of increasing significance in our modern times (2).

What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder precipitated by a traumatic event characterized by symptoms of persistently re-experiencing memories, thoughts and dreams of the trauma, avoidance of stimulus related to the event, hyper arousal, fright and startled responses among others (3).

In studies of this debilitating condition, research has shown that PTSD may be more prevalent among women and girls and among men and boys (4) and that men and women can exhibit different symptomatic patterns and post-traumatic response (5). Research has also shown that it has been estimated to affect between 15 to 24 percent of individuals who are exposed to potentially traumatic events (6).

What events can cause post-traumatic stress?

Referred to as potentially traumatic events (PTE), these experiences may include accidents, natural disasters, military combat, war, motor vehicle accidents, violent crime, rape, sexual assault and/or any other unusually violent events that individuals may experience (7).

Potentially traumatic events can be experiences in a person’s life that are defined by its emotional intensity and by the individuals difficulty to respond quickly to the event because of the shock and fright of the experience itself (8). A flooding of excitation in the body and mind that these events create is excessive and the capacity to overcome the flood of emotions is diminished by the upheaval and long lasting effects that it brings about in the psychical organisation of the individual (9).

The Effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The appearance of the symptoms of PTSD follows upon an emotional shock associated with a situation where the individual has felt their life to be in danger. The experience of helplessness and fright in the face of a potentially traumatic event and the incapacity to respond to the event can have incapacitating and long lasting effects.

The devastating effects of a potentially traumatic event and the symptoms of PTSD can cause an individual to suffer in all aspects of their lives. This includes not only the more obvious symptoms of PTSD but also the way in which these symptoms can create many difficulties in their personal and professional relationships.

It is important to remember that although the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder can be diagnosable and seen as a particular psychological disorder, the singular experience and meanings of the event to the person inflicted cannot be discounted and provide the framework for the way the individual can make sense and work through the effects of PTSD through counselling and psychotherapy.

PTSD Counselling Melbourne  – Counselling & Psychotherapy for PTSD 

Counselling & Psychotherapy have been shown to provide tremendous relief from the suffering of people who have developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

If you are currently suffering from PTSD or someone you know is suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress, professional therapeutic counselling and psychotherapy is available.

 

References:

1 & 6. Gavranidou, M & Rosner, R (2003) Theoretical Review: The Weaker Sex? Gender and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Journal of Depression and Anxiety Vol 17

2. Kelly, F (2005) The origins of post-traumatic stress disorder. Part 1. The origins of a modern plague. Irish Psychiarist: The official journal of the Irish Psychiartic Association. Vol 6, Issue 2, April/May 2005

3, 4 & 5. Tolin, F,D & Foa, B,E (2006) Sex Differences in Trauma and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Quantitative Review of 25 Years of Research

7. Simmons, A.C & Granvold, K, D (2005) A Cognitive Model to Explain Gender Differences in Rates of PTSD diagnosis

8 & 9. Laplanche, J & J.B Pontalis (1973) The Language of Psychoanalysis 

Dreams in Counselling & Psychotherapy

There is a knowledge you understand in dreams that has nothing to do with what you are left with when you are supposedly awake. That is why it is so important to decipher dream”. (Lacan, 1973-74)

The importance of dreams, the process of their production, their articulation and their interpretation in ones everyday life is not something that has much relevance in modern life.

Perhaps we could say that they still occupy the same place they once did in antiquity, either as potential prophecies that have an ability to show a future not yet written or perhaps as something that can be deciphered through the universal symbols of a ‘dream book’. Much like the belief of dreams in antiquity, popular culture hasn’t progressed much further with the understanding and nature of dreams, as the proliferation of ‘dream books’ still have quite a presence in our literature and in popular discourse.

In the world of counselling & psychotherapy, the encouragement of asking clients about their dreams and the theoretical understanding of dreams and their links to the psychical conflicts and sufferings of clients hasn’t faired much better. A decline in the use and understanding of dreams in the therapeutic work is possibly deemed too difficult, time consuming or simply a pointless and futile exercise for both therapist and patient.

However, using dreams in the counselling and psychotherapeutic process is something that I encourage every individual I work with to do. Even a single dream that gets produced within or outside the duration of the therapeutic process can potentially lead to uncovering some of the motivating forces and primary conflicts that maybe contributing to the reasons why the individual has come to counselling and psychotherapy in the first place.

As a small blog like this is not the place for a highly complex theoretical elaboration of the unconscious mechanisms that play there part in the production of dreams, I will attempt to articulate why the use of dreams in the counselling and therapeutic process in important.

Why are dreams important to the counselling process?

In the midst of the seeming non-sense that dreams can sometimes appear to be, it is only too easy to forget that a dream is as a rule merely a thought like any other (Freud, 1925 p.112). As such, the importance of the dream lies not in its dream imagery or what is known as the manifest content of the dream but in its articulation into speech.

The dreams’ articulation into speech, the very medium of what is worked with in the therapeutic process, is what can bring to light previously unthought-of connections that can point to the most intimate parts of your life and most difficult conflicts of the your inner world. It is the process of expressing and articulating this unconscious knowledge of which the dream expresses and its links to your psychical conflicts and life that can produce the working-through of these conflicts through speech and the therapeutic relationship and process.

Why wouldn’t dream books tell me anything?

As your experience of the world is yours, highly specific and individualised to you, the same goes for your thoughts, your words and the meaning of the words you use to verbalise and express your experience. Hence, so your dreams will also have a highly specific and individual meanings and interpretations to you. Unlike the information in the popular dream books, dreams should be considered as potentially inexhaustible, there being no predetermined stopping point to their interpretation and thus no such thing as a complete interpretation of a dream.

Conclusion

As Freud (1925) noted that’ no one can practice the interpretation of dreams as an isolated activity: it remains a part of the work of analysis’ (p.128). In the same vein, the use and exploration of your dreams in the work of analysis or therapy is not something that is exclusively focused on but forms an important apart of the process. 

Paul Reid
Counselling & Psychotherapy 
0420 496 599 
www.counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

Anxiety Counselling Melbourne – How Counselling & Psychotherapy can help

The sensation and experience of anxiety is something that affects all of us. Along side of depression, anxiety has been diagnosed as the number one mental health concern that effects a significant majority of the population.

Although it is common knowledge that a little anxiety can help us perform better in certain situations, the debilitating effects of severe anxiety over long periods of time can limit and impair your life and relationships in significant ways.

Anxiety is an affect that can be found across the full range of mental health issues. As such, it is a highly complex problem that has occupied a central place in the understanding of psychopathology.

Although the experience and understanding of anxiety cannot be limited to the certain mental health difficulties that have been specifically designated as the anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or phobias, we can make a quick summary about these anxiety-related disturbances.

Generalized Anxiety

Generalized anxiety disorder can be characterized by excessive worrying about everyday life, chronic muscle tension and a susceptibility to fatigue, some irritability and difficulty sleeping.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive disorder is categorized by intrusive thoughts, images and impulses that the individual tries to eliminate with the compulsions of thoughts, rituals and behaviours to try to suppress the obsessive thoughts and/or impulses that provide temporary relief.

Phobias

A phobia is can be described as an intense fear and anxiety of a specific object or situation that interferes with the ability to function. Individuals can go to great lengths to avoid the phobic object or situation to avoid the intense reaction that occurs.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

After exposure to a traumatic event or events that an individual experiences intense fear, helplessness or horror, the individual re-experiences the event through memories and nightmares. People with PTSD may display a restriction or numbing of emotional responsiveness, a sense of detachment, are easily startled and often have trouble sleeping.

Panic Disorder

The overwhelming sensation and feeling of dying or losing control and the development of substantial anxiety over the possibility of having another one or about the implications of the panic attack or its consequences.

The Purpose of Anxiety

There are many theoretical constructions and studies that attempt to explain the purpose and nature of anxiety. Some are philosophical, like Existential anxiety, which the generation of anxiety is in relation to one’s existence, meaning and purpose in life. Some theories look at the relationship between fear and anxiety. With fear being a signal of a specific, external danger with the fight/flight response and anxiety being a signal from a threat within, without the possibility of a fight or flight response. We can also point out the some of the disorders described above, take Phobia and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder for example, and other symptoms can be seen to act as a protective or defensive measure against the generation of anxiety that can overwhelm the individual.

Anxiety Counselling Melbourne – Counselling & Psychotherapy for Anxiety 

If you or someone you know is having difficulties with anxiety in Melbourne, counselling and psychotherapy can be of great help for the treatment of anxiety and related problems.

Paul Reid
Counselling & Psychotherapy 
0420 496 599 
www.counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

 

Internet Pornography: From Pleasure To Problem | Pornography Addiction Counselling Melbourne

The rise of what has been popularly termed pornography addiction’ is a rising cause of suffering and malaise within our culture today, as the Internet and the proliferation of pornography accessible on it has most certainly imposed itself as a sexual reality in most cultures around the world (Rodriguez, 2007).

The effects of this on men and women are visible and striking in the world of contemporary relationships. In the clinic, more and more men are coming, albeit reluctantly or through the threat of an ultimatum by their partner, to seek help.

In my work with men who have come to me to help them work through the grips of this compulsion, that has often taken their relationship to the brink of its destruction, it is clear from their own testimony that the compulsion and their fantasy life that happens between them and the screen is not something that is easily overcome or given up on their own.

Pornography Addiction & Men  

Some of the more generalized experiences that men with this compulsion speak of is that it leaves them empty and unsatisfied, full of feelings of guilt and shame, a lack of self-worth, quite severe circular episodes of self-reproaches and in some cases, an inability to return to a sexually satisfying relationship with their partner, amongst other detrimental effects that are unique to each individual’s history.

Hours upon hours are used up and ‘disappear’ with either the act of watching with or without the act of masturbation, the compulsive collecting and building up of a collection of images or a searching of a particular kind of image that produces the ‘waking up’ of a sexual desire and that leads to a masturbatory act that can never quite be fulfilled. Inevitably it always falls short of a fantasized satisfaction that it promises to reach.

On Women and the Relationship

The problems and issues that this addiction can cause in a relationship once this usually secret compulsion comes out in the open can be equally or more detrimental and devastating to their partner, much to the surprise and dismay of pornography addict. It is often, as clinical experience has shown me, that the significant other perceives this as a betrayal and an act of unfaithfulness. As the question of trust and their place in the sexual and emotional life of their partner come into question and doubt, the tough discussion between partners often follows.

Along with these questions, a sense of their own self-image and identity can also be raised into painful doubt. Questions about who they are to their partner and the nature of the sexual compulsion often leads to further feelings of humiliation and distrust, as the difficulty in trying to understand this addiction can lead to further fracturing of the relationship.

Another important aspect of it effects on relationships from this perspective is that the image and identity of who they thought their partner was after this comes out all comes into painful and sometimes humiliating doubt. This moment of the shattering of the image and idea of who they thought their partner was can sometimes cause the relationship to come to a devastating end.

Help is available 

Despite the obvious harmful effects that it can produce on their mental and emotional well-being and the devastation that it creates when their significant other finds out, this sometimes it not enough for the pornography addict to relinquish this compulsive form of pleasure and fantasy themselves, despite the wish for their own mastery over this addiction.

This is where counselling and psychotherapy can help. I have worked with many men with this compulsion and help is certainly available if this is has become a problem for you or for your partner.

For an online resource for help with pornography addiction, please visit PornHelp.org

Pornography Addiction Counselling Melbourne 

Paul Reid
Counselling & Psychotherapy
0420 496 599
www.counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au
Email: paul@counsellingtherapymelbourne.com.au

References:

Rodriguez, L (2007) Sexual Malaise in the Twenty-First Century. Analysis Vol.13. Australia, The Australian Centre for Psychoanalysis