"The ultimate aim of therapy is to reach a point where my client is able to live a self-directed, confident and generally happy life without fear, anxiety and self-doubt."
Corporate Conflict Resolution
Family Therapy and Counselling
Grief and Loss
Trauma and PTSD
Court / Forensic Reports
Coping with Mental Illness
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Schizophrenia Spectrum and other Psychotic Disorders
EAP and Critical Incident Interventions
New South Wales Working With Children Clearance Certification: #WWC1313465E
Links to interesting sites
Boston University Centre
for Psychiatric Rehabilitation
Need somebody to talk to?
Everybody deserves a fulfilled and self-directed life.
Maybe I can help.
What sorts of issues and what sorts of clients do you deal with mostly?
I deal with all kinds of clients and deal with all kinds of issues, but I have a special interest in some of the following:
Issues affecting the elderly (social isolation, medical/surgical/hospitalisation trauma and anxiety in particular).
Interpersonal relationship and communication issues (marriage/relationship issues, parent/child issues).
Psychological developmental issues that are especially common to young adults.
Anxiety, behavioural disorders, depression and trauma.
Coping with unexpected life events.
Group therapies, couples therapies, one-on-one therapy, and therapy for families facing separation.
Cultural conflicts and stresses that are personal as well as ones that are work-related.
Interventions in crisis situations and critical incidents, including self-harm and emergency situations.
People who are struggling to cope with mental illness - their own, or that of their loved ones.
People who don't know why they're sleeping badly, eating badly, constantly tired and/or moody and restless!
Interventions in the corporate world, conflict resolution and harmonising teams that need help.
Forensic psychotherapy, court work, including perpetrator and victim support.
Do I need a doctor to give me a referral to see you?
No, you don't. Give me a call or use the "Contact me" button.
What does a psychotherapist / counsellor actually do?
There's a lot of confusion about what a psychotherapist does, what a counsellor does, what a psychologist does, and what a psychiatrist does. In common language we're all referred to as "shrinks." We work in different ways, though there is a bit of an overlap. We're all involved in providing mental health care of one kind or another.
I'm a psychotherapist and a counsellor, and what people like me do is often described as "talk therapy." I'm not a psychologist or a psychiatrist. More particularly, I am a neuropsychotherapist, sometime referred to as a reconstructive psychotherapist, because a lot of what I do is aimed at changing the way different parts of your brain talk to each other.
People usually try to solve their own problems, but sometimes they just can't get it right, no matter how hard they try. Often they don't even know how to define "what's wrong," or where to start. That's usually when they come to see a counsellor or psychotherapist. Therapy may take a few weeks and a few therapy sessions, but it often takes much longer to achieve the desired results. It isn't uncommon for some people to seek ongoing therapy over a much longer period. Because the process can't be rushed (for most people), the norm is for clients to commit to at least six sessions to begin with - though clients are always at liberty to terminate therapy at any time and for any reason.
Why do I need a shrink - surely my doctor can help me?
Your doctor knows a lot about psychology, but isn't trained in psychology, psychiatry or psychotherapy or mental health counselling. And yes, chances are your local general practitioner or family doctor can be very helpful. Sixty one percent of people who go their doctor do so for psychological problems in Australia. The most valuable thing your doctor will do for you is to refer you to a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist depending on what your symptoms are. In a way your doctor is a handy "first port of call" and he or she can act as a filter to assess where you are most likely to get the help that you need. Remember too, that quite a few mental / psychological problems have a medical source - so it's always wise to talk to your doctor about these things. At my first consultation with every patient I always recommend that they get a proper medical check-up before we get started with therapy.
Can you give me pills?
No. I'm not a medical doctor or a psychiatrist - those are the people who prescribe medicines. If your psychological issues warrant it, I will refer you to a specialist in consultation with your GP for a comprehensive assessment, and he or she will decide whether or not medication is appropriate for you. Psychotherapists can give you good advice about all kinds of things, including a healthy diet, sleep hygiene, physical activity and living harmoniously with your body, but we rarely recommend medicines to our clients. Sometimes there are exceptions however. Psychotherapy is often called "talk therapy," and that's where we work. Recent studies have actually shown that (except in some special cases) psychotherapy on its own is capable of being more effective than medication. In fact, what's even more interesting is the finding that (once again there are exceptions) psychotherapy on its own is more effective than the combination of medicine and psychotherapy! There are certain illnesses for which psychotherapy is not the primary remedy, and that require medication prescribed by your physician.
How will we know if therapy is working?
What would be a "good" result? As a therapist my job is to help you to tackle the things you're struggling with, and to help you to achieve a more fulfilled, self-directed, confident and "happy" life. It's also part of my job to help you to discover things about yourself that you haven't noticed, things that you haven't realised. I'm not a surgeon - so I can't pick up a scalpel and cut your problems out and declare you to be well again. Neither am I a mechanic - I am not the one who does the repairs: I merely help you to "fix" yourself. In psychotherapy and counselling we work together to achieve the goals that you decide upon, or to eliminate the problems that you may be encountering in your life. It's really all about you: my role is to be your "professional friend" in this process, not a personal one.
I use well-known psychotherapeutic and counselling techniques ranging from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Gestalt Therapy to Person Centred Therapy, Narrative Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy, but I am not blindly committed to any of them: it's my job to help my clients in a practical, useful, non-judgemental and supportive way, and the therapeutic or clinical technique that I use will be dictated by you, and by the issues that you come to see me about. Most of the time I will employ a sort of "hybrid" therapy that uses the most appropriate elements of a variety of therapeutic techniques - it would be silly to pick a therapy off the shelf and try to "sell" it to a client! My approach is slightly different to most counsellors and
psychotherapists in that I lean quite a bit on neuroscience - hence, to be more specific, I am called a neuropsychotherapist.
How long is it going to take?
The biggest mistake a client can make is to expect that counselling or psychotherapy will be a "quick fix." Sometimes it's possible to resolve issues quite quickly, but most clients don't just need one specific issue to be fixed - they frequently have peripheral issues, comorbities and associated issues, and sometimes these turn out to be bigger and more harmful than the issue that first brought them to therapy! So, the answer is, it can take a few sessions if the issue is superficial (but that is truly rare). It could also take years if the issue is complicated (that is also rare). We can't know how long it will take until we start to investigate and explore. For this reason I ask all of my clients to commit to at least six consultations before they even think about quitting. That said, a client can terminate therapy at any time - clients don't come to therapy in handcuffs.
For certain types of program, such as the Employee Assistance Programs that I help companies with, the main focus is not so much on therapy but on solving shorter term, day-to-day problems. Here the emphasis is on what we call Solution Focused Therapy, and most companies typically provide free referrals for about six sessions - and they pay me, you don't.
Why do I need a therapist - I have friends to talk to?
Talking to your friends about your problems is fine. But how many of want to listen to you talk about yourself for an hour every week? How many of them would put up with you venting your frustrations and anger? And would you really be comfortable talking to your friends about your deepest fears, emotions, weaknesses, or your wild fantasies for the future? And what are they going to do to actually help you? Friends can be a great source of support, but without training they won't know what to look for, and what to do about "it" when they find it! Therapy (and there are many different kinds), is systematic, structured and designed to move in a sensible way from identification of the issues to their resolution.
For many people the best therapy money can buy..... might be getting a dog, or a cat! I am not joking.
Do you work with children?
Yes, I work with people of all ages, including children. I hold a current Working With Children Check and Federal Police Clearance, and am also accredited with the New South Wales Education Standards Authority (NESA) for work in schools.
What are your ethical commitments and qualifications?
I'm a qualified Counsellor registered with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and on the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists (ARCAP). In 2017 I was accredited as a Certified Clinical Neuropsychotherapist by the International Association of Clinical Neuropsychotherapy (IACN), and in 2018 this was updated to Certification as an Applied Neuroscience Practitioner (Psychotherapy), with membership of the International Association of Applied Neuroscience (IAAN). I am a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Professional Counsellors, the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, the Asian Psychological Association, and a Professional Member of the International Association for Counselling (a United Nations consultative body), among others. I am also listed on a variety of professional associations around the world, and I have formal collaboration agreements with the largest collaborative provider of psychological services in Australasia, as well as the world's biggest provider of Employee Assistance support programs. Each membership, registration or listing comes with ethical obligations. In 2019 I completed accreditation in Ethics in Psychiatric Rehabilitation at Boston University's Centre for Psychiatric Rehabilitation, and I have a strong commitment to ethical practice. In addition, the various professional bodies that I belong to require me to undertake (a) regular professional supervision, and (b) a minimum number of ongoing professional development activities and training annually in order to keep my qualifications up to date.
Is it confidential?
Yes. The confidentiality rules are very strict, and similar to those that apply to a client and his or her lawyer or doctor. There are specific circumstances under which a therapist may be legally obliged to break confidence however - if somebody (including the client) is in danger; if a judge or magistrate subpoenas your records, or if there is risk to a child. I hold a current Working With Children Check.
What's it going to cost me?
I charge standard fees per per session, irrespective of the content or nature of the consultation. I am not "contracted in" with any medical insurer or Medicare, so patients will be expected to make payment for each session at the end of that session. The standard session duration for most therapy sessions is 45 minutes to one hour. Due to the high rates of "no shows" that therapists experience you will be charged for a full session if you fail to turn up - clients need to give at least four hours notice of a cancellation or a request for a postponement.
Please take a look at the section below entitled "Fees" for a summary of the typical costs of services.
Do you specialise or can anybody use your services?
I am happy to provide consultations on a very wide range of issues and problems. After our initial consultation we will decide together about what happens next. Usually we will agree to a handful of sessions to explore your issues and start forming a plan. It's not unusual for a psychotherapist or counsellor to tell a client that he or she would be better served by a different therapist who specialises in dealing with specific issues - it would be unethical for me, for example, to try to provide you with help in an area where I know that my own skills are inadequate. If you would be best served by referral elsewhere I will recommend that to you. You do not need a doctor's referral in order to see me.
Neuropsychotherapy? What is that?
Neuropsychotherapy isn't a new kind of therapy. It's simply a new approach to psychotherapy that helps our understanding of the way the brain works. Everybody got very excited when we discovered that the brain works on electric impulses in the 1800s, and therapies were designed around electricity - some are still used today. Then everybody got all excited again when we discovered that these electrical systems were part of brain chemistry, and that the brain is a sophisticated electrochemical system. This opened the door for a vast array of drugs to treat mental illness. More recently in the late 20th century, armed with technology like CAT and PET scans and Functional MRIs (fMRI), and under the groundbreaking leadership of Eric Kandel the paradigm shifted, and we realised that the brain is ultimately all about complex social connections and neural networks that are constantly re-wiring themselves in response to the environment, through neurons (brain cells) that tend to fire in certain characteristic ways that are different in every person. The brain is in fact very "plastic" and pliable. What neuropsychotherapists are interested in is the use of standard psychotherapy techniques to encourage a patient's brain to rewire itself so that neurons fire in more productive and effective ways, principally by employing therapies that stimulate the prefrontal cortex, or "smart brain," and reducing the excessive firing of neurons in the direction of the "survival" area of the brain. In Freudian psychoanalysis this is referred to as a kind of reconstructive psychotherapy. This results in a down-regulation of stress, fear and anxiety centres in the brain (and the behaviours that accompany them) and switches on the patient's capacity for higher order functioning (creativity and mental "thriving"). What we're trying to achieve is a safe and "enriched environment," which is typical of the so-called "therapeutic alliance" between a patient and his or her therapist. What's really fascinating is that research can now actually show (using fMRI) altered blood flow and changes in patterns of neuronal activity in different parts of the brain during the course of psychotherapy - with or without the use of medications. For the first time there is proper evidence that psychotherapy actually produces physical changes to brain structure and functioning.
Am I alone, or are psychological and mental issues common?
You're definitely not alone! All of us experience mental issues, emotional distress, moodiness, anxiety - it's perfectly normal. What isn't "normal" is when these things start to prevent us from functioning optimally, and start to affect our lives in unwelcome ways, and frequently. The September 2017 Report of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners tells us how common mental ailments are: 61% of patients who visit their GP do so for psychological ailments.
Do you offer online or telephone counselling?
Not unless there is no other choice. Telephone and online counselling is becoming increasingly popular these days, and one can understand why: it's convenient, easy to organise, doesn't involve the patient or the therapist having to travel etc etc. I have resorted to it myself in extreme situations, but I am reluctant to embrace it routinely in my practice, and I'll tell you why.
My main objection has to do with a core principle in psychotherapy and counselling therapy, namely the establishment of a thing we call "the therapeutic alliance" between the therapist and the client. It's more than simply establishing a "rapport." Further, in neuropsychotherapy, we apply an extra principal, which is the necessity of creating "an enriched environment," which is the development over time of a profound sense of safety and security for the client. Now, in my experience, these are difficult to achieve unless one is in a face-to-face ("on the couch") relationship.
Another reason I don't favour it under normal circumstances is the fact that therapy requires me to make observations of conscious and unconscious physical responses, including body language, respiration, verbal and non-verbal cues, nuances and gestures. I can't assess or work with any of that if my client is talking to me via email, sms or online.
So, whilst "distance therapy" has its place, it's unlikely to ever become a feature of my practice except for (a) an introductory assessment, or (b) in extraordinary circumstances where physical attendance on my client is not possible, and any help is better than no help at all.
Can you provide patients with Court assistance? How much will it cost?
Yes, I am available to assist clients with Court matters. These typically consist of the preparation of objective Court Reports relating to (a) a client's therapy history, diagnoses, therapy content, progress, and (b) assessment, psychobiological factors associated with the Court proceedings, and objectively helping the Court to understand (and take into account) a client's state of mind and the mental factors that the Court should consider before determining guilt or innocence, and ultimately sentencing.
In order to qualify for Court assistance I must have had at least 6 standard consultations with a client before I would be in a position to prepare a Court Report. Six consultations is a bit of a "magic number" in that I always ask new clients to commit to at least 6 sessions before they consider terminating therapy anyway. There are many reasons for this, the most obvious being that it takes a while to establish what we call "a therapeutic alliance," and it sometimes takes a little while to be sure that a client's issues have been diagnosed reliably and accurately.
There are standard, fixed fees for most of my services, payable by card or cash at the conclusion of every session Below is a summary of the common ones. For comparative purposes the recommended fees of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) are included.
(p.h. = per hour p.p. = per person)
My Fees APS Recommended Fees
Individual counselling / psychotherapy consultation (45-60 min) $120 p.h. $251
Individual consultations (after hours) $150
Couples (office hours) $150
Couples (after hours) $180
Consultations where there are three or four participants (45-60 minutes) $240 p.h. $84 per person
Groups of five or more participants (45-60 minutes) $50 p.p. $50 per person
Six prescribed consultations preparatory to filing a Court Report = 6X$120 $720 $1 500
Preparation of a Court Report or any other Report $150 p.h. $251 per hour
Court appearance (including unproductive time) $200 p.h. $377 per hour
Travel $120 p.h. $166 per hour
Communication / consultation with lawyers / doctors (telephone / email) Free $251 per hour
Conference and meetings on behalf of clients (excluding travel) $120 p.h. $251 per hour
Miscellaneous letters (provided on paper only) $65
Complex letters (provided on paper only) $90