Heather believes that change is possible! Helping people focus on what they would like to be different in their lives, identifying and utilising their strengths and past successes as a foundation for change, and working together through counselling to achieve goals is the basis of her approach. She draws on a range of therapeutic approaches in her work that are collaborative and client focussed, and utilises a range of creative activities in her work, seeking to provide ways of working that resonate with the individual.
She provides counselling for people experiencing a range of issues including:
The facts about Anger:
Anger is defined as:
a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire.”
a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire
Anger is an emotion common to everyone! However, it can result in significant harm when it is not managed well.
Anger can be both an internal experience and result in an external event. Someone, an event or your own personal issues including difficult memories can cause feelings of anger, raising your heart rate and blood pressure as well as triggering the release of adrenaline.
Expressing anger is often to respond aggressively, a reaction which stems from our fight or flight instinctual response during stressful or seemingly threatening situations. Laws, social norms and common sense place limits on what is an acceptable form of displaying anger. It’s how anger is expressed and managed that is often problematic.
There are three main conscious and unconscious ways people deal with their angry feelings – express, suppress and calming.
Assertively expressing anger in a way that communicates your feelings and needs effectively in a situation is the healthiest way of expressing anger. This is successfully done when you are assertive without being aggressive, pushy or demanding and being respectful of yourself and others.
Anger can be suppressed and redirected or converted, this is when you hold in your anger and focus on something more productive and positive. The danger here is that if anger isn’t released in some form, it can turn inward causing a whole host of other issues both physical and psychological negatively impacting on your life and the people around you.
Taking steps to calm yourself by not just controlling your outward responses but also your internal responses such as lowering your heart rate and letting the feelings subside.
All three can be healthy ways of dealing with anger, however, depending on the person negative effects can ensue and that is when anger issues begin to arise.
What causes anger issues?
Many anger issues come from a persons’ environment – stress, financial issues, difficult relationships and feelings of overwhelming expectations can contribute to the formation of anger. Anger issues may also be evident in people whose parents have experienced similar difficulties. Hence the ways a person responds when angry may be learned behaviours. Physical contributing factors such as your body’s ability to deal with certain hormones and chemicals in your body (e.g. serotonin) can also play a role in how you process anger.
What are the signs that you have an anger issue?
It’s often when things get out of control that you become aware that you have an issue with managing anger appropriately. Other people may become scared by your behaviour, or you may scare yourself by a strong angry response. This often happens within families or close relationships.
Family violence is often a result of out of control anger and is a clear sign that there is a significant anger issue that needs to be addressed to prevent harm. Road rage is another common example of an inappropriate anger response. It is recommended that you seek assistance with how you manage anger if you are experiencing issues such as these.
However, losing your cool from time to time doesn’t mean you have an anger issue. In fact, not all anger related issues are felt or expressed as anger. A number of emotional states such as anxiety, depressed mood and irritability are possible symptoms of not processing anger in a healthy manner. Physical signs of an anger issue range from fatigue to heart palpitations or tightening of the chest. Strong emotions such as anger can have a very real impact on your body leaving issues unaddressed can put your overall health at risk.
How to manage anger:
The challenge with managing your reactions to feelings of anger is finding what the anger relates to, what triggers anger and then to find ways to appropriately manage strong emotional responses. Relaxation, communication skills and problem-solving techniques are some helpful strategies that may make a big difference to how you deal with anger in appropriate ways.
Counselling can provide an opportunity for you to focus on what it is happening for you and think about how you might do things differently. This will benefit you and those around you who might be struggling with your behaviour.
Heather Thompson Consulting provides two treatment approaches to anger management and behaviour change:
1. A six session course for individuals
2. Anger management counselling
A certificate of attendance is provided at the conclusion of Anger Management treatment.
Themes addressed in Anger Management Treatment include:
• Anger and violence defined and explored
• Patriarchy and violence
• Taking responsibility for your own thinking, feelings and behaviour.
• Positive, healthy ways of dealing with conflict
• Strategies for managing high-risk situations
• Making amends with people you have used violence or aggressive behaviours against.
Contact Heather Thompson today to make an appointment for anger management treatment.
For immediate assistance:
Lifeline: 131 114
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Anxiety is a normal part of everyday life as we cope with the often conflicting demands of work and study, relationships, families and friends. Sometimes we may fee more anxious than other times and this is normal.
However, the quality of life can be significantly impacted when symptoms of anxiety become severe and occur when there is no threat or danger apparent.
Anxiety can cause strong physical responses such as a rapid heart beat, chest pain or increased sweating. Racing thoughts and a sense of panic and fear often become unbearable and relentless. The anxiety can become overwhelming and extremely distressing, and often people experiencing anxiety symptoms feel desperate about how to manage everyday life and feel trapped and isolated.
Anxiety and Depression – A Link
Anxiety and Depression are both normal emotions that everyone experiences in difficult situations. However, they become problematic when they persist over time and can have a huge impact upon your life. Often they make normal everyday activities difficult to manage.
Experts in mental health maintain that nearly 50% of people with depression also have anxiety, and vice versa. Although they are different mood disorders, they have the following similarities
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration difficulties
- Loss of pleasure in everyday life
It’s not all bad news though! When you seek support to address either depression or anxiety, counselling can effectively help resolve both issues due to the overlap of symptoms. Evidence based interventions are available immediately, so seeking immediate counselling support is a step in the right direction to get you back on the path to health and wellbeing!.
The Facts about Anxiety Disorders
- Most commonly diagnose mental health problem in Australia.
- Around 11% of the population experience these problems.
- Almost twice as many women as men are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Some common types of anxiety disorders
- Generalised Anxiety Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Panic Disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Specific phobias
What causes anxiety disorders?
Although there is no specific cause responsible for the development of an anxiety disorder there are a number of variables that can contribute:
- Family history of anxiety
- Excessive alcohol and drug use such as cannabis, amphetamines, ecstasy.
- Personality factors
How to Manage Anxiety
Just breathe! A helpful way to manage the physical symptoms is to focus on your breath, breathe deeply and slowly. Perhaps count…in -2-3 out-2-3, as you breathe in and out for a few minutes at a time until the symptoms subside.
- Ask for help and support from family, friends and work mates
- Listen to music, relaxation or mindfulness recordings.
- Exercise. Perhaps use music as you exercise as a way to stop the racing thoughts and help improve your mood.
- Do things you enjoy.
Seek expert help from someone who can help you:
- Identify what triggers the symptoms
Learn some practical strategies to help you manage and overcome the symptoms
For more information call or visit:
Anxiety Helpline: 9886 9377
Or call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……
Nearly 20% of Australians will experience depression at some stage in their life. From children to the elderly, anyone may be impacted at some stage by low mood. It’s part of being human.
When we talk about depression it can mean anything from feeling flat or down, to being deeply troubled where the quality of daily life is significantly impacted. If you experience low mood for more than two weeks you may have mild depression.
When your feelings impact day to day living it’s time to seek professional support.
Anxiety and Depression are often linked, often making normal everyday activities difficult to manage. Mental health experts maintain that nearly 50% of people with depression also have anxiety, and vice versa. Although they are different mood disorders, they have the following similarities
- Sleeping difficulties
- Concentration difficulties
- Loss of pleasure in everyday life
When you seek support to address either depression or anxiety, counselling can effectively help resolve both issues due to the overlap of symptoms. Evidence based interventions are available immediately, so seeking immediate counselling support is a step in the right direction to get you back on the path to health and wellbeing!.
Common Symptoms of Mild Depression.
Loss of interest in everyday activities
- A sense of hopelessness
- Tearfulness and crying
- Negative self-talk
- Negative thoughts
- Withdrawal from social connections
- Feeling numb
- Chronic fatigue
- Reduced libido
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Change in eating habits
Causes of Depression
For many people, there is no reason and there is no cause for their feelings. This makes it painful and difficult for people because others don’t understand this.
For others, there are multiple contributing factors to depression that includes:
- Mild to severe life stress
- Substances you may take (some medications, drugs and alcohol.) Nearly 30% of people with substance abuse problems have major or clinical depression.
- Medical conditions
- Biological or genetic factors: A family history of depression may increase the risk. Depression is a complex trait so there is no one single gene that contributes to disease risk.
- Psychological factors
- Abuse: Past physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Conflict: Personal conflicts or disputes with family members or others
- Death or loss: Sadness or grief from the loss of a loved one
- Major events, either positive or negative
- Personal problems
- Serious illness
Treatment for Mild Depression
Counselling treatment results in good outcomes for people experiencing mild depression, and there are a variety of effective interventions available.
What else helps?
There are four things you can do for yourself to help manage your symptoms.
- Healthy eating
- Sleep well
- Avoid alcohol and drug use.
For more advise on how to deal with depression click here
Sometimes symptoms persists for months or years, causing havoc to a person’s physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, interfering with daily life and relationships.
The following symptoms may be indicators of severe depression in addition to the symptoms of mild depression.
- Difficulty getting out of the house
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Significant weight loss or gain
- Recurrent intrusive thoughts of death and suicide
- Restlessness, feelings of worthlessness
- Daily insomnia or excessive sleeping
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
Treatment for Severe Depression
Evidence demonstrates that severe depression is best treated by a two-pronged approach; medication and counselling. Indeed, therapeutic interventions have an 80% success rate, so counselling is often the key to long-term recovery.
The first step is to seek the assistance of your GP who will assess and perhaps prescribe useful medication, and then seek counselling.
Having a baby is an emotionally charged experience as well as being an intensely challenging physical experience. It’s quite normal to experience the baby blues after giving birth! Up to 80% of new mums experience post-partum depression. Often feelings of depression start within a few days of delivery and generally resolve within a few weeks.
However, for up to 15% of women symptoms persist and can last for a month or years if left untreated.
Common Symptoms of Post-Partum Depression
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest in pleasurable activities
- Feeling that you are not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt and inadequacy
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feeling numb and overwhelmed
- Thinking about harming yourself or your baby
Treatment for Post-Partum Depression
Women often feel ashamed or embarrassed by their symptoms especially as there is a common belief that having a new baby is a happy time in your life! Yet Post-Partum Depression can be successfully treated, and seeking professional help from a skilled counsellor is a very helpful thing you can do for yourself, your baby, and family.
When to Seek Help
- If your symptoms don’t subside within two weeks
- If your symptoms are getting worse
- If you are finding it difficult to care for your baby
- If you are unable to complete everyday tasks
- If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby,
- Seek immediate assistance from your partner, family or friends.
- Call 000 for immediate assistance
- Call Lifeline 13 11 14
- Call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Or call Heather Thompson to make an appointment.
Alcohol and Drug Counselling
If you want to do something about problematic drug or alcohol issues, you need to acknowledge there is a problem! Taking that first step is the hardest. No-one can do it for you. Regardless of how much people around you might want you to change, threaten you or despair about your using habits, they can’t do it for you. It really is up to you!
Seek some help.
It’s tough to go it alone, and most often the solitary option doesn’t work. To do something that will make a difference these things will help:
Support from someone who understands
A plan that has a good chance of working
Counselling is a great resource you can access for understanding, support and accountability for the process of changing your problematic behaviour.
Stick with the plan!
This is the tough bit! Changing behaviour is hard work, but having good supports in place can be so beneficial for the hard slog! And there are benefits along the way that may surprise you and spur you on!
If you find a counsellor who you trust with the journey, you’re streets ahead already! The relationship you have with the counsellor makes a significant impact on outcomes, so make sure you find someone you think you can work with. Finding someone you can trust, be honest with and have confidence in is essential. This will help you stick to your plan.
Part of the plan will be to find some key motivators and milk them for all they’re worth! Everyone is different, and your plan needs to reflect you and your experience.
What to expect in drug and alcohol counselling:
There are some common themes that will probably be addressed in counselling treatment:
- Patterns of use and changes over time
- How the substance use is a problem
- The impact of substance use on you: physically, emotionally, socially, practically
- Defensive behaviours: eg. Lying about your use
- Causes of dependency: what drives this behaviour?
- Addictive patterns and habits
- Negative thinking
- Relationship issues
- Broader implications of use: career, employment, legal issues etc
The aim of counselling is to challenge root causes of substance use and help you regain self-control so that you can live life fully, and not be dependent on a substance for your wellbeing. It’s about being in control of yourself and being OK in your own skin!
In the process, you will probably gain all sorts of benefits such as
- Feeling better about yourself
- A healthier you
- Improved relationships with people you care about
- Clearer thinking
- More money in your hip pocket!
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……
Family violence is conduct that is violent, threatening, coercive, controlling or intended to cause the family or household member to be fearful. It can include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological neglect.(www.humanservices.gov.au 2016)
Family violence can occur with your partner or ex-partner, with your children or with other members of your family.
It occurs in all socio-economic groups and in all religious and cultural groups.
Perpetrators of family violence violate the rights and well-being of their victims. They use power and control in a variety of ways including:
- The use of intimidation
- The use of isolation
- Use of emotional abuse
- Using economic abuse
- Using male privilege
- Using coercion and threats
- Using children
- Minimising denying and blaming
One of the main benefits of counselling for people who have experienced family violence is to be heard, and for someone else to say “what you’re experiencing is not OK.” To be validated is an important part of being able to take back control and to consider what life might be like without the violence.
For those who use violence within relationships, counselling can help to consider what you might do differently to manage conflict more appropriately, to avoid harm and improve connectedness. Learning to address strong emotional responses like anger and frustration and to take responsibility for your own behaviour in appropriate ways is necessary for change to occur. Anger management counselling can be a helpful approach to enable you to change your behaviour.
In counselling, you can be encouraged to speak about your experience within the context of your relationships and consider options about what you can do about it.
Heather has broad experience working with people impacted by family violence. She understands how difficult it often is to seek assistance, and assures a confidential, safe and anonymous environment for people who wish to engage in counselling.
Heather has experience working with both partners involved in family violence and recognises the complexity of issues that present in families.
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……
If you are being threatened or you are fearful for yourself, a child or a family member call 000
If you need to talk to someone immediately call
Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre: 24 hour response line
1800 015 188
Happy Families. Myth or fiction?
Maintaining happy and healthy families is probably one of the most challenging things we have to do in life! It’s normal for families to find it challenging at times to get the balance right, of doing life together with a sense of wellbeing!
Sometimes seeking help from a professional can be really beneficial. Research shows that family counselling is one of the most effective forms of therapy available! If you look after your family relationships evidence shows that there are other benefits, like an improved sense of wellbeing and psychological resilience!
There are many forms of families including the traditional mum, dad and the kids. These include:
- Blended family
- Extended family
- Families together by blood, marriage and defacto relationships
- Foster and adoptive families
- Same-sex parented families
- Separated parent family
- Single parent family
- Step family
No matter what your family looks like, family counselling can help you to sort things out and work out improved ways of doing life together.
Common family issues
It’s impossible to predict what life might throw at you, but there are some life events that often prompt families to seek some help.
- Emotional and behavioural issues
- Family conflict
- Family violence
- Drug and alcohol use
- Death of a family member
- Relationship breakdowns
- Separation and divorce
- Traumatic experiences
- Unexpected pregnancy
Families often feel stuck. Angry. Distressed. Overwhelmed. And generally haven’t been able to work out a way to make changes that work for them.
Whatever the issues your family is facing, counselling can be beneficial.
What happens in family counselling?
Two or more family members usually come for counselling, depending on what the issues are. Sometimes other members may also join if it becomes evident that this might be helpful. It’s different for every family, so you can decide what might work best for your situation.
Overall the purpose of family counselling is enable the family to sort out whatever it is that has prompted the counselling. Often there is pain and misunderstanding causing conflict within the family, and existing patterns of behaviour and interaction are not working well.
Every family is different but here are some of the common things to expect:
- Exploration of the key issues and how each person in the family perceives them.
- Opportunity for each person to be heard to achieve mutual understanding.
- Helping each person to take responsibility for their own actions and responses within the family.
- Clarity about goals and hoped for outcomes.
- A focus on effective conflict resolution strategies.
- Thinking about communication patterns and unhelpful and helpful ways of being together.
Heather enjoys working with families and being part of the change process as challenges are addressed, creative ways are explored to enhance wellbeing, changes implemented and helpful solutions are discovered!
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……
Counselling can help individuals, partners or families navigate through the complexities of relationships and provide opportunity to explore new and more satisfying ways of interacting with others.
We all have many different relationships in our lives. Partners, families, kids, work colleagues, footy coaches, neighbours…the list goes on! When things are going well it’s great, but often these relationships become difficult and can cause a lot of anxiety and problems. Seeking some assistance from someone with the skills and knowledge to help you better manage these issues is a great idea, and relationship counselling can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Relationship counselling can help you sort out what’s going wrong in your relationships. Looking at communication patterns and how you manage conflict and difference is a key to understanding the situation you are in. We all have a past, and understanding the impact of what’s gone on in our lives before can be so helpful in working out what we might do differently to bring some change. Becoming responsible for your own part in a relationship is important as this enables you to then choose how you might do things differently. If you keep doing the same things you will probably get the same result, so doing things differently broadens the possibilities for change!
Would you like to be able to have a more satisfying and happy relationship with your partner? Emotionally and sexually? What would it be like to feel loved and accepted for who you are rather than experience ongoing conflict or disconnection? Do you wonder how things have changed and now you are questioning whether you want to still be in the relationship?
There are a range of common relationship issues:
- Communication issues
- Loss of intimacy
- Loss of trust
- Loss of honesty
- Managing conflict
- Sexual problems
- Abusive behaviour
- Problems with extended families
- Blended families
- Impact of medical or mental health issues
These are all common challenges for partners experiencing difficulty in their relationships and can be addressed in counselling. Research shows that counselling works in 70% – 80% of cases. It can help you reconnect with your partner and restore intimacy and closeness.
Sometimes couples need help working out what to do about their relationship, whether moving on from a particular relationship or calling it a day is the best option, or whether there is some hope that things could change enough for the relationship to continue. Counselling can help whatever the challenges are, as long as you are willing to think about the relationship and what’s happening between the two of you.
Alone or together?
There are options for how you address issues in your relationship. It works best when both of you seek counselling because this provides the opportunity for you to consider what is happening between you, as well as what each person is experiencing. Exploring the best ways of managing your feelings, thoughts and behaviours becomes the focus for counselling.
Couple counselling often involves a combination of joint and individual sessions. This flexibility allows for the unique needs of the couple. An assessment of communication styles and behaviour patterns, presenting issues and desired outcomes individually and together, enables a treatment process to be planned that best suits the couple.
Sometimes just one person of the partnership wants to seek some help even when the other is not willing. This is the case with about half the number of people who seek couple counselling. This doesn’t mean that one person is the problem, because a relationship is about what happens between two people! However, this can still be beneficial and make a huge difference to the relationship. When one person changes the relationship changes! The other person will need to adjust to new ways of doing things. There is a high probability that positive change in the behaviour of the other partner is likely if positive change has occurred in the one seeking assistance.
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……