Blog Posts

  • 12 Points About Telehealth

    From Monday 30th March 2020, 12 Points Psychology will be moving all our sessions online until further notice.

    We have done this for several reasons, the most of important of which, is to keep our clients, our staff and our clinicians healthy and safe so we can keep providing mental health support to as many people as possible.

    And let’s face it, now more than ever, our mental health needs have to take priority!

    Lots of people are a bit worried about how telehealth works, and it is a very different way to do a session with your clinician, but different most certainly doesn’t have to mean bad or scary!

    So here’s 12 Points about telehealth to help ease the transition for you!

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    Rory and Yoyo having a chat online
    1. It’s not a brand new medium. A lot of us (as clinicians) already use telehealth platforms like Zoom and Coviu to conduct supervision sessions or training and check in with clients who may have moved far away, or who are housebound.
    2. Telehealth can be conducted via an online platform that includes a video link (so you can see each other as you talk) OR via phone.
    3. You’ll get used to it faster than you’d think! You know how reality tv stars always complain about how they’re portrayed? The question most of us often then ask is, “Did they not know there were cameras there?” And the truth is, just like the cameras in a MAFS honeymoon suite, the device between you and your clinician quickly disappears and you’ll be chatting like you’re in the same room before you know it.
    4. Interruptions can happen, but not too much more often than in face-to-face sessions. We’ve had gardeners knocking on windows, kids playing bowls down the hallways and dogs barking (or in one memorable instance – throwing up!) in face-to-face sessions; and they all well and truly interupted the flow of the session! So yes, there will sometimes be connection problems with your telehealth session, but nothing that can’t be resolved and nothing that we don’t have contigency plans for.
    5. Accessing the video sessions is really easy. Have a look at the video here to check out just how straightforward the process is.
    6. The Australian government has expanded the available telehealth item numbers so that we can use Medicare-rebateable sessions online for those with a valid Mental Health Care Plan (and you no longer have to meet any special criteria to access those sessions).
    7. Kids actually engage really well online (they’re more used to it than most of us!) and moving to telehealth gives us a chance to see them in action at home, as well as more of a chance to focus on parent-child interaction work.
    8. I can’t wait to learn more about my client’s and what’s important to them. Assuming they’re ok with it, I’m going to ask each of my clients to start their sessions in the room in the house they like the best or to grab their favourite item from their home. I’m also really looking forward to finally getting to meet so many of my client’s pets!
    9. You can do your session in your own home! In your PJs if you want! I mean I honestly wonder how many people are going to want to go back to face-to-face after this for that reason alone!
    10. Rory is going to miss licking people terribly, but she’s being very stoic and we’re coming up with new and creative ways to integrate the animals into online sessions (see the pic with Rory and YoYo having a chat).
    11. You can access your sessions via laptop, desktop, tablet or smartphone, so you have a lot of freedom!
    12. None of us are good with change – I devote whole sessions to why change is so hard for us and discussing all the ways our brains will try and resist it! So it’s fine to be nervous and anxious about change, but nobody ever did anything brave without feeling some fear first! So let’s take that leap together! Because we really are all in this together.

    I really am incredibly grateful that we have this option open to us. I would hate to have to stop working with my clients at this most horrible of times and thank goodness we have the technology available to do this!

    Copy of dr jersey 2

    So before your first session make sure:

    • you’re somewhere quiet and private (or as private as it’s possible to be if you’re self-isolating with kids – the car could be good!),
    • your device is fully charged,
    • your internet connection is good (don’t do the session at the far end of the house if the wifi signal is no good there),
    • you’ve got a cup of coffee/glass of water/pint of ice cream/ box of tissues
    • you’ve got a set of headphones handy, just in case you want to up the privacy quotient a little!

    and then, we’ll see you online!

    Take care everyone!

    Danielle Graber
    Clinical Psychologist & Director
    12 Points Psychology

     

  • Fears & Values in the time of Covid-19

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    One of my young clients said to me, many years ago as we were working on their dog phobia, “You know so much about this stuff! I bet psychologists never get scared!”

    That was utterly adorable.

    But dead wrong.

    Of course, I get scared.

    It’s just that, I also have some decent tools up my sleeves to deal with that fear.

    Like right now.

    I’m scared

    As someone with a compromised immune system. I’m scared.

    As the wife, daughter, sister and friend of others in high risk groups. I’m scared.

    As a former scientist with friends still working in hospitals and labs at the frontline. I’m scared.

    As a small business owner, you’d better believe I’m scared!

    But honestly, it’s as a psychologist, that I’m bloody terrified.

    See, the vast majority of us will survive the virus. Even if we catch it, the odds are, especially here in Australia, that most of those infected will survive. Even if the healthcare system crashes under the weight of all the cases, physically, most people will recover.

    BUT

    You know what people don’t recover from?

    • Seeing people do more damage to each other than any virus ever could and
    • The realisation that they have acted contrary to their values.

    These two factors are literally what torturers rely on to ‘break’ their victims. I’m not even exaggerating here. Torture is one person doing cruel and unusual things to someone else and it is considered ‘successful’ when the victim starts to act counter to their value system, e.g., turning on friends, and abandoning what’s most important to them. Sound familiar?

    So, I want you to have a think.

    Right now.

    What’s most important to you?

    Health?

    What do you think happens if the doctors and nurses on the front line can’t get access to essential supplies anymore? How do you think those on the frontline feel when they see people flouting social distancing rules while they work all day in an overrun hospital and then go home to the motel room, they’re staying at to protect their own family?

    Family?

    Think about, if you did get sick, who would look after you? Family, friends, neighbours, doctors, nurses? Then ask yourself, what are you doing today and this week to support those people NOW?

    Respect? Compassion? Community?

    Social distancing doesn’t mean severing all human connections. It’s imperative that social distancing doesn’t come to mean social isolation. A lot of the deluge of information (including misinformation) on social media has certainly heightened the panic around this pandemic, but let’s reclaim that. Let’s start using all this technology to our advantage.

    Pick up the phone, jump online, start a FB group with your nearest and dearest and send funny memes to each other. Or, if you want to stay away from social media for now (and fair enough!), then go old school and write letters to those stuck in nursing homes, or get your kids to draw pictures for the frontline healthcare staff.

    Our bodies may be stuck at home, but our heads and our hearts don’t have to be.

    The thing that will help calm my terror, (and genuinely, make this time more bearable for everyone) is if we can all just take a minute, pause and ask ourselves.

    • What’s really most important to me? Not just now, but always, and
    • Am I living in concert with those values in the time of Covid-19?

    If not, what can I change today, tomorrow, this week and this month to bring myself back in line with those core values? Because that is one fight we genuinely cannot afford to lose.

    Danielle Graber
    Director 12 Points Psychology

    If this is something you haven’t considered before, take a moment now to complete this worksheet and start figuring out what actions you’re going to take that will speak your values loud and proud to those who are most important to you.

  • Care in the time of Corona

    These are some troubling times we find ourselves in, but I would like to take this opportunity to assure our clients that we’re keeping a very close eye on the pandemic as it unfolds and making sure to update our policies and procedures regularly in line with the most well-informed recommendations.

    I have no wish to increase the level of panic out there, but I do feel it’s important to let you know what precautions we’re taking and why we think they are necessary. So I feel like now may be a good time to mention, that before I was a psychologist and the director of 12 Points Psychology, I worked in medical science and I happened to be working in the Immunology and Infectious Diseases department of a major hospital during the SARS outbreak all those years ago.

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    Yep. Actually me. I loved that haircut at the time!

    I tell you this now because I hope it goes some way to reassuring you that you’re in good hands with us, because 1) I am coming from a place of experience and 2) the policies and procedures we’re implementing here at 12 Points are based off guidelines that were part of the reason SARS all but disappeared from the community only 2 years after it first emerged. With a bit of luck and a decent amount of care, hopefully COVID-19 will go the same way!

    Given my former experience in immunology and my current experience as a mental health professional, I don’t believe that now is the best time to be restricing access to mental health care and I do believe that with some basic precautions, we can continue to operate safely for now. That is why we are going to continue to offer face-to-face sessions at 12 Points Psychology while implementing the the following changes:

    • you will now receive an email reminder in addition to your text reminder prior to your appointments. These messages will serve to explain the measures we’re taking to keep you, our staff and our clinicians well and healthy. We will update them regularly with any new information that we feel may be relevant to your care, so please read over them prior to each appointment. (If we don’t have an email address for you on file, consider adding it to your updated information sheet next time you’re in or email it to us with a request to have it recorded in your client file: reception12points@gmail.com)

    • if you are unwell, or have recently returned from overseas, PLEASE STAY HOME.
      I cannot stress this enough. If you present to the rooms with any flu-like symptoms, you will be asked to leave (and we really don’t want to have to enforce that, but for everyone’s comfort and safety we certainly will).
    • if you are needing to self-isolate, or would just prefer to do telehealth sessions, please speak to admin via phone (0451 044 015) or email (reception12points@gmail.com) and we can arrange either a phone session or an online session via a secure (yet surprisingly simple to access) healthcare platform.
    • we will be providing hand sanitiser and reminders about hand-washing in each of the rooms and posting information on our Facebook page regularly. Please use the sanitiser and please familiarise yourself with the proper handwashing technique (see Dr John Campbell’s video here for a great example). It is not an exaggeration to say learning how to do this properly literally saves lives.
    • we are removing all of the kid’s toys and high traffic items (like magazines) in the waiting rooms effective immediately. It’s just too hard to keep them sanitised. Sadly, this will include the mentos too, so keep that in mind if you enjoy a sugary snack after an appointment and think about bringing your own for now! 🙂
    • we will be doing full wipe downs with an alcohol-based disinfectant at least twice a day on all the high traffic surfaces, like the desks, door handles, light switches etc
    • unfortunately we will not be offering tea or coffee to clients on arrival for the time being either (again, it’s just too hard to keep things sanitised). We will have disposable cups available if anyone needs a glass of water, but otherwise, considering bringing your own drink along to your session (keeping hydrated is another simple yet incredibly effective way to reduce your chance of getting sick).

    We hope by following these current procedures and staying on top of developments as they arise, we will not only be keeping ourselves and our clients safe and healthy, but we will also be contributing to the flattening of the curve (reducing the rate of spread in the  community to keep the strain off our medical system).

    So if you don’t already follow us on Facebook – now’s the time as that’s where we’ll be posting the most regular updates, and in the meantime, just follow Dr Jersey’s advice.*

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    *warning, Dr Jersey is not a medical doctor, despite the stethescope.

    Take care of yourselves!

    Danielle Graber
    Clinical Psychologist & Director 
    12 Points Psychology

  • Self-talk conversations with Jersey

    One of the greatest privileges of my job as a psychologist is getting to bear witness to the true strength and grit of character that so many of my clients possess. Clients who have overcome every kind of trauma, heartbreak and betrayal imaginable, yet still find reasons to smile and trust and keep going.

    Conversely, one of the things that makes me incredibly sad about my job is the fact that these very same people, those whose every day existence are a testament to resilience and perseverance, often find it so very hard to tolerate a kind word about themselves.

    At times, simply asking about a particular strength, or focusing on an example of something they did well, is enough to bring them to tears.

    I know the reasons why this happens. I can tell you the neuroscience behind negative cognition bias and give you at least 5 different theoretical explanations for the mechanisms behind it, (including response to shame, lack of unconditional love, repeated trauma exposure) and why it persists. But just like my clients, knowing why it happens, doesn’t stop the feelings of sadness each and every time I encounter a bright, intelligent, incredibly resilient client who can sit with all manner of stresses and trauma and downright horrors, dissolving into tears at the mention of a positive trait.

    But this is where Jersey comes into it. Our beautiful Jersey girl who overcame her own traumatic background to learn to trust people and love her work as a therapy dog. So at these moments, I sometimes, ask my clients to turn to Jersey and pretend that whatever horrible and negative thoughts they’re currently stuck on about themselves, apply to Jersey. What would it be like to say those harsh words to Jersey’s sweet face and big brown eyes?

    The clients will sometimes say, “well those words don’t apply to Jersey” to which I reply, “it doesn’t matter, they’re just words, right? You don’t have to believe them; you just have to say them to her face.”

    How many clients, who can be so very harsh on themselves, do you think manage to say those same words to Jersey?

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    look into those big brown eyes!

    I challenge you to do the same thing here, whatever negative thoughts this post may have stirred up in you:

    “well you don’t want to get a big head”

    “that [insert good thing here] was just a fluke”

    “I’m not good enough”

    Look at this picture of Jersey. Look into her eyes and speak those words to her.

    What happens?

    How did it feel even contemplating saying those words to that face?

    If it was hard. If you struggled at all, then the next questions are:

    • Why are you deserving of any less respect than my dog (as cute and sweet as she is of course!)?
    • What could you do/be if those words weren’t on constant replay in your own head?

    This might be something you want to discuss with your own psychologist, but for now, it’s just something to notice and be compassionately curious about.

    As for me, I’ll keep working with my clients until they can be as kind and compassionate to themselves as they can be to Jersey-girl!

    Danielle Graber
    Clinical Psychologist

  • There’s a stone in my shoe and I’m ok with that (or, how I learned to tolerate distress)

    Over the last 6 months, our IT and Facilities Manager, Mathew, has been undertaking a diploma in counselling. What I love is that he’s really focused on applying what he is learning to his own life, before introducing any of these concepts to clients. That’s a really important concept to all of us here at 12 Points, we don’t ask anything of our clients that we’re not willing to try out ourselves!

    Here he writes about his experience in dealing with life’s little annoyances in a new and helpful way.

    Danielle Graber
    Director

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    There used to be NO END of things that bothered me. Things that, in the grand scheme, are not that big a deal, but that didn’t stop them getting under my skin. These little things would sometimes bother me so much that they were all I could focus on, and they would distract me from what I was supposed to be doing.

    Copy of Copy of Untitled Design (1)The kind of things I’m talking about include anything from; using a poorly-designed website, hearing a grating voice of a stranger on public transport, wearing wet clothes after being caught in the rain, seeing grammar and spelling errors in menus or signs, crying children in the supermarket, or just having a stone or twig in my shoe.

    All of these annoyances and distractions caused me actual irritation and distress, and I was just no good at dealing with it.

    Enter the daily mindfulness practice.

    Yes, yes, mindfulness is so great, I’ve heard this all before. I don’t have time, I tried it and it didn’t work, it’s all a bunch of woo woo, etc, etc.

    Let me stop you right there.

    I’m not here to sell you anything – just to tell you that mindfulness helped me develop some distress tolerance and these things that used to bug the hell out of me no longer get a rise out of me. I might still notice them – wow, this website is really hindering the user, or, hey, looks like I’ve picked up a little stone in my shoe – and then after noticing them, I can actually get back to enjoying what I was doing.

    This didn’t happen overnight, it was a gradual process that I only noticed in hindsight after I was doing a short mindfulness practice once a day.

    But it was an amazing difference.

    After walking the dogs in the morning, instead of getting on with the next thing, without a pause or a thought, I would sit down for 5 to 10 minutes, put on a program from the Smiling Mind or Mind the Bump app (both free) and just experience the mindfulness session. After the little bell at the end of the session, I’d get on with the day with a clearer mind, more relaxed and ready to deal with the issues at hand.

    I’m certainly not immune to distress and of course, things can still pop up and bother me, but now that I know what to look for in my responses and if something small gets to me, it’s usually a sign that I’ve been letting my mindfulness practice slip, so I know exactly what to do to find my inner zen again!

    I couldn’t wait until I started seeing my own clients to share such a simple and effective strategy for dealing with the stones that we all pick up at one time or another! And if you’re curious at all, I encourage you to try it out – your literally have nothing to lose – except those pesky stones! Because you can’t stop every stone from ending up in your shoe, but you can learn to enjoy the walk despite the stone!

    Mathew Keany
    IT & Facilities Manager

  • Dealing with Disaster – the bushfire response

    12 Points Psychology is currently offering up to 6 FREE counselling sessions (without the need for a mental health care plan or the use of any sessions under the government’s mental health care initiative) with our counsellor, Elizabeth. These sessions can be face-to-face or via phone or Skype and are available on Thursday afternoon.

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    We know many of those affected will not be ready to seek professional support just yet, so in the meantime, here is an incredibly thorough summary of some adaptive and helpful responses that we can focus on in the midst of these types of disasters to best to take care of ourselves and our children*.

    Danielle Graber
    Director

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    Emotional First Aid

    Emotional First Aid gives you information on how to help yourself, your family and friends in response to witnessing, hearing or living through the traumatic events.

    When traumatic events happen, they challenge our sense of safety and predictability and this may trigger strong physical and emotional reactions. These reactions are normal.

    Dos and Don’ts

    • DO try to get the information about your loved ones ASAP, but don’t spend every minute re-dialing. The lines are busy, and you need to take breaks to focus on other activities from time to time.
    • DO watch the news for a limited time to get the information you need, but then turn off the TV or the radio for a while.
    • DON’T get hooked on the repetitive traumatic images on TV and social media. These images have the uncanny ability to suck us in and keep us glued to the screen, even if it makes us feel worse after. Resist the pull to watch.
    • DON’T stay isolated. Organize and meet in community groups, in neighbourhoods, YMCA’s and religious centres. Get together with family and friends and support each other.Copy of BACE
    • DO seek professional help if your reaction feels too strong to handle on your own or with your friends. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or weak, it means you’re human.
    • DO keep busy and have as structured a schedule as possible to help you stay grounded. It is crucial to focus on your resources, anything that helps you feel calmer, stronger and more grounded.
    • DO things that keep your mind occupied, such as watching a movie, knitting, cooking, playing with children or pets, gardening or being in nature.
    • DO some writing – note down your sensations, feelings and thoughts. It has been shown that writing assists in discharging anxiety and helps us feel more in control.
    • DO get sufficient rest. Our tendency is to run on adrenaline and exhaust our bodies.
    • DON’T let yourself or others re-tell your stories in a repetitive way which can ultimately deepens the trauma; instead listen to each other’s accounts of the event, but with interruptions of the story from beginning to end. Stopping the chronological telling of the story will help you to process feelings without overwhelming yourself and help you not get stuck in obsessive thinking.
    • DO allow yourself to feel the feelings you are feeling even if they are not pretty. Anger, rage and grief are very natural responses to traumatic events. Feel your feelings and allow your emotions to be expressed in a safe framework, but
    • DON’T act out with your anger, try and turn your reactions into a productive outlet (e.g., physical exercise).
    • DO stay active and find a way to get involved that plays to your strengths, e.g., volunteering at collection centres, giving blood or transporting goods into affected areas (when safe to do so).
    • DON’T take it personally if affected individuals get angry and don’t judge their responses. Just be there for them in whatever way they identify as most helpful.

     

    Psychological Response

    People can have many different reactions to the tragedy. We each follow our own path through trauma and grief depending who we are, why we’re traumatised and what resources we have to help us be resilient. Only 5-10% of people develop chronic problems (like Acute Stress Disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

    Some will be in shock, stunned and dissociated for a while. They may feel disoriented in time, and place, and sometimes in person. They may feel numb and cut off from the terror and pain.

    People may feel fear and deep sorrow, uncertainty and helplessness. People may feel confused, not able to think well, concentrate, remember things or problem-solve. They may feel depressed, exhausted, unable to rest and wanting to withdraw. All these feelings are normal in the immediate period after a trauma.

    People may feel agitated, anxious, hyper-alert and hyper-vigilant (‘on guard’), easily irritated and unable to control their emotions. They need to engage in activities and creative expression that calms them.

    Being with family members, friends or other caring people can help to calm you. Try to stay with other people, even if you don’t want to talk about you experiences. Your brain will generally feel safer if there are other people nearby.

    feel the feelingPeople may feel suspicious and paranoid. They may be feel intense anger and want to engage in antisocial acts. They can become very critical and blame everyone. It is important to talk to friends and get a “reality check” on our perspective and to not engage in any act that would go against our values in our “pre-trauma” state.

    Some people’s previous unresolved traumas may get reactivated. Their sense of safety and trust may get shaken. They need to remind themselves or be reminded of their names, their actual age and today’s date and place. This helps reground them in the here and now.

    Children may become ‘clingy’ and have nightmares. They may have stomach-aches and headaches. Alternatively, they may act out aggressively. This is normal. It might last a few days or more but it will pass. They need to be reassured and made to feel protected. Here’s a guide for parents from Phoenix Australia, a book for children, and another for teens.

    Physiological response

    It’s natural to have a physical reaction to traumatic stress and it helps to recognize these symptoms as signs of ‘activation’ and not to be scared by them:

    These reactions will dissipate or go away if we use the energy and don’t fight them. People might experience some difficulty sleeping, or they might have the urge to overeat or engage in behaviours such as excessive use of alcohol or drugs. Try to avoid hurting your body and brain any more than they’ve already been hurt.

    Reaching for something to numb yourself can help you feel temporarily better, but the next day your brain and body have to cope with the effects of toxins as well as trauma. Seek professional help if you’re having trouble coping.

    The best ‘antidote’ is to try to just be aware of these impulses, accept that it is how you’re feeling right now and know that it will pass.

    What to do

    It is very important to stay ‘grounded’. If you are feeling disoriented, confused, upset and in disbelief, you can do the following exercise:

    • Sit on a chair, feel your feet on the ground, press on your thighs, feel your behind on the seat, and your back supported by the chair; look around you and pick six objects that are blue or green.Or do the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise below.It takes up brain space to do these exercises, helps your body feel like it’s got a job to do and should help you find a moment of calm to redirect yourself. This should allow you to feel more in the present and in your body. Notice how your breath gets deeper and calmer.
    grounding
    • Heavy work, sports, aerobics and weight training help avoid depression and are a channel for aggression.
    • If you believe in prayer or in some sort of greater power, pray for rest for the souls of the dead, for the healing of the wounded, for strength and consolation for the grieving. Pray for peace, understanding and wisdom and for the forces of goodness to prevail.
    • Most of all, be kind to yourself and those around you.

     

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    *Adapted from Emotional First Aid – Brief Guide.


    Gina Ross – Trauma specialist, founder of the International Trauma Institute and author of the book in progress “The Role of Media in Healing Trauma” and Peter Levine– Author of “Waking The Tiger- Healing Trauma” and creator of Somatic Experiencing, an innovative method for healing trauma”

     

  • 2 hours in the life of admin

    Danielle here! As most of you know, I’m the founder and director of 12 Points Psychology and as such, I was the one who set up a lot of our admin processes. I chose the patient management system that we use, and with Trish’s help (our Practice Manager) developed all the policies and procedures our admin staff follow as they support our clinicians to best serve our clients.

    However, up until last weekend, it had been 3 years since I had to work the front desk and it certainly gave me a lot of insight into all that admin do for us as clinicians and for our clients. So, I wanted to use this as a chance to thank our admin team for all that they do and let some of our clients in on the behind the scenes stuff that our admin staff are often juggling out there at the front desk. So here’s my Saturday shift…

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    I covered admin for 2 hours a couple of Saturdays ago, while Mat and Elizabeth were running the Coping with Christmas group and wow has it changed since the last time I had to sit at the front desk!

     

     

    Even though it was a Saturday.

    Even though there were only TWO clinicians on.

    Even though it was only 2 hours.

    Damn it was hard!

    I got there half an hour early (as we ask admin to do for handover time) and Mat filled me in on the situation with the client who was in with Janine. Depending on how their session went, there were two very different procedures I would have to follow when they finished up and I needed to prep for both so I wouldn’t keep the client or the clinician waiting.

    Then the group members started coming in to pay, it’s only $10 each, but there was a new person who needed to fill out her paperwork as well. They all needed teas and coffees too. While that was happening, someone called to take a cancellation spot Mat had offered them earlier in the morning, so I had to book them in and answer some questions.

    Are you keeping track?

    In the space of maybe 2 minutes, I was:

    • simultaneously taking and making 3 tea and coffee orders,
    • putting 3 lots of payments through,
    • taking notes for the client that would be coming out at 3,
    • speaking to a client and booking them in for Monday and
    • trying to smile and stay pleasant about the whole thing! 🙂

    The group members went though and I was fixing up the ‘back end’ in our patient management system, e.g., marking those who were in attendance as ‘paid’ and processing rebates when the phone rang again. This time it was one of Clinton’s clients who wanted to cancel all his upcoming appointments because he’d just started a new job and could no longer make those times. I tried to convince him not to cancel them all (as Clinton is hard to get in to), but ended up having to go in and cancel 4 upcoming appointments and then send an email to Clinton letting him know that’s what I’d done and that the client wanted to put on the list to be contacted in the New Year when things had settled.

    So then of course I also had to go onto the to-do board for next year and make a note of that as well – including the explanation about when the client is most easily contactable. I decided to leave filling those cancelled spots for Trish on Monday! (Sorry Trish).

    And it wasn’t even 3pm yet!

    Over the rest of my 2-hour shift, I just couldn’t believe how many competing tasks admin now had to juggle, and how many different points there are along the way where the wheels can fall off and take up even more time, for example:

    • one rebate came up as failed because the Medicare card was invalid – so the Monday people had to phone Medicare – 15 minutes on hold to find out that the client’s Medicare card had updated and the client hadn’t been told yet (Medicare often updates your Medicare number BEFORE they send you your new card).
    • One rebate came up as failed as the client was out of Mental Health Care Plan sessions, so that was 15-20 minutes explaining the Mental Health Care Plan system to him (no mean feat as it doesn’t really make sense to anyone!), changing the fee type, printing out a new invoice, explaining how to get the private health insurance rebate, while leaving another “Monday to-do” for poor Trish who will then have to make another call to Medicare to check what had happened (the client had used 2 sessions with another psych earlier in the year that they didn’t realise counted towards their total).
    • A new client came out to pay and book forward, but I was in the middle of processing the other claim, so couldn’t check the (unusual) spelling on her name, this meant I had to write everything down and then enter it in afterwards once I had the file back in front of me and then text her the dates that she had booked forward after she’d left.

    This was all happening while I was coming to a very important decision about my decorating aesthetic for the waiting room! No more toys that make clanks, clashes or banging sounds! I apologise to the entire admin team for submitting you to that for as long as I have!! It’s all soft furnishings and plush toys from here on out!

    Needless to say, I was very, very grateful when 4.30 rolled around and Mat came out from their first group session (which happily went very well)!!

    So, this is a thank you to admin and all that they do (because I swear, they don’t even realise how many different balls they manage to keep up in the air anymore, they just do it!) and a reminder for them, myself, the rest of us clinicians and our clients that when the occasional ball does get dropped, it represents a tiny percentage of the hundreds of processes that get done right, that get done with a smile and that make ours and our client’s lives so much easier.

    I’m both incredibly proud of our amazing team and incredibly grateful that my days at the front desk are over!

    So hats off to Mat, Kath, Laura, Lisandra and Trish who make us look good AND make it look so easy! 🙂

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  • An Introduction to Animal-Assisted Therapy

    intro to AATObviously animal-assisted therapy is pretty important to me AND to 12 Points and I’m thrilled to see how much traction it’s getting within the mental health field now.

    The more people out there providing evidence-based animal-assisted therapy services, the more clients can benefit from this innovative (and entertaining) field of psychotherapy.

    However I’m also a big believer in setting yourself up for success, especially when we’re talking about the interactions between therapists, their animals and their clients.

    That’s why I’ve put together a 4-week training program, specifically tailored to mental health professionals who are thinking about incorporting animals into their therapy practice.

    This 4-week course will be delivered via a closed FB group and features:
    – up to date research articles on the science behind the effectiveness of AAT,
    – case studies discussing AAT in Action AND
    – ongoing support and mentoring.

    For those who access the group before the 1st of November, they’ll also have the chance to have more personalised content delivered to them via 4 livestreamed lectures/demonstrations (the recordings will also be saved for everyone to access at anytime they join).

    In the 4 livestreams we’ll cover:
    – how to find your animal co-therapist, OR
    – how to work out if your existing pet might be suitable as a therapy animal,
    – how to access the best training for you and your animal,
    – policies and procedures (including insurance and tax-related issues) when incorporating an animal into your workplace.

    To sign up, just go to our ‘Resources for Sale’ page and click on the paypal link or email 12points.psychology@gmail.com for more information.

    Open and ongoing access is only $97 until the end of 2019.

    I hope to see you online soon!

    Danielle Graber
    Clinical Psychologist & Animal-assisted therapist
    Director – 12 Points Psychology

  • Veganism and Mental Health: The Cost of Caring

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    Hi! I’m Amanda, a counsellor, primary/secondary teacher and an excited new member of the 12 Points team!

    Whilst my work at 12 Points will predominantly focus on working with young people experiencing challenges with social, emotional, behavioural and learning issues, I have actually been asked to talk about something else that I am equally passionate about, the link between mental health and veganism.  I am a dedicated vegan; having made the transition from vegetarianism about 5 years ago. I really wish there had been a counsellor available to me at the time who could have supported and guided me, especially given how emotive, and often misunderstood, the term ‘vegan’ has become in recent years.

    According to Google Trends, Australia was the most popular country for veganism in both 2017 and 2018 and was also the 3rd fastest growing market for vegan products in 2018. The largest growing demographic of vegans is those between 16 and 34 years old, with the most common age group transitioning being those between 19 and 21 years old.

    With this steady growth within the vegan community, prominent Australian vegan psychologist Clare Mann conceived a terrific new concept in 2017 – ‘Vystopia’.  This term perfectly describes how many vegans feel and explains why so many may benefit from therapeutic support. Vystopia refers to ‘an existential crisis experienced by vegans, arising out of an awareness of the trance-like collusion with a dystopian world’. In other words, when someone ‘goes vegan’ they are suddenly confronted by the fact that, whilst they are living in line with their values, the rest of the world is not and now appears cruel and unkind in comparison. It can be a frustrating existence in which one may experience abuse, critcism and ostracization because they no longer support particular mainstream views. Vegans can find it extremely difficult to find someone who understands these feelings in a therapeutic setting.

    Like Neo taking the red pill in the Matrix, we’ve seen how far the rabbit hole goes and it can be a daunting, isolating place, especially when you consider that as a community, those who choose the vegan lifestyle tend to be highly empathic and sensitive people.

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    It must be noted that some new vegans may, in fact, take the red pill and embrace this newfound opportunity to create change without detriment to their mental health. However, most will experience a significant shift in their psychological wellbeing and struggle with the adjustment to this new world and the burden it brings. For the latter, vystopia can generate symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, PTSD as well as sleep and behavioural disturbances. Some people may also withdraw and disconnect from previously supportive systems who don’t share their personal views and/or develop strong emotions such as grief, anger, intense guilt, a sense of isolation, or a feeling of helplessness.

    The good news is, there are strategies and resources available to help work through the grief and distress that exists with vystopia. Much can be done to help a vegan client make sense of their experiences via modalities such as Acceptance and Commitment therapy (ACT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Mindfulness, communication skills and resilience strategies can also be invaluable to support particular vystopian presentations.

    At 12 Points Psychology I am not here to promote and convert people to veganism. However, I am here to offer a safe space for those who are thinking about, or have taken, the red pill and are finding it hard living as a vegan in a non-vegan world.

    Please feel free to email me any questions at amanda12points@gmail.com and I look forward to working with you all!

    Amanda Atchison
    Adolescent Counsellor

     

  • Can I Bring My Dog to Sessions?

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    As an animal-assisted practice, a question we get all the time is ‘can I bring my dog to my sessions?’ While we’d love to accommodate everyone, and we love meeting new dogs (obviously!) we also have to be considerate of our other clients and the therapy dogs working at the practice.

    If you’d like to start bringing your own dog to sessions, please give us a call and we can arrange a Meet & Greet with admin or clinicians, as well as some of our therapy dogs, to get a sense of how you and your dog deal with the people and situations at the practice. Please don’t bring your dog along for a session until you’ve done the Meet and Greet as, if your dog isn’t suitable, we don’t want you to miss your session!

    In order for us to consider allowing your dog to attend sessions at our practice, your dog MUST be:

    • desexed,
    • vaccinated, with an up-to-date vaccination certificate provided upon request,
    • in good health, clean, and free from parasites (fleas, worms etc.),
    • toilet trained, and
    • on leash or halter at ALL times.

    Most importantly, your dog must NEVER have shown aggression to people or other dogs.

    Please note that these requirements are not negotiable.

    Ideally, your dog will also have at least basic obedience and manners. Preferred training providers include Lead the Way therapy-animal and support-animal training, Alpha Canine Group dog training or Patient Paws dog training. If you and your dog have done training through any of these organisations, it will be much easier for us to approve your dog.

    Thank you for your understanding and helping us to keep 12 Points a safe and welcoming space for humans and canines alike!

    Mathew Keany
    Facilities & IT Manager