Change occurs with increasing rapidity in today’s life; For example, changes in our jobs, schooling, relationships, developing children and transition into retirement. This may lead to depression, anxiety or stress reactions. It is often helpful to see a psychologist as a confidential and unbiased coach or mentor to transition through these difficult changes.
Work and Workplace Issues
In today’s competitive and pressurized work environment there is not the HR support for staff that there was in yesteryears. Issues such as bullying and harsh management styles seem to arise unabated with increasing frequency. In this situation it is often valuable to speak confidentially with a trusted psychologist to review all options and to gain some personal insight through the development of relaxation and acceptance skills through mindfulness training and CBT interventions.
Often couples can develop nonproductive communication styles that can lead to a standoff and increasing friction between the partners. By bringing the couple into an unbiased and structured environment where each can express their needs, an improved and harmonious relationship can develop. Of course, the couples could also decide to go their own separate ways, but either way, the structured environment helps reduce friction and promotes healthy communication and positivity.
Often friction arises in relationships that reaches an impasse. In these situations it is helpful to speak with a psychologist to determine if one’s own psychological baggage is interfering with the relationship. Alternatively, it may be that the other partner is stressed or being inflexible and that couples counseling would be valuable.
As couples age it usually happens that one of the partners passes away before the other. In this situation the surviving partner may be left with guilt and loneliness that they need to work through with a psychologist. The grief process is variable in length and may last from months to years. With the unnatural and traumatic death of a younger person it is best to refer the client to specialized organizations like “Compassionate Friends”.
Often in the workplace or relationships an individual may find difficulty expressing their needs and wishes. The more powerful individual in the dyad may be aggressive and the other may become disempowered because they are passive. The answer to improved communications is for each to become more assertive. Assertiveness training allows the individual to clearly and unemotionally state their needs and requirements without becoming overwhelmed. It is also valuable as a structure providing rules of encounter that prevent the more dominant individual becoming overpowering.
Depression, Anxiety and Stress
The descriptors Depression, Anxiety and Stress are often confused with each other. Depression is a mood state that is characterized by a feeling of despondency, pessimism, and sadness. Scoring high on the DASS item, “I felt downhearted and blue” would indicate depression. Depression may be situational, where the issue can be worked through, or it may have an organic basis that may benefit from antidepressants.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can emerge after a traumatic event, natural disaster, war, physical attack or accident. Symptoms include reexperiencing the event in dreams, recurrent thoughts, images and a psychological numbness. Scoring high on the PCL item, “Are you bothered by repeated, disturbing memories, thoughts, or images of a stressful experience from the past?” would indicate PTSD. Prolonged Exposure Therapy and EMDR are considered effective treatments for PTSD by the Department of Veterans Affairs in Australia and the USA.
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)
EMDR therapy is recognized as an effective form of PTSD and trauma treatment in numerous practices worldwide. During treatment "dual stimulation" using bilateral eye movements is used; alternatively, bilateral tones or taps are used. During that phase clients generally experience the emergence of insight, changes in memories, or new associations. This assists the client to experience a new understanding of their trauma and to become more accepting of previously disturbing thoughts. It appears that the eye movements perform a similar consolidation function to REM processing during sleep.
Dr John Reid - Psychologist