Align Psychology is dedicated to providing high quality specialised care. We understand the importance and value of the therapeutic relationship and offer the latest evidence-based practices to work towards meaningful change and optimal health.
Please find information on our services below.
Whilst we can all feel sad or low at times, depression is the experience of persistent low mood, loss of interest in enjoyable activities and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, irritability, feeling guilty or worthless, changes in appetite and sleep, fatigue, lack of motivation and concentration and thoughts of self-harm or suicide. Depression is common and is treatable and may occur in response to a stressful life event or seemingly for no obvious reason.
Bipolar Disorder is the experience of periods of depression and manic symptoms (which can vary in intensity) including elevated mood, difficulty focusing on tasks, increased energy, talking quickly, and reduced need for sleep. Sometimes people experience psychotic symptoms, like hearing things that are not there or losing touch with reality. Often a combination of medication and psychological counselling is most effective for the treatment of Bipolar Disorder.
All of us experience anxiety and fear, which is adaptive and helps us deal with danger. When anxiety and fear becomes persistent, distressing and interferes with functioning then this may indicate an anxiety disorder. There are a number of anxiety disorders including Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety. Symptoms can include physical symptoms – trembling, sweating, increased heart rate, changes in breathing, reduced concentration, feeling faint and nausea; as well as excessive worries and avoidance (people, places, talking or thinking about whatever brings about panic and anxiety). Anxiety is very treatable and the treatment plan depends on what is your concern.
At Align Psychology we are committed to helping improve relationships. We draw on different couples’ therapy paradigms, including Gottman Therapy and A Psychobiological Approach to Couples Therapy (PACT), to help couples better understand one another, and sooth and support one another through the different stages of a relationship. We draw on Attachment Theory, Developmental Neurobiology, and Arousal Regulation to move beyond just resolving conflict and tension, and towards building a deeper understanding of one another and a framework for which to continue to grow your relationship. We work to explore how early life experiences have shaped preferences and interpersonal styles effecting both verbal and non-verbal communication, closeness and distance, and relationship values.
Couples’ therapy can assist with issues such as conflict and violence, communication difficulties, intimacy problems, parenting, and with ruptures such as infidelity and secrecy. Some individuals also find therapy helpful to navigate the adjustment challenges, if the decision is to separate.
Children, Adolescents & Parenting
At Align Psychology we work with children from 3 years of age, either dyadically to assist with parent-child attachment, or with the child alone to address different challenges such as anxiety and OCD, low mood, bullying, adjusting to parental separation, and adjustment following stress or trauma. We also provide support in relation to managing the stress related to study, VCE demands and developing healthy and effective study skills. used with children vary depending on the presenting issue and age of the child. Usually therapy uses play-based interventions (as play is a primary form of communication for children), and can be in conjunction with CBT, social skills training, or EMDR.
We also work with parents providing guidance and support through the various parenting challenges such as developmental milestone, routines, behaviour management, and building emotional intelligence. We draw on emotionally intelligent parenting programs; Tuning Into Teens and Tuning into Kids. Parenting support can also be helpful to address the adjustment issues that a couple faces as a result of beginning a family.
Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Trauma can be experienced in many forms, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, near-death or sudden death of a loved one, workplace accident, vehicle accident, natural disasters, military combat, or witnessing an act of violence. It can be experienced as either a single horrific incident, or it can also be a more chronic and prolonged stressor like bullying, social exclusion, neglect, control, or abuse. It can manifest in adulthood or have its origins in childhood experiences. Some people who have experienced events like these are able to process them naturally over the course of time (based on many factors such as temperament, and if they have had adequate support systems in place), but for other individuals these events cause them ongoing distress.
Some people will develop a mental health condition as a result of these experiences known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). People with this condition often felt helpless during the traumatic incident, and later experience nightmares, or intrusive thoughts, images and memories of the event. They also find themselves avoiding things that may remind them of the event, including avoiding talking about their reactions to the event. They can also experience changes in their mood and anxiety levels, feeling sad, angry, and hopeless at times. Other common experiences are being easily startled, edgy and an inability to relax. Further to this a person may also have great difficulty getting to, and staying asleep. They can find themselves withdrawing from others and no longer finding enjoyment in things they previously enjoyed. All these symptoms notably cause a person a lot of distress and it is common for people to find ways of numbing from these experiences with alcohol and drugs that later cause secondary issues like marital conflict, loss of licence, failure to meet responsibilities, and poor health. PTSD is a treatable condition and EMDR Therapy is one of the most highly regarded treatments available.
Stress & Anger Management
Anger and the experience of stress are normal human emotions, and can be very adaptive and helpful to mobilize us to escape danger or protect themselves. It can however, become problematic when expressed as aggression or violence. It can be a part of many mental health challenges including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, children’s developmental disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), antisocial disorders, and disorders with difficulties in emotion regulation. Anger can also be a learned experience through witnessing violence, or having the behaviour role modelled in early developmental years.
Understandably difficulties with stress and anger management can result in very negative implications for all interpersonal relationships. It can also lead to poor self-esteem, feeling out of control and helpless, and like things constantly work against you. From a health and physiology perspective anger is also linked with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are also linked with heart disease, hypertension, and a lowered responsiveness of immune functioning so that the body cannot fight infections as well. Furthermore, anger and high levels of stress can have a dramatic effect on gastric functioning with increases in stomach acids.
In stress and anger management the therapist will help the individual to build a better understanding of themselves and their behaviours. Together, you will develop ways to recognise early warning signs of increasing emotional arousal and distress, and build alternative coping mechanisms. You will also work on understanding the difference between real threats and perceived threats. You will also focus on thinking patterns and reducing some unhelpful thinking styles like catastrophising (jumping to the worst conclusion)and coercive thinking (assume that things should or should not be a certain way). You may also focus on verbal and non-verbal communication to build assertiveness skills without the need for aggression to articulate.
Body Image & Self-Esteem
Negative thoughts about one’s body image can lead to restricting or over-eating, which in turn can lead to an eating disorder such as Anorexia Nervosa, Bulemia, or Binge Eating Disorder. Typically, when you’re struggling with disordered eating, your weight and body image strongly effect how you feel about yourself. You may believe your body isn’t perfect, and this equates to feeling as though you’re not a valuable or worthwhile person. This self-criticism and negative self-evaluation can then lead you to feel compelled to change how you look in order to try to feel better about yourself. These thoughts can be strongly influenced by society and the media, and even through some negative role-modelling within support networks. It’s important to note that the very behaviours that you have engaged in to make yourself feel better do create some sense of emotional relief in the short term, but very quickly these same behaviours lead to increased emotional pain, loss of control, poor health, and even more problem behaviours.
Therapy can help to explore these patterns of behaviour and the underlying emotional difficulties. It can help you build new healthy coping mechanisms and enable you to work towards self-acceptance and even self-love.
Grief & Loss
Grief, is primarily an emotional reaction to the loss of a loved one through death. This encompasses both physical and also psychological impacts. In bereavement a person experiences distress as a result of the separation. They may find themselves preoccupied with the person who has died, seek reminders of them and continually focus their thoughts on the on the deceased person.
Grief is a very natural response to this kind of loss, however, if it persists it can be helpful to work through in therapy any unresolved feelings about the deceased, and to help develop ways to manage following such a huge life adjustment.
Antenatal & Post-Natal Depression and Anxiety
Women (and men) can experience the onset of symptoms of depression during pregnancy and/or following the birth of a baby (perinatal period). Becoming a parent is a significant life event and can exacerbate pre-existing mental health problems. The physical changes experienced in pregnancy can also affect mood and wellbeing. Hormonal changes during the first 10 days following birth often result in feeling overwhelmed and tearful and are referred to as the ‘baby blues’. This usually passes without he need for specific intervention. However, one in ten women experiences depression in the antenatal period and one in seven in the postnatal period. Anxiety is also very common and it is often experienced with depression. If symptoms persist or increase in intensity it is important to seek professional support, particularly if you experience any thoughts of harm to yourself or your baby. We are here to help, without judgement and in a safe, nurturing environment. Bubs are always welcome.
More people are living to an advanced age and most live healthy, happy and productive lives well past retirement. However, the many transitions experienced by older individuals such as retirement, becoming a grandparent, health concerns, social isolation, cognitive ageing, mobility, income and security, bereavement and relocation can lead to challenges. With the right support individuals can cope with the adjustment process. In a safe and respectful relationship, we work with clients to build acceptance and create change towards their goals.
Problematic Substance Use
Problematic substance use can have a significant impact on the person, family and friends. Reducing or ceasing substance use provides an opportunity for growth and change. There are many reasons why people use substances for example trauma, managing unpleasant, distressing emotions or to avoid withdrawal. Facing our feelings and examining our behaviours takes courage. We adopt a holistic approach working with the individual in understanding the reasons for use, challenges and impact of past trauma and pain. At Align Psychology we use a variety of therapies including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to work towards the goals of our client.
Living with chronic illness, injury or disability can have a significant impact on the individual and significant others. Problems such as chronic pain, addiction, depression, anxiety, anger and grief often co-occur with illness or injury and contribute to suffering. Adhering to medical or allied health treatment plans (e.g. diabetes management) and side effects of medication and treatment can also be extremely challenging. A psychologist can help cope with the diagnosis, medical treatments, terminal illness and the impact of loss or life changes as well as pain management. We utilize Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Accptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR) to support clients to manage chronic illness, chronic pain and associated problems with the aim to live a fulfilling life in spite of illness, injury or disability.