Always Angry or Hyperactive – Why My Child Has Outbursts and Misbehaves?

Parents, are you experiencing moments of anger or outbursts with your child?

Children fighting siblings family angry misbehaves outbursts

Does your child verbally react, have outbursts, fight with siblings or friends, or they are just behaviorally difficult at home or school? Parenting children is challenging at the best of times, and as you are probably well aware, each age brings a new set of challenges you need to learn to navigate. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.


Did you know around 12% of Australian children aged 4–12 years old experience externalising behavioural problems such as aggression and hyperactivity?


This can include:

  • Verbal and/or physical behavioural outbursts (often when you least expect it, like in the supermarket!).
  • Fighting or being defiant with friends, at home with parents and siblings, or at school with teachers.

These sorts of behaviours ongoing can exhaust and overwhelm parents/carers, so let’s uncover some at-home strategies you can adopt and use in your own family life.


As a Parent, what can I do?

Be a role model and lead by example with the way you navigate situations. This includes your own responses to life’s challenges when they come up, and the outcomes. Approach each circumstance with the behavioural response you would want from your own child. Think about your actions, your movements, what you say and how you say it. Your child is always watching and listening, and they will model their behaviour from you.


How Can I Make the Situation Better?

  • Educating that behaviours have consequences – explain these consequences to your child, why it is not acceptable, and discuss how this could be done differently next time. Give them suggestions of what they could do instead. Help and assist them with possible solutions.
  • Consistency – this is really important for both the parent/carer, and the child. The negative outcome needs to receive the same response from you each time. By doing this you will ensure they understand this consistency and that the behaviour is unacceptable.
  • Selective Ignoring – choose when to ignore lesser non-aggressive behaviour by ignoring them (which takes a lot of discipline!). Only call out the ones you deem the most inappropriate.


At Home Solutions

  • Try praising the positives and positive behaviours. Ignore the minor negative behaviours. This will deter your child from trying to get a response or reaction out of you, and deter them from engaging in negative behaviours.
  • A routine is so important. Ensure your child has a structured routine, allowing them to feel comfortable in their home and school environments. Actively prepare them for what will be occurring each day.


Remember, you’re doing your best! If you catch yourself reacting to something in a way your child shouldn’t be witnessing, e.g. you swear out loud, or you’re furious about how the electrician hasn’t fixed what he was meant to, and it’s cost you double; don’t be too harsh on yourself. Learn from each situation and improve for the future. Take time for yourself to ensure you are rested and able to navigate these behaviours appropriately without over-reaction.


Taking this time means you can be a more aware parent and role model for your child.


Written by Cassandra Wesley-Klements – Provisional Psychologist

Single, looking for love? Scared of a potential relationship?

Are you single, and wanting a relationship so badly, but find it hard to let go of your fears?

Relationship fears single looking for love sabotage

Maybe you’ve been burnt, or hurt in a past relationship, and it’s tainted the thought of finding someone new. You know you’re ready, you don’t want to stay single forever. You want it, but how do you overcome the feelings of anxiety & being scared of what a potential new relationship may bring?


Dating and finding someone special is something many of us want, however we know it can be a challenge. Relationships bring so much joy, but can also be hard work.


You might be finding yourself more than ready to find a partner in crime, give lots of love and affection, and ready to plan your future. You may have even met someone already, and you’re falling for them. They seem too good to be true! You truly want to embrace all of those romantic feelings – you think…..”bye bye single days!” But at the same time you fear being too vulnerable and liking them way too much. What if they don’t like you back? The worry sets in, and over time it gets worse.

If and when they say or do something that really hurts you, you find yourself deeply wounded. This whole experience reminds you of all the times in the past where you’ve been hurt, abandoned, or betrayed by someone you loved. To protect yourself from getting hurt this time, you distance yourself. You become cold and aloof, or you stop talking to them all together without any explanation because bringing up your past to this new unsuspecting person will make you seem insecure, needy, and out of control. At the same time, your distancing jeopardises your chances of forming what could be a meaningful relationship. You then realise that this happens time and time again – that you engage in a vicious cycle of self-sabotage. You’re single again.


How to Break the Cycle

90% percent of our current pain is related to our past, and only 10% is linked to the present experience*.
Sabotaging your chances of a relationship can include:

  • Running away
  • Starting unnecessary fights
  • Doing nothing
  • Being defensive
  • Holding grudges
  • Denying your feelings
  • Having high expectations
  • Avoiding the person all together


What you resist not only persists but will grow in size**. In other words, if you choose avoidance your fears will be bigger and stronger next time in the same scenario.


Healthy Steps to Overcome Your Self-Sabotage

  • Identify the situations that trigger your painful past experiences
  • Become more aware of your behaviour in these situations
  • Distinguish between the past and the present
  • Learn to share your experiences with someone you trust, and your new partner (they are not a mind reader!)
  • Try not to continue to bring up the past all the time – it’s good to leave past relationships in the past
  • Don’t avoid communicating with your partner – this is so important keep communication lines open!
  • Speak nicely to yourself, and don’t put yourself down
  • Try not to take things personally
  • Remember, our pains from the past CAN be overcome


It’s important for you to take some time to reflect on your relationships fears, and the ways you may be sabotaging your relationship. Try to minimise these behaviours with the people around you, particularly your new love interest. This process can be difficult given that you’ve probably been doing this for long time to protect yourself.

If you feel like you need some additional support through these changes, and guidance on how to manage yourself in new relationships, talking with a professional Psychologist can help you work through these challenges.


Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist –www.creatingchange.net.au
*(Gray, 1993)
**(Carl Jung)

Women over 30 – feeling the pressure to settle down?

Constantly being questioned you about when you’re getting married?
Being told “your clock is ticking”, saying you better find a man and settle down?

women over 30 pressure to settle down married kids children family

It’s becoming more common these days to build up ideas and expectations about what we “should” be doing with our lives, particularly when it comes to marriage and having a family. Women, especially when they hit 30, are reminded by friends and family that their biological clock is ticking, and that they “should” be focusing on finding a partner and to settle down. Do you have a career? Maybe you don’t long for kids and can’t see that in your future. People expect that dedicating your time to a career, travel, friends, or simply embracing life without any other commitments is just not normal.


What if you’re not ready to settle down, or you haven’t found the right partner?

Being single in today’s world is portrayed negatively, not only on television through the array of “reality” dating shows, but also in research as well. People with a “single” status are often judged as being more miserable, lonely, less warm and less caring when compared to those in a relationship. This common attitude towards being single results from an ideology of marriage and family that is so ingrained in most cultures, we don’t even realise how much it affects the decisions we make.

In western society, many of us live with the expectation that at a certain age we are meant to have reached certain milestones, such as moving out of home as soon as we reach adulthood. There’s an assumption we will study, travel, have all our social  fun throughout our 20s, find the perfect partner and the perfect job and settle down to find marriage by our 30s, and have a family by the time we reach 40.



However, if you are someone who has not ticked all these boxes so far, how can you be confident in your decisions when the people around all seem to be going down this path?


Here is what we suggest

  • Identify what is most important to you. These are your values.
  • Set goals for yourself or ‘tick boxes’ based on the values you’ve identified
  • Try not to judge yourself so harshly. We often say unhelpful things like “what’s wrong with me?” if we aren’t in a long-term relationship, married, or have kids by a certain age. You can make your own choices these days.
  • Realise that not “everyone” is going down the same path. If you have a closer look around, there are people who have done things differently to what others expect of them. Everyone is their own unique self with their own path in life. This includes YOU.


If you want to feel more content about your decisions around your future, make a conscious effort to try these tips for your life. If you feel you have tried everything and find yourself still feeling alone, upset, or confused, it would be helpful for you to talk with someone who can guide you through these feelings. Making important life decisions and following through can be daunting and challenging, so we are here to help if you need it.

Written By Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

7 Ways to Effectively Manage Stress and Anxiety at University

Are your exams making you feel pressured and stressed out?
Are you feeling anxious about your studies, and unsure how to tackle this year at uni?
Wondering if there are some simple ways to manage stress?


If you’re heading back to face to face learning, or starting your University or College journey this year, there can be lots to take on board and learn. It can be anxiety provoking for some, stressful, and overwhelming. You can manage your stress with some simple steps.

Therapist Paris Gibson shares with you her 7 best tips for tackling anxiety and to manage stress this uni year.

university manage stress anxiety exams studies college

Your University Wellbeing Checklist for this year –

  1. Self Care – check in with yourself and your stress levels
  2. Time Management – take control, keep a to do list, a diary, and schedule in things you enjoy
  3. Find Your Own Study Pattern – whether at home, the library, alone or with friends
  4. Use Available Resources – lean on your uni for support and resources available to succeed
  5. Exercise and Healthy Eating – if your body is happy, your mind will be happy
  6. Learn the right times to say yes, and to say no
  7. Study in short bursts and take breaks – be realistic and reward your progress


Taking care of yourself whilst you’re studying is important for you to get the best out of yourself. Follow Paris’ tips for the balance you have always wanted.

The Benefits of Getting Online Mental Health Support vs. Waiting

On a waitlist for a face to face appointment with a therapist?
Maybe you’ve been thinking of talking to someone, but unsure if doing it online will work?

Teleheatlh video session therapy


Maybe you’re just feeling apprehensive and unsure about the whole process….

Remember when you started your first day of high school or your first job. You were unsure of where to go, how to look busy, and whether the people would warm to you. You may also experience these feelings of apprehension and uncertainty when planning to talk with a Psychologist or Counsellor.

What do I have to do?
How will the session unfold?
What will they ask of me?
Will I like my therapist?

These are all valid thoughts as our brains are wired to check in and make sure our needs are met. Taking the first step to an online Telehealth session with a therapist for the first time can be a big deal for many. We hope we can put your mind at ease and assist you to prepare for your first online session. Let’s make it feel less daunting!

Telehealth – The New Way

With the extended lockdown in 2021, Telehealth online sessions became the way for therapy and getting mental health support. The growing concern is there is a demand for support in many communicates, and people like yourself are finding there are long waitlists, and not enough professionals to cope with the demand. Getting support via video today, is much better than waiting for months for a face to face appointment. If you choose to wait, your concerns and challenges will worsen, you’ll continue to bottle up your emotions and feel out of control. Talking to someone today online means you can get things off your chest, and start to work through your worries and hurdles right now.


What to Expect in an Online Telehealth Therapy Session

Once you’ve made your appointment with one of our therapists, you would have received a confirmation email with all the details you need, and a second email to meet and obtain some more information about your therapist particular.

As part of this confirmation email, there is a link to a video which is important for you to watch. This video introduces you to Creating Change and prepares you for the session with things you need to know.


There will also be a link to our Online Consent Form and a form requiring some information about yourself – so please take a short moment to fill these in before your session start time. Whilst filling in the forms, this is a good time for you to sit, take a breath and familiarise yourself with the practice and what we’re about. The background information form is important for the therapist to receive and read through prior to your session, so they can familiarise themselves with any important details before they speak with you.

Prior to your Telehealth session, a link will be emailed to you to start the video session. If you don’t have internet access, please let us know so we can call you by phone.


Feel Safe and Re-assured

All our sessions are conducted in a safe and confidential environment. Our highly skilled therapists are passionate about making you feel as relaxed as possible. In the initial appointment, our therapists will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current life situation and the factors that have influenced their development. The key focus is to identify how we will facilitate change for you to create a sense of wellbeing, contentment and connectedness.

The assessment aims to develop a personalised plan to achieve your goals. We understand that talking to someone new about your difficulties in life may provoke anxiety, and so we will aim to put you at ease in your first appointment as much as possible. If there is a difficult history like childhood trauma, we may take it slow, not going into detail of the traumas but rather focus on developing confidence in your therapist and stabilising your current symptoms.


We will provide you with an estimation of the length of treatment, frequency of sessions and what you will be required to do moving forward.  

As treatment is a collaborative process, meaning we will work together as a team, you will be highly involved in the decision making. It is ideal to book in all your future sessions required after the first appointment to ensure you have continuity of treatment.  We don’t want you to miss out on your preferred appointment day and time! Having a regular time that suits your weekly schedule will ensure your personal development remains a priority.


Asking Questions is So Important

If you have any questions during the session, it is essential you ask them. We are full of information, but we aren’t able read your mind. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, please let us know. Sometimes it takes time to develop a relationship with your therapist. We understand this and encourage you to discuss your experiences with us. If you are keen to make changes sooner rather than later, you can book your second session in within the same week to start the treatment ball rolling.


Remember that changing habits takes time and cannot be done in an hour or two. We are with you for the long haul and look forward to working together on your treatment journey.


Meet Our Online Telehealth Psychologists here to help:


Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

We are located in the Bella Vista – Hills District, Sydney, NSW. Please contact us should you require an appointment.

Lost Your Job? Made Redundant? 9 Ways to Cope in 2022.

We spend a lot of our lifetime at work. So, what do you do if you’ve lost your job unexpectedly? How do you survive and cope with the strain it takes on your body, your mind and your life?

Woman made redundant lost your job ways to cope mental health

To say the last two years has been challenging for businesses is an understatement. Even with the economy picking back up, companies have struggled to meet targets and bring in customers. So many businesses have closed or downsized, now trying to re-build everything they lost. So if you have been caught up in this – lost your job or struggling to find consistent more permanent work – it can take its toll on you, your family and your way of living.


Becoming unemployed suddenly can have an array of effects – emotionally you may be feeling upset, sad, angry, at a loss. But there’s also the financial aspect – the stress to find another job or more consistent work. So many individuals are casual or contractors, not knowing where their next job will be. It can leave you with many questions. You may not quite know your intended direction or how you’re going to get through this tough time.

Loss of Confidence

Do you know what type of job you want to work in next?
What if you haven’t had to look for a job in such a long time, your resume isn’t up to date, and you don’t know where to start? It is understandable for you to feel a loss of confidence and identity after a job loss, particularly if it’s not something you were planning on. But there are ways you can ensure you cope mentally, so you can get back on your feet and give yourself the best opportunity to succeed.


9 Ways to Cope if You’ve Lost Your Job?

1.Try not to worry – it’s normal to feel loss or grief. This can result in experiencing a range of feelings from disbelief, denial, anger, irritability, sadness, and fear.

2. Consider the way you are thinking – what are you saying to yourself about the situation? Do you need some advice and support to challenge this and depersonalise some thoughts? Are your thoughts negative towards yourself?

3. Remember – it’s not you who has been made redundant rather the role you worked in.

4. Reach out – get practical help in job seeking skills such as resume development so you feel organised and more confident.

5. Ask for support – think about asking for some additional support to assist you through the transition stage, to move towards managing and accepting the change in a more helpful way.

6. Don’t let the basics fly out of the window – try to keep a good routine of sleep, eating regularly and exercising, even if you don’t feel like it at the time.

7. Talk about your feelings – talk to those close to you whom you trust, rather than withdrawing and isolating yourself.

8. Take time to breathe or learn to meditate – it can make all the difference in how you feel going into interviews.

9. Don’t rush big decisions – there is a fine line between doing nothing and rushing into making decisions, just so you feel like you are doing something. Take your time to make the right decisions for yourself.


Once you start the new application process, you want to be at your best and feel confident and fresh to take on interviews. It’s common to feel pressure to accept the first job offer to return to work. However, ensure sustainable decisions are made where possible. You want to ensure you enjoy your new position, and it’s right for you and your family/situation in the long term.


If you feel you could use some additional support and direction through this new transition in your life, don’t hesitate to reach out and speak to one of our team. Sometimes some guidance to give you new direction and meaning can make a big difference.


Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

How to Manage Your Child or Teen’s Misbehaviour at Home

Have a child or teenager misbehaving at home?
Unsure why they continue to play up on you, and feel helpless?
What else you can do to manage their misbehaviour?

Child Teen Misbehaviour ODD PArenting advice

Boundaries….is this an area of conflict in your house?

Many parents are in your situation with their kids, struggling with their behaviours, playing up, breaking rules & pushing you to breaking point. Setting and implementing boundaries and following through with discipline in the home is the key to managing your child’s misbehavior. 

I want you to have a think about how you react when your child plays up or misbehaves on you.

What’s your go to response?


Emotional Regulation & The Impact On You

Learning about emotional regulation is important for parents/carers, and how you interact and model behaviours in the household. When we are emotional, we are providing more “attachment rich” attention to a child, e.g. increased eye contact, physical touch, and creating an emotional environment where funnily enough, they feel closest to you. If you react and don’t regulate your own emotional responses when teaching or disciplining your child, this can inadvertently reinforce undesirable behaviours in children. 


This is the same on the flip side when they’re behaving well – if you neglect to make a big deal and provide attachment rich attention, this can reinforce those undesirable behaviours, as they don’t see you noticing or praising them when they’ve behaved well. So, it’s about switching it around and draining all the attention from the misbehavior and praising and celebrating the desirable behaviours you want to see more of.  


What Type of Discipline Is Suitable for Misbehaviour

To remove giving your child “attachment rich” attention when they misbehave, the best form of discipline that will yield the greatest results for younger children is using time out. Reacting by yelling or smacking is more likely to increase problem behaviours, as they see this as getting attention from you (even if it’s negative attention). 

For teenagers, removing privileges is a more effective consequence for misbehaviour. 


Feeling Guilty

Research tells us that timeout immediately after a misbehavior is an effective consequence for children, that does not cause any harm or attachment issues. Some parents may feel guilty for not soothing their child, however time out is actually teaching your child to self-regulate their emotions. This is a very important skill that they need to develop.  


Steps to Manage Misbehaviour in Your Home

  1. Praise and get really excited about their good behaviour. 
  2. When you give instructions, don’t shout across the room. Get down to their level (if they’re younger/smaller) and provide short, clear instructions. 
  3. If they fail to follow the instructions twice, calmly take them to time out until they have been quiet (stopped crying) for two minutes. For teens, remove a privilege and let them have some time to thing about this (quiet time in their room). This allows kids to regulate on their own.
  4. While the child is in timeout it is very important that you do not talk to them or try to soothe them. 
  5. Schedule in special time to play with your child/interact one on one with your teen. This will ensure they have enough attention throughout the day, and will be less likely to seek attention with misbehaviour.
  6. Be consistent with the discipline! Even if you are not at home, find a space for time out, or immediately remove a privilege.
  7. Set up a rewards charts so that their good behaviour results in rewards, e.g. toys, treats, extra TV time or iPad time. Make sure you explicitly make the connection between their good behaviour and the reward – it needs to be clear why they received the award. 
  8. Consistency is key! If you are consistent, you’ll find that the misbehaviours will reduce across contexts, e.g. improved behaviour in the classroom.


If you have tried many of these proven strategies, are still experiencing misbehaviour and are struggling to manage it, you may benefit from seeking support from a Psychologist.


Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder is one of the most common child behavioural disorders. About 10.2% of all children will develop ODD, and it is more common in boys (11%) than girls (9%). Consistent misbehavior in the home is a sign of ODD, so if you’ve tried these above strategies and are still feeling lost and unsure of what you can do, why not speak with ODD expert Clinical Psychologist Rebecca El-Helou.


Written By Rebecca El-Helou – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au
Creating Change Psychology – Hills Psychologists supporting families & individuals of the Hills District and greater Sydney area.

3 Ways to Support your Teen with Performance Pressure


PARENTS! Let’s talk about your teenagers & pressure.

Have you seen changes in their behaviour – highly strung, lashing out, or a bad attitude?
Maybe they’re avoiding you, feeling stressed, and feeling the pressure?

  • Teens can be under so much pressure with school work, and extra-curricular activities. They’re often trying to meet the needs of what they THINK they should be doing.
  • Understanding their brain and how it functions at their age is a big piece of the puzzle. Then you can look at ways to manage the pressure and expectations.
  • Learning some new techniques, and trying it out with your teen is the first step.

Created by Provisional Psychologist Rickii Lotsaris

I’m confused! Is there actually a difference between Anxiety & Depression?

Are Anxiety & Depression the same thing? 
Is this something you’ve wondered or been unsure about?

anxiety & depression confused the difference psychology

It’s completely okay to not necessarily understand the difference between Anxiety & Depression, and if you’re reading this – I’m so glad you have asked. Here I hope you can get a better understanding for yourself, or for loved ones struggling with their mental health.

So, let’s compare them simply, side by side – 


Anxiety Explained…Depression Explained…
It is your response to a perceived threat and can be explained as an irrational fear. In this case though there is no real danger present. This differs for everyone.Negative feelings, e.g. sad, frustrated, unhappy, irritable, guilty, overwhelmed, empty, worthless. Feelings that just won’t go away. Depression is about your mood and having a low mood.


What Causes Anxiety?What Causes Depression?
There can be both psychological (stress and events),as well as biological factors that
cause anxiety.
Biological factors such as genetics, hormones, and brain chemicals.
Psychological factors such as thinking style, grief or loss, stressful events, personality traits all contribute.


Now that we have looked at the overarching differences, let’s dive a little deeper into Anxiety & Depression, and the effects they can have on individuals – 

Anxiety SymptomsDepression Symptoms
– Ongoing worry
– Shortness of breath
– Feeling on edge and agitated
– Disrupted Sleep
– Muscle tension
– Headaches and dizzy and faint
– Lack of concentration
– Nervous
– Nauseous
– Shakiness 
These are all physiological responses to the perceived threat.
– Feeling sad or having negative feelings towards yourself 
– Changes in sleep patterns 
– Changes in appetite or weight 
– Feeling overwhelmed by pessimism, anger, guilt or irritability
– Consistent varying emotions – good mood, then low mood (up and down)
– Inability to enjoy life 
– Reduced interested in sex 
– Poor concentration and memory
– Low motivation to do things that used to matter to you
– Feeling exhausted 
what is anxiety understanding anxiety & depression

The Cycle of Anxiety

Perceived Threat: Scanning for Fear and Physiological Response
Relief: Avoidance, withdraw or escape or in some way avoid the threat of danger (this Is a short-term solution). Responses and distress decrease for the time being as the threat is removed.
Long Term: The perception of the fear remains and intensifies over time only to reconfirm your misinterpretations of the situation making it even more difficult to face in the future.


what is depression understanding anxiety & depression

The ABCs of Depression

A = The Activating Event (the situation that has occurred)
B = Your Beliefs (the thoughts you are having)
C = The Consequences (your feelings and your actions taken)


What can help Reduce Anxiety?What can help Reduce Depression?
– Breathing re-training
– Testing negative predictions
– Situational exposure
– Mindfulness
– Engage in enjoyable activities
– Increase your exercise
– Identify and challenge negative thoughts
– Be aware of unhelpful things styles

There are clearly several differences between the two challenges that so many people work through day to day, and whilst many can experience both Anxiety & Depression, they have different effects.


To summarise, the simple way to look at the difference between Anxiety & Depression is:

Anxiety = Response to a perceived THREAT.
Depression = Persistent low mood in response to your thoughts.


Written by Kylie Hutchings Mangion – Provisional Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

4 Effective Ways to Manage your Child’s Attention, Concentration & Focus Challenges

Is your child struggling with their attention and focus?
Are you feeling the pressure as a parent & worried what the future holds?

ADHD Children Focus challenges poor concentration parenting support psychology child psychologist

It’s normal as a parent to feel concern for our children. There’s a lot they need to learn in their early years of life and school, so naturally you worry and care for their wellbeing.

What does it mean if your child begins to struggle with their learning and has focus challenges? 

They may not be able to focus properly within the classroom and have a short attention span. Understanding your child’s ability to learn and retain information is important, as it demonstrates how they will perform in a school setting. It also demonstrates how they’ll engage in meaningful relationships with friends and family. 


The impact on children experiencing difficulties with focus and attention effects them not only in their home and school life, but also their family environment. This can include completing tasks, engaging in conversations, and carrying out activities. Having this pressure placed on you, the parent, can also create an unfavorable environment for your child. 


There are however effective ways to manage attention, concentration and focus difficulties. At home you can create a manageable, conformable and conducive environment for them.   


How to Assist Your Child

  • In my experience, what assists children experiencing these difficulties is consistency and routine. 
  • Acknowledging that there will be distractions (and that it is okay!), then redirecting them back to the task to re-engage – this is really important!
  • Follow this up with praising them, to create an environment your child enjoys. 
  • You want them to try the task, even if their distracted, and have them feel that you understand them. 


Is it ADHD?

Did you know that 6-7% of children are diagnosed with ADHD, and 65% of children with ADHD continue to have some symptoms in adult hood? Children generally experience symptoms for many years. Finding an approach that assists your child early-on, will better equip them to navigate through school and life. If you’re unsure whether your child has ADHD, please reach out to our team and we can assist you and your family through this process.

If you’re supporting your child with their ADHD, here are some effective ways you can assist them…


4 Ways to Manage Your Child’s Attention and Focus Challenges 

  1. Create a clear and consistent daily schedule, and follow it
  2. Break large tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks 
  3. Ensure a distraction free zone to give your child the best opportunity for task completion
  4. Praise and reward your child when tasks are completed


Following these steps creates positive reinforcement for your child, and they are likely to engage in small tasks – even when slightly distracted – so they receive the reward or praise. 


Small Actions to Help at Home

  • Remove distractions and ensure a space is clean and conducive for the tasks being completed
  • If any instructions you give are forgotten, or they become distracted, redirect them back to the task you’re focusing on
  • Remember to use praise to reinforce this redirection so they stay on track

Written by Cassandra Wesley Klements – Provisional Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au
Hills District Psychologist

10 Ways to Reduce Self-Injury & Harm

Self-injury Self-harm ways to resist urges tips advice psychology techniques

Self-harm or self-injury is the action of deliberately hurting your body. You or someone you know may sometimes self-harm as a way to cope with strong physical or emotional pain and distress. Self-harming behaviour however, is treatable. Many people who self-harm keep it a secret, so it can be difficult to recognise. Trust your instincts, especially if you think someone you know is distressed or in trouble. 

10 Ways to be Prepared and Reduce Self-Injury

1) Create an Emergency Kit. Place positive things in your kit like photos of people you love, notes to yourself or from friends or family, a journal for writing, markers or art supplies for artistic expression, an inspirational poem, beloved stuffed animal, upbeat music, favorite scents, things like that.

2) Use Positive Imagery. Visualise yourself moving through your painful moment without self-harming. Research shows that using positive visualisation can keep you in the moment, which is a key tool for recovery.

3) Hold Your Ground. Sensory Grounding experiences like holding something soft, listening to soothing music, drawing or writing, for example, can interrupt the trance-like state that often comes when you self-injure, shifting you towards more positive behaviours.

4) Reboot Your Mind. Reframe your thoughts toward helpful statements like, “Who am I really mad at?” or “What is setting me off?” or “I am safe and I am in control.” These can re-orient you to the here and now.

5) Know Your Triggers. Become aware of what issues bend or break you. Try to dilute your exposure to them, and call upon others to help you move through them. Remind yourself that you can emerge from them successfully.

6) Take a Detour. Reroute self-injury by using less severe forms of sensations. Holding an ice cube, tearing or shredding paper or a sheet, snapping a rubber band against your skin, sucking a lemon peel are ways to dilute the need to experience pain.

7) Move Your Body. Consider the adrenaline rush of running, dancing, holding a yoga pose, jumping rope to offset urges to self-harm. The rush of adrenaline has been known to produce the similar chemical surge that comes from self-injury.

8) Forgive Yourself. As you try to interrupt your self-harming behaviors, know that it may not come as easily some days as others. Should you find that you’ve lapsed into self-harming, remind yourself that change is a process. Learn to forgive and be kind to yourself as you start anew.

9) Be Supportive. If you know someone who may be self-injuring, offer support and try not to shame or criticize the behaviour. Thankfully, self-injury behaviors can be successfully treated. You can help your friend or family member by encouraging them to seek help. A professional such as one of our Psychologists can work together with you through these techniques and steps.

10) Consider Calling a Therapist. Remember that having an urge to self-harm is not the same as actually self-harming. If you can distract yourself from self-injury, you are well on your way to recovery. However if the urges win out and you find you don’t allow yourself to reduce your self-harm behaviours, consider working with a professional such as one of our expert Psychologists.

Reaching out and going down this path can really help you to investigate why and when you self-harm, so you can understand how to change the patterns of behaviour for a healthier future.

Information care of Psychologytoday.com/au

4 Mindful Ways to Transition back to Your Workplace

colleagues transitioning back to workplace after covid19

As many of us start to move from working at home, to either partially or fully heading back into a workplace environment, it can feel like you’re on uneven ground. You’re not familiar with your surroundings as much, haven’t seen colleagues in person, and have lost connection and routine in the workplace.


Ways to transition yourself back to your workplace, considering your wellbeing – 


Prioritise self-care by maintaining positive habits –

Whilst lockdown and parts of managing work, life, and a pandemic have been are very difficult, there is a silver lining for some. Many of us have experienced more spare time, picked up a new hobby or reignited an old interest. It’s still important to prioritise self-care, so continue to fit the things that put you in a good headspace into your life, even though you may be back in the workplace now.


Even if you’re likely to be shorter on time, don’t abandon these behaviours.


Manage your information intake –

We’ve become accustomed to updates from the media on virtually everything, all the time! Ensure the information you’re receiving is reliable, and remember that advice from regulators and the government is designed to enable safe ways of working. Try and embrace new information from your employer as well, as they will have your best interests at heart, and will be passing on any information the government announces relating to workplace environments. 


Understand what constitutes a mentally healthy workplace

With so many people experiencing altered work arrangements and locations this past year, the grey area between professional and personal has been blurred like never before. Although unemployment has been a result of this pandemic, many businesses are really busy in response to the effects of COVID-19, and some employees have been working longer hours than normal.


Everyone has a role to play in helping create to a workplace that’s ‘mentally healthy’. With so much change to our ways of working, this period of transition is the ideal time to make sure you’re across workplace mental health risk factors, in order to avoid them.


By doing so, you can reduce the likelihood of burnout and increase your overall job satisfaction.


Celebrate the opportunity to reconnect

If you’ve been working from home, you may have found some unexpected perks of the situation, such as no long drives or rides on public transport, and additional spare time. However there’s a lot we have lost. Things we may have once upon a time taken for granted; morning coffee runs with colleagues; team social catch ups (in person, not on Zoom!); talking to a co-worker to ask a quick question; passing ‘hellos’ with a smile in the hallway. This has all been missed for so many.


As you begin to transition back to your workplace, whether it’s an office or a worksite, enjoy the little things that have been absent over the last year. Take the time to have that one-on-one conversation with a colleague. Visit your regular café, just like you used to.


They might seem small, but these actions can help with establishing some normality back into your routine.


Written by Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

How do I know if my child needs a Psychological Assessment?

Are you concerned your child is not developing at the expected rate?
Do you feel like there are barriers stopping your child to reach their full potential?

psychological test assessment child psychology test academic cognitive falling behindd

As a parent, it’s in our DNA to be concerned and worry about our children’s development. Are they doing what they’re “supposed” to be doing? In some cases children and teenagers can struggle and fall behind, and you as a parent may not know why.

It’s important to seek professional support and address the barriers that may be hindering your child in reaching their full potential. Don’t be concerned – these obstacles can be overcome!



Why would your child need a Psychological Assessment?

  • To identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses to guide learning and decision making
  • To measure your child’s ability level in a range of areas including oral language, reading level, comprehension and fluency, written expression, mathematical ability and fluency
  • Obtain detailed results and recommendations to support your applications for funding with school, Centrelink or the NDIS



Part of the psychological assessment process includes assessing your child’s language, motor, cognitive, social and adaptive behaviour functions, to ensure any delays are identified.


Types of Assessments

Standard Cognitive Assessment
Used to determine a child’s learning capability by identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Comprehensive Academic Assessment
Used to measure a child’s ability level in a range of areas including oral language, reading level, comprehension and fluency, written expression, mathematical ability and fluency.


Meet our Assessment Therapists


How do I Best Support my Loved One with Anxiety?

Do you have a loved one suffering with Anxiety, and don’t know what to do to help?
Do you feel that whatever you do it makes things worse?

Anxiety anxious woman person supporting a loved one


You are not alone. Firstly, let’s better understand Anxiety and how it affects people, then we’ll give you some expert advice on helping your loved one.


A few quick Anxiety facts:

  • Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions (14% of people suffer from it*)
  • Anxiety is the response to a perceived threat by an individual – believe it or not this can help us avoid danger.
  • At high levels though, Anxiety can be debilitating and continue over long periods of time.
  • The response can be out of proportion and be difficult to manage alone.


What does a person feel when they are experiencing Anxiety?

  • Ongoing worry
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling on edge and agitated
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Tense, headaches and dizzy and faint
  • Lack of concentration
  • Nervous
  • Nauseous
  • Shaky


Anxiety can be very distressing and there can be many different triggers including; events, social encounters, work or personal stressful situations. These are different for everyone.

Now that you have more of an understanding of how Anxiety may be hindering your loved one, you can feel confident in being there for them without feeling you’re making things worse.


3 Ways to Help Your Loved One –


Firstly, remember that it may be difficult for your loved one to put into words what is happening, what they are thinking or feeling. Don’t feel like you need to “fix” anything. There are a whole range of causes and it’s different for each individual.

  1. Let them know you’re there – simply talking to them and letting them know you’re there to support them when they need it, is a great start. Offer no judgment.
  1. Encourage sharing – if your loved one is open to talking about what makes them anxious, ask them to share with you what it was that triggered these feelings? Show interest – what did they think was going to happen? What eventuated?

Remember – you are just supporting and listening, don’t try and have the answers.

  1. Environment – it’s important that you provide a calm environment, so they feel comfortable and heard. This reduces the feeling of isolation that can come with anxiety.

Remember – your role is not to have to match the experiences in order to be effective.


What to respond with?

It’s hard to say, “I understand” if you haven’t lived the same experiences, however you can say “I’m here for you, is there something I can do to help”? Offer them a cup of tea; suggest a walk together; ask about their day; talk about what they like doing/hobbies.

Try to relax and simply enjoy the conversation. Supporting someone that is worried and anxious requires simple, non-complex conversations.


Things to Avoid

Avoid the stressful and in-depth topics that may provoke negative thoughts.

There is no instant fix for supporting a loved one with anxiety. Help by spending time engaging with them in a positive, calm and caring way. It’s important they know that they have your support. Should you or your loved one need some further assistance, professional support is available. During therapy your loved one will gain awareness, insight and implement strategies to work through their Anxiety day-to-day, however ongoing support from loved ones to stay consistent is important. Not everyone reaches out for therapy, but they may be willing to reach out to you.


*Black Dog Institute (2020)

Written by Dr Kylie Hutching Mangion – Provisional Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

Working from home survival guide for great wellbeing

Still working from home, and finding the days feel a bit like Groundhog Day?

wellbeing-man-sore-health-working-from-home

Two years into this pandemic, and many of us are still working from home. One day can often blend into the next, and we can start to become complacent, and not do the little things and consider our overall wellbeing. It’s also important to feel your best when you’re working from home, and stay motivated.


Here’s a friendly reminder – 7 tips to ensure you look after yourself when working from home –

1. Take breaks – sometimes we get so busy we forget to take a break, move our body, or eat. Skipping breaks means you’re outcomes are not productive.

2. Dress up for work – making an effort to look good makes you feel good. It adds a meaningful expression to your day that allows you to take pride in the way you look and feel.

3. Sit & stand – Sitting for so many hours isn’t great for your muscles. By standing for even short periods of time, you reduce hunching your back and shoulders, and in turn, increase your posture.

4. Get outside – it may seem an obvious one, but getting outside to breathe in some fresh air, and look further away at something else like trees or flowers makes us feel better mentally & physically.

5. Make your workspace beautiful – fill your workspace with things that spark joy ( e.g.decor, art, plants, photos). It will allow you to enjoy the area in which you spend most of your day, and hopefully inspire you.

6. Create a bullet-proof routine – Good habits are key when it comes to working from home. It’s important to set yourself a good working routine to ensure you’re kicking goals, staying productive, and not distracted.

7. Be kind to yourself – The normalities of working life have been thrown out the window, so it’s ok to feel overwhelmed. Be honest with where you’re at – emotionally, physically & mentally.


Your mental health and overall wellbeing is just an important to take care of, whether in a workplace, or at home. Try not separate the two, but think of them the same. Even if you try one of these tips above a week, you’re heading in the right direction to a healthier YOU.

Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

Being Ghosted – Dating in the World of a Pandemic.

Have you recently put yourself out there to date, only to find there’s not many people interested in you?
Have you dated someone that you felt a connection with, then they disappeared like a ghost?

ghosted dating in a pandemic covid-19


For many, the world of online dating since COVID-19 came into our lives has become a simpler way to meet people.

You finally built up the courage to download Bumble or eHarmony, AND you spent the time creating your profile, trying to put your best foot forward. There were a few weeks of hits and misses, mostly misses. You matched, but no one bothered to start a conversation, or the most you received was “hi”, before they disappeared. But then a miracle happened. There was one person who was interested enough to reply, and before you know it the two of you are on your first date. They seem great! Suddenly there’s hope in the world again, and you get hit with warm fuzzy feelings of falling in love. But you try your best to stop yourself from getting way too excited and remind yourself, “Take it slowly, you don’t want to look desperate!” Its all going swimmingly…. for a while.


A few months in, you start realising a few things that you don’t want to admit to anyone. He’s so inconsistent with his messaging, but you tell yourself to be patient, he’s busy. Waiting at least a few hours for a reply should be okay – you want to be understanding. Your dates gradually move further apart and there’s no longer any talk of the next one. You wonder what’s going on? Should you say something? You have a sick feeling for days, hanging onto every word he says, “what does he mean by this?” At least he’s replying right? You don’t want to make him feel pressured!


After seeking lots of unhelpful advice from your friends you’ve concluded that the only way you’ll ever know is if you ask. So, you arrange a time to meet, but he’s busy. He’s offered to talk over the phone. That seems fine to you! At least he cares enough to give you that time, right? He misses your call. You wait for him to get back to you. Ten minutes becomes thirty. You send a text explaining why you’ve called in the hope he’d remember and get back to you. Thirty minutes becomes 2 hours. That sick feeling comes around again. Days go by, he never replied, he never called you back.


You’ve been ghosted.


Why do people ghost you?


Ghosting can occur for a wide range of reasons depending on the person. But these things are contributors. They may have:

  • Lack of effective communication skills
  • Minimal regard for other people’s feelings
  • A different perspective on the seriousness of the dating relationship
  • Mental health issues
  • Current life stressors


Ghosting seems much more prevalent these days because online dating provides an abundance of opportunities to match, meet, and establish your interest factors in a matter of minutes. Not keen? NEXT!

50% of people admit to either ghosting someone, or being ghosted themselves* so you’re definitely not alone! Ghosting someone can be seen as abusive or manipulative, and can reinforce their lack of trust in others, or a negative outlook on themselves or others around them.


Have you been ghosted one too many times?

It’s natural to find yourself:

  • Getting into a mental loop of trying to figure out what went wrong
  • Stuck with a lot of unanswered questions
  • Feeling down and out about yourself – heavy, confused, misled, used, or blaming yourself
  • Considering the different ways to find closure
  • Withdrawing from the world because you’ve lost all hope in dating, relationships, love, and even humanity
  • Questioning whether dating is even for you


But what are you meant to do? Why is it so hard to let it go?

It might help to talk to someone that you trust. It’s important to be honest with yourself about how much this has affected you rather than pretending like everything is okay and pushing on. This can catch up to you down the track.

However, finding the right balance between coping with heart break and getting on with life can be tricky. If you find yourself still struggling, consider speaking to a professional who can help you through this time.


Written by Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

*Tiffany Beverlin, 2018

The Impact of Working & Living with Burnout. 12 implications on you.

Are you taking a break or working through these holidays?
How have your fared through lockdown and heading back into a work life balance?

living with burnout exhausted working tired woman

Lockdown this year has proven to shake us all up in ways we didn’t know existed. Many of us found we’re working tirelessly at home, juggling work with home schooling children, juggling life’s everyday events, masks, QR coding, and being cautious about our every move to protect our health. No wonder so many of us are living with burnout!


70% of older workers are particularly struggling, living with burn out as they also battle the aging process.


The Impact of Burnout

In a recent 2021 study* of more than a thousand adults experiencing burnout, the main 12 main symptoms identified were:

  1. Exhaustion
  2. Anxiety
  3. Indifference
  4. Depression
  5. Irritability
  6. Anger
  7. Sleep disturbance
  8. Lack of motivation or passion
  9. Cognitive problems (including concentration, cloudy thinking, problems making plans or decisions)
  10. Impaired performance (lower and poorer quality output, making errors, procrastinating) Becoming asocial and withdrawing from people
  11. Having physical symptoms like headaches, appetite shifts, nausea, diminished sex drive, and being more sensitive and emotional.
  12. Compromised immunity and becoming prone to more illnesses and infections

It’s become almost an epidemic with more and more people describing themselves as close to, or living with burnout, than ever before.


How do you Recognise the Signs of Burnout?

Sometimes, you may need some guidance to help you see that you’re burnt out, especially if you’re in ‘robot’ mode and just keep on going, day in and day out without taking a breath.


At Creating Change, we have clinicians who can help you recognise the signs of burnout and work together with you develop strategies that will manage stressors.  You want to be able to recognise when enough is enough, and when you need to take action to protect your mental health and well-being; whether it is quitting a toxic job; or leaving a destructive relationship.  The “best you” is just around the corner…why not start 2022 in the right way?


*Study published in Burnout: A Guide to Identifying Burnout and Pathways to Recovery, by Professor Gordon Parker, Gabriela Tavella and Kerrie Eyers 

Written by Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

How Multi-Cultural Homes Perceive Mental Health Support

article blog multicultural family perceive mental health stigma

Australia as we know it has become a very diverse and multi-cultural country, and with this comes a mix of customs, certain ways people have become used to, as well as different perceptions around mental health. It’s no secret that past years have brought a stigma around mental illness, and this is even more prominent in many multi-cultural households. It’s especially an issue in some diverse racial and ethnic communities and it can be a major barrier to people from those cultures accessing mental health services. For example, in some Asian cultures, seeking professional help for mental illness may be counter to cultural values of strong family, emotional restraint and avoiding shame.


It’s estimated that one in five people will be affected with a mental health challenge at some point in their life. Mental health has never been spoken about as topic in many cultures. For some, if it isn’t physical sickness or something that could be seen with the naked eye, you are seen as “fine”.
Society and your culture can have a strong influence on the way mental health, and getting some support is perceived.


Barriers Preventing Seeking Support

Family members and friends play important roles in helping you cope with, manage and recover from illness – physical or mental. However, the stigma that still surrounds mental illness prevents many from seeking help and support, especially from those closest to them. Shame, embarrassment, lack of understanding and the fear of discrimination and rejection are just some of the barriers preventing diagnosis and effective treatment as well as family and community support. This is unfortunate because mental illness CAN be treated.

No matter what your background or ethnicity, your culture strongly influences beliefs about mental illness and shapes your attitudes towards those mentally ill.  


Some of these Cultural Factors Include:

  • Importance of social status – many cultures place a high value on social status and reputation. E.g. in many Asian countries, the concept of “Face” or public embarrassment, is extremely important. People will go to great lengths to save “Face”. A mental health issue may be viewed as a public embarrassment that could damage your reputation. As such, those suffering, and their families are less likely to see help.
  • Gender roles – most cultures discourage men from exhibiting physical or mental weakness. Extensive public health campaigns in many western countries have encouraged more men to seek medical help but many remain resistant. Especially those from more male-dominated cultures.
  • Attitudes towards mental health – not every culture accepts or trusts western medical practices and instead prefers to treat any illness with traditional approaches. Others do not consider mental illnesses to be medical issues. Instead, they believe they are caused by a lack of emotional harmony or evil spirits.
  • Age – younger people from all cultures, religions and ethnicities living in western countries are more likely to seek help. Older people, especially those who have emigrated from very different cultures, will be less likely to change their attitudes or behaviours. This generational clash of values and priorities can lead to increased stress, and the risk of anxiety or mood disorders for younger people. Many cultures require young adults to make decisions that will enable them to care for their parents rather than following their own path or prioritising their own needs.
  • Religious beliefs and spirituality – Buddhism and Taoism advocate for a spiritual understanding of disease and believe that mental concerns can be the result of bad deeds in previous lives. Non-Christians living in western countries are often hesitant to seek help from a professional as they feel there is a lack of understanding about, and respect for their religious beliefs.


There is one thing we can all do to eradicate stigma and support family members and loved ones struggling with mental illness – that is to better understand mental illness.


How to Better Understand & Express Mental Health to Loved Ones:

  • Talk openly about mental health, such as sharing it on social media.
  • Educate yourself and others – respond to misperceptions or negative comments by sharing facts and experiences.
  • Be conscious of language – remind people that words matter.
  • Encourage equality between physical and mental illness – draw comparisons to how they would treat someone with other illnesses such as cancer or diabetes.
  • Show compassion for those with mental illness.
  • Be honest about treatment – normalise mental health treatment just like other health care treatment.
  • Let the media know when they are using language presenting stories of mental illness in a stigmatising way.
  • Continue to live in a multicultural society by being more informed, aware, tolerant, and more open to change.


No matter what someone’s ethnicity or background, you can shatter these stereotypes and stigmas while celebrating diversity. This will only be successful by changing attitudes towards mental health and mental illness overall.


Written by Counsellor Tina Nguyen – www.creatingchange.net.au

Feeling like avoiding the challenges of Christmas with your family?

family Christmas time challenges conflict

For many people, Christmas time is a happy time of year with the opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. However, for a lot of people, Christmas can bring about other less pleasant emotions such as anger, low mood or loneliness. And with the way COVID-19 has impacted our lives over the past 2 years, some may not be able to connect with family, miss out on seeing loved ones or caring for those in need.


Family challenges and conflicts often arise, and Christmas time can heighten the frustration, anger, or tension. Bringing family together can open up old wounds and alcohol can create uninhibited behaviour. You may feel obliged to spend time with those you have little in common with and experience excessive criticism or belittling. As adults we spend weeks if not months buying gifts, planning food, and putting up decorations; hoping we’ll recreate the perfect family gathering.


Usually though, it falls short. Someone ends up doing all the work or all the cooking and feeling exhausted. Someone
drinks too much. Someone says something awful. Someone doesn’t say anything at all. Someone is just lazy and ungrateful.


On the flip side, you may find yourself feeling lonely and isolated, if your family is further away from you, or significant changes such as illness or separation have changed your family dynamics.


Many of us have enormously high expectations when it comes to the holiday season, however we need to realise that these expectations may not be a reality in 2021. This is where resentment can build from feelings of obligation and pressure.


What to Remind Yourself this Christmas –

  • Don’t try and resolve long standing tensions on Christmas Day – it’s a time to be jolly. Try leave the past where it is, and enjoy the day itself. Avoid anyone who may provoke you.
  • Include everyone in conversation – some may be mentally struggling on the inside and won’t mention anything to you. Some people feel if they don’t have any ‘big news’ or something exciting to talk about, they feel on edge or down.
  • Share memories – reminiscing about the littlest things can be a great way to lighten the mood and give everyone a laugh or a smile, even if it’s for a moment.
  • Have bon bons on the table – Christmas crackers or bon bons are a great ice breaker – with their bad hats, silly toys and corny jokes. They get everyone laughing, even at how bad the jokes are.
  • Take a moment to have some quiet time – having a quiet space for people to go is a good idea for all ages, but especially if you have little kids or if you find the day overwhelming.
  • Reduce the pressure – it’s ok to not go to every Christmas celebration, or run yourself in the ground to; be at every event; help with setting up or the food; try be the one who keeps the peace – it’s ok to take it slow and not do it all! Increased pressure means you won’t be yourself; you’ll be on edge or stressed and feel exhausted and anxious about the whole process.


If you feel you need some help or advice to get through this period of family challenges between now through to the New Year, please reach out to our team. We can assist you to work through these challenges, and prepare you so you feel calmer and in control for the holiday season.


Written by Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

Domestic Violence affects my life – how to take the next step? Know your rights.

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are a victim of emotional, mental or physical abuse?
Are you distressed, not knowing what to do, where to go, and who to talk to?

domestic violence article blog know your rights


An estimated one in six Australian women (1.6 million or 17%) aged 18 years and over have experienced partner violence since the age of 15 years old (ABS, 2020).

Experiencing acts such as gas lighting, emotional, mental, financial or physical abuse is highly stressful and distressing, especially over long time periods. Your physical and psychological well-being is disturbed, which can in turn affect your physical recovery.

The idea of being vulnerable to a professional therapist after any abuse can be quite frightening, and we recognise these fears you may have and want to ensure your safety and comfort.


Introducing Legal Literacy

Legal Literacy is a tool used by our therapists to boost your self-confidence, learn your rights, and take that next step forward. Legal literacy is essentially, more knowledge.


Knowledge is power.

Did you know the importance of Legal Literacy or knowledge when you or someone you know is experiencing DV?  In my experience as a therapist, I have found in many situations where a mental health professional could assist someone overcome mental and emotional barriers hindering their treatment – through psycho-education of self-esteem and self-confidence – however this was limited due to lack of knowledge of victim rights by the victim themselves. Therefore, adding Legal Literacy has proven to be a powerful tool and resource, as well as a booster for self-confidence.


Through my experience and findings, many clients with impacted self-esteem who worked through strengths exploration (using Motivational Interviewing and CBT), a few ceased treatment half–way because the fear of leaving their partner/perpetrator was bigger than the pain of the abuse.


I found a lot of people have been the victim of abuse for years and are fighting pain, abuse and a system altogether. For most, their quality of life has been compromised through isolation, and relationships have been impacted deeply. Hence, having counselling along with Legal Literacy hand in hand was quite effective.


We know that knowledge is power and for you as a victim, to feel that power – even in the smallest portions – is a step forward. This was an opportunity to put a system in place for those experiencing Domestic Violence and other challenges such as Immigration issues or culture shock. It enabled them to have access to an in-house counsellor to talk about their anxiety, fears, self-confidence, self-esteem, abuse, trauma, or depression, and also helped them understand and know their rights as victims, and how they can draw internal and external boundaries when they want to, and when they are ready for it.


What to do next?

At home you can take small actioned to ensure your safety:

  • Know the numbers you can call for protection
  • Know safe houses for women’s shelter
  • Start studying and understanding your rights
  • Make notes about any rights or laws that you don’t understand, and speak to your therapist about them


Many victims will put up with violence due to lack of self-trust – so try some, self-affirmation strategies. Should you need some help and guidance on these strategies, or how you can take the next step, reach out to our team.



Written by Counsellor Hitika Bhatia – www.creatingchange.net.au

Parents, feel prepared! How to help your anxious child return to school.

Are you unsure how your child will adapt going back to school and after school activities?
What does this look like for your family?

anxious child separation anxiety


It’s come to that time, where we move out of lockdown and try to get back into some sort of ‘new normal’. Our children have been at home for months and months, so to them this is their new normal. So as a parent, how can you assist them to ‘change’ what they’re comfortable with, and transition them back to school calmly and confidently?


You may yourself be feeling a little worried, or unsure how they will react or cope on the first day back. It’s normal the morning before school starts that your child may appear as feeling unhappy. There may be tears, worry, or they may make excuses to get out of going, such as they have a sore stomach/headache, etc. You may even hear “I don’t want to go to school, can I stay home?”



Some children can worry themselves so much that they do feel ill, however as a parent if you let them stay home, you’ll find this could turn into repeated school refusal in the future. The long term affect will be a decrease in their academic development as well as their social confidence. If this persisted, they will fall further behind in class and it will be harder on you to guide them to reintegrate into their social groups and return to school.


6 ways to prepare your anxious child for the return to school –

  • Talk about school – On the lead up, each day talk to your child about returning. Make sure that returning to school is not a surprise, and they are aware its coming up soon.
  • What did they enjoy the most at school? – Highlight the things that they previously enjoyed the most, and talk about the fun of doing this again with friends (e.g. playing soccer at lunch, art/crafts, seeing their friends at recess).
  • Routine is key – Remind them of the routine at school, plan it out so they know in advance (e.g. waking up at 7:30, eating breakfast and packing their bag, and leaving for school at 8:15, etc). Together with your child you could draw some steps of getting ready in the morning, and they can tick them off as they go.
  • Give them choice – Ask them what they’d like for lunch to help them feel like they have some control and can choose which they would enjoy more.
  • Open communication – If your anxious child seems worried about returning, create an open and accepting space for them to talk about their worries. It’s best not to wait until the night before school to do this. Make sure you validate what they feel, however don’t imply that they can stay home and not go to school.
  • The drop off process – if they become increasingly upset at drop off, acknowledge their emotion, give them a hug, guide them into school, and leave. The longer you stay the longer the distress will last. Teachers often report that a few minutes after the parents leave, the child settles.



Remember, the first few days will be the most challenging, however children become more and more adaptable as they grow and will see quickly what their new routine looks like. The key is to talk through things in advance, to ensure they have time to process the information, and to ensure they feel safe, calm and aware. Having an anxious child is challenging, but if you take the time to prepare them they will learn to see that change isn’t something to worry themselves about, and to look for the good in the change.


Written by Kya Porter – Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

10 Ways to Boost your Level of Self-Care at Home

Lockdown has been dragging on – have you taken the time to look after yourself over the past 3 months?

woman self-care lockdown advice tips



So the day has come where we seem to have a bit more freedom to move around, however many of us are still at home a lot, whether it’s working from home, home schooling or in quarantine.

It’s important after so long at home to look after yourself, and make sure you haven’t picked up some bad habits!

Take a moment to think about if self-care has been on your agenda…..or a past thought of late.


Here’s our best 10 pieces of advice from our expert therapists to get you on the right track to self-care:

  1. Air Pods & Headphones – using these a lot has side effects. Many of us are already compromising our head and neck by sitting at a computer all day, add in headphones or Air Pods, this can lead to sore ears or a headache.
  2. Hand Cream – keep a hand cream on your desk for dry hands, that you can grab and use quickly.
  3. Hydrate – fill up 1L bottle of water at the start of the day, and re-fill at lunchtime to help you focus.
  4. Mini Break – go outside in your breaks and stand in the sunshine for 5 minutes – take deep breaths of fresh air to help re-focus and re-set.
  5. Stretching – short stretches several times a day opens up your muscles in your neck and back. You need to ensure you move if you’re sitting a lot during the day. Just stretch for 30 seconds-1 minute at a time and this will help.
  6. Mindfulness Breathing – 1 minute of breathing and closing your eyes – choose a quiet place outside or in a room, and just breathe with your eyes closed to calm yourself.
  7. Water Your Plants – watering plants is calming, and using a watering can over a hose gives you more of a connection with nature. Take a deep breath in when you’re near the plants – it encourages blood flow.
  8. Snacks – protein balls are a great quick and healthy snack. Have them on your desk for when you feel like you need something to keep you going. Have a piece of fruit on your desk also so it’s ready when you get a break.
  9. Tidy Up – a tidy desk clears the mind.
  10. Candles – burn them. The scent and dimmed lighting creates an ambience, and has a sensory affect on your body.


Make the most of what you have and ensure self-care is a priority at home. It’s important for your own mental wellbeing.

Written by Counsellor Hitika Bhatia – www.creatingchangepsychology.net.au

Feel Calm & Comfortable. Understand what to expect at your first Telehealth session

Feeling apprehensive?
Maybe you’re wondering what happens at your first online Telehealth session with our therapists?

Teleheatlh video session therapy


Remember when you started your first day of high school or your first job. You were unsure of where to go, how to look busy, and whether the people would warm to you. You may also experience these feelings of apprehension and uncertainty when planning to have a Telehealth session with one of our therapists for the first time.

What do I have to do?
How will the session unfold?
What will they ask of me?
Will I like my therapist?

These are all valid thoughts as our brains are wired to check in and make sure our needs are met. We hope we can put your mind at ease and assist you to prepare for your first online session. Let’s make it feel less daunting!

Telehealth – the new way

With this extended lockdown, Telehealth online sessions have become the way for therapy in the current time.
Whilst we can’t wait to welcome you back to our office and therapy space, here’s what you can expect in the meantime.

Once you’ve made your appointment with one of our therapists, you would have received a confirmation email with all the details you need, and a second email to meet and obtain some more information about your therapist particular.

As part of this confirmation email, there is a link to a video which is important for you to watch. This video introduces you to Creating Change and prepares you for the session with things you need to know.

There will also be a link to our Online Consent Form and a form requiring some information about yourself – so please take a short moment to fill these in before your session start time. Whilst filling in the forms, this is a good time for you to sit, take a breath and familiarise yourself with the practice and what we’re about. The background information form is important for the therapist to receive and read through prior to your session, so they can familiarise themselves with any important details.

On the morning of your Telehealth session, a link will be emailed to you to start the video session. If you don’t have internet access, please let us know so we can call you by phone.


Feel Safe and Re-assured

All our sessions are conducted in a safe and confidential environment. Our highly skilled therapists are passionate about making you feel as relaxed as possible. In the initial appointment, our therapists will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current life situation and the factors that have influenced their development. The key focus is to identify how we will facilitate change for you to create a sense of wellbeing, contentment and connectedness.

The assessment aims to develop a personalised plan to achieve your goals. We understand that talking to someone new about your difficulties in life may provoke anxiety, and so we will aim to put you at ease in your first appointment as much as possible. If there is a difficult history like childhood trauma, we may take it slow, not going into detail of the traumas but rather focus on developing confidence in your therapist and stabilising your current symptoms.

We will provide you with an estimation of the length of treatment, frequency of sessions and what you will be required to do moving forward.  

As treatment is a collaborative process, meaning we will work together as a team, you will be highly involved in the decision making. It is ideal to book in all your future sessions required after the first appointment to ensure you have continuity of treatment.  We don’t want you to miss out on your preferred appointment day and time! Having a regular time that suits your weekly schedule will ensure your personal development remains a priority.


Ensuring you feel open to ask questions

If you have any questions during the session, it is essential you ask them. We are full of information, but we aren’t able read your mind. If at any time you feel uncomfortable, please let us know. Sometimes it takes time to develop a relationship with your therapist. We understand this and encourage you to discuss your experiences with us. If you are keen to make changes sooner rather than later, you can book your second session in within the same week to start the treatment ball rolling.


Remember that changing habits takes time and cannot be done in an hour or two. We are with you for the long haul and look forward to working together on your treatment journey.


We look forward to welcoming you back to our therapy office space later in the year!

therapy room Telehealth online psychologist therapists creating change baulkham hills
Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

We are located in the Bella Vista – Hills District, Sydney, NSW. Please contact us should you require an appointment.

5 Benefits of Online Therapy During Lockdown & the Cost of Not Getting Immediate Support

man depression benefits of online therapy lockdown

Many of us are feeling the pain of lockdown. And let’s face it, we’re all a bit over it! 

However there’s never been a more important time to look after your mental health then now.

If you’ve been thinking of speaking to a therapist once lockdown ends, and waiting to “see how you go” – maybe have a re-think.

Can you really afford to wait?
Is waiting the best for your current mental health?
Are you coping?

Talking with someone now via online therapy can help you in more ways than you may probably realise. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to get started, progress, and then continue when we return to face to face therapy sessions.



THE COST OF NOT GETTING IMMEDIATE SUPPORT

  • Feelings such as anxiety and stress will have time to magnify whilst you’re waiting for lockdown to end.
  • Your current challenges won’t positively progress – instead leaving you to attempt to manage your distress on your own. Seeking support now will give you the tools and guidance to work through your circumstances straight away.  
  • Relationship or home life pressures will amplify, adding additional stress and moving you and your family in the wrong direction. This can have a harmful long-term effect.
  • Consider your mood – how is it making you feel? How is it affecting those you live with? Talking with our team now could alleviate the weight this may be having on you.



DIRECT BENEFITS OF ONLINE THERAPY DURING LOCKDOWN

  • Tackle your circumstances quickly – get on top of your challenges before they deteriorate further.
  • Feel supported – having someone to talk through your concerns with means you have the ability to get things off your chest, moving your mental health in the right direction.
  • Learn the tools you need to know now – such as mindfulness and other at home techniques – so you can begin making positive changes quickly rather than leaving your health to possibly decline.
  • Improved sleep – engaging with our therapists means you’ll feel a greater sense of control and calmness, enabling you to sleep better and look after your overall wellbeing.
  • Keep your relationships and family life on track – learn how to manage this lockdown life we’re in and feel more prepared.


If you’ve read through this and want to re-think the opportunity to speak with one of our expert therapists, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us – we are here to help you.

5 Ways to Tackle Loneliness and Lack of Connection in Lockdown

family FaceTime connection lockdown loneliness

As humans we thrive on meaningful connection, so although the pandemic is challenging us on many levels, the need to stay away from others and at home – is arguably one of the hardest things to come from COVID-19. This is particularly prominent if you live alone. We are not immune from loneliness, no matter what our circumstance or profession.


Most of us are currently either social distancing, self-isolating or self-quarantining at the moment, so it’s vital to prioritise staying connected with loved ones during this challenging time, and to stick to healthy routines.


Did you know that not having enough social connection can bring on feelings of loneliness, and seriously affect your mental health and wellbeing?


Here are 5 ways you can stay connected, healthy, and tackle feelings of loneliness during lockdown:

1. Stay connected with loved ones – use your phone, social media and apps such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends. Touch base with someone every single day – this is important for connection. We have feelings that come out within us when we smile and connect with someone, even if it’s over the phone.

2. Do things you enjoy – read that pile of books and watch those TV shows you missed. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make the most of it.

Why not try a new pastime that you can do at home or online? Painting and listening to music are both great ways of relaxing and practising Mindfulness. If you enjoy DIY, now’s a good time to knuckle down and get jobs done.

3. Stay healthy – focus on eating well and getting enough exercise and good quality sleep. Take the time to cook from fresh, do an online yoga or aerobics class, meditate and focus on maintaining good sleep habits.

Keeping up healthy routines will help both your physical and mental health.

4. Dodge the panic– try to limit your media and online exposure. Seek advice from credible sources only and don’t consume information from the news all day long.

5. Reach out– if you are finding that you are struggling, don’t hesitate. Please reach out to someone to talk to. It can be a friend, a colleague, or a professional. We are here to help should you like to talk to one of our team members.

Source: Derived from Beyond Blue

Are you overly sensitive, always taking things personally? Find out here.

Do you worry about things people say to you over and over?
Do you often find yourself easily upset, emotional, angry and sensitive to words?

overly sensitive take things personally woman sad react

When an insensitive comment is said to you by someone close, do you find yourself thinking about it over and over? Do you react?

Being overly sensitive can mean it’s possible you might make a big deal out of something small, or make a huge deal on a regular basis out of everything. Either way, this type of thinking is likely to make you feel extremely frustrated, upset, sad, or angry.

Let’s imagine you think you are taking things to heart too often. You’re being told by a friend or family member that you get upset over “every little thing”. It can be isolating and confusing not knowing why you’re picking fights with people around you, and why you just can’t ‘let it go’. If only the catchy phrase from “Disney’s Frozen II” movie was so easy, right!?


The idea that this person has said something mean, rude, or offensive, or has made a joke you didn’t think was funny, becomes stuck in your mind. You don’t know how to make it go away. At the same time, you don’t know if you should bring it up with them for fear you will get shut down or end up in an argument.

Taking things personally is an unhelpful thinking style that can lead to symptoms of anxiety, low mood and depression. It can interfere with how you interact with others and result in social withdrawal, escape, or avoiding people all together.


CHECKLIST TO DETERMINE IF YOU ARE TAKING THINGS TOO PERSONALLY




IF YOU CHECKED MORE THAN HALF OF THE ABOVE, WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

•   Understand that someone else’s behaviour is about them, not you
•   Be your best self, and own it. Your opinion of yourself is what matters most
•   Learn to manage negative thoughts and emotions – don’t be afraid to ask for professional support
•   Direct your energy and time towards fulfilling your own valued goals


Once you have tried these tips at home, engaging with a professional such as one of our team of therapists allows you to develop a complete understanding of what’s happening and why. You can work together to create strategies to manage and overcome the negative thoughts and feelings that continue to make you feel negative about yourself.


Taking things personally, and being ‘overly sensitive’ is likely to affect how you engage with others, and also your ability to open up and build healthy relationships. Don’t be afriad to get in touch, as sometimes a little support and direction will set you on your way to living a happier and more confident life.


How to take the first step to overcome your OCD

Too scared to touch a pen at work, or constantly washing your hands or checking things?
Aware of your OCD, and want to know how to make small changes to overcome your OCD?

steps overcome OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder advice psychology

Distress. This is how you may be feeling. Knowing your OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is dominating your day, however unsure of how to manage it.
How can you overcome your OCD?

OCD affects around 1.8% of people worldwide, and whilst males are more commonly affected in childhood, research shows females are more affected in adulthood*.


OCD can reflect either feeling overwhelming anxiety that something bad might happen if you don’t engage in a particular task, or knowing logically something bad will not happen, but you still feel the need to engage in the behaviour so that it “feels right”.


Feeling the need to engage in compulsions may be having a negative impact on friendships, relationships, work, or leisure –

  • Needing to constantly ask questions, seeking reassurance all the time from a partner.
  • Stress on your relationship – your partner may see a future with children in it, however if something spills on the floor, what happens to your anxiety?
  • Your family may become frustrated if you’re in the bathroom constantly washing your hands.
  • Effects on your work life if you’re too scared to touch a pen, making it challenging to do your job.
  • If you can’t leave a room without clicking the light on and off, what do you do at work when you leave the room?


You end up house bound, worried about people seeing your compulsions.

OBSESSIONSCOMPULSIONS
When you experience uncontrollable, unwanted thoughts or images, e.g. fear of germs.In response to these ‘obsessions’ or thoughts, you develop ritualised, repetitive behaviours or mental acts called ‘compulsions’.


You’re probably thinking, I logically know that these thoughts and compulsions are irrational, but I can’t resist engaging!
This is a result of so much anxiety surrounding them that it’s hard to bare.


Engaging in the compulsions reduces your anxiety.



What are the Implications of this?

Every time you engage in a compulsion, you strengthen the OCD tendencies. For example, if you wash your hands immediately after touching something, you are teaching your body that the reason you didn’t get sick, is because you washed your hands immediately. You’re not learning that you can actually touch objects without becoming sick, e.g. pick up a pen, shake another person’s hand.


Small Changes to Make at Home – Challenge Your Beliefs and Worries!

Slightly adjust the compulsion
e.g. If you wash your hands for 5 minutes each time you touch something, try next time to only wash them for 4 minutes. See what happens! This will help you test the validity of your thoughts or worries and show yourself that the compulsions were not necessary to keep you safe.

e.g. If you click a light five times before leaving a room because you fear that something bad will happen, try and click it only 3 times. Wait….then reflect on what happened and whether your original worry came true or not.


Change your mindset to overcome your OCD
Remember, it’s important to keep these steps small and achievable. If you don’t resist and engage in the compulsion, you risk strengthening your OCD – the opposite of what you want to achieve. It’s about small steps in the right direction, rather than trying to get rid of your OCD completely.


Not sure if you have OCD – take our checklist HERE.


Written by Kya Porter – Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au
*American Psychiatric Association, 2013

Finalists in the Sydney Hills Local Business Awards!

We are thrilled once again to be finalists in the 2021 Local Business Awards for the Sydney Hills Area. During turbulent times, we always ensure you, our clients, are at the forefront of our mind. Your care is our priority through this pandemic.


Our team really go the extra mile to ensure your experience with Creating Change is calm and smooth, so why not take a moment to read more about our amazing team, and how we can help you make that long term sustainable change you have always wanted in your life. Thank you for voting us as finalists!

finalist local business awards Sydney hills psychologist

How is Low Self Esteem Affecting You? Take our Checklist.

Having doubts about yourself and what you’re capable of?
Finding you have persistent negative thoughts and feelings about yourself?

low self esteem checklist how do you know what to do mental health depression

We can be all self-critical from time to time. When we make a mistake, we often think back on it and wonder what we could have done differently. When we say things we don’t mean, we often feel bad about what was said, and wish we hadn’t, or had said it differently.


However if you talk yourself down too much of the time, or call yourself names like ‘silly’ or ‘stupid’ your self-esteem may suffer. Low-esteem affects your quality of life, so it’s important to know the signs, and what you can do about it. If you often have negative feelings such as sadness, guilt, shame or anger about yourself, if you avoid trying something new in case you fail, or deny yourself opportunities for growth, change, or love – take our checklist below to see if low self-esteem is overly affecting you.


You have:

  • Persistent, negative and self-critical thoughts
  • Low resilience: you give up too soon
  • Fear of trying: you don’t try at all
  • Relationship problems with friends or family
  • Perfectionism or a need to “over-achieve”, and “over-compensate” in areas you perceive you’re lacking
  • Minimal self care, e.g. drink accessible amounts of alcohol, avoid exercise
  • Self-harm, e.g. drug abuse, binge eating or drinking, punishing yourself
  • You tend to reject or dismiss genuine compliments from others
  • You are afraid to give your opinion in a conversation


Find that more than half of these sound like you, and don’t know what to do?
Some additional support to better understand your low self esteem, where it’s coming from, and how you can move forward to improve your quality of life may be needed. Reach out to one of our team.

The importance of parents staying at therapy with your child

Have you booked in a therapy session for your child, or have they been seeing a psychologist or counsellor for some time?
Do you attend with them, or drop them at the door and pick them up after their session?

Child and parent in therapy session psychologist

You may already be in the process of your child seeing a therapist, or you may be coming up to attend your first therapy session. Either way, it’s really important for you as a parent to attend the therapy sessions together with your child. Depending on their age, it can vary as to whether you’re required to be in the therapy room with your child or not. Coming into the practice with your child gives the team a chance to explain what your input will be depending on your child’s age, what they are there for, what things we may talk about in therapy, and what will happen moving forward.

Even if your child is a young adult and in their late teens or early 20s, remember, a child doesn’t exist on their own. You need to work together as a team to reach their goals and wellbeing – you’re all part of a system.


Why should parents attend?

1.Young people cannot provide developmental and environmental history, ie 0-5yrs and beyond. We need YOU for this information, and this information is important for the therapist to know and understand.


2. Children exist in the here and now. They have their own perspectives that may lack context of a bigger picture. A parent’s perspective of events gives context for behaviour. You’re able to share parenting processes currently being used, which play a vital role in young person’s life.


3. Parents’ attendance and engagement shows support to your child, something they may be looking for to progress and find motivation to keep attending.


4. Coming to the sessions with your child allows opportunity for you to be informed about presenting issues, and to discuss these, and for the therapist to share management strategies. We would encourage you to learn=, understand, and implement these strategies at home between sessions, so you need to be informed. It also allows you to become aware of any possible unintentional, or unhelpful contributions to the situation.


5. If you are separated from your partner, it is valuable to include both parents when safe to do so, as a child’s identity and experience is impacted by both parents, regardless of the relationship they have with each other.



Imagine you are the captain of a ship and your children are deck hands. You’re in charge of the ship and where it needs to go when they are in their younger years (0-12 years). As they progress into adolescence then early adulthood they begin to take over the driving of the ship. We as parents then become the lighthouse (from 13+ years onward). We guide them past the rocks and cliffs, inform them of the weather, but at the end of the day, they are in control of getting that ship where it needs to go. Together, we work with you to ensure your teen is equipped with the necessary sailing skills for a safe but adventurous voyage.

4 Eating Tips to fight your Anxiety and Depression

Did you know that what you put in your mouth can dramatically affect your mood?
Are you searching for ways to help ease your anxiety or low mood?

woman eating healthy fight depression anxiety tips advice experts psychology

Your mental health and how you cope everyday is equally as important as your physical health, and eating the right types of food and nutrients can affect both. Depression & anxiety are the most common mental health issues Australians face daily, affecting daily functions, work life, relationships and family ties.


So if you aren’t sure how to try change your mood or reactions, why not consider your diet?


Here are 4 great food groups to include in your diet to improve your wellbeing – 


1. OMEGA 3 FATS

Good fats needed to build the brain’s neutral connections. Research has shown people with depression tend to have lower levels of Omega 3.

EAT MORE: Oily fish, e.g trout, salmon, sardines; flaxseeds, walnuts


2. B VITAMINS

Important for nervous system function and production of energy. These are “anti-stress” nutrients, helping to relieve anxiety and treat depression. B3, B6 & B9 all work together to produce serotonin, the ‘feel good’ chemical.

EAT MORE: Legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, eggs, chicken, red meat and milk
EAT LESS: Refined grains and processed foods


3. BLOOD SUGAR

Keep blood sugar levels balanced. If they fluctuate during the day, so will your mood. A diet high in sugary, white, processed carbohydrate foods will cause sudden peaks and troughs in the glucose in your blood, affecting mood and anxiety.

EAT MORE: Wholegrains, fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, yoghurt, nuts, seeds, eggs, fish and chicken. Having smaller meals more regularly and including protein-rich foods also helps to stabilise blood-sugar levels and curb sugar cravings. 
EAT LESS: Processed or sugary foods, and cut down on caffeine and alcohol


4. TRYPTOPHAN

Serotonin is a chemical in our body that is responsible for making us feel good, and it is manufactured in the body using the amino acid “tryptophan”. This needs to be supplied through your diet. Tryptophan is also needed to produce melatonin, which is vital for getting enough sleep. Low serotonin levels are linked to depression, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue. In clinical trials that have been conducted, tryptophan growth has been shown to diminish depression.

EAT MORE: Lean chicken, turkey, beef, brown rice, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, nuts, bananas, peas, pumpkin, potato, corn and spinach.


If you’re feeling signs of low mood or anxiety, why not try shift your diet? What’s the worst that could happen? Make a change and create a healthier, happier, effortless life for yourself. It could equal a big impact.

As nutrition is not the only way to manage anxiety and depression, further professional assistance can be required depending on the severity. Please meet our team and reach out should you like to talk with a therapist about your challenges.


Written By Rebecca Deane – Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au
Reference: (Nutritionist Lisa Guy – Body & Soul)

Let’s Celebrate Reconciliation Week! Enter our Hills colouring in competition

This week, 27th May – 3rd June is National Reconcilicaton Week, where we celebrate the journey for all Australians.
At the heart of this journey are relationships between the broader Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We all have a role to play when it comes to reconciliation, and in playing our part we collectively build relationships and communities that value Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, histories, cultures, and futures.

We would love you and your kids to join in by entering our “Colouring for Reconciliation” colouring in competition.
Click on the colouring in sheet below, then print it off and send back to enter!


colouring for reconciliation hills colouring in competition win

relationship counselling couples therapy hills Bella vista castle hill Norwest
kids children child therapy psychologist hills castle hill parents parenting

Does your child have high expectations at school? How to manage perfectionism.


Does your son or daughter have unrealistic standards & high expectations?
Do they show signs of Perfectionism?
Do they often not feel good enough, or think they should have worked harder?

Perfectionism study high expectations student child parenting stress

Teenagers and young adults studying for their school exams or at university often want everything perfect, and want to perform at their best. They can often feel compelled to achieve or strive for perfection, and when they don’t meet those standards, they think “I should have worked harder” or “I’m such a failure”.
Perfectionistic tendencies and high standards are often seen by this age group, but why would your child want to overcome their perfectionism?


Being a perfectionist can often motivate some students, giving them the drive to do well in their assessments and exams. However sometimes perfectionism can get in the way of actually getting things done. It can lead your child to procrastinate or go over things constantly, leading them to burnout. Is it possible that they may have been succeeding in spite of their high standards, and not because of them.

Being afraid to fail is a common feeling perfectionists experience, and they often tend to base their self-worth off striving for and achieving their high standards. e.g. if I do not do well on an assessment, I’m not good enough. This is like placing all of your eggs in one basket – they’re relying on doing well every time!


How to guide your child towards realistic expectations –

  • A great activity to help with perfectionism you as a parent can guide your child towards, is have them spend some time doing activities or engaging in aspects of their life that are not achievement-related. See if they gradually gain importance in their sense of self-worth.
  • Are the high expectations that they set for themselves realistic and flexible? Remind them that learning implies imperfection and making mistakes. Making a mistake does not equate to being a failure, and it is not a case of them having no standards.
  • Spend some time with your child to set some realistic goals together – change their mindset to have realistic expectations. They are putting so much pressure on themselves, and for what?
  • Help your child focus on doing things well, as opposed to perfectly – experiment with making a mistake and see what the realistic consequences are.
  • Prompt them to be aware of self-critical talk. e.g. “I’m so stupid, I can’t do anything right!”. Practice changing the way they speak to themselves. If it’s not okay to say it to a friend, why is it okay to say to yourself?
  • Guide them to turn the self-critical talk into motivational self-talk. e.g. “I would like to have finished this assignment by now, but I will focus on taking things one step at a time to get closer to completing it”.


Has your son or daughter ever considered the cost of being a perfectionist? The countless hours spent perfecting work, the self-criticism that comes with not meeting their own standards and the enormous stress and pressure they place on themselves to achieve?

If you feel that perfectionism is beginning to interfere with your teenager or young adult’s studies, causing distress and additional pressure, speaking to one of our clinicians may help guide your child in the right direction. 
With the right support, a therapist can help your child effectively gain control over their perfectionism, so they can flourish without the pesky hindrance of perfectionism!






Understanding your Teenager’s Emotions – what’s going on in their brain?


Do you have a teenager who often lashes out, bursts into tears, yells and tells you that you don’t understand them? Have they started an argument over something, and you don’t even know what triggered it?

This is a normal part of adolescence. Watch some great advice from expert Psychologist Senali Panditaratne on how your teenagers’ brain works, and how to better understand and engage with them.


Feeling nervous or unsure about your first appointment? What to expect when you meet with our therapists.

Feeling apprehensive?
Maybe you’re wondering what happens at your first session visiting a Psychologist or one of our therapists?

Remember when you started your first day of high school or your first job. You were unsure of where to go, how to look busy, and whether the people would warm to you. You may also experience these feelings of apprehension and uncertainty when coming along to see one of our therapists for the first time.

What do I have to do?
How will the session unfold?
What will they ask of me?
Will I like my therapist?

These are all valid thoughts as our brains are wired to check in and make sure our needs are met. We hope we can put your mind at ease by opening our doors to assist you in preparing for your first session, and make it feel less daunting.


On Arrival

Once you’ve made your appointment with one of our therapists, you will be asked to come in 15 minutes early. This allows us to show you a quick iPad video about Creating Change, and complete a brief questionnaire and consent form. This is a good time for you to sit, take a breath and familiarise yourself with the practice. We provide a warm welcome and a cup of tea to ease any nerves whilst you wait. Your therapist will then meet with you and take you through to our comfortable appointment rooms. We do have two offices on the same level, so you may get to enjoy a short walk up corridor to our second office with your therapist.


Feel Safe and Re-assured

All our sessions are conducted in a safe and confidential environment. Our highly skilled therapists are passionate about making you feel as relaxed as possible. In the initial appointment, our therapists will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current life situation and the factors that have influenced their development. The key focus is to identify how we will facilitate change for you to create a sense of wellbeing, contentment and connectedness.

The assessment aims to develop a personalised plan to achieve your goals. We understand that talking to someone new about your difficulties in life may provoke anxiety, and so we will aim to put you at ease in your first appointment. If there is a difficult history like childhood trauma, we may take it slow, not going into detail of the traumas but rather focus on developing confidence in your therapist and stabilising your current symptoms.

We will provide you with an estimation of the length of treatment, frequency of sessions and what you will be required to do. 

As treatment is a collaborative process, meaning we will work together, you will be highly involved in the decision making. It is ideal to book in all your future sessions required after the first appointment to ensure you have continuity of treatment.  We don’t want you to miss out on your preferred appointment day and time! Having a regular time that suits your weekly schedule will ensure your personal development remains a priority.


Ensuring you feel open to ask questions

If you have any questions during the session, it is essential you ask them. We are full of information, but we aren’t able read your mind. If you at any time feel uncomfortable, please let us know. Sometimes it takes time to develop a relationship with your therapist. We understand this and encourage you to discuss your experiences with us. If you are keen to make changes sooner rather than later, you can book your second session in within the same week to start the treatment ball rolling.

Remember that changing habits takes time and cannot be done in an hour or two. We are with you for the long haul and look forward to working together on your treatment journey.

therapy room psychologist therapists creating change baulkham hills
Written by Rebecca Deane – Principal Clinical Psychologist – www.creatingchange.net.au

We are located in the Bella Vista – Hills District, Sydney, NSW. Please contact us should you require an appointment.

Outbursts, Bad Attitude – The Reason School & Extracurricular Pressure Impacts your Teen

Have you seen changes in your teen’s behaviour – highly strung, lashing out or a bad attitude?
Is your teenager avoiding you, feels the pressure, stressed out – and you don’t know how to manage their reactions?

pressure teenager child sport extracurricular activities stress parenting

Parenting teens is hard work – but I’m sure you’re well aware of that already! Did you know that school work, exams, studying on top of any additional activities outside of school, can all pile up and put a lot of pressure on kids and young adults?

Stop and have a think about your child…how many activities do they do after school? Are they striving to be their best at everything they do?

Teens can often be under an immense amount of pressure, and this pressure may come from their teachers, from their family, or they may also put it on themselves. Teens often are trying to meet the needs of what they think they should be doing. 

An estimated 1.7 million (63%) children participate in at least one organised sport outside of school hours, and creative classes such as dance and music are in addition to this (ABS). That’s a lot of kids doing extracurricular activities!

Signs of Pressure

As a parent, you may see the signs of stress, but are unsure how to deal with the reactions and outbursts from your teen. Common reactions you may see are:

  • Lashing out, yelling and reacting dramatically
  • Withdrawal from family and activities
  • Bad attitude, rudeness and speaking inappropriately

It’s normal as a parent to feel confused and unsure of the reason for these reactions. If a child is under pressure, it will come out at the wrong time. You may ask them to set the table for dinner, and they lash out at you. You’re probably thinking, what’s going on? 

It’s often not that they’ve developed a bad attitude, it’s a misunderstanding of how they’re feeling, and how their brain is functioning. It’s challenging in the moment to take a step back and think about where the lash out may have come from. You may personally get upset or feel like it’s you – but it’s often not.


So, What’s Going on in their Brain?

As teenagers develop so does their brain, albeit at either a faster or slower rate. This disconnect between where the brain is at, and where the body is at (puberty!) causes distress for some teens. There is an expectation for them to start being independent, looking after themselves, and being responsible for their own activities – this put an immense amount of pressure on the teen when they are still trying to figure out their own identity, who they are and what they’re capable of.


When under frequent stress, the brain produces more cortisol than it is able to release. High amounts of cortisol in the brain can inhibit the functioning of your teen’s “thinking brain”. This is the part of the brain responsible for decision making and planning ahead. In low stress, the thinking brain is in charge. Thoughts switch ‘off’ stress. Your teens “emotional brain” kicks in when stress levels are high. 


Your teenagers thinking brain is still developing as they get older, into their 20s. For boys, this area is not fully developed until the age of 26! This is particularly important to understand when we have high expectations of our children to make sensible decisions, and become independent.


How can you help your Teen?

pressure teenager child sport extracurricular activities stress parenting
  • Show compassion and appreciation for the immense pressure that your child may be under.
  • Take some time to learn and understand the ‘attitude’ of your child towards their responsibilities – are they perfectionistic, or do they tend to avoid things?
  • Prioritise what is enjoyable for your teenager. Ask your child if they’re enjoying the activity anymore, or are they just doing it out of comfort? Ask them to name 3 things they really enjoy about it. This opens the lines of communication. Find a balance.
  • Talk to them about self-pressure. If you’re not putting pressure on them, is it coming from within? Ask them why they feel the need to perform at a high level all the time?
  • Teach your teen to study smarter, not harder. Spend less time re-reading notes, and instead use active study and revision to cut down on after hours school work.



It’s important to give your teen the space and downtime they need to unwind from their own pressures, before adding ‘home pressures’ to the long list, e.g. chores, family events. Speak to your teen about introducing a balanced lifestyle as a means to feel more calm, confident, and in control.


How to speak to your Teen

  • Ask more specific questions. Instead of “How is school going?”, ask more specific, supportive questions, e.g. What subjects did you have today, and were you given anything specific to do at home from your teachers? Is there anything you’re not sure of, or that I can help you work through?
  • Schedule once a week to check in with your teen. Speak to them about how that week has been for them. Chunk it down into smaller timeframes.


Written by Provisional Psychologist Rickii Lotsaris – www.creatingchange.net.au

rubber band metaphor for burn out stress pressure in teenagers


Do you prioritise Physical Health over your Mental Health? The Importance of Therapy


We all seem to find it quite easy to go straight to the doctor when we have an injury or feel quite unwell, so why do we not tend to do the same when we are mentally struggling? Therapy and your mental health is just as important. Take a listen to Expert Counsellor Hitika Bhatia on why you should also be prioritising your mental health and seeking therapy support if needed.

Why does one little bad thing ruin my whole day?

Have challenges in your life set you back, and you’re struggling to soldier on?
Do you find when things go wrong or don’t turn out how you’d expect, it’s hard to remain optimistic?

little things ruin my whole day

We all go through challenges in life that may be overwhelming, exhausting and demanding. Life is messy. Sometimes you need that little extra push to get what you want, or to where you want to be. Why then do we often let these small roadblocks in our day-to-day life flatten our mood, ruin our day and create that flow on effect?


Creating your Vision

To perpetually work towards what matters you must visualise, plan, adapt. “It’s not that easy!” you say. It can be a challenge to remain optimistic when things don’t go the way you envisioned, but everything great in life requires a little bit of persistence. There is often a misconception that you’ll only feel good once you have what you want. But the truth is, you can choose to feel good right now. Have a think – how realistic are your expectations? Do small things ruin your day – is it worth it?

Do you feel like you are pretending?

Sometimes believing that you are in a good mindset really isn’t enough – you feel like you’re pretending. Our emotions may be taking us on another journey. By paying direct attention to your emotions, we increase awareness, accept what we feel and can create intentions that will guide you in the direction you want to go. Alternatively, having a negative way of thinking will evidently result in dwelling, procrastination and avoidance.

Think about a time when you’ve purchased a coffee first thing in the morning. If the milk is burnt or the barista forgot your sugar (or it was simply bad coffee!), your reaction can bring a negative vibe. This may carry on and ruin the entire day. For the remainder of your day, you may fixate on why everything is going wrong. It’s probably something you don’t even realise you do, because your routine is fixated into your body as muscle memory, or unconscious behaviors. 


Take Some Time Out

When the pressure from the world gets too much, and you experience a major setback, have some time out. Evidence shows that valuing solitude (time for yourself) doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it.  Solitude helps you regulate your emotions. It can have a calming effect that prepares us to think more clearly and better engage with others. Taking some time for yourself can also bring clarity, to help you to understand the origins of your emotions and why you react to certain situations. Through changing your awareness and the way you think, act and feel, you could turn around your bad day into only a temporary setback, leading to a much more fulfilling life.


Energy and effort are contagious!

Take some time for you. Surround yourself with people who have similar values and are working hard to stay focused – people who are feeling more positive than you are. When you spend more time with people who add value to your life and elevate your mood, you’ll begin to adopt encouraging thinking patterns.


Written By Tina Nguyen – Counsellor – www.creatingchange.net.au

My child fears social interaction. How to effectively manage their anxiety

Have you ever had your child dig their heels in at a party, and you feel like you’ve got to drag them in? 
Has your daughter had a meltdown the night before her class speech or the school dance?
Is your son too afraid to put their hand up and ask the teacher for help?

social anxiety children anxious parenting advice child psychologist Bella Vista hills

Many parents often describe their children as ‘shy’. Children will often go through a ‘shy or bashful’ phase as a normal part of their development, however when this shyness gets traction it can interfere with their social development. As a parent, this is the time to take notice.


Knowing when your child’s shyness is a phase or a real problem

It can be a challenge to determine whether a child is an introvert by nature or has developed fears around social interactions. Empowering you as a parent to know what to look for and how to effectively manage anxiety will bring back your family’s harmony.


Understanding Social Anxiety in children

Imagine your child telling you how their day was, and hearing they sat on their own at lunchtime, or just wandered around the playground. Enter, mum guilt.

Your child may cling to you when you arrive at a friend’s house, or hit you when you speak firmly to them in front of others. You may be thinking…..why do they react this way?

Firstly, ask your child what is it that they are worrying about? What makes them feel this way.


When socially anxious, children:

  • Will experience an intense fear of being judged negatively by others
  • Exaggerate the severity of the outcome
  • Are scared of the intense feelings of anxiety

Consequently, children will do whatever they can to avoid that anxious feeling.


A parent’s solution to a confident and calm child

  1. Acknowledge their worries – this is important and shows you’re listening
  2. Ask them to describe the physical reaction they have, e.g tummy doing somersaults
  3. Explain to your child that anxiety is a normal emotion everybody feels sometimes
  4. Reassure them of their strengths and their ability to do that task
  5. If the anxiety persists or gets worse, it is essential to intervene early. It can worsen over time, so getting in early is important


Initially, try these steps and persist for a week or two to see if your child starts to adjust. Continue you encourage them as they progress with small steps.

Should you find that your child’s social anxiety is not moving forward, or worsening, it may be time to speak with a therapist to seek some advice. We have a team of Child Psychologists who will meet with both you, the parents, and your child to determine the most effective approach to help you all feel confident and calm. It’s a team effort when it comes to children, and we believe in working together collaboratively with you as a family.


Written by Dr Bianca Heng – Clinical Psychologist Registrar – www.creatingchange.net.au