We provide a range of evidence-based therapies and tailor our treatment approach to best suit your needs.
All therapies are applied from a client-centered framework; while we have qualifications and expertise as psychologists, we respect that you are the best expert on you. We learn about your perspective, strengths and difficulties in an interested and non-judgemental manner. Therapy is therefore a process where we join our skill sets and collaborate on what is most important and effective for you.
Read below for a brief description of the most common therapeutic approaches used by psychologists at Melbourne Psychology & Counselling.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
This is the most common psychological approach and the predominant methodology at Melbourne Psychology & Counselling. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) looks at the relationship between cognitions (thoughts), behaviours and feelings (emotions & bodily sensations).
Your psychologist will typically help you identify if there are any unhelpful thinking styles or actions contributing to your distress, and to consider alternative approaches. Importantly, you will be provided with the tools necessary to make lasting change.
There is a large and growing body of research that supports the efficacy of CBT for a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, eating disorders (bulimia), anger, depression, trauma (PTSD), chronic pain, marital distress, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and schizophrenia.
Variants of CBT include Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) and, specifically for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP).
Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (Mindfulness)
Mindfulness is defined as the practice of paying close attention to one's moment by moment experiences (thoughts, feelings, physical sensations) with a curious and non-judgmental attitude, and without seeking to change these experiences. Mindfulness has a long history within Buddhist teachings.
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is the scientific application of mindfulness principles in psychological therapy. There is a growing body of research to support its utility with a wide range of disorders.
ACT recognises that psychological distress is caused by attempts to control unwanted or unpleasant experiences, and living against one's core personal values. Consequently, the goal is acceptance of the full range of emotions as part of human experience (mindfulness) and commitment to living a life rich in meaning in accord with one's personal values.
Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)
EMDR is an evidence based treatment for trauma that has supported people to heal after experiencing or witnessing disturbing events and trauma in childhood or as adults (e.g., traffic accidents, physical abuse, war or conflict zones, sexual assault). EMDR draws on people's preexisting adaptive capacity and strengthens their internal resources in order to allow them to process and desensitise to emotional distress related to their memories of traumatic events. This process significantly reduces symptoms of distress related to present day 'triggers' or reminders of the traumatic events.
EMDR has increasingly been shown to also be helpful in treating a range of emotional distress related to phobias, panic, pain, fears and related distress (click here for further information). It is recognised by Medicare as an evidence based psychological treatment. You can learn more about EMDR here. Australian Clinical Guidelines provide a strong recommendation for the use of EMDR for PTSD in adults (Click here).
EMDR practitioners are rigorously trained in the use of EMDR therapy in addition to their pre-existing training as psychologists.
MPC has a number of clinicians trained or completing training in EMDR. We have a clinician interest group and meet for regular group supervision with a registered EMDRAA consultant.
Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)
In Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), individuals with OCD or related disorders learn how to approach feared situations (exposure) without doing any of their compulsions (response prevention). This is done in a graded and safe way, typically starting with less distressing obsessions and compulsions, and working up to tackling some of the more distressing situations.
Although not always necessary, ERP is often used alongside CBT to enhance patient outcomes.
Clinical Guidelines recommend ERP as a first line treatment of OCD in children, adolescents and adults. It has been demonstrated as effective and safe for treatment in individual, group and/or online treatment.
Melbourne Psychology & Counselling has a particular interest in ERP for OCD. We have an online treatment program for OCD that uses ERP (click here to learn more about ocdonline) and psychologists who work with OCD regularly meet for training and supervision.
Our early experiences shape our beliefs about our self, our world, and others into a schema; an organised way of understanding the world. Unpleasant or hurtful experiences when we are younger can lead to the development of maladaptive schemas, and unhelpful coping styles to manage the resulting distress.
In schema therapy, we explore how maladaptive schemas may have developed from early experiences, and identify those coping styles that may be getting in the way of positive change. Your psychologist will help you to heal any maladaptive schemas so that they no longer have an emotional hold on your life.
Although the techniques applied in schema therapy are often useful for a variety of disorders, it has demonstrated relevance in the treatment of personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder.
Contrary to popular belief, positive psychology is not about "thinking positive". Positive psychology recognises that not only is it unrealistic to attempt to think positively at all times, but it can be harmful; negative thoughts can be helpful to our assessment of a situation.
The constant monitoring of whether we are having "good" thoughts is mentally exhausting and only adds to psychological distress.
While positive psychologists understand that there is a role for focusing on mental disorders, they recognise that the sole discussion of problems gives a skewed understanding of the human condition. A positive psychologist focuses that even in our most vulnerable, we all have skills and strengths, and so the focus of therapy is on personal growth and enhancing life satisfaction.
It is not used as a replacement, but as a complement to traditional therapies listed above.
Brain-Based Therapy (Cognitive Neuropsychiatry)
Our brain shapes our behavior and our behavior shapes our brain. Consequently, brain-based therapy is an integrated approach that brings neuroscientific understanding into the clinical setting.
The role of the therapist is to incorporate important biological processes that influence our brain, including sleep hygiene, exercise, and nutrition within a psychological framework.
With a focus on attachment theory, brain-based therapies recognises that the relationship between client and therapist as pivotal to brain changes, and necessary to changing mood and behaviour.
This therapeutic approach complements all therapies listed above.