Home‎ > ‎


Welcome to psychological counselling! I am thrilled that we will be working together and look forward to supporting you to improve your well being. To get you on your way, there are a few self-help initiatives you can take while you are undertaking the assessment phase with me. Below are a few optional steps to orient you to therapy and assessments of lifestyle factors that may be impacting your mental health. The aim of working through the below is to maximise the value you get from therapy. 

Understanding therapy and interventions

1. Please read the Psychological Counselling FAQs to better understand the process of therapy and what to expect. Having trained as a Clinical Psychologist, the therapy I offer involves several stages. The first stage begins with assessment in which I seek to understand what brought you to therapy. I take a history of the problem and seek to understand which factors perpetuate it so I know where to intervene. This process typically takes 2 sessions and involves clarifying what matters to you and setting goals for what you want to work on. The second stage of therapy involves me teaching you new skills to make these changes. The aim is to learn how to better manage the difficult thoughts and feelings that arise in trying situations so you can achieve your goals. The final stage involves making adjustments to the approach to ensure you continue to improve. My ultimate goal is to help you make changes and learn new skills to lead a richer and more fulfilling life. 

2. One of the common therapies I use is called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which is an evidence based cognitive therapy. The aim of this therapy is to learn skills to better manage difficult thoughts and feelings so that they don't control us as much. Here's an informative 4 minute video by a forefront ACT practitioner, Russ Harris. Please watch it here and here. You can also learn more about ACT from here. As a clinician, I find that this therapy is not only effective but that clients enjoy it as well.

3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is also a common therapy I use and is has a large evidence base behind it.  You can learn more about CBT on this guide (see page 24) from beyond blue. Although not every problem or person is suitable for CBT, I find it very effective for anxiety and also anger. 

4. Mindfulness is a practice I encourage in my clients and use in sessions with clients. Here's a brief engaging video on the benefits of mindfulness. 

5. Do you have any questions about these therapies and if they would be suitable for you? If so, ask me at your next session. In addition to ACT and CBT I use a range of other therapies. 

Lifestyle and Self-Care 

Lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can impact our mood. Less than ideal lifestyle factors can perpetuate mental health difficulties, which is why it's worth thinking about their impact. Eating a carrot won't magically make you less depressed improved dietary patterns and exercise can be a powerful intervention and lead to greater well being.

1. Diet. While most of us think we eat pretty well, it might be worth taking this brief nutritional assessment developed by the University of Newcastle (which follows the Australian Healthy Eating Guidelines) to understand if your dietary habits need some tweaking:  http://healthyeatingquiz.com.au/. If you feel that your diet could use some modification or even an overhaul consult the knowleadgable and fully accredited dietitians at Nutted Out Nutrition (private health rebates may apply). 

2. Exercise. Increasing your level of exercise is a powerful mental health intervention as it improves mood. Exercise also improves the quality of your sleep which in turn is likely to impact positively on your mood. Are you doing enough exercise? Check out the Australian Heart Foundation's Guidelines to see if your level of activity is sufficient.

3. Please also read the health articles on the impact of diet and exercise on mental health in my health blog.

4. Sleep. How well you sleep can have a very significant impact on your mental health. If compromised sleep is an issue for you please read my article on sleep to learn information regarding positive sleep practices. 

5.  Having read the articles in my health blog, what did it raise about what you might do differently?

Please note that focusing on improving these lifestyle factors is only one small aspect of Psychological Counselling. The majority of the work in therapy is learning skills to better manage distressing symptoms. However, I note lifestyle factors because they have an impact on mental health and are something that clients can do at home to help themselves.

Therapeutic aims

When undertaking psychological counselling it's worth thinking through what you might want to gain from the experience as this will help guide the treatment. Client's naturally want to reduce their symptoms. However, that's only one aspect of what can be gained in therapy. I ask: 

What emotions do you want to feel more of or less of? For example feel less anxious and more calm and confident. 

Once you feel better what would you do differently with your life? (What would you start or stop doing?) For example, stop procrastinating, start applying for a new job. 

Please download and print the course questions below and bring these to the next counselling session.

Tena Davies,
10 Apr 2017, 21:30