Life can be full of challenging situations

…especially as we enter new stages – adolescence, relationships, marriage, parenting, retirement, work/home balance, empty nest, and ageing. Each stage presents its own issues/challenges and sometimes we may not feel equipped to cope.

How do we know we are not coping?

Indicators are many and varied and may include; others telling us they are worried about us, disruptive sleep patterns, change of appetite, relationship difficulties, or a change or an increase in an intake of alcohol and/or drugs.

How can counselling and therapy help?

Counselling and therapy can assist people of all ages to deal with the issues that arise by providing a supportive, respectful and confidential environment to bring about self awareness, healing and recovery.

Feel free to give Steps to Recovery a call if you

  • are not sure whether counselling is the right thing for you,
  • like to find out whether you may qualify for medicare rebate under a Mental Health Care Plan,
  • are a NDIS participant and need a NDIS provider for counselling/therapy or
  • just want to learn more about the help counselling can bring.

Our locations are Terrigal and Kincumber on the Central Coast, NSW.

About Michelle

Michelle is a Mental Health Social Worker with 20 years clinical experience in both public and private health settings and an accredited member of the Australian Association of Social Workers. She has obtained a Bachelor of Social Work, a Diploma in Community Services and a Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drug Work .

Additionally Michelle is trained in various evidence based counselling approaches and applies a variety of modalities in her therapy practice. Her eclectic approach to counselling and therapy is made up and influenced by:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
Solution Focused Therapy
Acceptance Commitment Therapy (incorporating Mindfulness)
Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Emotionally Focused Therapy
EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing).

Michelle’s clinical experience has included working with adolescents, women, men, families and children. She respects and treats each client as an individual: no ‘one size fits all approach’. In her work she applies Trauma Informed Practices to assist her clients to feel safe during each session.

Michelle’s areas of specialty are:

Drug & Alcohol issues
Depression
Anxiety/Panic Attacks
Grief & Loss
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
Childhood trauma
Parenting issues
Family support for those dealing with substance abuse in significant others

 

Along with Psychologists, Mental Health Social Workers like Michelle can provide counselling under Medicare to people who meet the criteria for a Mental Health Care Plan. A referral can be obtained from your GP.

 

Michelle also provides counselling/therapy to people without a GP referral (see fees and rebates).

Areas of Specialty

Drug & Alcohol

Drug and Alcohol problems can develop as an unhelpful coping strategy to stressors or mental health issues,  or perhaps due to environmental factors role modeled during childhood. There is also strong anecdotal evidence of an addictive gene that is passed down through generations.

Substance abuse can exist with both illegal and legal substances.  Alcohol, prescribed and over the counter medications, Cannabis and Cocaine are the most common on the Central Coast.

Substance misuse has the potential to create many losses in a person’s life – loss of work, loss of physical and mental health and loss of relationships. However, hope exists for those motivated for change. There are some excellent pharmacotherapies available to help with cravings and in conjunction with counselling, evidence shows that there is a likelihood of a more positive outcome.

Whether your goal is controlled use or abstinence, allow me to support you on your journey to recovery.

Depression

Studies show that one in twenty Australians are affected by depression each year. It is not known what causes depression. However, it’s development can be linked to a number of factors that may include life events like long-term stress, grief and loss, living with abusive relationships, family history, drug and alcohol use and personality traits.

It is important to know the symptoms of depression. These may manifest in a number of ways.

MoodAnxiety, apathy, guilt, feelings of hopelessness, mood swings, sadness or a loss of interest in usual activities.
Behaviour – Agitation, excessive crying, irritability or social isolation.
Cognitive – Lack of concentration, thoughts of self-harm/suicide.
Routine – excessive sleepiness, insomnia, restless sleep, changes in appetite.

If symptoms persist, it is important to seek mental health treatment.

Every person experiences depression differently. Some people feel like they are under a dark cloud. Others describe it like being underwater and struggling to breathe. However it manifests, depression makes it difficult to live a life worth living. You can’t always identify the factors behind depression on your own. The most important thing is to recognise the signs and symptoms and seek supportBeginning with a complete mental health assessment for every new patient, I can work with you on developing a treatment plan to help you manage your depression.

Anxiety/Panic Attacks

We all feel anxiety in our lives. It is a natural response to stress. Anxiety becomes a problem when it remains once the stressful situation has gone away. Common symptoms of anxiety may manifest physically, psychologically or in behaviour.

Physical – Panic attacks, hot and cold flushes, racing heart, quick breathing, chest tightness, restlessness and feelings of tension that won’t subside.
Psychological – Excessive fear and worry, obsessive thinking, critical thinking,  and catastrophizing future thoughts.
Behavioural – Avoiding situations that may make you feel anxious, resulting in isolation from study, work or social situations.

On average, one in four people will experience anxiety at some point in their life. This makes it the most common mental health issue in Australia. Some people will experience anxiety due to a genetic predisposition. Others may find anxiety develops following stressful life events like pregnancy, relationship problems, job changes and the loss of loved ones. Chronic physical health problems and childhood trauma have also been linked to anxiety.

Effective treatment helps you control your anxiety so it does not control you. Beginning with a complete mental health assessment for every new patient, I can work with you on developing a treatment plan to help you manage your anxiety/panic attacks.

Grief & Loss

Coping with loss is one of life’s greatest challenges and one of its most profound pains. Loss of role, loss of child or partner, loss of health are some of the life events that will cause a grief and loss response.

Handling the process of grief is more than simply acceptance. It is the process of coming to terms with the feelings of loss you may be experiencing, while finding ways to accept and understand a range of conflicting emotions. These may include anger, guilt, disbelief, sadness or even fear, depression and anxiety.

Evidence shows the pain of loss is known to affect physical health. This makes it increasingly difficult to eat, sleep and function. Mental health issues can also develop,  trapping you in cycles of despair.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. However, there are healthy ways to come to terms with your loss, add meaning to your life, and move forward on your journey to acceptance.

A mental health professional, like myself,  can support you through your grief and loss journey.

Parenting Issues

Bringing new life into the world and trying to be a good enough parent requires, patience, commitment and focus. However, being a parent is challenging and can evoke feelings of stress and anxiety and often our boundaries can become blurred.

Resolving these complex feelings come from understanding the emotional world of children and learning how to read their subtle emotional cues. This is best demonstrated by the Circle of Security’s program of parenting.  Circle of Security is based on many years of research and is linked to Attachment Theory. Rather than a behavioural based parenting program, it is a relational based one.

Allow me to guide you through the steps of this process, with a focus on:

  • Supporting your child’s ability to manage their emotions
  • Enhance the development of their self-esteem
  • Understand and appreciate the desire of all children to feel secure
  • While at the same time, you are evaluating your own childhood and how you were parented.

Raising a child is a challenge, but one that comes with great satisfaction and fulfillment.  Let me show you how the benefits of the Circle of Security Parenting Program can improve the attachment and security between you and your child.

Family Support

Drug and Alcohol problems can develop as an unhelpful coping strategy to stressors or mental health issues. Without treatment, these may spiral into issues affecting entire families. The reality is, the negative consequences of substance abuse are not limited to the person with the substance abuse problem. They also impact loved ones who often feel powerless to help.

Research has shown there is an increased prevalence of illness and domestic violence among family members of those with a substance abuse.  In addition to this, children grow up in a family feeling unsafe often causing a trauma response.

Coping with those dealing with a substance abuse problem will require firstly, determining if you are safe.  Secondly, assessing whether you are enabling their behaviour in any way. While you cannot control someone else’s behaviour, you can control your own. It may feel hopeless at times, but there is hope if you reach out for professional support.

Fees and Rebates

For those with a GP referral under Mental Health Care Plan, the current medicare rebate is $75.95 per session.

My standard rate is $130/hr.
If financial hardship exists, however, I am always open to discussing a solution to suit each person.

Contact

For general inquiries or to make an appointment,
please eMail Michelle or call 0410 536 876.