Individual Therapy

“As long as you keep secrets and suppress information, you are fundamentally at war with yourself…The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. That takes an enormous amount of courage.”  ― Bessel van der Kolk 

A one-on-one confiential conversation

Individual Therapy (sometimes called Psychotherapy or Counselling), is the process of working with a therapist in a one-on-one setting, with the aim of resolving or coping with a distressing problem or life event.

Different therapists may use different approaches or methods depending on their specific training.

Clinical Psychologists are specifically trained to work with individuals who are suffering from diagnosable mental health disorders, such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will individual therapy take?

Individual therapy can continue for as little as a few weeks or as long as several years, depending on the issues being explored and the severity of the presentation.

For relatively simple clinical presentations of anxiety or depression, research suggests that about 75% of people will see complete remission of symptoms after 15-20 sessions of individual therapy. Moreover, around 50% of people will see some improvement in symptoms after around 8 sessions of individual therapy, while about 75% will see some improvement after about 13 sessions of individual therapy.

However, if individuals leave therapy after some improvement in symptoms, but before they have experienced full remission of symptoms, they are more likely to relapse.

As such, it is important to incorporate ongoing monitoring of relapse by scheduling follow-up appointments at 3, 6 and even 12 months after reaching full remission of symptoms.

More complex mental health problems or individuals with co-morbidity (i.e. more than one mental health disorder) will most likely take longer to see improvement and/or remission of symptoms than those outlined above.

How often are individual therapy appointments?

Only as often as you and your therapist decide. To start with, it is beneficial to meet weekly in order to build momentum, establish a strong rapport and gain some continuity in the process of therapy.

Depending on the severity of the problem and the progress you have been making, you may wish to extend the time between sessions to bi-weekly or even monthly in order to provide more time for personal reflection and to practice techniques and strategies outlined in previous appointments.

What should I expect at the first appointment?

At your first appointment, you will be asked to come in 10-15 minutes early, to Reception, to fill out some administrative forms including confidential questionairres.

In your appointment, the therapist will conduct an assessment in order to gather background information regarding various life events and experiences that contributed to you seeking therapy.

This process commonly takes longer than the first session to complete, and can take as long 3-4 sessions depending on the presenting issues. It might be helpful to think of specific goals that you wish to address in therapy and discuss these with your therapist at the first appointment.

Are all therapists the same?

Not all therapists have the same level of qualification and training.

For example, counsellors are not regulated by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA), and do not have to follow the same standards of practice and training that psychologists do. Several years of tertiary study and a rigorous vetting and application process is required for therapists to register as a Psychologist with the Psychology Board of Australia.

There are many types of psychologists, including Sports & Exercise Psychologists, Organisational Psychologists, and Health Psychologists. Clinical Psychologists are the only psychologists who are specifically trained to diagnose and treat individuals who are suffering from mental health disorders, such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Major Depression Disorder or PTSD.

In order to become a Clinical Psychologist, a minimum of 6 years tertiary training plus a two year registrar program, must be undertaken. During this time Clinical Psychologists learn about evidence-based approaches to the diagnosis, formulation and treatment of psychological disorders.

If you have a diagnosable mental health disorder, Clinical Psychologists are the most qualified type of psychologist that can assist you in your recovery.

What do I need to bring to my first session?

Prior to your first appointment we send you some online forms to complete that will need to be completed prior to your first appointment. We also ask that you send through a copy of your referral and Mental Health Care Plan if not already received. On the day, please bring your Medicare card and copy of referral and Mental Health Care Plan if not already sent. Without this, we cannot process any eligible rebates for you on the day. 

Do you provide Online Consultations?

Yes, we can provide online consultations. While we understand that online consultations may suit some individuals, our preference is to see clients face-to-face where possible. 

What is EMDR and how does it work?

Please click here to learn more about EMDR and how it works. 

What is Neurofeedback and how does it work?

Please click here to learn more about Neurofeedback and how it works. 

Our different approaches to individual therapy

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is an evidence-based therapy that helps individuals overcome psychological challenges by providing a framework to challenge unhelpful thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions.

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CBT recognises that these unhelpful thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are often interconnected and interact in complex ways that may ‘fly under the radar’ in our day to day lives.

CBT helps individuals recognise these unhelpful patterns and then learn practical skills to make meaningful change. CBT can be used in short to long-term treatment and is effective in the treatment of mild to moderate mental health challenges. 

CBT is considered a second-wave therapy, meaning it evolved from first wave therapies such as psychodynamic therapy which was made famous by therapists such as Sigmund Freud. While first wave therapies are intensive and long-term, CBT was developed as a short-term didactic therapy.

Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT)

As the name suggests, Trauma-focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (TF-CBT), uses the principles of CBT in the treatment of single, multiple and complex trauma.

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TF-CBT treats Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and associated trauma-based disorders by: 

  • providing education about the cause and effects of trauma
  • noticing feelings and physical sensations that arise when reminders of trauma are triggered and how to manage or cope with them (i.e. emotion regulation strategies)
  • noticing the negative thoughts and beliefs that arise when reminders of trauma are triggered, and how to manage them (i.e. cognitive reframing) by developing problem solving skills.

Schema Therapy

Schema Therapy helps individuals identify thoughts, feelings, and behaviours behind the way we view relationships and how these contribute to distress and mental health challenges. 

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Schemas are deep unconditional beliefs that distort the ways in which we view ourselves, others and the world around us, and contribute to emotional, social, professional and/or interpersonal difficulties.

Schema Therapy also helps us identify Early Maladaptive Schema, which often originate in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. To date, Schema Therapy has identified 18 early maladaptive schema.

Along with an individual’s core schema, Schema Therapy may also help identify modes. These are moment-to-moment emotional states, which are coping responses that emerge when triggered by challenging life situations. While these coping responses may have been helpful earlier in life, they often limit our ability to manage new situations, relationships and challenges in the present. 

While Schema Therapy was developed around the same time as the principles of CBT were being established, it is considered a third wave therapy, meaning it draws on and extends the principles laid down by CBT in its treatment approach.

Schema therapy is a moderate to long-term treatment and is effective at treating mental health challenges in the mild to severe range. 

Dialectic Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

This is an evidence-based therapy which was originally developed to treat borderline personality disorder and individuals with active and/or chronic suicidal ideation. DBT has since been adapted to treat a range of mental health conditions.

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DBT works by helping individuals learn skills: to assist them in living more fully in the moment (such as mindfulness skills; to better navigate social situations; to more fully understand other peoples’ experiences (as different from their own); and to better regulate their emotions. The term dialectic refers to the ability to incorporate multiple and sometimes contradictory opinions or perspectives into a synthesised and rational understanding. In this way DBT helps the individual manage or cope with strong, and sometimes irrational emotions, to arrive at a more helpful and adaptive outcome.  

Dialectic Behavioural Therapy is a third wave therapy that draws on principles of first and second wave therapy. DBT is a moderate to long-term treatment and is effective at treating mental health challenges in the moderate to severe range.

Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy or ACT is an evidence-based therapy which can be viewed as a modern branch of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy that has specific focus on building mindfulness skills, and engagement of values-based action, with the goal of building greater psychological flexibility. 

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Rather than aiming to eliminate negative emotions, ACT aims to help the individual better understand and change our relationship with them.

This provides the individual with an opportunity to learn from and explore their emotional experiences at a deeper level, thus decreasing emotional reactivity – increasing the range of experiences they can tolerate and the individual’s psychological flexibility – thus enhancing an individual’s ability to move towards a values-oriented meaningful and fulfilling life.   

ACT is considered a third wave therapy, meaning it draws on and extends the principles laid down by CBT in its treatment approach. ACT is suitable in the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions and is a short to moderate-term treatment. 

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT)

This is an evidence-based treatment that was originally designed to prevent relapse in individuals with depression. MBCT incorporates mindfulness based meditative practices and philosophies into a Cognitive Behavioural Model.

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In one study, researchers found that while outcomes from treatment were the same for CBT and MBCT treatments, relapse rates were significantly lower in the MBCT group suggesting that Mindfulness strategies (in addition to CBT strategies) provide enduring resources to combat mental health challenges. 

While MBCT was designed as an eight week group therapy treatment, aspects of the model can be incorporated into individual therapy.  

MBCT is considered a third wave therapy, meaning it draws on and extends the principles laid down by CBT in its treatment of mental health conditions. 

Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy is suitable for the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions and is a short to moderate-term treatment but can be an adjunct to long-term therapy.

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy

Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is an emerging evidence-based therapy that encourages the client to bring mindfulness awareness to thoughts, emotions and physiological symptoms. It has a specific focus on the connection between the mind and body.

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While Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is considered a type of ‘talk therapy’ (like CBT, Schema Therapy etc.), individuals are often encouraged to bring awareness to bodily sensations and engage in exercises designed to release stress and tension held in the body, during treatment sessions.

In this way, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy provides real time, hands-on practical strategies for individuals to learn techniques for regulating physiological and emotional reactions. 

Designed to treat trauma-related disorders, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is a short to long-term treatment and is effective at treating mental health challenges in the mild to severe range. 

Trauma Informed Stabilisation Treatment (TIST)

Developed to assist in the treatment of severe mental health conditions, TIST has a specific focus on the first phase of trauma treatment, the stabilisation phase.

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TIST draws on principles of mindfulness and structural dissociation theory and helps traumatised or dissociative individuals better understand fractured internal states as well as erratic and sometimes risky or destructive impulses and behaviours.    

TIST is a moderate to long-term treatment and is effective at treating mental health challenges in the moderate to severe range.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

Motivational Interviewing is an evidence-based approach which aims to assist individuals who are ambivalent to, or contemplating change, explore the costs and/or benefits of a given course of action.

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In this way MI assists the individual by increasing their conscious awareness of the consequences of their actions (or inaction). MI is designed to do this in a non-confrontational, empathic, and values driven manner that empowers the individual to make the best choice for them.

Motivational Interviewing is often employed in the treatment of addiction but can be used to explore the consequences of a range of life choices.  

Motivational Interviewing is an adjunct to other therapeutic approaches, is suitable in the treatment of mild to moderate mental health conditions, and is often employed early in therapy. 

Not Sure?

Sometimes it’s easier to start with what you do know. Explore our get help with section or contact us to chat with one of our team.

Send us a message

Please enter your details and a brief summary of your enquiry. We endeavour to reply to all enquiries within 48 hours. Once we have received your enquiry we will be in contact to arrange a time to have brief telephone conversation in order to clarify any questions and assess if we are the right service for your needs.  
Please note, at the moment due to demand, some of our Clinician’s diaries are closed and they are not currently taking on any new clients. In this instance, we advise you to enquire at other Clinics in Geelong or consult your GP if you need immediate support.  

Please note, we are not an emergency or crisis service. Wait times can apply to see our Clinician’s. If you require emergency assistance please call 000 or a relevant mental health support service, such as:

Lifeline
13 11 14

Barwon Mental Health Services 
1300 094 187 (24-hr service)

Kids Help Line 
www.kidshelpline.com.au
1800 551 800

Mens Line
www.mensline.org.au
1300 78 99 78

Women's Domestic Violence
www.wdvcs.org.au 

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