Learn to use Dementia Care Mapping – new course in Melbourne November 2016

We are holding a new Learn to use dementia Care Mapping course to be held on November 28-30 in Eltham, Victoria. This course is an introduction to DCM and licenses you to use this powerful tool in your own workplace to improve quality of life for people living with dementia in residential and day care settings.

The cost of the course is $1375 incGST. You will be provided with all materials, lunch and refreshment breaks.

To register contact Bernie McCarthy at bernie@mccarthypsychology.com.au or on 0408 145 819.

The course is provided under license from Bradford University, UK by BMAC Education.

Psychotherapy at McCarthy Psychology Centre

People who may benefit from therapy with Bernie McCarthy may present with the following conditions:

  • Anxiety (panic, agoraphobia, OCD, generalised worry, phobias, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
  • Depression
  • Medically unexplained symptoms (MUS) including chest pain, back pain, jaw pain, headaches and migraines, skin conditions including psoriasis and exzema, reflux and bowel disturbance
  • Eating disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Transient cognitive disturbances such visual blurring, going blank, mental confusion
  • Relationship distress and life changes
  • Grief
  • Many of the above conditions will present with co-morbid depression/ anxiety.

For more information on the approach Bernie uses in therapy please click on the link here.


13years +


First session is a trial therapy of two hours – fee is $280.00 (out of pocket $155.50). Subsequent sessions 50-60 mins – fee is $195.00 (out of pocket $70.50). A low fee is charged for patients on government benefits and pensions and in some circumstances bulkbilling is appropriate. Discuss this with Bernie McCarthy

Medicare rebates under Better Outcomes for Mental Health program


Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm


For appointments call 0408 145 819. The link above will take you to the page for details of location, fees, and Medicare rebates.


Anxiety gets you three ways

Anxiety is often assumed to be palpitations, dry mouth and shortness of breath. But your anxiety may not look like this. It can also be experienced in a range of other ways that may not look like the anxiety we know from the movies or scaremongering 6.30pm TV shows.

Anxiety affects us in three ways. The first of these ways is physically in the superficial muscles of our body including the chest muscles, arms and legs, neck, shoulders and back, and of course head. When adrenaline floods the system in response to perceptions of threat, these large superficial muscles contract in readiness for action. If we live with chronic anxiety it can cause us to develop lower back problems, neck, jaw, teeth and head aches, and sometimes migraines associated with stress. Many people presenting to physiotherapy practices have anxiety induced physical pain.

The chest pain we experience can often cause us to think we are having a heart attack. It is extremely important that you check this out with your GP or specialist so you eliminate this possibility. If after you have explored this and there is no medical explanation it may be worth considering if you have strong chest pain because of stress.

A common problem when anxiety affects people in this way is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). It is by no means the only reason but it can make us extremely tired and lethargic. Effectively we become too tired to function and the anxiety causes us to withdraw and in some cases curl up on the couch. Rest becomes a priority and in time the symptoms can become the main aspect we build our life around

The second way anxiety can show itself in our bodies is in our smooth muscles of our gastrointestinal tract. . These are the intestinal muscles that move food down and around our oesophagus stomach and bowel.. Have you noticed that when you get nervous you can sometimes hear your stomach gurgling, or even feel nauseous? Some people do vomit and have trouble keeping food down when they are very anxious.

In the stomach and oesophagus the anxiety causes the release of stomach acid which in large quantities can pass up into the oesophagus causing a burning commonly known as ‘heartburn’, which is very painful.

A common bowel problem that is affected by anxiety is Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Stress makes the symptoms worse and can compound the physical difficulties by making people uncomfortable about socializing where they may not be close enough to a toilet. Often there has never been any toilet accident in the past but the fear of it is enough to make people avoid social situations altogether.

Other bowel issues include pain and discomfort, gas, diarrhoea and constipation.

The third way anxiety can cause us discomfort is not as obvious as the first two ways. It is known as Cognitive Perceptual Disturbance (CPD).

This type of anxiety can affect your memory, thinking and perception. Memory problems are fairly common at all ages, not just as you get older.

Stress causes some of us to forget, to have difficulty concentrating, and in some extreme cases to simply blank out. Some clients have moments of not being able to remember where they are or to have forgotten what we spent the session talking about if stress was too high for them during the session. Some people will report being dizzy and unable to stand without assistance when highly stressed.

Thinking can also be affected. Some will report having ‘cloudy’, confused thinking. Others will report being unable to concentrate on the voice of a person who is making them anxious.

Disturbances of perception can also occur when anxiety becomes very high. This can take the form of visual blurring, or visual snow. Hearing can be impaired for brief periods making the person unable to hear clearly. Tinnitus is also made worse by stress.

So you can see that stress can affect us in many different ways. Psychotherapy is designed to assist you to recognise the signs of anxiety/stress for what they are. Too many times we hear of people attending Emergency Rooms (ER) with chest pain or crippling stomach pain only to find they have no physical reason for the experience. Canadian figures suggest 50% of presentations to ER with gastrointestinal pain are due to anxiety/stress. This is high cost to the person and to the medical and hospital system.

Psychotherapy can help!

A story of two wolves

The wolf you feed… | Catapult Events

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:

“A fight is going on inside me”, he said to the boy…

“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves.

One is evil.

He is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego”.

He continued…

The other is good.

He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

The same fight is going on inside you… and inside every other person, too”.

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather…

“Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied…

“The one you feed”.



Use your DSB Supplement to enrol in the Diploma of Dementia Care Leadership

The Dementia and Severe Behaviour Supplement (Australian aged care funding) can be used by aged care organisations in Australia to improve staff skills, and you can do this by enrolling in the Diploma of Dementia Care Leadership. This nationally recognised  qualification is for  leaders and those who are in roles that require leadership and who feel they need to learn how to be a better leader and to know more about modern dementia care.

McCarthy Learning has developed a Diploma of Dementia Care Leadership which is to be launched with our first intake this July 2014.

Let’s face it, most undergrad courses or entry level courses do not prepare you with adequate knowledge about dementia – most of you have probably learned what you know on-the-job.

Now is the time to consider a professional  training program that is designed to be practical and give you the knowledge you need to be an excellent leader and have the most up-to-date knowledge of best practice dementia care.

The Dementia and Severe Behaviour Supplement provides $5,894.75 for each eligible resident. If your organisation is receiving this supplement for some of your residents suggest to your manager that they support you to improve your leadership skills by enrolling you in the Diploma of Dementia Care Leadership.

The course is delivered in six blocks of  face-to-face learning for 3-5 days every two months for a year, with online learning and workplace projects.

Cost of the course this year is $7,000. Next year the cost will increase to our usual price of $9,000.

Offered in all capital cities of Australia.

Contact Karen Carver at McCarthy Learning 03 9431 0311 or find more information at www.mccarthypsychology.com.au

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers with dementia in Australia today

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers with dementia in Australia today who are anxious about their children, who believe they have to be home with their children, who cannot remember their children’s names or faces anymore, who cannot remember their husband’s name, who become upset when they are reminded that they are mothers because they realise they have forgotten, who are anxious because they think there is something they have forgotten to do, who think they are young and need  their own mothers.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and to those wonderful people who care for you.

SOFI2 used for direct observation of residents in Australian aged care homes

SOFI2 is now being used by the Australian Aged Care Accreditation Agency to directly observe residents during their accreditation visits.

This is a marvellous step forward as it introduces evidence of resident wellbeing (or otherwise) and staff care behaviour into the mix when they are considering compliance. And isn’t the very reason you provide care so that the resident experiences a life worth living, i.e., wellbeing?

SOFI2 is a scaled down version of Dementia Care Mapping and has been designed by the University of Bradford Dementia Group in the UK. If you wish your staff to be familiar with the observations that are to be used by the assessors and the way they are interpreting their direct observations it may be helpful to have some of your staff trained in Dementia Care Mapping. DCM courses are available throughout Australia with McCarthy Psychology Services. Contact us to discuss your needs.


The purpose of anxiety

Why do we get anxious? The usual explanation is that it is designed to help use fight or flee from danger or threat. This is true but it also functions to keep our feelings away from our conscious awareness. Take for example when you get angry. You know you are angry but your body reacts with tension in muscles , raised heart rate, chest tightness and dry mouth. This combination is signs of anxiety and not anger. But how can this be even though you know you are feeling angry?

In addition to helping us respond to external threats by activating our sympathetic nervous system releasing adrenaline into our bloodstream, anxiety is triggered when we experience emotions that have become unacceptable to us, effectively becoming an internal threat or danger to our psyche. So our system perceives them as a threat and we react with physical anxiety.

This is a very common problem and often in therapy I find clients will identify the feeling they have as anger or sadness and then go on to describe anxiety in their body.

What can do about this? Firstly we can be clear about what is what. Call it what it really is. Anxiety is anxiety – not feelings of anger or sadness etc..

The effect of living with  anxiety being mislabelled as anger and other feelings is that we are deceived by our own psyche into not paying close attention to ourselves. Effectively we ignore ourselves thinking we are being so attentive but in reality we are living with an internal deception.

By being clear about it in our minds we can begin the work of self-awareness, paying attention t ourselves and noticing what is going on inside us. Then we can make decisions about whether this is the way we want to live.



Dementia Awareness Week

In Australia next week is Dementia Awareness Week and around the world on 21st September its World Alzheimer’s Day.

Raising awareness of the disease and the life people lead with the condition will be important in helping our neighbourhoods to become more dementia friendly.

One of the major reasons people are having to go into residential care is that they can no longer live safely at home and the reason for this in many cases is that there is no-one to check on them, look in or have friendly word each day or even notice that they have not collected the post from the mailbox today.

How many neighbours do you know and could you rely on your neighbours if you had dementia and wanted to stay in your own home?

This week is a chance to make our towns and neighbourhoods more dementia friendly. No more fear of Alzheimer’s. Lets create understanding and a compassionate will to act.

Living with a person who has dementia

Talking with a group of carers of people living with dementia today. Ordinary people faced with a journey of up to a decade of struggle with difficulty that they did not volunteer for or expect. Most taken by those facing support of a spouse with early onset dementia – young ones at home, Dad behaving oddly, workmates noticing, finally his golfing partner and doctor coaxes him to come for an assessment. Now they have a name for the oddness and can sort out what the next decade or more will hold. Plans for retirement and dreams of an old age together are ashes in her mind.

They want to know how to deal with the lack of motivation, the refusal to shower, the odd eating habits that are so new and confusing for the children. They are teenagers and don’t understand why Dad is embarrassing them more than usual. he seems oblivious. He is unaware that his behaviour has caused a seismic event in the lives of his wife and children. And he cannot help them for the first time in his life when they need him the most.

She is relieved when I say its OK to let him sit if that is what he wants. Make sure he has a balance of exercise and rest but don’t impose activity on him when all he wants to do is sit. His amotivation is causing him to sit and be difficult to get going,resistant to her urgings to talk, to walk, to go out together. She knows it would be good form him but her efforts are exhausting her. Now she can let him sit if that is what he wants to do. Its a matter of balance and not imposing her ideas of what he should be doing when all it does is create distress for her and resistance in him.

Another has a husband how goes to the post box and the back gate several times a day. Is he unsafe? Is she worried about him? Not now but it used to make her mad angry with him. Now its OK.

One won’t have a shower. Is he incontinent? or does he smell? or is his skin breaking down? If not then consider not pushing him to have a daily shower. Maybe change his clothes each day and check his skin if possible as you go. But don’t push the issue. Pick your battles. The goal is hygiene, so think about a way to achieve that . Maybe a basin wash or one of the newer chemical solutions that mean he doesn’t have to have water on his skin if that is what he doesn’t like.

If the issue is physical safety then you need to act. ie. If the person is walking into traffic or about to use a knife or machinery unsafely you have to intervene. But if it is not that urgent, be strategic and pull back, let the moment pass and think coolly about it. Perhaps talk to someone else about it. And then respond.

I hope some of this helps. Most of this comes from their collective wisdom.

If oyu have ideas yourself please share them here.