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.

AGE

13years +

FEES

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

AVAILABLE:

Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm

CONTACT FOR APPOINTMENTS

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

 

Changi Prison

I have just visited Changi Prison Museum and Chapel in Singapore. I am here for four days to conduct a Dementia Care Mapping course with Virginia Moore in the Lions Home for Elders.

The museum is a very moving chronicle of the tragedy of 1942-1945 in Singapore under the Japanese. I am reminded of the several POWs I have had the privilege to talk to in my time as a psychologist working with people living in nursing homes and hostels in Victoria, Australia., many of whom had dementia and were reliving the horrors of those 3 1/2 years in prison.

Changi was not the only POW camp. 16,000 died on the Thai-Burma railway. Many civilians died in the villages of Singapore and beyond. Stories of heroism and immense suffering in the face of unthinkable cruelty made me numb with the barbarity of some of the things that were done to people. But it still happens if you look at the newspapers and TV. People can be both cruel and wonderful to each other. I was viewing it for a moment in my life but the soldiers and civilians who lived through it endured it for 3 1/2 years not knowing if it would end.

Not all Japanese were cruel. There is the story of the Japanese man who was in Changi prison for spying before the war and  was released when the Japanese overtook Singapore, to take up a position with the military government in charge of welfare. He ensured many survived with permits and passes that he did not have to give. Thirty years after the war he was welcomed back by the people who remembered his goodness. There are photographs of two unnamed young Japanese soldiers who gave Vitamin B tablets to soldiers.

Weary Dunlop has demonstrated the way to build bonds of relationship that can overcome fearful anger and resentment. We had the pleasure of hosting a Japanese student a couple of years ago and it was a happy sharing of stories and perspectives that I am sure will build interest and positivity into the future.

I wonder from the safety of my room how I would cope. What would I do? Would I be able to withstand the daily punishments and deprivation. I guess those men and women must have asked themselves similar questions. They were ordinary people much like you and me, asked to do extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances.

I can only say thanks for the example and the memory of their endurance.

I think of them today and remember the men and women I have come across who have suffered not just physically but now in the course of the progress of dementia find themselves mixing up present and past. Unfortunately their past contains unpleasant memories that confuse and hurt them, causing them to be fearful or angry or afraid. It calls on all my empathy and compassion to try to understand what it must be like to live in that reality again. For many their bodies now look and feel like they did but now due to ageing and the wasting of inactivity rather than starvation and malnutrition. The very weight loss is enough to convince their brains that now is then.

Tell me about your experiences caring for people who have endured the punishments of being a POW.

PTSD and service dogs

Yesterday I took a kayaking/hiking tour with a small group on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. As I stepped into the bus to join my eight companions for the short trip to the mouth of the Wailau River I noticed a quiet Golden Retriever lying on the seat alongside her owner. I asked a few questions by way of making conversation but the dog’s owner was as quiet as the dog. She seemed reluctant to make small talk.

At the river we milled about preparing the kayaks. We each paired up and that left the owner of the dog by herself. I wondered how this was going to work. The guide called her over. “Carly *, you and Goldie* can take this single.” (*not their real names)

I looked at the saddle cloth he was wearing. It read, “Service dog, PTSD, Some wounds are not visible”. I looked at my fellow traveler with new respect as I realized she was a currently serving service woman who had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and that this was a way for her to live a normal life with the support of her companion Goldie. She remained self-contained throughout the day but engaged in everything we did with equal enjoyment.

Veterans of the Iraq and Afganistan wars are being offered therapy dogs to assist them to recover from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. These dogs are specially trained by prisoners in programs in the US for the therapy dogs program. The dogs, usually golden Retrievers, are chosen for their placid nature. They are expected to keep close to their owner at all times, to sleep in their room, to walk with them wherever they go, to stand behind them to prevent someone approaching from behind or stand in front to prevent someone moving into their space. They are trained to protect their owners, to remain calm when the owners become hyperaroused with anxiety from time to time. Waking in a nightmare can be frightening but can be made less so if you wake and see that your dog is calmly asleep or unperturbed.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is known for the hyperarousal (overstimulation of the normal stress reaction we have to frightening events) that causes heart palpitations, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, shakes, cold sweats; Re-exeriencing in which a person believes they are back in the traumatic situation; and avoidance of the distressing situation or anything that has or might cause them to experience distress again. This disorder has gained recognition in the medical community in recent decades through the work of researchers studying veterans of wars over the past century. It is now widely accepted as a common response for up to 30% of veterans, 15% of people living in the community and up to 70% of ex-POWs.

Therapy has consisted largely of cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) which attempts to change the way survivors interpret and experience their symptoms. Drug therapy for PTSD has also shown good effect. A combination of psychotherapy and drug therapy has proven the most effective. However, for some, the only therapy that has made a difference is the companionship of an animal that is unfailingly faithful, vigilant and protective.

The programs that supply these dogs have been overwhelmed by requests for dogs to support civilians as well as the many veterans who have struggled to endure the distressing symptoms of PTSD. For some veterans theis service ha come after suffering untreated for decades since the Vietnam war.

Companion animals may also prove to been valuable for the many civilians in the community who have PTSD due to assault, robbery, car accidents, public safety roles, or torture in other countries.

Yesterday Carly had a good day. She kayaked and hiked, calmly and with enjoyment, a long way from the war that left scars we couldn’t see. So did Goldie.