What we help with

Clinical Perfectionism - When is perfect not good?

It is great when we do a good job of something. There is a real sense of accomplishment when we set a goal and meet it.

But.....there is a real difference between working hard to achieve a goal and perfectionism.

People who have a problem with perfectionism measure their self worth on their ability to achieve really high standards.

If they do not meet these exceptional standards, then they berate themselves, feel unworthy and push themselves even harder to achieve further and higher goals.

Perfectionism can drive people to a point where it is difficult for them to be happy and can be associated with excessive tension, stress, worry and depression.

Signs that perfectionism may be a problem include:

  • Procrastination or putting things off
  • Giving up easily or not trying to do things they might get wrong
  • Not knowing when to stop
  • Checking things to see if they are right or checking with others who can give you reassurance
  • Being slow to make decisions or to speak

People can be perfectionistic in different parts of their lives:

  • Work or school
  • Household cleaning or chores
  • Sport or fitness
  • Weight and body shape
  • Popularity

Perfectionism can be tricky to challenge alone. People can get caught in a cycle of being told that they are great or achieving good things to the point where if they are not achieving, they feel inadequate or worthless.

Psychologists can help treat perfectionism that is causing unhappiness and tension by helping people to :

  • Look at their own cycles of perfectionism
  • Challenge perfectionistic thinking
  • Set up some ways of testing perfectionistic rules and assumptions
  • Re-evaluating the importance of achieving.

For more information on perfectionism, check out....

“Overcoming perfectionism” by Roz Shafran, Sarah Egan and Tracey Wade (2010)

Grief

Once, health professionals used to think that grief or bereavement was a matter of progressing through certain emotional stages. Research has proved differently. We now know that people will grieve differently and will experience different emotional, behavioural and sometimes even physical symptoms.

Different people will deal with grief in different ways and over different lengths of time

At times, though, grief can be complicated. People can start to do things that cause them other problems. They may refuse to deal with certain issues, avoid places or people, begin to use alcohol, drugs or too many prescribed medications. They can also start to neglect their own self care.

When grief is complicated, a clinician can help by providing a safe place for the person to explore their strong feelings. By getting to know the person and the events, a clinician can assist a person towards healthier thinking or with techniques to combat some or their anxiety and worry.

Eating Issues

At Bendigo Psychology we have seen adults, teens and children with different sorts of issues around food, weight or eating. Some of our clients have had diagnosable eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia. Others have difficulty with being over-weight. Still others have problems about being finicky or fussy about food – its shape, texture, colour or taste – and significantly limit their intake or lead to concerning behaviour.

Eating disorders involve disturbed patterns of eating or exercise that interrupt their health physically, psychologically and socially. Restricting food, over exercising, vomiting or over use of laxatives can be associated with eating disorders and can cause a number of very unhealthy problems.

Usually, those with eating disorders can get into a vicious cycle of restricting, feeling starved, binging and then exercising or purging and then promising themself to restrict again. The thoughts and ideas that go with the cycle can get stronger and stronger. A psychologist can help someone to feel more in control and try to avoid the cycle of thoughts and behaviours that can perpetuate the problem.

Clinicians can also work in conjunction with other health professionals to ensure that the person’s all round health is being monitored.

For people who struggle with being over-weight, there can be some patterns of behaviour and patterns of thinking that can contribute to the problem. A clinician can help a person determine the patterns and take steps to think and behave in healthier ways.

Other problems with eating can be due to patterns around food. Some people, especially little people, can be very sensitive to the way food stuffs feel, taste or look. Other times, they may be sensitive to how others are acting at meal time. Clinicians can assist when there are behavioural issues around food that affect the smooth running of your home.

Depression

Depression can affect any kind of person at any stage of their life. Although we all hear people use the word “depression”, when clinicians use it, they are usually referring to a problem with mood that lasts for more than a couple of weeks. People who are depressed can have a variety of different symptoms:

Mood - feeling low, dismal or gloomy for some time and not being able to “hold” a lighter mood for very long. People can also start to worry more and feel worthless and frightened.

Changes in sleep, appetite, sex drive and energy - Sometimes people who have depression can have a hard time getting to sleep. Others can have trouble staying awake. Some gain weight and others lose weight.

Reduced pleasure – people with depression struggle to find the fun or good feelings in things that they usually find pleasurable. This may stop them from wanting to socialise and they can become increasingly withdrawn. They may feel lonely or isolated but do not want to go out and find others to be with. They can also feel like they are being a burden or bothersome to others.

A clinician can help people with depression to understand their problems and work on ways to get moving and active again. Clinicians can help people to consider their situation, their thinking and their long held beliefs about themselves and the world and assist someone with the skills to tackle the things they feel too stuck to move.

If you are concerned that someone is depressed and may be suicidal, you can take them to your local hospital emergency department of call Lifeline or Kids Help line.

See also Beyond Blue and Black Dog Institute.

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Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).  ASD is referred to as a ‘spectrum’ to cover the large variation of skills and abilities of people with these life-long, neurologically-based disorders.

Children and adults with ASD have difficulties in three main areas:

1.        Communication – people with ASD can have difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication.  Some people may have no speech at all whilst others may have intact verbal skills but struggle to ‘read’ people and their expressions, especially in social situations.

2.       Social awareness and getting along – the difficulties that people with ASD may have with understanding and following social rules  can, at times, cause them significant difficulties in friendships and relationships.

3.       Rigid interests and activities – those with ASD may not enjoy playing in the usual way and they may have particular sensitivities to textures, objects, noises or tastes.  Sometimes, people with ASD can have very limited interests and may obsess about one particular topic or object.  Rigid interests, obsessions and sensitivities can lead to behaviour problems which can be severe at times.

Given that people with ASD have a range of issues in each of these three areas, the way ASD looks can vary from person to person.  Also, it is very common for a person with ASD to have other medical or mental health issues such as tics, anxieties, attention problems and mood disorders.

Those with ASD can struggle with unexpected or sudden change.  This can mean that they frequently have trouble at times such as starting school, changing school, puberty, a new job or a change in relationships.  Their difficulties understanding social settings can make them vulnerable to being bullied or to appearing rude to others.

ASD presentations can be varied and complex.  Thus, the clinicians at Bendigo Psychology prefer to conduct assessments as part of a multi-disciplinary team that involves a medical expert (paediatrician or psychiatrist) and a speech pathologist.  Clinicians can contribute valuable information to a multi-disciplinary assessment by assessing cognitive functioning (IQ), developmental and behavioural history and measures of social skills and behaviour and sharing this information with other professionals.

ASD is a life-long concern.  This does not mean that those on the spectrum need full time psychological treatment.  Instead, clinicians contribute most when a person is approaching a significant change in their life or has hit a particular difficulty. Early intervention is particularly important as are teaching skills for getting along, reading emotions and coping with concerning behaviours.  Evidence-based interventions include applied behaviour analysis, social skills programs, problem solving, social stories and parent training.  Sometimes, those caring for people with ASD need psychological support to assist them to manage concerning behaviours and to help the person with ASD to learn new skills.

To assist others with ASD you can:

  • Increase predictability and routine in their environment
  • Use clear and simple language and picture cues where appropriate
  • Avoid communicating with metaphors and sarcasm
  • Demonstrate and practice new skills with role plays
  • Get to know and understand any sensitivities the person may have with respect to noise, taste, sound and the like
  • Consider ways of giving the person some time out from noisy or demanding environments, especailly to assist them when they are upset

For more information see www.autismhelp.info