Geelong Psychodynamic Therapy: Analyzing Dreams

Psychodynamic Therapy uses dream analysis to understand internal conflicts that cause psychic pain.

In 1900 Freud published his infamous text The Interpretation of Dreams, where he claimed that interpreting dream material was the “royal road” to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. One hundred and twenty years on, psychotherapists still use dream material to gain a deeper understanding of their patient’s unconscious desires and fears, their painful internal conflicts. According to psychoanalytic theory, these internal conflicts lead to psychic pain and result in symptoms such as panic attacks, excessive worry, depression, insomnia, or compulsive behaviours to name a few. The symptom is actually our mind’s way of managing the underlying conflict and avoiding the feelings associated with it. Looking at dreams in therapy can help in developing a deeper understanding of these aspects of the self.

Psychodynamic therapists are trained to look at dream material and make use of it in sessions. Bringing a dream to therapy can make for a rich and revealing experience. When we sit on the couch and engage in a therapy session, there are many unconscious processes or defences that prevent us from getting in touch with our inner most feelings, fears, wounds and desires, preventing us from truly knowing ourselves. It is our psychological defences that prevent us from understanding why we repeat certain behaviours over and over again even though consciously we do not want to.  These defences include suppression, denial, projection, displacement (moving feelings that are associated with one person/object onto another). The beauty of a dream is that it provides a direct line to our deepest emotional experiences without being obscured by defences.  Sometimes the content of a dream can be so powerful it provides instant insight that may have taken many months of therapy to come to otherwise.

If you are seeking psychotherapy and looking for a richer and more in-depth way of working, you might consider seeing a psychologist or psychotherapist trained in a Psychodynamic approach. For more information have a look at the Mindwell Psychology website. We are a boutique practice in Geelong who specialise in this approach and you can book a session today.


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Common Complaints in Couples Therapy

Have you been considering couples therapy in the Geelong area?

Regardless of the stage of your relationship, seeing a therapist can be a very enriching step for you and your partner.  It can help prepare for or adjust to major life changes and challenges, identify and work through areas of ongoing conflict, repair painful wounds from the past, and ultimately facilitate change and growth in your partnership. So what are the most common problems that people seek couples therapy for?

  • Issues with money
  • Issues with sexual intimacy
  • Frequent arguments
  • Communication difficulties
  • Adjusting to parenthood
  • Adjusting to other major life changes such as relocation or retirement
  • Dealing with technology
  • Repairing after infidelity
  • Dealing with a loss of respect
  • Overcoming emotional disconnection or feelings of dissatisfaction
  • Dealing with addictions
  • Addressing abusive or hurtful behaviour

Many people unfortunately believe that seeing a couples counsellor is a sign of failure. However, if these problems can actually be looked at and addressed in therapy together, the relationship will have a much better chance of surviving. Seeking help early minimises the damage caused by these common difficulties and prevents the relationship deteriorating further or eventually failing. We know from research on relationship counselling that approximately 75% of couples who do get professional help with their issues are much better off. In fact, seeing a couples therapist could be the most important step that you take to improve the quality of your relationship and your quality of life.

When your relationship is suffering so are you. Relationship conflict is associated with mental health symptoms such as anxiety, depression and stress. Sometimes people present for individual therapy and discover that the underlying source of their distress is a relationship that lacks respect, has a high level of conflict, or where communication and intimacy has broken down. In these cases, moving into couples therapy where these stumbling blocks can be worked through is often recommended by therapists. Engaging in a parallel process of individual work and couples therapy can also be very beneficial and is sometimes necessary when there is a history of trauma in one or both partner’s family of origin.

To achieve the best outcomes in couples therapy, you need to have a willingness to be emotionally vulnerable with your partner and therapist, commit fully to the process, and work hard to practice any skills that you learn in sessions at home. Therapy works well when both partners can learn to cooperate and empathise with each other, and importantly, to take responsibility for their part in the relationship struggles. However, these skills can also be developed along the way.

If you have thought about taking this step, then chances are you probably need to! At our Geelong-based clinic, Mindwell Psychology, we offer couples therapy using an attachment-based approach along with a range of other services. Contact us today to book an appointment.


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Marriage Counselling: Healing from an Affair

How does marriage counselling help couples heal after an affair?

For a couple to recover from the infidelity and broken trust, it takes commitment, determination and a willingness to be vulnerable. With these ingredients, couples or marriage counselling can certainly help repair a relationship following an affair.

Infidelity, or being unfaithful in a marriage or committed relationship, can range from sexual infidelity, through different forms of physical contact with another person, to cyber affairs and emotional infidelity. The research suggests that in Australia, the most prevalent type of infidelity is an emotional affair. A person engaged in an emotional affair is getting their deep emotional needs met by someone outside of their relationship. In an emotional affair, one might have frequent contact with another person outside of the relationship, start to keep secrets from their partner, find themselves wanting to share any new or exciting personal news with this person first, spend a lot of time fantasising about them, feel deeply understood and accepted by them (while not feeling this way with their partner), discuss very intimate topics and develop a closeness and connection that does not exist within their marriage or relationship. It is reported that men are more sensitive to sexual affairs, while women feel more hurt when their partner has been emotionally unfaithful.

Whatever the nature of the affair, when a person discovers that their partner has been unfaithful, it can set off intense feelings of panic, betrayal, abandonment, anger, and a painful sense of loss. To put this in perspective, consider that research indicates an extra-marital affair is rated as the 5th highest stressful life event, just after a jail sentence and death of a family member. Naturally it can take a long time to process what has happened and establish trust again. When these painful emotions are activated, seeking help through relationship or marriage counselling is essential to getting back on track. Both partners need to want to rebuild and be willing to embark on this tough journey together.

Through counselling, an affair may be reframed and understood as a symptom of underlying problems in the relationship. So a couples therapist will explore the particular function of the affair; for some people it is a form of communication to their partner when other means of communicating have broken down. For others, it is a way for them to get their sexual needs met when sexual intimacy and desire has died of from their marriage. Or sometimes it is a way for people to have their emotional needs met when they feel devalued, ignored by or emotionally cut-off from their partner.

The process of working through these issues usually follows certain steps. The first step is about acknowledgement and forgiveness; the person who has had the affair needs to recognise and take ownership of the hurt and damage they have caused, and without their partner’s forgiveness, reconnection is not possible. The next step is to openly communicate and process how and why the affair occurred. Mourning the affair is also an important step, which involves working through the grief associated with the loss of trust and the loss of the old relationship. Once this has been achieved, couples can start to rebuild trust and identify how to deal with triggers of the affair that come up in everyday life. They may also start to rebuild sexual and emotional intimacy. The final stage of the process is about reconnecting and accepting; leaving behind the old relationship and cultivating a new partnership with a hopeful and positive imagined future.

Keep in mind that the most common response to traumatic events is post-traumatic growth. So with the right support, couples can learn to trust each other again and also achieve growth in their relationship. Mindwell Psychology, our Geelong based clinic, can offer support to couples experiencing this difficult situation. Make an Appointment today.

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Hands reaching out

What is EMDR? EMDR Therapy Geelong

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of psychotherapy that uses eye movements and other bilateral stimulation to facilitate the process of healing from trauma-related symptoms. EMDR is a relatively new form of therapy to treat PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). People who have experienced major traumas such as a sexual or physical assault, an accident, the sudden death of a loved one or major illness, can benefit from EMDR. This type of therapy is now also being used to treat:

  • Addictions
  • Anxiety (such as social anxiety, panic attacks, phobias)
  • Depression
  • Pain Management
  • Specific phobias
  • Eating Disorders
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Somatic symptoms such as gastrointestinal problems
  • Fatigue

One of the most exciting things about EMDR is the short timeframe in which people can achieve real change in their symptoms. Prior to the introduction of EMDR it was thought that emotional scarring from significant traumas would take years to heal through traditional psychotherapy. However, the short-term results of EMDR for many people who suffer with mental health concerns are very promising. The premise of this approach is that the brain naturally moves towards healing, in fact we heal from psychological trauma in the same way the physical body responds to a wound or injury. When given the right input, this healing process can be facilitated or unblocked. In essence, EMDR is about activating the mind’s own natural healing processes.

In EMDR therapy there are typically eight different phases. Phase 1 involves taking a history and developing a treatment plan. Phase 2 involves learning ways to cope and developing calming skills to use in between sessions. The latter phases (3 to 6) involve reprocessing the identified trauma that is causing emotional distress. This reprocessing occurs through the use of bilateral visual, auditory or tactile stimulation. Bilateral stimulation is thought to facilitate accessing and processing of emotionally distressing material while simultaneously creating new links or associations in the brain, hence stimulating healing. When the therapist is using visual stimulation they move their finger or light bar back and forth in front of the patients eyes. When using auditory stimulation the therapist may use chimes or other sounds that alternate in each ear. Tactile stimulation is usually in the form of tapping or hand held buzzers.

EMDR has a growing research base and is considered as an effective treatment by many important organizations, including Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Psychiatric Association, and the World Health Organization.

If you or your child are seeking support for any of the above issues please contact Mindwell Psychology and make an appointment.




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Relationship counselling in Geelong

Many couples are looking for relationship counselling in Geelong as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is such a positive step to take when your relationship is struggling because according to recent Australian data, relationship counselling positively impacts 70% of couples. Being in a healthy relationship benefits not only our emotional health, the health of the family, but also our physical health and overall wellbeing.

So what are the effects of stress on a relationship? When one or both people within a couple are experiencing stress it can create a negative cycle whereby each person reacts to the other’s stress and this intensifies the situation, leaving you both feeling more frazzled, snappy, unsupported, or overwhelmed. When this cycle has been going on for a long time you might find yourself or your partner withdrawing, bottling up emotions, or find it difficult to communicate honestly without setting each other off.

It is so important for the couple to identify what each other needs when under stress and find ways to talk about this, in order to support each other and keep the relationship afloat. Instead, there is typically a lack of communication and understanding, the couple drift further apart and become more polarised on certain issues. Although it can be difficult at times to talk about what is driving the stress in your relationship and to express negative feelings about each other, couples usually find the talking process helpful because it leads to resolution. Once couples have been locked in a negative cycle and can’t communicate effectively, seeing a trained professional couples therapist or relationship counsellor to facilitate this process a must. It will lead to a better outcome for you, your partner, and ultimately the relationship.

Many people who seek therapy to deal with the impact of stress on their relationship find that they feel more supported, feel more understood by their partner, have more insight into how to support their loved one, are better equipped at dealing with other conflicts or issues that come up in their relationship, and feel more like a unified team.

If you live in the Geelong region, contact us at Mindwell Psychology to book an appointment for relationship counselling.


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Understanding Attachment: Counselling for new mothers

New mothers in Geelong: Understanding Attachment, past and present.

Psychologists are interested in how a women’s identity changes from being a child who is dependent on her own mother, to a parent who has a child depending on her. In adapting to this enormous change, women tap into their own relationship history with their mother/caregiver. These memories of mothering that we identify with and repeat most powerfully are mostly unconscious, stored in the procedural memory. In this way, the quality and style of attachment that one experienced as a child has a significant impact on one’s own mothering. This is how our attachment style is transmitted inter-generationally and unconsciously. Psychodynamic therapy can be helpful in uncovering these unconscious patterns, bringing them into awareness and working through any unresolved issues that exist in the mother-child relationship. Engaging in therapy during the perinatal period can help women navigate this transition to understand and enrich their mother-infant relationships. Get in touch with the team at Mindwell today for more information or to book an appointment.


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Psychodynamic Therapy for Adults in Geelong

What exactly is psychodynamic therapy? How is it different from other approaches and how might it help you?

Psychodynamic therapy is an “insight-oriented” therapy that focuses on helping you explore unconscious aspects of yourself. It aims to uncover internal and interpersonal processes that might affect your relationships or cause mental distress in the form of symptoms like anxiety and depression. We know that our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are heavily influenced by conflicts that are out of our conscious awareness. A psychodynamic therapist is trained to tune into these aspects and help you gain a deeper understanding about how they impact your life. It aims to bring unconscious conflicts into the present experience, so they can be understood, processed and resolved. A bi-product of this process is relief from symptoms such as anxiety or depressed mood. While psychodynamic therapy has its roots in Freudian psychoanalysis, it is practised in a less intense way and involves sitting in a chair rather than lying on a couch.

Psychodynamic therapy can be very helpful if you don’t understand why you keep repeating the same patterns in relationships, or if you have tried other forms of therapy but found them lacking or too superficial. It can be very useful for understanding the underlying cause of psychological symptoms such as (but not limited to) excessive worrying, social anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, low mood, suicidal thoughts, lack of motivation or chronic irritability. It aims to improve your self-awareness, understanding the influence of the past on your present behaviour, and deal with the root cause of symptoms rather than providing strategies to manage them. This is quite different to strategy-based therapies such as CBT (Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy), usually more focused on problem-solving and providing strategies to change.

If you decide to try this approach, you can expect to learn much more about yourself, grow to handle difficulties in life in a more adaptive and healthy way, remove blocks to moving forward in your life, improve your relationship with others, improve your relationship with yourself, and increase your productivity. While it may take longer to reach a resolution, psychodynamic therapy can certainly provide more lasting relief from symptoms.

At Mindwell our team has a special interest in treating adults with a range of psychological symptoms using a psychodynamic approach. We also use a blend of other therapy approaches depending on your specific needs. If you have any questions or want to book in for a consultations please call us.

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Anxiety Counselling Geelong

Are you suffering with anxiety and looking for some adult counselling in Geelong? If you struggle with symptoms of anxiety, you are not alone. In fact, in any one year in Australia approximately 2 million adults have anxiety. The good news is that Anxiety it is very treatable and counselling can help.

If you are an anxious person, you may work hard to hide this from other people. From the outside people may see you as someone who is always in control of situations, organised, very good at planning, someone who works very hard, is a high achiever or perfectionist, is always punctual or perhaps thoughtful of others. On the inside however, you might feel insecure, lacking in confidence, on edge, or maybe you feel on the brink of panic or overwhelm some days.

Your anxious feelings can lead to being very preoccupied with pleasing other people, even at great cost to yourself. Anxiety can result in you avoiding people, places or things just to make your life easier. It can leave you feeling constantly afraid that your performance at work is not good enough or that you will not have anything interesting to say at that social event on the weekend. The standards you set for yourself might be unrelenting and unhealthy.

Anxiety gets worse when left untreated. Over time you learn to manage or hide your true feelings, and you find ways to avoid certain situations that trigger panic in you. Yet as time passes, your life can become smaller and smaller, more and more controlled or restricted. You don’t experience any freedom in your life.

At Mindwell Psychology, we frequently work with adults who experience anxiety in all its forms. Our approach is to gain insight into the underlying causes of your symptoms which are unique to the individual. See our page about Anxiety Therapy for more information or Contact Mindwell today to book a session.

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Relationship counselling Geelong

Are you having problems in your relationships and looking for counselling in Geelong? Adult counselling can help you understand and overcome many issues to do with your intimate and interpersonal relationships.

Relationship problems can range from minor challenges to persistent and deeply ingrained negative patterns: For example, do you struggle with aspects of relationships such as opening up and being vulnerable, developing trust, communicating effectively, dealing with conflict? Do you find it hard to really connect with others beyond the surface level? Are you passive-aggressive, a chronic people-pleaser, or do you lose yourself easily when in relationships? Do you often encounter feelings of anxiety, frustration, jealousy, insecurity, or dissatisfaction when it comes to relationships? Perhaps you have difficulty maintaining friendships or have very intense but short-lived relationships? When we repeatedly experience challenges in our relationships, whether it be with friends, colleagues, intimate partners, or family members, it can lead to feelings of emptiness, shame, confusion, loneliness and unhappiness.

The way in which we relate to others and the quality of our adult relationships stems from our early attachment relationships. Exploring the relationship dynamics of our family of origin in counselling can help people understand and unlock negative patterns they experience as adults. Individual adult counselling with a psychodynamic or interpersonal therapist can help shine a light on these unconscious or obscured aspects of self. Mindwell Psychology is a team of highly trained professional psychologists in the Geelong area who specialise in adult counselling for interpersonal and relationship issues. Contact us today and make an appointment.


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Counselling for post-natal depression in Geelong

Are you in Geelong and suffering from post-natal depression? Counselling for post-natal depression can help you feel better.

Pregnancy and the birth of a child is a time when women undergo the most significant physical, psychological, emotional and social changes in their lives. If you are a new mother, how you adapt to these changes, and also how your partner and other loved ones adapt, can have a huge impact on your mental health. Symptoms of depression or anxiety are also common in men who are adjusting to their new role as a parent and coming to terms with huge changes affecting their lives too.

In the post-natal period, women’s mental health is particularly vulnerable, especially if already under stress from relationship, family, financial, work, health or social pressures. There is added risk if you have experienced anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns in the past. Seeking timely and helpful support at this critical point can be very beneficial, not only for you, but also for your baby and the development of your important relationship.

Common symptoms of post-natal depression or anxiety in men an women include:

  • Feeling on edge or anxious
  • Excessive worry
  • Panic attacks
  • Low confidence
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Feeling of guilt or inadequacy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling miserable
  • Tearfulness
  • Feeling worthless
  • Low self-esteem
  • Irritability or anger
  • Self-critical thoughts
  • Suicidal thoughts

If you have experienced any of these symptoms following the birth of your child, seeing a therapist can help you find ways to adjust to being a parent, get back on track, reduce symptoms, and improve how you feel about yourself and your baby.

Psychologists can help with many aspects of this life stage including pregnancy planning, preparing for parenthood, adjusting to parenthood, exploring changes in identity and roles, understanding past and present attachment issues in the transition to motherhood or fatherhood and managing new family dynamics. For more information about attachment and motherhood see the Peri-natal page, or you can also book an appointment at Mindwell for support.


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