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practicing change to improve wellness

Practicing Change

We become good at things by practicing.  We all know this.  It’s a message that is drummed in from a very young age, “Practice makes perfect!”, or “You won’t become good at it if you don’t practice!”.

Most people have skills and habits that they’ve become good at by practice, but at the same time, we all have things that we would regard as bad habits, or negative patterns. When you really think about this, the negative patterns are established and maintained out of repetition (or practice) also. We become good at the things we practice, but sometimes we unwittingly practice and maintain habits and patterns that we don’t want to be ‘good’ at.

At their essence, our habits and patterns are embedded in neurological pathways.  When we practice something over and over, we build and strengthen these neural pathways.  In turn, we build and strengthen our default patterns.

What can we do when things have gone astray?  Sometimes an elite sports person will enlist a specialist coach to correct or ‘retrain’ a technique error.  Perhaps this might be how they serve in tennis, or their technique for shooting at goal, or their golf swing.  When an elite sportsperson has a glitch in their technique, you might say that they’re really, really good at serving the ball the wrong way.

Retraining these patterns involves a process of re-building the pattern, starting from the basics, step by step.  At first, the new way feels uncomfortable and unnatural, but in time the pathways build and things start to feel more fluid and natural.

For every instance that we practice a new pattern, the neural pathways strengthen.  Interestingly, for every instance that we don’t follow the old pattern, those neural pathways atrophy and erode (“use it or lose it”).  We can steer change by directing what we practice, until we build the new and desired patterns.

It feels like common sense to apply these principles to improve something like a sporting technique.  Interestingly, the same principals apply to our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Often people don’t intuitively recognize this, but it’s true.  The truth is that the patterns of our thoughts, feelings and our behaviours all reside in neural pathways too.  The more we follow certain patterns in our psychological and behavioural processes, the more they are reinforced and embedded at the neurological level, and these too become our default settings.

How practicing gratitude can help you

Gratitude meditation reveals fascinating evidence about all of this.  In really simple terms, gratitude meditation involves a practice of regularly and deliberately taking the time to think of things that you can feel grateful for, and then, taking a moment to actually feel the feeling.  These can be big things and little things.  Ideally, they should sometimes be new ideas that your brain has searched for.

People who practice gratitude meditation become happier. We know this is true from psychological studies, but even more interestingly, we know why it’s true.  It’s true because we become good at the things we practice.  If you were to spend five minutes per day practicing juggling, in a few weeks you would be noticeably better at juggling.  With gratitude meditation, you are practicing scanning life for positive things, and, feeling the associated positive feelings.  Through doing this, you grow and strengthen the neurological pathways associated with each of those two discreet processes.  Like the saying goes, ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’.  The more these processes strengthen, the more these processes become our default setting.

Remember, we become good at the things we practice, but sometimes, we unwittingly practice things that are not helpful for us.  We can apply these principles to psychological change.  We can change the ways that we think, feel and behave.  If you want to enhance your change efforts, remember that you can do this by intentionally choosing to practice the change, and to deliberately build and sculpt your preferred patterns.

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Lauren Chapman

Lauren is an experienced Clinical Psychologist who has been practicing across public mental health and private practice roles for over ten years. She completed her Master of Clinical Psychology at Deakin University and is a Board Approved Supervisor with the Psychology Board of Australia, and a member of the Australian Psychological Society.

Lauren’s approach is warm, empathic, and collaborative, drawing from a range of evidence-based therapeutic models such as Schema Therapy, CBT, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy.

Lauren works with adults aged 17 and over across a range of mental health issues including:

Hilary Austin

Hilary is a highly experienced Psychotherapist and Mental Health Social Worker. She has worked in acute mental health, educational and community settings.

Hilary has a depth of experience working with adults & adolescents facing acute and complex mental health difficulties.  She has a keen interest in psychoanalysis and approaches this with deep value of helping in pragmatic and sensible ways.  Hilary will work closely with you to identify your goals for change, and to navigate the path. Hilary brings warmth and pragmatism to her work, which is of immense value in helping her clients to feel comfortable and understood.

Key Interest Areas

Dr. Josie Sinni

Josie is a highly experienced member of the Laburnum Psychology team, bringing fourteen years of experience to her work.  Josie holds a Doctoral degree in Clinical Neuropsychology and has worked both as a neuropsychologist and a generalist psychologist. In her generalist work, Josie works with clients who experience anxiety disorders, mood disorders, stress, adjustment issues, and low self-confidence.  Josie values building strong rapport with her clients and will work with you to identify meaningful goals and work toward building positive change in your life.  Josie is conscientious to base her interventions in evidence-based therapeutic frameworks, including Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT).

Key Interest Areas

Dr Carissa Kuswanto

Carissa holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Having achieved a high degree of academic training and clinical research, she now focusses her efforts upon applying these learnings in her work as a psychologist. Carissa’s true strengths as a therapist lie in her empathy, authenticity, and compassion, as well as her genuine curiousity in people. Carissa aims to establish a safe space when engaging in therapy. She loves to learn and she deeply values sharing her learnings in practical and real-world ways, tailoring and blending evidence-based therapy approaches for each unique individual. Carissa works across all age ranges, including adults, older adults, adolescents and children. Carissa also speaks fluent English and Bahasa Indonesia.

Special Interest Areas:

Tim McCorriston

Tim is a registered clinical and counselling psychologist and one of the Practice Principals at Laburnum Psychology.  Tim has over twenty years experience as a psychologist, working primarily with clients, as well as supervising other psychologists. Tim places high value on creating a comfortable environment for people to explore change.  Tim assists people to become conscious of their patterns, identify their change goals, and find practical and relatable ways to intentionally work toward these goals.  Tim has an interest in the neurology of change.  He assists people to understand, from a neurological perspective, the ways that they can intentionally drive and practice their own change processes.  From this base, Tim works with his clients to better understand themselves, manage difficult situations, and improve sense of peace, wellbeing and contentment in their lives.

Key Interest Areas

Kylie Allen

Kylie is a registered clinical psychologist with over twenty years of experience.  She is one of the two Practice Principals at Laburnum Psychology.  Kylie has worked in private practice for the past fourteen years.  She brings extensive experience in working with children, adolescents and adults.  Kylie will tailor an approach to therapy specifically for your set of circumstances and personality, so that you can become your best self.  Kylie helps her clients to achieve a stronger and more conscious sense of self, so they can live with greater alignment to their core values and life goals.  Kylie works with many people to help them understand the impacts of early life experiences, be that trauma or deprivation, or more subtle influences.  Kylie assists her clients to restructure unhelpful emotional and behavioural patters so that they can avert ongoing negative patters in life, and find their way to a greater sense of peace and wellbeing, and more positive relationships.

Key Interest Areas

Larissa King

Larissa is a deeply experience psychologist, with over twenty years counselling experience. Larissa has been with Laburnum Psychology for over ten years.  She brings a breadth of experience to her clinical work.  Larissa’s approach is to develop a safe, warm and trusting relationship and to use an eclectic range of evidence-based psychological approaches matched to each individual’s needs. Larissa has worked in a range of counselling settings including Gambler’s Help, youth sexual assault counselling and generalist counselling.

Key Interest Areas

Elizabeth Charalambakis

Like all of our psychologists, Elizabeth has been recruited based on the individual strengths that she brings to her counselling work, and to our team. Elizabeth works across a wide age range. She works with young people, aged sixteen and above, but also brings a strong knowledge around active aging principles. She is interested in working with a broad range of presenting mental health issues. Elizabeth approaches her work with excellent relational skills and a strong capacity for empathy and rapport. From this excellent base, Elizabeth will draw upon her tool kit of evidence based techniques to assist her clients toward positive change.

Key Interest Areas:

Fina Triany

Fina is a Clinical Psychologist who brings a depth of experience working across a very broad range of life issues and clinical presentations.  Fina is fluent in both English and Indonesian.  Fina always aims to work collaboratively with clients, drawing on their own unique strengths and capacities to achieve change, and find greater peace and contentment in their lives.

Key Interest Areas:

Latha Iyer

Latha has completed a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology.  She approaches her work with a strong sense of compassion and a desire to understand the uniqueness of each individual client and the situations they face.  Latha utilizes a strong blend of interpersonal skills, empathy and technical ability.  Latha’s warm and personable manner helps her clients to feel at ease in their sessions with her.

Key Interest Areas

Mili Vukalo

Mili has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology. She has experience working and volunteering across a range of settings, including educational institutions (secondary and tertiary counselling environments).  Mili brings a strong sense of peace and calmness to her work, as well as her strengths in compassion.  She has an excellent capacity to help clients feel safe and at ease in exploring challenging areas of their lives.

Key Interests Areas

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Grief and loss
  • Academic difficulty
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Life adjustment

Simone Ray

Simone has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology, and is currently completing her PhD, studying personality and schemas.  Simone is a warm and empathic psychologist who aims to create a safe and authentic environment for her clients.  Simone works to identify and draw upon her clients own strengths, so that together they can develop effective strategies for change.  Simone has worked in university clinics, schools, community mental health (headspace and drug and alcohol), as well as custodial settings.  She works with a breadth of clients across the lifespan and from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds.  Simone works with individuals and groups, and is confident to work across a wide range of mental health concerns.

Key Interest Areas

Sivan Hadas

Sivan is a Clinical Psychologist who brings vast and varied experience to her work.  She has a high level of professional experience and expertise.  Sivan builds very strong rapport with her clients.  She works with integrity and authenticity, and creates a very secure and calming space in which to conduct her sessions.  Sivan possesses great strengths in case conceptualization and formulation.  She works with adults and adolescents, and is fluent in English and Hebrew.

Key Interest Areas

Emma Gillespie

Emma approaches her work with great strengths in empathy and compassion. Prior to her work in psychology, she has worked and volunteered all around the world, with vulnerable children and communities, and people in sanctuaries, orphanages and primary schools across Africa, India, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. Emma has worked with people from a variety of cultural backgrounds, socio-economic groups, and across all ages. She aspires to create a safe space for individuals to explore their story, and with the goal of identifying practical skills and strategies to move towards their goals and find healing, change and personal growth.

Key Interest Areas