Tamariki and Trauma – Big Ts and Little Ts

6 October, 2021

posted in children, commentary, help me, parenting, relationships, wellbeing

Our little people need sensitive care-giving when they go through difficult stuff.  Sometimes we think of trauma as only the big stuff.  In psychology, we call these ‘Big T’ events.  Big Trauma.  A car accident.  Death of a parent.  Serious medical events.

But sometimes the ‘Little Ts’ are just as important.  Little Trauma.  Little Ts are inevitable in life.   Common childhood experiences at sensitive times in our development can be easily misinterpreted and taken personally by our tamariki. When we’re not invited to a birthday party (I am not cool).  When our parents are having a disagreement about money (I shouldn’t ask for stuff). read more »

When it comes to mental health, it pays to be friends with a fish

9 April, 2021

posted in commentary, research, treatment, wellbeing

Eating fish is linked with better mood. 

Okay, it’s supposed to be oily fish like salmon, trout, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, sardine, or herring.  Not sharks because they’re endangered but you get this gist.  Oily fish contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to lowered rates of depression and anxiety, better brain function, better memory, and decreased inflammation.

Fish 2-3 times per week (tinned, you don’t have to be fancy pants) ought to do the trick. read more »

Soften up bro

27 November, 2020

posted in uncategorised

Harden up bro!

Don’t you cry, Boy!

Are you soft or something?

Don’t be a girl!

Soften Up Bro‘ was inspired by the phrase ‘Harden up bro’ and was founded by John Kingi and Heemi Te Waa Kapa-Kingi, with an aim to normalise important conversations with tāne ma who are keen to be agents of change. The Māori duo have launched a kaupapa to encourage emotional dialogue and vulnerability among Māori and Pacific Island men.

This Facebook page is an attempt to flip the narrative and encourage men to open up about the difficult stuff and to be vulnerable with emotions. And it has taken off!

“It’s ok to show the side where things aren’t ok.”

The duo, who appeared on Māori Television with shirts labelled “Boys can cry too” are looking to open a safe space for korero in hopes that men can create change within their families or social groups.

In a society where it is difficult to unlearn the stigma over emotions, the korero is often “shunned and put aside.”

Kingi works as a mental health coordinator alongside Ngāti Whātua and says many of the cases he’s confronted with are associated with cultural discourse.

“Not understanding where you’re from or who you are, that plays a large factor in a lot of the mental health issues I’ve run into,” he says. 

The ‘Soften Up Bro’ initiative is also seeking to unlearn patriarchal and western influences, not only to support one another but also to understand how to encourage wahine around them.

“We’re making sure that we’re aware of the oppression that wahine face,” Heemi Te Waa Kapa-Kingi said.

“Patriarchy affects men as well and the toxic masculinity that comes with that.”

With thanks to Te Ao News for most of this article’Soften%20Up%20Bro’%20was%20inspired,to%20be%20agents%20of%20change.

Heroines and Heroes

8 May, 2020

posted in commentary, treatment

These words…..What sort of images do they usually conjur up? Amelia Earhart? Knights with swords? A fireman saving someone from a burning house? Mr Incredible? Some sports star? Nurses on the frontline fighting COVID-19? Willie Apiata? Who would you want to put in this throne?

My heroines and heroes are invisible. Often overlooked. Sometimes misunderstood. Will probably never be given any prestigious award or join the Queens Honours List. But in our work as psychologists, we see them everyday. People who have experienced childhood abuse and neglect.

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls: the most massive characters are seared with scars” – Kahlil Gabrin

The human spirit amazes me. How children survive the horror, terror and deep abyss of their abusive or barren neglectful childhoods is truly incredible. The courage, creativity and fight in the teenage abuse survivor. The strength, courage, patience, toughness, wisdom in the adult now grown.

Our clients are heroes. They start therapy feeling the opposite. Broken, ashamed, weird, weak, bad, failure. I AM THE PROBLEM and IT IS MY FAULT and I AM BAD is etched in their skin. But slowly the work is done and they can own their right to LOVE, HAPPINESS. JOY AND ESTEEM. For survivors of childhood trauma, therapy is a test of their patience, hope and steel core. It can be a long and frustrating drag up a muddy, bloody hill and by god, it takes guts. But it just so happens that they are the gutsiest people I know.

Tara Clark, Clinical Psychologist, Psychology Associates

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble (apologies to Shakespeare)

1 May, 2020

posted in commentary, treatment, uncategorised, useful resources, wellbeing

Of course, the Witches in Macbeth actually said ….

“Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and caldron bubble”.

But it made me think about how our bubble runs the risk of turning into a bubbling cauldron after five weeks of Alert Level 3 and 4. We can begin to feel a bit like one of Shakespeare’s witches. Even their recipe (including eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog) begins to sound quite tempting after you’ve run out of cooking inspiration.

But on a more serious note, one of the positive aspects of COVID-19 has been the increased discussions about mental health. It seems like it has finally become mainstream to acknowledge that all of us experience mental distress at one time or another.

One of my favourite websites is the Mental Health Foundation – NZ

Over many years, the MHF has been supporting Kiwis and they have amassed amazing resources which are always practical, science-based and compassionate. Today, they have published a free downloadable poster which focuses on the 7 essentials of keeping mentally well in Level 4 and 3 Lockdown. Drum roll please……the 7 essentials are……

  • Give
  • Get moving
  • Take notice
  • Connect
  • Stick to a routine
  • Relax
  • Stay curious

Click the link below before you start noticing a wart growing on your nose or you’re spotted in the garden scavenging for a newt.

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