Category: commentary

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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.

We got this! Resilience in the face of COVID-19

10 April, 2020

posted in commentary, uncategorised, useful resources, wellbeing

Well, we are now two weeks into Aotearoa’s Level 4 response to the pandemic……Early signs are good that staying in our bubbles is paying off Kiwis.

Kia kaha, he waka eke noa.

Stay strong, we’re all in this together.

The team at Psychology Associates which includes 10 clinical psychologists (Fiona, Tara, Nicola, Sallie, Sasha, Tracey, Amanda, Shannon, Ellen and Tammy) and two amazing administrators (Sue and Michelle) are all continuing to provide psychological support to clients but from the safety of our own bubbles. We are using an online platform which provides a confidential, secure, free online space for us to continue working with clients.

Our team ‘met’ online on Monday for our usual monthly group supervision with two goals in mind. Firstly, to support each other. There were some new challenges for us all working from home (juggling multiple roles, finding peace and calm while dealing with the unknown, learning fast about providing tele-psychology) and we shared common feelings such as isolation, stress, grief/loss, worries, optimism and hope. Our second goal was to share online resources that we thought would support our clients and the wider community. We hope the list below is helpful and look forward to continuing to provide high quality psychological support from our bubbles to yours.

With Fondness, The Team at Psychology Associates

For a tonne of wonderful resources for NZers, look at the Mental Health Foundation website, and their awesome resource library

The MH Foundation has also set up a new website called Getting Through Together – Are you Alright? which is “totes amazeballs” for feeling connected with others

There are some great general tips for getting through COVID-19

And some specific tools for managing anxiety

Anxiety management tools (in multiple languages)

NZ Experts Janet Peter and David Codyre talk about combatting fear and anxiety

A talk on resilience by Christchurch author and researcher Lucy Hone

And the NZ Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience has some great current information on strengthening communities

Some resources with a Māori kaupapa

For families struggling with violence or anger issues

Children: For those with wee kiddies – a great wee song to help with little young children’s fears

Tips for kiddies 0-3


Remember it is free to call or text 1737 at any time to speak with a trained counsellor – it’s free and confidential.

The jury is out….Results of the Government Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction

10 July, 2019

posted in commentary, events, wellbeing

Last year, over 5000 people or organisations made submissions to the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry – maybe you were one of them. The panel made a 5 minute animation to summarise the findings of He Oranga which you can watch by clicking on the following link

To read the full report in a range of formats go to: or follow this link

Introducing the Inquiry Panel – Sir Mason Durie, Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, Professor Ron Paterson (Chair), Minister Clark, Dean Rangihuna, Dr Barbara Disley and Josiah Tualamali’i at the handover of the report to the Government on 28 November.
Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry

Key findings:

We can do more to help each other

We have a solid foundation to build on

We’re not getting the outcomes we want

Quality of services and facilities is variable

Key components of the system are missing

It’s time to build a new mental health and addictions system on the existing foundations to provide a continuum of care and support.

Extremism is not a mental illness

2 April, 2019

posted in commentary

This blog is a summary of a statement from the Mental Health Foundation of NZ (20 March, 2019) following the terrorist attack. We thought it was so good we would put a shorter version on our website.

Following the 15th March’s appalling terrorist attack, many people have suggested that the terrorist must have been mentally ill. It is perhaps comforting to think this but this answer is probably fiction. It wrongly connects mental distress with ‘violence’ or ‘threatening’ and ‘a risk to the community’ which is deeply troubling. The terrorist is an extremist but it is an unfair leap to assume we can blame mental illness for his actions. One, it lets ourselves and the country off the hook from reckoning with racism, white supremacy and the anti-immigrant sentiments that directly led to this attack. This is not part of mental illness. Two, people who live with mental health issues in NZ are already some of the most vulnerable people, recipients of prejudice and discrimination and incorrectly blamed for disproportionate amounts of violence.

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