News Blog

Want to get close? Make sure you argue!

Resolving conflict is one of the main ways we have of getting deeper and closer with others. If we give up resolving conflict (like so many people do) and ‘agree to disagree’ as a default position, we often get terrible outcomes in the longer term.  Not resolving conflict just results in high levels of alienation and an increased sense of ‘difference’ between the parties that never gets resolved.  Instead, we just need to ensure we handle conflict correctly. Keeping a very kind, friendly, authoritative, soft (but never weak) voice tone does wonders – even when delivering the most unwanted news…

How to always stay calm

In order to always stay calm, you must stop being passive in life and instead take full responsibility for your own tension.  This means stopping saying ‘I was relaxed until … happened’. Even though it is fine to do relaxation, yoga or meditation classes (and people often enjoy these activities), they are not actually necessary in learning how to stay relaxed permanently. The answer is simpler and much easier to do. To be permanently relaxed involves making a clear decision to stay completely calm (ALWAYS below 3/10 in your tension level), no matter what else is going on around you. …

Getting Men and Women on the same side

For all the ‘alleged’ and usually unsubstantiated differences argued to exist between women and men there are 1000-fold more similarities. Hostility, alienation and sense of ‘difference’ makes us even more alone in this often brutal, divisive world.   We see, men and women frequently screaming with fury at each other on social media because of these ‘imagined’ differences. Yet, even at the most basic physiological and hormonal level men and women are almost identical.  For example, there is always lots of talk about how testosterone influences ‘maleness’ in the brain making men better at maps, mathematics, aggression and non-monogamy.  But the…

Corona: Time to Stay Alert, Calm and Cooperative

It has been interesting for me over my decades of work at the Smart Therapy Centre observing how anxiety themes change according to social and political context. In the ‘AIDS’ era anxious people suddenly stopped being afraid of everyday germs and instead focussed their undivided attention on HIV.  Then in the ‘terrorist’ era many anxious people I saw in my work became terrified to get on planes in case they were (unbeknown to themselves!) a ‘terrorist’ and what if… they inadvertently, opened the aeroplane door while flying and sucked out all the passengers!   Then came the ‘paedophilia’ era with…

The Smart Therapy Centre is Hiring from March 2nd!

PSYCHOLOGIST/CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST (CONTRACT POSITION) There is an opening for 2 psychologists or clinical psychologists to become part of the team at Dr Sallee McLaren’s Smart Therapy Centre – a growing inner-city private practice with 10 other great clinicians in Fitzroy North that is dedicated to anxiety recovery, relationship work, life/career/lifestyle coaching and many other issues for people of all ages and backgrounds.   Whether you are looking for 5 hours or 30 hours per week we can accommodate you.  We are looking for applicants with an interest in working without medication and with a desire for a more proactive, friendly…

Don’t Avoid Conflict, Just Behave Well During It

Most people believe that conflict must end in tears, rage or losing out.  This is why so many people avoid it, and either go over-the-top in their aggression (to force and intimidate others) or comply and go underground to manoeuvre others into doing what they want. This is regrettable because neither of the above strategies work well.  They both end in lose-lose outcomes.  This is mainly because people are intelligent and quick to recognise coercion whether it is done brutally or manipulatively – and they dig in, block and resist. Yet resolving conflict is one of the few means we…

Don’t Confuse Anger and Sadness

Many people (including some therapists) tell us to express our anger at the unfairness of life.  Go on, they say, beat those cushions to a pulp and scream out your rage. But this can be very misdirected advice.  It accentuates the anger and sends blood pressure through the roof.  It often ends in repetitive, violent behaviour and it makes the perpetrator more outraged than ever, since they fail to address the real ‘purpose’ of their anger. Let me give you an example.  A man called Tom feels angry that his friend, John  is backing out of their long-term friendship.  John…

The Agitation Flipside of Sedation

In my work at the Smart Therapy Centre I often see people who have been put on medications to sedate or calm them, with the purpose of combating anxiety and other forms of agitation. What many people don’t realise is that we very quickly become tolerant to sedatives and tranquilizers leading us to need more and more to achieve the same result.  This is how many people become dependent or addicted. Worse still, many of these medications are powerful and very short acting, so we can start to withdraw physically from them within a few hours after taking our last…

Take it easy but be tough

In my work as a clinical psychologist I often see things go wrong.  People lose their jobs, relationships break up and people often feel overwhelming anxiety or sadness. Serious things go haywire for everyone and frequently we can’t change that.  What matters hugely is how we respond.    When people have come from difficult backgrounds (such as critical parents or chronic instability), they often learn to feel ‘incompetent’ as children, because they (understandably) struggle to control outcomes in their difficult lives.  This childhood ‘training’ inadvertently causes people over time to adopt the deep-seated assumption that they ‘cannot trust themselves’ to…

How anxiety and poor assertion are connected

When people come to the Smart Therapy Centre for anxiety, I notice that they often find it hard to be assertive in other areas of their lives. For a long time, I wondered why this was the case, but in many ways lacking assertion and being anxious are highly related. Lack of assertion is connected to believing that you are powerless to influence outcomes in others without resorting to the strategies of either aggression (getting impatient, brittle, unfriendly or angry) or compliance (ducking under the radar, being indirect, dishonest, sulky or stubborn), when faced with conflict. Similarly, anxiety is connected…

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