News Blog

How To Break Free From Alcohol

During the COVID-19 lockdown many people are drinking more alcohol to cope with high levels of stress and upset. While this calms people in the short term, alcohol is one of the most addictive substances known on earth – surprisingly, even more addictive than heroin! In fact, people never die from heroin withdrawal (even though they feel dreadful). They die of other aspects of heroin, like accidental overdosing from not knowing its strength or from Hep C infection or lifestyle consequences like prostitution, imprisonment or homelessness.   On the other hand, about 17% of seriously alcohol-dependent people will die if they…

True Love is Always Tough Love

Many people believe (including some psychologists) that ‘threatening to end a relationship’ is unfair, damaging and destroys trust.  The implication is that ‘true love’ is somehow above these sorts of ‘dirty tactics’ and that resorting to them will undermine trust so severely that the relationship might never recover. Yet, I find in my work as a clinical psychologist working with couples that while ‘the threat’ ought to be used extremely sparingly, it is nonetheless one of the best strategies we have at our disposal for leveraging profound change.   This is mainly because it makes clear exactly what we will…

Routine Matters

From my work as a clinical psychologist, I know that people get particularly distressed when they feel out of control.  This would probably be the main reason people come to psychologists for assistance.  It might relate to feeling out of control in their anxiety, anger, eating, drinking, depressive rumination, drug-use, relationships or stress levels. Feeling out of control happens when people believe they are not in charge of their own lives, but rather, that life is somehow happening ‘to’ them while they are passively pulled along without their own volition. But, even though it can easily ‘feel’ this way, it…

Surviving Isolation

The people who best survive social isolation are those with a strong inner world.  They are people who ‘require’ less stimulation from others and can exist for long periods, immersed in their own imaginations and mental abstractions. Often people think that they have just been born more ‘extroverted’ or ‘introverted’, and there is nothing that they can do to change this ‘fact’. But this is simply not true.  While many of these outcomes do go back to the differences in early socialisation practices, where some people are more encouraged to develop richer imaginations, it is by no means biologically determined…

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…