Client Resources

Exercises and Information for Clients

Important Contact Information

Emergency and Special Care Contacts in Australia

Police, Ambulance, Fire – call 000

Lifeline – call 13 11 14

Trauma

 

Poisons Information – call 13 11 26

Suicide Callback Service – call 1300 659 467

Sexual Assault (National)

Sexual Assault (QLD)

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is like a workout for brain health. Although there are many ways we can practice mindfulness, it is fundamentally focused attention. Such focused attention can change your brain! Among some of the changes are: a significant increase in the density of the hippocampus, a brain region important for learning and memory; increases  in other neural structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection; and a reduction in the density of the amygdala – the part of the brain that initiates anxiety and stress responses. Research is finding more ways that mindfulness can improve our lives, including: improving sleep; reducing stress, depression and anxiety; lowering blood pressure; lowering pain; and an ability to become more attuned or connected with others.

Mindful Body Scan

1. Sit in a comfortable position where you are not going to be disturbed.

2. Close your eyes and focus on your breath in the same way as is described in the Mindful Prayer exercise to the right.

3. Move your attention to your feet – feel them touching the floor – notice any sensations: pressure of your shoes; any pain; warmth; numbness; tingling; and so on. The important part of this exercise is to bring your mind back to focusing on your body when it inevitably wanders away to think about something else.

4. Now move your attention to your ankles – what do they feel like? Can you notice the air of the room touching your skin? Notice each ankle individually then hold both of them in your awareness at once.

5. Continue to go up your legs, your lower body, upper body, arms, and head with the same attention to each part of your body (including any sensations from deep within your body like your abdomen, your lungs, your heart, etc), noticing each part, drawing your attention into the feelings, sensations and your own internal perception of what that part of you is like in the moment.

6. Once you have scanned your body in parts, let your attention take in your entire body all at once. Notice what you are like – your feelings, a sense of you filling the space in the room.

7. Then bring your attention back to your breath and finish with some focused attention on your breathing.

Acceptance Through Mindfullness

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed while you do this exercise.

2. It doesn’t matter what posture you adopt (sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, etc) as long as it’s comfortable for you.

3. Close your eyes and focus on the feeling of your breathing, either where the air flows into your nose or noticing the movement of the air deep in your belly.

4. When your mind wanders off to cravings, just notice where the mind has wandered.

5. Become aware of the difficult thoughts and feelings. Move your focus into them. Notice where in your body you can feel the thoughts or feelings the strongest. Use your breath to guide your mind into those thoughts or feelings, breathing into that part of your body on the in-breath. You may notice feelings of tightness or tension there, feeling as if a part of yourself is resisting or fighting this feeling. If you notice this, say to yourself, “This thought/feeling is OK. Whatever it is, it’s OK. I can let myself feel it and let it go.”

6. Allow yourself to feel these feelings, to have these thoughts, and recognise that there is a deeper part of you that can stand outside of these thoughts and feelings, just watching them, not getting swept away or caught up in them.

7. Whatever thoughts and feelings come into your mind, just notice them, accept them, and let them go. Thoughts are not facts. Simply return your attention to your breathing.

Mindful Social Engagement

When you become uncomfortable in a social situation, when you find yourself wanting to run away, or get upset or angry with another person, begin to shift your focus to your breath (just like in the mindful breathing exercise).

Taking a moment to focus on your breath will often calm down the conflict or anxiety anyway. You might like to let the other person know that you just need to catch your breath for a minute to clear your head before you can continue the conversation. Then try to step aside, and continue to focus on your breathing. As you do, allow those unpleasant feelings of anger, fear, sadness, or whatever the feelings, to come to mind. Allow them to come and go, naturally, with each passing breath. As you continue to do this, you may notice the unpleasant feelings begin to subside. In the meantime, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How do I understand the situation?

2. If I put myself in the other person’s shoes, how do they understand the situation?

3. What do I really want or need in this situation?

4. What does the other person really want or need in this situation?

5. If I continue to act this way, will I really get what I want?

6. What do I need to do differently in this conversation to have a better chance of getting what I want?

7. Is there some way to compromise so that we both get what we want?

As you answer these questions in your head, the upset feelings will continue to depart your body, leaving you calmer and more able to choose how you want to act in the situation.

Once you have decided on the best course of action, you can approach the person and try again. Going through these steps can help you to break the negative pattern so that it becomes less and less possible to push your buttons. That way, you will be less likely to act in a way you are ashamed of or embarrassed about later. You will no longer need to engage in coping strategies (like numbing, drinking, criticising yourself, self-harming, or whatever it may be) because you have given yourself permission to STOP-BREATH-THINK and successfully worked through the situation.

Mindful Breathing

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed while you do this exercise.

2. It doesn’t matter what posture you adopt (sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, etc) as long as it’s comfortable for you.

3. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing by taking in a full deep breath through your nose, feeling your belly rise with the in-breath, and slowly releasing the breath through your mouth. Notice the cooler air rushing into your nostrils and the warmer air escaping from your mouth. Notice yourself sinking into a deeper sense of relaxation as you breath out.

4. When your mind wanders off to thoughts, just notice where the mind has wandered. Whatever thoughts and feelings come into your mind, just notice them, accept them, and let them go. Thoughts are not facts – just thoughts. Simply return your attention to your breathing.

5. You may start with just a few minutes of this breathing exercise, and as your attention span increases you may like to increase the amount of time you spend in this meditation.

 

Relaxation Addition

You can modify the above practice by adding some relaxation imagination…

As you are breathing imagine a warm, coloured light (any colour you like) flowing into your nostrils as you inhale.

Imagine this warm, comfortable, relaxing light flowing into your body and filling up your body like water from a pitcher filling up a glass.

Imagine any unnecessary tension, stress, or anxiety draining out of your body like a black oily liquid, soot, or tar, dripping down through your head, eyes, cheeks, mouth, jaw, neck, shoulders, chest, abdomen, arms, hands, hips, thighs, knees, calves, feet, toes, thought the floor and into the ground. (alternatively you can imagine the tension and stress coming out through your exhalation, like smoke, or simply the stress coming out of you as the warm, used-up air is breathed out).

Then return your imagination back to the the warm, coloured light filling up your body with your next inhalation.

Mindful Savouring

Mindfulness can help you refocus from cravings and negative thoughts and feelings. This exercise will help you to enjoy the experiences that come through your senses – to become very aware of sights, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile experiences. You can sharpen your senses by paying close attention to them without getting lost in thinking thoughts about them. When we become more aware, more focused, we can more easily step back from what used to be automatic cravings and thoughts.

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed while you do this exercise.

2. It doesn’t matter what posture you adopt (sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, etc) as long as it’s comfortable for you.

3. Focus on an object in front of you (for example something you can see in front of you, or something you are holding), or close your eyes and focus on a sound you can hear, or a smell, or a taste (you can something like a small piece of chocolate).

4. Keep your attention on the object you have chosen and deepen your focus on that thing. Notice the texture, the subtle things about the sight, sound, smell, or taste you are focusing on. Try and appreciate as much as you can about the object of your focus.

5. When your mind wanders off to thoughts, just notice where the mind has wandered. Whatever thoughts and feelings come into your mind, just notice them, accept them, and let them go. Thoughts are not facts – just thoughts. Simply turn your attention back to the object you are focusing on. Notice how your senses become sharper and you begin to experience things differently as you focus on them mindfully.

Mindfully Coping with Cravings

Mindfulness can help you refocus from cravings and negative thoughts and feelings. This exercise will help you gain control over your cravings.

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed while you do this exercise.

2. It doesn’t matter what posture you adopt (sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, etc) as long as it’s comfortable for you.

3. Close your eyes or focus on an object in front of you as an anchor point.

4. Focus on the feeling of your breathing, either where the air flows into your nose or noticing the movement of the air deep in your belly.

5. when your mind wanders off to cravings, just notice where the mind has wandered. Whatever craving-related thoughts and feelings come into your mind, just notice them, accept them, and let them go. Notice that the craving is actually made up of many feelings: maybe a jittery feeling in the stomach, a tingling in the muscles, sensations of warmth moving through the body, sensations of coolness, a feeling of emptiness, worried thoughts, or images of food, alcohol, drugs or self-harm.

6. Return your focus on the feeling of your breathing, and then, when you feel ready, return your focus to the feeling of craving.

7. Notice that these craving-related feelings come and go or, perhaps, change over time. Discover that craving is something that changes all the time, and as you break it down into these different feelings, notice that it is far more manageable than you thought it was.

8. Notice how a craving builds to a peak and then gets smaller and weaker, like a wave breaking out in the ocean. Watch the wave get bigger and bigger, and then watch it fade into the distance.

9. Now, focus on all the reasons why you want to stay clean and sober (or not self-harm, or whatever the compulsion is). Think about and focus on the ways in which this behaviour has damaged your life, and think about and focus on how being free from it is making your life better.

10. Spend a few moments enjoying whatever positive experiences have been generated from this practice.

Mindful Walking

Mindfulness can be done in many ways. The essence of mindfulness is focused attention. In this exercise we are going to focus on walking. That may sound simple enough, but you will find your mind wanting to wander into the past, planning for the future, thinking about a relationship, a conversation, something that needs to be done. The challenge here is to keep you focused attention on the here-and-now reality of your direct experience of walking.

 

1. Take a few mindful breaths while standing.

2. Focus your attention on the feeling of your feet against the ground as you walk.

3. When you mind wanders off your focus on your feet, just notice where the mind has wandered. Whatever thoughts and feelings come into your mind, just notice them, accept them, and let them go. Thoughts are not facts – just thoughts. Simply return your attention to your walking.

4. Expand your attention to the feeling of the weight of your body shifting in your legs while still being aware of your feet on the ground.

5. Expand your attention to the movement of your torso and arms while staying aware of your feet on the ground and the shifting of your body weight.

6. Expand your attention to the sights, sounds, and smells along your walk while staying aware of your feet against the ground, the shifting of your body weight, and the movement of your torso and arms.

 

This exercise need not just be with walking – what about other physical exercise like at the gym, gardening, riding a bike? The point is to focus your attention and let go of the intruding thoughts – be in the here-and-now for as long as you can sustain and expand your awareness.

Loving Kindness Meditation

Sit quietly and close your eyes.

Now, bring to mind the image of a person or animal for whom you feel unconditional love. This could be an image of your mother, father, grandparent, a sibling, a lover, friend, or pet. Choose the image of someone who you are absolutely sure loves you and who you surely love. When you can see the image of that person or animal in your mind, say the following words to this person in your own mind. Try to feel the feelings or sentiments that you are expressing:

1. May you be well

2. May you be free from suffering

3. May you be safe

4. May you be happy

5. May you be filled with peace

6. May you experience loving-kindness

Then, bring to mind the image of a trusted teacher or guide—someone who has helped you in your life, someone who you admire. When you can see the image of that person in your mind, say the phrases again to this person in your own mind. Again, try to feel the feelings or sentiments that you are expressing.

Next, bring to mind the image of a neutral person—someone who you pass by on your daily travels but don’t really have feelings for, either good or bad. When you can see the image of that person in your mind, say the phrases again to this person in you own mind. Again, try to feel the feelings or sentiments that you are expressing.

Next, bring to mind the image of yourself. It could be an image of you as an adult, as a child, as a baby, or these images all together as one. When you can see this image in your mind, say the phrases again to the image of yourself in your own mind. Again, try to feel the feelings or sentiments that you are expressing.

(The original loving-kindness meditation practice goes on to include someone you have been in conflict with and then the entire planet. This can be a great exercise, but will depend on your situation, how triggered you become thinking about conflict, and if the main purpose is to gain some much needed self-acceptance and love. I will have talked with you about this and we will have crafted this exercise to meet your particular needs).

Mindful Prayer

Mindfulness meditation techniques have proven to be effective in integrating various brain regions to give us more control over our emotional lives. Mindfulness is the ability to focus our attention on something in the here-and-now and there are all sorts of ways we can do this. I offer this exercise below that incorporates a spiritual aspect to mindfulness that you can adapt to your particular beliefs.

1. Find a quiet, comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed while you do this exercise.

2. It doesn’t matter what posture you adopt (sitting in a chair, lying on the floor, etc) as long as it’s comfortable for you.

3. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing by taking in a full deep breath through your nose, feeling your belly rise with the in-breath, and slowly releasing the breath through your mouth. Notice the cooler air rushing into your nostrils and the warmer air escaping from your mouth. Notice yourself sinking into a deeper sense of relaxation as you breath out. Do this for a few minutes until you feel you are settled and relaxed.

4. Take a short prayer, a short part of a scripture, something you appreciate, or some concept of who you are, or who you want to become – this little bit of information is going to be the focal point of the exercise. Don’t make it too long or complicated. For example you could take something that you are thankful about and turn it into a prayer. Here are some samples of what I mean:

  • “Thank you Lord that You supply all my needs.”
  • “I am so grateful for my family”
  • “My business is going from strength to strength and I am so thankful for this”
  • “Nothing is impossible for those who believe”

These are deliberately positive statements, but the exercise is not about believing a positive statement, but rather to have something to focus on – and if we are going to be focusing on something, it may as well be positive, constructive, and spiritually uplifting.

5. With the statement in mind, shift your focussed attention from your breathing to these words. Repeat the words over in your mind slowly, placing your attention on each word individually as it comes up in your internal dialogue. Then you can do all sorts of creative things with the statement, and I’ll give some examples below, but the critical point is to bring your attention back to the words whenever your mind wanders away from them onto other things (like the worries of the day or memories of yesterday, etc). It is in the brining your attention back from distraction that is the powerful part of this exercise – each time you do, you are strengthening key neural networks in your brain. Don’t judge, or try to analyse yourself, just accept that your mind wanders and gently bring it back to focus on the task at hand. Here are some things you can do with the statement as you focus on it:

  • See the words in you mind – notice each word as if it were written down, or as a 3D object floating in space
  • Mutter the words under your breath
  • Take each word separately and really think about it’s meaning
  • Imagine speaking these words to a friend, a group, or even the entire world
  • Imagine that the words have a feeling, shape or colour
  • Imagine speaking the words into different parts of your body rather than them being just “in your head”
  • There are so many things you can do to focus attention on the statement you have chosen – be creative and come up with some of your own.

6. Once you have had some time focusing on your statement (I suggest you start with around 10 min), and practiced returning your wandering mind back to the task at hand, go back to noticing your breath. You may like to take some deliberate, deep breaths and repeat the process of focussed attention on the breath as you did in the beginning.

Some Australian mental health links

Guide to Mental Health Terminology provided by the Victorian Government: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/termnlgy.htm

Mental Health Association of NSW, including a range of excellent fact sheets: http://www.mentalhealth.asn.au/be-informed/fact-sheets.html

Australian Network for Promotion, Prevention and Early Intervention for Mental Health across all ages of the lifespan: www.auseinet.com

Resources provided by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing

Information about action to build a stronger, more transparent, accountable, efficient and effective mental health system:http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/Mental+Health+and+Wellbeing-1

This website provides a wide range of publications related to mental health and illness: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs

Mindhealthconnect is a website provided by the Australian Government to provide health professionals, consumers and carers with information and support.  This includes online training:http://mindhealthconnect.org.au

The Victorian (Mental Health) Outcome Measurement site provides access to a range of tools to measure mental health outcomes:http://www.health.vic.gov.au/mentalhealth/outcomes/glossary.htm

This website provides information about mental health legislation: http://www.mhca.org.au/documents/Definitionsofmentalhealth.pdf

 

Mental Health and Culture

The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet is an innovative Internet resource that aims to inform practice and policy in Indigenous health by making research and other knowledge readily accessible. HealthInfoNet aims to contribute to ‘closing the gap’ in health between Indigenous and other Australians: http://www.healthinfonet.ecu.edu.au

Australian Indigenous Mental Health is a site that has been developed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Committee of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) and beyondblue: the national depression initiative.  The site has been created to support the work of health professionals in improving knowledge and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait mental health issues and to achieve better outcomes.  http://indigenous.ranzcp.org/index.php

Multicultural Mental Health Australia (MMHA) is a national program funded by the Australian Government to improve awareness of mental health and suicide prevention in culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities: http://www.mmha.org.au

Australian Refugee Association (ARA) believes in the desire and capacity of refugees to be part of the culture and economic life of Australia. ARA provides advice, assistance, advocacy and practical support with Settlement Services, Migration Services, Employment Services, Public education, Policy and advocacy: http://www.ausref.net

The Victorian Transcultural Psychiatry Unit: is a statewide unit which supports area mental health and psychiatric disability support services in working with culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) consumers and carers throughout Victoria: http://www.vtpu.org.au

 

Clinical Practice Guidelines

The Australian and New Zealand versions of RANZCP’s Consumer and Carer Clinical Practice Guidelines are free of charge to download, using the links at the right hand side of the webpage. These booklets are a valuable resource to support consumers, their carers, families and friends in learning more about mental illness and the treatments that are available.

The RANZCP has also developed Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPGs) to provide mental health practitioners, consumers, and carers with evidence-based information about particular mental illnesses and appropriate treatment options.  These can be downloaded from the same webpage:  http://www.ranzcp.org/Publications/Clinical-Practice-Guidelines.aspx

The Centre for Clinical Interventions (CCI) is a government organization that conducts clinically applied psychosocial research and provides training and supervision for various psychological interventions: www.cci.health.wa.gov.au

National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is a UK based organisation that provide a range of clinical practice guidelines for clinicians: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG

Popular Websites

The Black Dog Institute is a world leader in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder.  This website provides a plethora of information on mood disorders: http://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au

beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. This website provide a plethora of information on mood disorders:  http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?

Moodgym is provided by the Australian National University (ANU) and provided a training program so that people can Learn cognitive behaviour therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression:  https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome

Websites for Consumers and Carers

This site has been set up specifically for carers by ARAFMIhttp://www.arafmiaustralia.asn.au

Partners in Care is a campaign initiated by the Royal College of Psychiatrists (UK), to highlight the problems encountered by carers of those with learning disabilities and mental health problems:www.rcpsych.ac.uk/campaigns/pinc/index.htm

Living Is For Everyone (LIFE), is a national Suicide Prevention site with loads of useful information and links to International sites: www.livingisforeveryone.com.au

The Mental Health Council of Australia is a peak non-Government organization representing and promoting the interests of the Australian Mental Health sector, committed to achieving better mental health for all Australians: www.mhca.org.au

Mental Health Foundation is an NGO that works to implement creative partnerships with mental health consumers, other mental health organizations, government agencies, mental health professionals, and community organizations with a view to improve mental health in the community: www.mhf.org.au

SANE is an Australian charity helping people affected by mental illness through lobbying, education and research. It offers an information and referral service.www.sane.org

Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW, Vic and other States and Territories, is a community service organisation that works to support people with schizophrenia.  http://www.sfnsw.org.au

This site has been set up specifically for carers by ARAFMIhttp://www.arafmiaustralia.asn.au

 

Websites for young people

The Young Carers Association of NSW provides this site for 8-18 year old people who care for parents in particular:  www.youngcarersnsw.asn.au

Moodgym is provided by the Australian National University (ANU) and provided a training program so that people (especially young people) can learn cognitive behaviour therapy skills for preventing and coping with depression:  https://moodgym.anu.edu.au/welcome

Australian Clearing House for Youth Studies provides a plethora of information related to working with Young People: http://www.acys.info/topics

HeadSpace has been established to support the mental health of young people: http://www.headspace.org.au

Young Minds is a UK website that Promotes Child and Adolescent Mental Health issues: www.youngminds.org.uk

Australian Association for Infant Mental Health Inc works towards improving professional and community recognition that infancy is a critical time for psycho-social development, by promotingresearch, education, advocacy, and mutual support through networking: www.aaimhi.org

 

Online Training for Professionals

Mental Health Professional Online Development MHPOD is a learning resource being developed for people working in mental health. Based on the national practice standards for mental health, it draws on the evidence base for mental health care and contemporary practice wisdom. Aims include supporting the mental health workforce, and improving access to evidence-based educational programs:  http://www.mhpod.gov.au

Mindhealthconnect is a website provided by the Australian Government to provide health professionals, consumers and carers with information and support.  This includes online training:http://mindhealthconnect.org.au

The Mental Health Teaching and Learning Clearing House is an online library of quality teaching resources set up by the Australian government: http://www.mhtlc.gov.au

Mental Illness Education Coalition has been responsible for program which have a notable record in the area of school based education, early intervention and primary prevention to promotion mental health and information people about mental health issues and mental illness:  www.miea.org.au

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software