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In Perth, Western Australia this week, Psychologist Ben Mullings and myself talked about the Medicare Better Access Initiative mental health issues on ABC720 Perth radio on Monday 30th May, 2011. It was about our campaign to get the government to reverse its decision to cut the number of Medicare rebated sessions from 12-18 sessions to 6-10 sessions. Here is the link:
Please see below for our Australian GetUp Action campaign you can vote on (these are the people responsible for the above picture), the petition you can sign, the facebook page you can join, the media release and our first (but not last) piece of publicity. I have added links if you wish to send emails to Federal and State politicians to protest against these cuts which come into effect 1st November, 2011.
Psychologist Ben Mullings and myself will be talking about mental health issues on ABC720 radio, Perth Western Australia, on Monday 30th May at 1pm. It’s about our campaign to get the Australian Labor government to reverse its decision to cut the number of Medicare rebated sessions from 12-18 sessions to 6-10 sessions starting from 1st November, 2011.
Read about us in the ABC news online: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2011/05/27/3229499.htm
Please join our GetUp Action Group campaign and vote: http://suggest.getup.org.au/forums/60819-campaign-ideas/suggestions/1833821-better-access-to-psychologists?ref=title
Please sign our petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/better-access-to-psychologists.html
Please contact Ben Mullings (see below) for further details.
Here is our media release.
1. It’s OK to unplug yourself from your computer/laptop/Iphone/Ipad for the day/week/month or year. You will survive.
2. Fashion designers please note that we size 18-28s want the same trendy funky clothes as size 8-18s not shapeless fluorescent paisley tent/tablecloths more suited to the parachute or distress signal industry.
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4. How many of your 1,249 facebook friends would let you borrow their car, lend you $500 or give you a helping hand in a crisis?
5. Your Facebook status updates are relevant and important only to you and your mother.
6. Overpopulation, consumerism and credit card debt will destroy the planet – not global warming, the Mayan Calendar nor Harold Camping’s visions of the Apocalypse.
After fifteen years in therapy I have many magic moments to remember as well some truly excruciatingly embarrassing ones. There were times I thought I might have to move to a foreign country in order to escape the sheer mortification of it all.
Here are my top five awkward moments in therapy.
1. Treading on your Therapist’s Toes – Literally.
Back on July 12th 2006, we had a particularly poignant therapy session and we got up to give each other a hug. As I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around her, I stepped on her foot then almost dislocated my ankle lifting it off so that we could continue the hug. I left her office hoping against hope that she had not noticed her toes being crushed and mangled into the carpet. There was no obvious limp as she walked me to the door though. Although we are both around the same height I weigh considerably more than she does – and I was wearing heavy black boots at the time. I still blush when I think about it.
When I am in my therapist’s office, there is a definite time warp happening where fifty minutes can feel like fifty seconds. If you want to slow down this process, just do some exercise with them. Especially if you loathe physical jerks and find that the time just drags on when you are walking, jogging, bike-riding, playing tennis, doing push-ups or going for the burn at aerobics.
This is where that most peculiar and oppositional phenomena known as therapy time-warp, the parallel universe of the perceptual fourth dimension of time and space between the rapture of therapy and the abomination of exercise, tend to even themselves out and you are finally able to experience what real time feels like in therapy.
When two people get thoroughly engaged in a conversation and it flows to the extent you can feel and see the sparks flying across in the space between them, time is lost forever in the moment. If the conversation drags or is awkward and there is not enough connection, each second can drag like a two year old in the chocolate aisle at the supermarket.
Eight years ago, after many months of frantic searching, I finally found a photo of my therapist with her family on the internet. I cut her face out and stuck it on her business card and carried it in my handbag. Every so often, when I was feeling insecurely dependent, I would take it out and look at it until it became rather worn around the edges. It was a great source of comfort to me and kept me connected with her through some very dark times. She never knew about this.
Perhaps it would be a good idea, especially for therapists who conduct Dialectical Behaviour Therapy to have a business card with a photo – a professional one not a personal family photo. This way clients do not have to ask, beg or grovel and debase themselves asking for a photo from their beloved but reluctant therapist, nor spend hours furtively searching on the internet for an illicit image of someone they are perhaps pathologically attached to. When you have a legitimate source of something private the guilt and shame of dependency, something which regressed clients seem to feel a lot of, can disappear or at least lessen in intensity.
There was both bitter and sweet news in this month’s Federal Budget for all Australians suffering mental health issues. While it is most prudent that the Labor Government is placing much needed funding for people suffering severe mental health issues in low socio-economic, rural and indigenous areas with their early intervention programmes, Headspace Centres for youths and Early Psychosis Prevention and Intervention Centres, this comes at a cost of cutting back the number of sessions available to patients under the Medicare Better Access Initiative with psychologists, both clinical and registered.
These have been sharply reduced from 12 sessions with an additional 6 for exceptional circumstances to 6 sessions with an additional 4 for exceptional circumstances, the Government rationale being, that people who see clinical psychologists suffer from a mild to moderate form of mental illness rather than a severe one. Here is a section taken from the Federal Budget 2011.
Death of a spouse, divorce, moving house and losing a job are four of some of the major most stressful incidents that could happen to you. I’d like to add a fifth one; and that’s making the decision, or having the decision made for you, to leave your long-term therapist.
I don’t need my therapist anymore for therapy – or survival. I am able to look after myself and be my own therapist. I can survive in the big, wide world with all the tools and devices I have learned over the years, yet to move on from my therapist would leave a huge hole in my heart.
The more child-like and dependent I was the more I needed her to stay alive, but the more I grew up and matured in therapy the more I relied on myself and less on her. It’s not about the therapy itself. That is the giddy part, growing up and away and moving on. One can only move on in therapy as one gets stronger and eventually that dependence is replaced with independence. And as one gets stronger one naturally starts to separate, first at an unconscious level and then one becomes aware that the nature of your feelings are changing.