counselling psychotherapy

National Psychotherapy Day

National Psychotherapy Day Instagram Challenge

Psychotherapy has an image problem.

Let’s change that because we know that therapy is an effective, economical, natural, and meaningful way to improve lives.

National Psychotherapy Day has been campaigning since 2012, fans of National Psychotherapy Day:
?Share therapy effectiveness research
?Donate time or money to support low-fee counseling centers
?Give constructive feedback to therapists
?Talk and write about therapy to fight stigma, and
?Wear turquoise on September 25th to show support

This year I am hosting an Instagram Challenge and I’d love for you to join me!

Join the Instagram Challenge by posting a photo a day to educate the public about all things counselling and psychotherapy. I will repost and share a link to the best photo each day on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

National Psychotherapy Day Instagram Challenge – How Do I join?

  1. Follow me on Instagram and send me a message there so that I can a) follow you back and b) send you the photo list prior to September 1.
  2. Let me know any suggestions you have for photo a day ideas/topics eg. favourite psychotherapist, inspirational quote, a therapist’s chair, best book for depression etc. I will choose the most popular 25 responses to use for the photo a day prompts
  3. Leave your Instagram handle in the comments below so that we can all follow each other. Alternatively, use the #tags below to find your challenge colleagues
  4. From September 1, post the photo a day
  5. Tag me in your photo a day
  6. Use the #tags: #npd17 #nationalpsychotherapyday #therapyrocks #photoaday
  7. Share your challenge photos to your other social media accounts to educate the public about psychotherapy
  8. Follow National Psychotherapy Day on social media and tag them in your posts

The benefits you to…

  1. Express your creativity
  2. Become part of a counselling and psychotherapy community on Instagram
  3. Promote positive images on Instagram
  4. Educate the public about the benefits of counselling and psychotherapy
  5. Share your practice pics and links with the public (you could write a blog and link it to your Instagram pic!)
  6. Build your Instagram followers
  7. Support National Psychotherapy Day

NB: this is also open to counsellors, social workers and psychologists 🙂

© Can Stock Photo / GeorgeDolgikh


Therapy Rocks! Why invest in therapy? …Because you’re worth it! (Part 2)

Because you're worth it turquoiseWhat stops you from investing in your emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being?

Here are some common mindsets that might be holding you back:

I must be sick, diseased, broken or just plain crazy if I need therapy

All sorts of people come to therapy with all sorts of problems. Many also come, not because they feel there is something wrong, but because they want to get to know themselves better, to ponder the meaning of life or to unleash their creative and authentic selves. As a society, we need to change the way we think and talk about therapy. Ultimately, therapy is a creative process whereby you will learn how to build a healthy relationship with self and others.

Why should I be the one to do all the work once again?

How are you neglecting, re-wounding or punishing yourself by staying stuck in anger or pain? Investing in therapy and taking responsibility for where you are in the present moment does not let whoever hurt or abused you off the hook; it lets you off the hook. Therapy can help you to move forward with your life regardless of your history.

I have tried therapy before and it didn’t work

Perhaps try again with a different therapist and / or a different style of therapy. When I choose a therapist, I always go with my gut – never by location, cost or whether a rebate is available. Good therapy is worth its weight in gold and many people travel to the other side of town for the right therapist. It is perfectly acceptable to interview a few therapists before making a decision. Also, therapy takes a commitment in relation to time, money and relationship with self – so the timing needs to be right! If you are unhappy at any stage with your therapist, it is worth sharing your feelings so that you and the therapist can work through it together.

What’s the point? I am beyond help

Somewhere you have learnt that you are not worth it.

When we are struggling with toxic shame, low self-worth and a sense of feeling flawed at the core, it is difficult to see that we are indeed worth investing in ourselves. It’s important that we don’t believe everything we think! It could be one of our subpersonalities such as the ‘inner critic’ or the ‘internal saboteur’.

You are worth it and the point is you. Therapy can help you to realise this.

Therapy takes too long

Clients report feeling better at the end of the first session, are making healthy lifestyle changes after just a few sessions and many see a significant difference in their lives within three to six months. Yes…it is rare that long-term healing occurs within the limited number of sessions provided by Medicare. Yes, therapy does take time, money and commitment. But…what is the alternative?

Try reflecting on these important questions:

  • How long have you been suffering?
  • How is the way that you are currently dealing with your suffering working for you?
  • If things stay as they are, how will you feel this time next year?
  • How would you like your life to be by this time next year?

It is tempting to go for a quick fix solution. There isn’t one. How long you will be in therapy is ultimately up to you but healing takes time. Allow yourself the time to heal – you’re worth it!

Therapists charge too much

Psychotherapists and counsellors with rigorous training are highly skilled professionals. They often train longer than lawyers, doctors and dentists. To maintain a high level of psychological safety for their clients, psychotherapists often invest in their own weekly psychotherapy as well as a period of group therapy. They are required to participate in at least 20 hours of continued professional development a year as well as monthly clinical supervision. Therapists also pay for association registration, insurance, room overheads, marketing and website development. Rarely do therapists overcharge for their time and in fact, they are one of the only professions to offer a sliding fee scale!

I can’t afford therapy because I can’t get the Medicare rebate with my counsellor or psychotherapist of choice

The Medicare rebate is currently at around $85 in Australia. The fee for Medicare providers is around $150-$200; therefore the out of pocket cost is anywhere between $65- $115. The average counselling / psychotherapy fee with a non-Medicare provider is between $75-$130 so it works out much of a muchness. One problem with relying on a Medicare rebate is that the limited number of sessions provided are rarely enough and this can result in revolving door syndrome or therapist hopping. See Why pay out of pocket? for more reasons why paying privately is conducive to your emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being.

I can’t afford therapy

Many of us spend hundreds of dollars each week trying to boost our esteem, pleasure seeking, wasting money, being overly restrictive with money to save for the future and by soothing our unbearable feelings, dependencies and addictions. But at what cost?

How much money ($AU) are you wasting that you could be investing in your well-being?

  • Taking a gram of coke = approx. $300.
  • Drinking a bottle of bubbly/wine a night = approx.  $70 a week.
  • Smoking a packet of ciggies a day = $105 a week.
  • Gambling on the pokies = $$$.
  • A night of binge drinking $100-$300.
  • Bingeing on food and overeating at meals = $$$.
  • Buying takeaways = approx. $140 a week.
  • Joining diet clubs over and over again and purchasing their weekly menu = $120-$150 a week.
  • A gym membership that is excessively used or never used = $30 a week.
  • A shopping spree = $$$ on new clothes, often left unworn.
  • Working excessive hours, in a job you hate, neglecting the family to earn more $$$ that you then spend trying to make your family happy.
  • Buying stuff, stuff and more stuff for the kids thinking it will make them happy or because you feel guilty.
  • $$$ on anti-ageing, make-up or plastic surgery because you are not happy with your appearance.
  • $$$ on medication because you are sick all the time.
  • Expensive holidays  – only to spend the whole holiday sick because you are so run down.
  • Expensive health retreats that you are not able to integrate and follow through with on your return.

Are any of the above costing your emotional, psychological and spiritual health and wellbeing?

I really can’t afford therapy

Unfortunately, many counselling and psychotherapy services are currently not provided for, as they should be, by government mental health plans.

There are some other options available:

  • Ask your therapist of choice if they have a sliding fee scale
  • Ask work if they have an Employee Assistance Program
  • Ring around counselling and psychotherapy training organisations for reduced fee or free therapy. Choose a training organisation where their students must participate in a significant amount of their own therapy.
  • There are numerous help lines that offer free telephone counselling for crises e.g. Rape Crisis, Lifeline and Financial counselling
  • Join group therapy – approximately $50-$100 a group
  • Join a self-help group – many organisations such as eating disorder foundations run groups at little or no cost.
  • Join a 12 step program – there are groups for gambling, sex addiction, narcotics, alcohol, children of alcoholics, overeating and co-dependency. Often this requires a minimal donation to go towards tea and coffee.
  • Join a self-development workshop through a local community college – they cover everything from building self-esteem, how to manage money to creating emotional intelligence
  • Build self-worth through self-help. Borrow or buy self-help books, watch some TED talks/YouTube clips or listen to podcasts – there are 1000s available free of charge.
  • Boost your well-being by taking care of diet and exercise regularly to boost the ‘feel good’ hormones in the brain.
  • Ask for a raise, work towards a promotion at work or upgrade to a job that mirrors and affirms your worth.

The cost of ignoring the call of the Self

The Self calls us towards our innate wholeness in mysterious ways; symptoms, health breakdowns, life-crises or perhaps through a peak spiritual awakening. The more we ignore the call, the louder the knocking becomes. It pays to invest in our emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being before crisis comes a knocking!

I am a therapist – how can I pay it forward and invest in my community?

In line with National Psychotherapy Day, here are a few ways you can pay it forward:

  • Offer a couple of sessions a week at sliding scale for those experiencing genuine financial difficulty. This can be done as a percentage of the client’s wage or at a standard low-cost fee.
  • Give a free talk to your community about emotional health and well-being or a topic that speaks to your area e.g. Coping with depression in the outback.
  • Volunteer one counselling session a week, or a block of sessions to your local community centre or to a local  NGO.
  • Join the NPD facebook page – there are loads of suggestions on how to give back to your community.

This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.

About Jodie

As Seen In Banner Profile (600x79)

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist, Therapeutic Counsellor & Life-Coach, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 15 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney.

Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Therapy Rocks! Psychotherapy develops your intelligence [Video]

canstockphoto6951267Therapy Rocks! Psychotherapy develops your intelligence [Video]

There is nothing I love more than hearing great stuff about psychotherapy.  For too long, there has been a stigma attached to going to therapy (e.g. I must be sick, diseased, broken or just plain crazy!).

In some of the funkiest cities around the world; Paris, New York and Buenos Aires…Therapy Rocks!

And… almost everyone has a therapist.

In this short news clip, one client of psychoanalysis shares that seeing a therapist is the most normal thing in the world, so much so that all of her friends have therapists. For her,

‘Therapy is about finding a way to function in a dysfunctional society…it is about finding yourself in a space that is yours with someone who will listen and help you to see that part of yourself that you usually can’t see.’

Dr Rascovsky, Head of the Psychoanalytic Society says that ‘psychotherapy is so widespread that sessions can be paid for by health insurance, this would be unthinkable in most countries…In other countries, going to a psychotherapist is something negative, in Argentina, psychotherapy is prestigious because it is seen by us as a way of developing our intelligence .’

In conjunction with my personal experience of therapy, there is an ever increasing base of evidence highlighting the benefits of short and long – term counselling and psychotherapy. These specific disciplines are effective and can provide long lasting change for a wide range of experiences such as anxiety, depression and many other emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns.

This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.


About Jodie

Sydney counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches.

Therapy Rocks! Psychotherapist, counsellor, social worker, life-coach, psychologist, psychiatrist – what’s the difference?

Therapy Rocks GreenPsychotherapist, counsellor, social worker, life-coach, psychologist, psychiatrist – what’s the difference?

I am often asked about the difference between a psychotherapist and other helping professions.

For many years in Australia, funded psychological services have been monopolized by what Yalom calls, symptom focused, pathologising and medically orientated approaches. Whilst appropriate for some people, these masculine based approaches are not suitable for everyone.

Increasingly, people are looking further afield than GP mental health care plans and making a choice to pay privately so that they can have a broader range of choice regarding their preferred practitioner and treatment style.

The clients who come to my private practice are looking for a more holistic and soulful approach to their health and well-being as well as one which is evidence based and firmly grounded in western psychology; a balance of both masculine and feminine energy.


There is an increasing base of evidence which confirms what practitioners and clients of psychotherapy have known for years – psychotherapy really does work.

Clients report healthy lifestyle changes after just a few sessions and many see a significant difference in their lives within three to six months. Psychotherapy is a soulful approach to healing which provides long lasting change and resolution of the pervasive, underlying issues that continue to impact on life and relationships. Psychotherapy sessions are at least once a week.

psychotherapist can work at depth (600x295)There are many different schools (psychoanalytic, humanistic, existential, transpersonal, somatic, Buddhist, psycho-spiritual etc) and standards of psychotherapy training range from Degrees, Post Grad Diplomas and Master’s degrees. Most psychotherapists work in private practice integrating a multitude of techniques and theories.

Psychotherapists, who have had a classic and rigorous training, would have trained to the equivalent of degree level for at least four years and sometimes up to eight years. Psychotherapists trained at this level are also required to have a significant amount of their own personal therapy per year (approximately 40 sessions per training year) and usually group therapy throughout the duration of their training. This means that they have ’walked the path’ similar to that which their clients will be journeying along. This is one of the most important aspects of any helping profession training. Underpinning change in psychotherapy, is the use of transference and countertransference within the therapeutic relationship. If the psychotherapist is not using this, they are more likely providing counselling, not psychotherapy.

PACFA registered psychotherapists in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before they are accredited.


Counsellors work in a wide range of fields. Counselling normally focuses on a specific issue and tends to be more short-term work, from 6 sessions to 6 months (longer for therapeutic/psychotherapeutic counsellors). Counselling works best when it is consistent and attended weekly.

There are different standards of training for counsellors. Some train for a few hours, some for up to four years and at Master’s degree level. The three main types of counsellors are:

  • Support
  • Therapeutic
  • Psychotherapeutic

Therapeutic and psychotherapeutic counsellors are able to work at greater depth, using the transference, countertransference and the therapeutic relationship,  and usually with a wider range of issues (UKCP).

Some counselling programs require their trainees to participate in their own counselling and some do not. PACFA registered counsellors in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before they are accredited.


A life coach works to help clients maximize their potential. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources, and creativity that the client already has (ICF).

Coaches can gain qualifications through short online courses or at greater depth through private coaching organisations. Coaches often learn counselling skills, however, they are not trained in psychotherapy.  Many psychotherapy, counselling and psychology trainings contain coaching components.

The ICF requires members to have a certain level of training, supervision and clinical hours under their belt before being accredited.

Social Worker

Social work’s primary focus is on the social determinants of health. Social workers advocate for social change. They take a holistic view of health and well-being and they work towards maximizing human potential (AASW).

Social workers often work in the fields of child protection, family welfare, youth, women’s and refugee services, hospitals and increasingly in private practice. In Australia, a Bachelor of Social Work takes four years and students are not required to participate in their own clinical social work, counselling or psychotherapy sessions. Social workers who provide psychotherapy in private practice should have a post qualification in clinical social work (US) or psychotherapy.

AASW registered social workers in Australia are required to have a certain level of training, supervision and placement hours under their belt before they are accredited.


Psychological theory underpins all helping professions. All of the above have elements of psychology within their training.

Psychology is predominately a medically orientated model which often focuses on diagnosis and symptom reduction of mental illness. Psychologists also use scientific methods to study the mind and human behaviours. They work in many fields: research, health and welfare services, government departments, academic institutions, education, corporations, marketing, training and development and in private practice (APS).

Many psychologists provide cognitive behavioural therapy. Psychologists providing psychotherapy should have a post qualification in clinical psychology or psychotherapy. Psychologists are not required to participate in their own clinical psychology or psychotherapy sessions.

Psychologists in Australia are registered with the AHPRA and can register with the APS  – they must first complete a minimum of six years training and supervision to be eligible.


Psychiatry is a medically orientated model. It involves the study of medicine and then training in mental and psychiatric illness. A psychiatrist can prescribe medication.

Training in psychiatry sometimes includes depth psychoanalytic psychotherapy, however, there is an ever increasing focus on prescription based psychopharmacology. If you feel that a psychiatrist is the professional best suited to you, find one who also specialises in talk therapy. Alternatively, participate in psychotherapy alongside taking medication – this will help get to the root of the problem.

The latest evidence shows that psychotherapy works better than medication alone for symptoms such as depression and anxiety.

NB. Training standards vary from country to country. Please check with the appropriate associations and federations for the requirements of where you live.

Therapy Rocks!

This post is part of my Therapy Rocks! series and is in line with the goals set out by National Psychotherapy Day.

About Jodie

As seen in banner profile2

Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She has qualifications in psychotherapy, social work, therapeutic counselling, eating psychology coaching and has extensive experience and training in psychology and psychiatric illness. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy and works in private practice in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.





Therapy Rocks! Why Love Matters.

Therapy Rocks RedTherapy Rocks! Why Love Matters.

In Why Love Matters (2004) psychotherapist Sue Gerhardt covers a plethora of research on early parent-baby relationships, attachment, emotional and brain development in early life and how these are linked with adult physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns.  Gerhardt’s clinical practice and expertise stems from her many years of working with mothers and babies in private practice. Her solid argument, with research to back it up, is that children are best cared for in their early years by their parents because of the love they have for them. When separated from loving caregivers, even though babies may appear calm, their heart rate and autonomic arousal is sky rocketing. The exception to all of this is when the primary caregiver/s cannot provide ‘good enough’ parenting. She writes,

‘If we want to provide our children with good emotional foundations, in the form of a balanced stress response and good development of the pre-frontal cortex and other areas of the emotional brain, we have to think about what THEY need in the period when these emotion systems are developing. I think that infants need relationships that keep them in a reasonably stress-free state, with people who respond positively to them as potential, emerging personalities and pay attention to who they are becoming over time…attachment security takes time to develop, most of the first year, so it still brings us back to parental care for at least the first year unless things are not good at home’.

Attachment theory and the social brain

Attachment theory has been widely used in psychotherapy for over 50 years. Gerhardt’s research offers scientific evidence to back up Bowlby and Ainsworth’s Attachment theories. Between them, ‘neuroscience, psychology, psychoanalysis and biochemistry are offering a deeper understanding of how human beings become human and how they learn to relate emotionally to others’ (2004, p.2).

Gerhardt argues that the social brain, our emotional style and resources are developing and established in the early years of life. ‘The social brain is the part of the brain which learns how to manage feelings in relation to others, as well as the development of our stress response, immune response and neurotransmitter systems which all affect our future emotional life’ (2004, p.3).

Gerhardt claims that the following experiences can have dire consequences on our overall wellbeing, our self-esteem/confidence/worth and our relationship with self and others:

  • Physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or spiritual  abuse
  • Abandonment or neglect
  • Physically or emotionally absent parents
  • Styles of parenting such as critical parenting, having unrealistic expectations, eg. forced into independence too early,  helicopter and co-dependent parenting
  • Narcissistic parents, i.e. the parents’ needs are primary, not the child’s

The evidence that Gerhardt provides shows that the possible consequences of such experiences are attachment disturbances, psychosomatic illness, eating disorders, addiction, antisocial behaviour, personality disorders, chronic stress, anxiety and depression (p.3). Linda Graham, MFT,  in ‘The neuroscience of attachment’ writes, ‘when our early experiences have been less than optimal, unconscious patterns of attachment can continue to shape the perceptions and responses of the brain to new relational experiences in old ways’ (2008, p.1)

How psychotherapy can help

Gerhardt proposes that for those of us who have experienced disturbances in our early attachment relationships and family of history – through psychotherapy – we can indeed grow a socially and emotionally intelligent brain. She writes,

‘The missing experience of having feelings recognised and acknowledged by another person, particularly of having strong feelings tolerated by another person is provided by the therapist…slowly through these types of experiences with a psychotherapist, a new muscle develops, an ability to be heard and to listen, to listen and be heard…Psychotherapy offers a change to rework the emotional strategies…  [but] it takes time to establish new networks in the brain.’ (2004, p.205)

In conjunction with Gerhardt’s work, there is an amounting base of evidence showing that through psychotherapy and in particular, via the therapist showing us empathic love, compassion, emotional presence and acceptance, we can go a long way in healing from our past suffering, old wounds and traumas. Increasingly, neuroscience is speaking of ‘the shaping physiological force of love, finding that ‘attachment relationships’ and ‘limbic resonance with significant others shape the neural core of the self’ (Lewis, Amin and Lannon, 2001; Seil 1999, cited in Firman & Gila, 2010, p. 2).

Psychotherapy is often mistakenly seen as a place whereby we get ‘analysed’ or ‘fixed’. In my personal and professional experience, psychotherapy is primarily about building a healthy relationship with self and others.  It is important we choose a therapist who is able to love us unconditionally. The therapist must also be able to work at depth not only attached to certain techniques or models aimed at changing thoughts and behaviours.

Alongside psychotherapy, Graham suggests that we also need to hang out with other healthy brains. For example: self-help groups, yoga or meditation classes, personal growth workshops and at expressive arts, dance and movement classes.

This research is important because it shows us that through psychotherapy

  • We can ‘create new patterns of neural circuitry, pathways and networks that can allow us to relate, moment by moment, in new healthier, more resilient ways’ (Graham, 2008, p.2)
  • We can learn to soothe the part of us that feels unsoothable
  • We can gain a sense of connection to self and other
  • We can heal insecure attachment styles, fostering healthy relationships
  • We can rebuild, self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth
  • We can have emotional balance and emotional intelligence
  • We can learn new tools in therapy such as mindfulness which can help us manage stress, regulate emotions and foster empathy for self and other
  • We can heal our inner child through visualisation and other therapeutic techniques
  • We can provide healthy mirroring and ‘good enough’ parenting to our children
  • We can see our children’s needs as an extension of our own
  • We can make conscious choices about the best care possible for our children

NB. This research is not about blaming mothers, parents or primary caregivers. It is highlighting through neuroscientific evidence, the impact that early attachment relationships have on our children’s wellbeing. Gerhardt talks about the policy implications of this reasearch, one of the major ones being more support for mothers/parents/primary caregivers.

This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.

About Jodie

Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a soul-centred psychotherapist + eating psychology specialist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.


Firman, John and Gila, Ann, (2010), A psychotherapy of love

Gerhardt, Sue, (2004), Why love matters: how affection shapes a baby’s brain

Gerhardt, Sue, (2006), Why love matters (Daycare revisted) Crooked Timber comments

Graham, Linda, MFT, (2008), The neuroscience of attachment



Therapy Rocks! Stigma, Soul Sickness & Psychotherapy

Therapy Rocks MochaTherapy Rocks! Stigma, Soul Sickness & Psychotherapy

Many of us have felt deep emotional, psychological and spiritual suffering at some stage in our lives. And most of us could do with someone to talk to. Yet a recent Australian study through UNSW found that only a third of people with psychological problems sought counselling or psychotherapy. This is a major concern considering “Australians reported significantly higher levels of psychological distress in 2012, with nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents reporting moderate to severe levels of distress this year (APS, ‘Stress and wellbeing in Australia in 2012’). The World Health Organization suggests that 350 million people worldwide suffer from symptoms such as depression, yet only 20% receive treatment.

As I wrote in my last post on National Psychotherapy Day, ‘it often takes a life-threatening health scare, a rock bottom or major life crisis before seeking and committing to therapy.’ There is far less stigma when we visit the doctor for physical complaints than there is going to a therapist for our emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns. How often do we hear, ‘I’m going to be late for work, I have a therapy?’ Rarely, if ever!

The American Psychological Association suggests that a lack of understanding about what is involved in psychotherapy, attitudes in society, a lack of recognition of the effectiveness of psychotherapy and the growth of the psychopharmacology industry (medication) are some of the contributing factors to the stigma attached to therapy. Another area of concern comes from within the helping professions via stigmatizing labels, language, medical diagnoses and the pathology of everyday emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns.

Diagnoses, labels and language can add to stigma

Diagnoses of symptoms that supposedly point to mental illnesses and/or mental disorders can be really helpful for some people but for many of us, disease and symptom orientated labels for what is essentially a response to trauma, are experienced as limiting and as a reduction of our wholeness. For others, diagnoses can lead to self-perpetuating behaviours and a sense of having no will or choice. Noah Rubinstein from proposes that being diagnosed in such a way suggests that we are fundamentally flawed at the core. He argues that we are not.

The medical model which uses this style of language is the underlying model in the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ (DSM-IV, 1994). It is used extensively in psychiatry and has crept into many psychological approaches. Widespread criticism of the medical model for everyday emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns, suggests that it perpetuates stigma and reduces us as humans to one dimension of our being. It also doesn’t allow for the ordinary diversity that exists among us (Encyclopaedia of Mental Disorders).

The latest edition, the DSM-V, is the topic of further criticism and debate, some of which is coming from within the school of psychiatry itself. Psychiatrist Allen Francis warns us that if the latest version is published as it is, it will lead to the medicalization of normal human emotions.

A major problem with one dimensional treatment is whether our concerns are being intervened and cared for, at the right level. There is widespread criticism regarding symptoms such as depression being treated only at the physiological level through medication, when in many cases, the underlying motivation for the depression may be a loss of hope, value and meaning in life – all of which are considered spiritual concerns.  Likewise, using a ‘fix it’ or ‘get rid of it’ approach to our symptoms can fail to address our wholeness. Their limitation is rooted in the fact that they primarily focus on parts of who we are, for example our thinking or our physiology, and not our whole self.

In many cases, symptoms such as depression, anxiety, addiction and eating problems – but to name a few – are not in need of a ‘cure’ or a ‘fix’. Rather, they are sought to be understood as a call from the deeper or higher Self towards transformational growth and realization of our wholeness, inherent goodness, worth and beauty. Symptoms often subside once the underlying cause is worked through and integrated.

When our symptoms and their underlying messages are missed by using one dimensional treatment, it can lead to symptom switching or the symptom may become exacerbated. Another problem is ‘revolving door syndrome’ and is widely recognised within the Medicare Mental Health Plan system.  It is not that medication or certain techniques used such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) aren’t useful or necessary – they are at times – but they don’t address our innate wholeness and the whole story.

In Australia, government funded counselling, psychology and psychotherapy services have long been dominated by these medically orientated approaches. They provide us with little choice in regards to the psychological approach and the therapist of our liking. Master psychotherapist, Irvine Yalom, calls these kinds of treatment approaches ‘economically driven, perforce symptom orientated, brief, superficial and insubstantial…’

When we are reduced to our symptoms we are being pathologized i.e. we are seen as psychologically abnormal. A fear of being equated with our diagnoses and labelled as faulty, broken, sick, diseased, mentally ill or mentally disordered can perpetuate stigma.  

A holistic and soulful approach

A holistic and soulful approach takes into consideration all of who we are. We are first and foremost a Self, whole and unbroken at the core. And…we have a personality, otherwise known as the ego. When we are not seen or heard, or when we have suffered emotional, psychological and spiritual wounding and trauma, our life energy – or what we call in psychosynthesis, our will – can become trapped in maintaining cycles of addiction, illness, depression and so forth. This is the cause of much suffering.

From a holistic perspective, the psyche (soul) consists of body, feelings, mind, sexuality and spirituality. Therefore, many of the above concerns would be classed as soul sickness, not as diseases, mental or psychiatric illnesses: all terms used within the medical model.

Psychotherapy, from this perspective is therefore seen as a sacred space where we tend to, and take care of, the soul.

Soul talk

In psychotherapy, courageous and creative soul work happens. We are not broken, fundamentally and irreparably flawed. We go to therapy because we have deep wounds and trauma that need healing. If we are going to fight the stigma that still exists around entering into psychotherapy, we need a whole person approach and a softer,warmer, feminine and more soulful language that reflects the actual work that takes place inside the therapy space.

This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Please comment below.

About Jodieas-seen-in-december-16-pink

Sydney Soul-Centred Psychotherapist + Eating Psychology Specialist, Jodie Gale, is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. Over the last 20 years, Jodie has helped 100s of women to transform their lives. She has a private counselling, life-coaching and psychotherapy practice in Manly, Allambie Heights and Frenchs Forest on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. Jodie is passionate about putting the soul back into therapy!

Therapy Rocks! National Psychotherapy Day

Therapy Rocks TurquoiseTherapy Rocks! National Psychotherapy Day

Welcome to my new series, ‘Therapy Rocks!’ For over 10 years, I have had the privilege of witnessing people from all walks of life become more authentic, grow and transform their lives. In conjunction with my personal experience of therapy, there is an ever increasing base of evidence highlighting the benefits of short and long – term counselling and psychotherapy. These specific disciplines are effective and can provide long lasting change for a wide range of experiences such as anxiety, depression and many other emotional, psychological and spiritual concerns. Despite this, recent research suggests that most people are less inclined to spend money and time on their psychological well-being as they are on other areas of their lives. It often takes a life-threatening health scare, a rock bottom or major life crisis before seeking and committing to therapy.  Yet many of these experiences can be avoided by seeking help sooner rather than later.

Today, September 25, is National Psychotherapy Day in the United States. The National Psychotherapy Day is sponsored by and was created by a non-profit organisation called the Psychotherapy Foundation.

Founder of the National Psychotherapy Day, Clinical psychologist Ryan Howes suggests that there are several problems that psychotherapy has:

– Stigma remains for those who seek therapy.

– The media presents a distorted view of therapy and therapists.

– Psychotherapy has no unified, active promotional campaign.

– Low-income counselling options are sparse, underfunded, and overwhelmed.

– People aren’t aware of therapy’s proven, lasting effectiveness.

Over the coming months I will be writing about some of the above topics and hope to shed some light on all things therapy. Who knows…by this time next year, we may even have our own National Psychotherapy Day.

In the meantime – wear turquoise and check out some ways that you can be a part of National Psychotherapy Day: and on facebook .

Other blogs from National Psychotherapy Day 2012:

Therapy Rocks!

This blog is part of my Therapy Rocks! series.

About Jodie

Jodie Gale is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a therapeutic counsellor, life-coach and psychotherapist practising in Manly and Allambie Heights on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.


Let your light shine and live the life you have always dreamed of! Contact me now to book your first appointment.