Mental Health; Psychology


Have you heard of it? Perhaps you have seen it on a poster in your kid's classroom, or seen a blog or motivational post on Facebook or Instagram. It's a fairly big idea in popular psychology at the moment, based on Carol Dweck's book "Mindset".

In a nutshell, a Growth Mindset refers to the idea that our abilities and knowledge can be developed. We can get smarter, do better, and achieve greater through putting in time and effort. This is in contrast to a Stuck Mindset, which refers to the idea that abilities and understandings are relatively fixed; aka, you either have it or you don't.

Why is this so important in parenting? Well, for starters, if we have a growth mindset we have more confidence to try again when we fail at something, we change direction when we realise we were stuck, and we ask for help when we need it. A growth mindset is more than thinking positive thoughts, or even having flexible thoughts. It's also more than just praising and rewarding effort, and it's definitely not enough by itself - even the strongest growth mindset needs to be backed up by taking action.

So what does a growth mindset look like in parents? 
👉Thinking about the underlying cause of a parenting challenge, finding a new way, and applying that new way next time
👉Considering parenting difficulties as an opportunity to grow, rather than admitting defeat or concluding that it's just not your cup of tea
👉Adopting a curious attitude toward parenting and embracing opportunities to learn
👉Creating a belief in yourself, in your own parenting skills and abilities, and your capacity to change 
👉Rewarding your parenting actions rather than your parenting traits 
👉Being ok with being vulnerable and taking feedback, then committing to growth and taking pride in all your hard work and effort.

I challenge you to notice your stuck parenting thoughts and flip them into a growth thought (and then take action on this!).

How do you feel about your parenting from this point onward, once this happens?

Olivia Boer is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania. 

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash .

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Kick self-doubt in the balls really hard and keep going!

We all struggle with self-doubt from time to time. Our Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Sam has put together 5 tips for tackling self-doubt head on.

When I started to write this article, I felt immediate self-doubt about its title. Was it too aggressive? Was it too inappropriate? Is this what a professional mental health professional should say? Will people judge me for it? Will it cause offence? I began to worry, over analyse, feel anxious and stress about it. I was listening to self-doubt creep around and whisper bitterness to me.

And then I thought, no! Self-doubt sucks and deserves to be kicked in the balls!

Self-doubt is that little voice that sits in the back of your mind and makes you wonder about all the awful things about yourself. It comes quietly in the night when you’re trying to sleep. It pops up when you’re about to meet up with a friend. It shoots you down when you have a brilliant idea. It makes you question your abilities when aiming for an important achievement. It strangles you after browsing social media. In short, self-doubt does all it can to hold you back.

Worst of all self-doubt knows you really, really well. It knows your insecurities and it knows exactly how to hurt you.

Sure, self-doubt might help us at some points. Such as waking us up to our limitations. It might wisely suggest that I can’t jump that gap on my bike like I used to.  Or it might suggest appropriately, that no I can’t pull off that fashion statement as I once did.

But besides some of the friendly wake up calls, self-doubt is really no friend to us.

Self-doubt eats away at us. And if we are not careful self-doubt will take a big chunk out of our self-esteem. The confidence we once had to walk into a room smiling, feeling comfortable, and self-assured, can be destroyed. It leaves us nervous, quiet, scared and unsure of ourselves.

So how do we kick self-doubt in the balls?

Challenge the doubt: The doubt that sneaks in, challenge it and ask yourself whether it is based on realistic facts or is it shrouded in untruths? If you discover it to not be true, don’t listen to it.

Remind yourself: Remind yourself of all the times you have overcome hardships or tackled tough obstacles. Remind yourself that you have had the strength and abilities to do those things in the past. There is no reason why you don’t have those strengths and abilities now.

Avoid comparisons: Don’t compare yourself to other peoples’ success. Don’t be sucked in by other peoples’ Instagram photos or the awesome lives people post about on social media. It’s not about them, it’s about you. Look at where you have come from, look at your achievements, look at where you are going. That’s all that matters.

Stop it: Be bold and stand up to those self-doubting thoughts. They don’t have control, you do. Tell them ‘stop it! You are not helping me! I am in control!’

Confidence: Even if we are a super confident person, at times we will have these self-doubts. That’s okay, it means you’re human. But you can choose to listen to them and not strive ahead, or you can choose to kick that self-doubt in the balls and keep going.

Sam Shand is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker at Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania. 

Sam Shand Accredited Mental Health Social Worker Launceston.jpg

What to expect when you are referred to a psychologist

You take the morning off work and head to your GP, with the plan on telling then you have been struggling with feeling stressed, not sleeping well, or feeling low or flat. Perhaps you are often feeling angry, or beginning to feel like you don’t want to live like this anymore. When you see your GP, they ask you some questions and assess how things are going. You fill out a short questionnaire about how you have been feeling, and then your GP says it…

I would like to refer you to a psychologist.

Your GP completes some paperwork, generally including a Mental Health Treatment Plan and a referral to the psychologist (or Mental Health Social Worker/Occupational Therapist), and tell you to contact the psychologist to make an appointment. Alternately the psychologist may contact you when they receive the referral.

You will usually organise an initial appointment on the phone, and the psychologist or their receptionist will let you know if you need to complete any paperwork and should let you know any terms, such as the clinician’s details, cancellation notice periods, session fees and rebate information. You can request a copy of all this information in writing. You may need to wait a while for an appointment, depending on the clinician’s wait list time. You can often request an earlier appointment if it comes up sooner, and you can make yourself available at short notice.

Then your first appointment comes around

Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early to complete any paperwork, and allow yourself to catch your breath and get comfortable in the surroundings. You might want to jot down any concerns you have if you are worried you might forget them. Your clinician will come and greet you, and you will go with them to their consult room. The initial appointment is often mostly for gathering information about your difficulties and any relevant history, as well as completing some basic assessments and creating a treatment plan. Your clinician will usually share this information with you at the end of the first appointment, including their recommendations about what happens next. Once the appointment is over, you pay for the session (or sign a bulk bill form if it’s a bulk-billing clinician - we don’t offer this at HMC) and book in future appointments. Often future appointments are fortnightly, but sometimes they are a little more frequent or spaced out further.


It's now time to give yourself a little bit of space to process that you have done it! You have commenced treatment and taken the first step toward optimising your life. Now you have a safe person in your team, that will help you work toward becoming the best version of yourself.

Olivia Boer is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania. 

Image by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

It’s important to feel comfortable when you are in your therapist’s office.

It’s important to feel comfortable when you are in your therapist’s office.

The ABCs of behaviour

Aay, bee, cee, dee, eee, eff... sorry, got a little off track there. Lots of ABCs going on both at home and at HMC Launceston these days. Which brings me to todays blog topic: What are the ABCs of behaviour. 

A is for Antecedents

Or Anticipating a behaviour, depending on who you talk to. For both options, it means what is happening immediately before a behaviour occurs. It can be something happening in the individual's environment, or it can be an internal event such as an individual's thought or feeling. 

B is for behaviour

This one is pretty obvious; it's the actual behaviour that occurs. Remember, behaviours can also be what we want to see occurring, not just a "problem behaviour" that we want to reduce in frequency (how often it happens), intensity (how big/strong it gets), or duration (how long the behaviour goes for).

C is for consequences

Understanding the consequences of a behaviour, or what happens immediately after a behaviour occurs, is almost as important as understanding the behaviour itself. This is because consequences are VERY important in determining whether a behaviour is more or less likely to occur again the next time the individual is in a similar situation. 

Why do we care about understanding behaviour?

Our actions can have significant implications for our social, emotional, and educational/occupational functioning. Being able to understand why a particular behaviour is occurring what what can be done to increase or decrease the likelihood of that behaviour occurring can make our lives, and the lives of those around us far more pleasant, happy, and less stressful. 

Putting it all together

Think about the following example: Jimmy, aged 4 and his Mum are at the supermarket. Jimmy doesn't want to stay next to the shopping trolley (even for some Coles Mini's at the end) and runs off to the other end of the supermarket isle (the Behaviour). What happened immediately before (Jimmy seeing a big long expanse of space to run in) and immediately after (Jimmy's Mum running after him yelling for him to come back, which is quite exciting for Jimmy whilst she chases him around the supermarket) can make Jimmy more likely to do the same thing next time him and his mum go shopping. By changing the antecedents (for example, Jimmy's mum clearly establishing rules, what will happen if he breaks the rules, and giving him his own shopping list to follow) and the consequences (for example, Jimmy's Mum requiring him to hold her hand throughout the rest of the shopping trip), we can expect that Jimmy's behaviour to be closer to what his mum would like, next time. 

One final point...

When we are attempting to shape/change another person's behaviour, it is important to remember that reducing a problem behaviour is not enough. We also need to reinforce the desired behaviour (what we want to see the individual doing next time), so the individual has something to replace their old behaviour with. 

If you need some help with behaviour (yours or someone else's), have a chat to one of our clinicians who can help you work it all out. 

Olivia Boer is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania. 


What causes children's misbehaviour?

It's really easy to blame someone when kids are being naughty, oppositional, or defiant. "They are just so difficult...", "She is doing this for attention!", or "He is just like his father!" are common ideas that come to mind. Especially when your child just won't cooperate, listen, or do what they are asked. 

Often, though, we might not understand the child's behaviour enough to accurately pinpoint what causes the behaviour, and why it keeps happening.

As parents, we try the strategies we have been told, the things we saw our friend do, or what our own parents did with us. And yet, the oppositionality continues. We read a parenting website, Google "What do I do when my kid won't behave?", and find ourselves getting frustrated and yelling more than we would like. Then they talk back to us and run off. 

There are a few key steps to understanding children's behaviour that we will be looking at over the coming weeks. The first is an idea discussed by Dr Russell Barkley, one of the pioneers in ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder research, in his behavioural parent training work. Dr Barkley notes there are four main causes of, or contributors to children's misbehaviour. 

1. Child Factors

These include a wide range of child-specific problems including temperament (including inherited predispositions toward irritability, low frustration tolerance, and anger), impulsivity, attentional problems, learning problems, intellectual and developmental difficulties, sensory sensitivities, activity levels, emotional regulation ability, physical characteristics (including motor coordination, stamina, and appearance), etc. It is not difficult to see how these child-specific elements can lead to conflict with parents or caregivers. It is also easy to see how child misbehaviour can be solely attributed to these characteristics. However, according to Dr Barkley, another key element that contributes to child misbehaviour is parent factors. 

2. Parent Factors

Parent factors are not that different to child factors, but they definitely impact how parents interact with their children and manage their kids' behaviour problems. Parent factors can include things like (you guessed it!): temperament, impulsivity, learning and intellectual difficulties, emotional regulation ability, physical characteristics, etc, etc. Pretty much all the same things that kids bring to the equation. Because (and it's really important to remember this), parent-child interactions are bi-directional. They go two ways; parent to child, and child to parent. Unless one of you is a robot of course, and in that case, you are reading the wrong blog. 

3. Family Stress Events

There are a wide range of stressful events or situations that families can experience, that can also contribute to children's misbehaviour. These can include significant or catostrophic events like the death of a family member, exposure to family violence, family separation or restructuring, loss of stable housing, or loss of financial security. Less severe events also are worth a mention here, including financial strain, marital discord, tense relationships with relatives, etc. 

Now, at this point a lot of families tell me they can't do anything about these factors. And they are largely right. We are stuck with genetic predispositions, can't do a lot about our in-laws, and that physical characteristic is largely permanent. There may be some things you can do to modify some of these factors though. And, if you can, the time is now. Go and seek some financial counselling, set some limits with your extended family members, and get a health check-up with your GP. 

This brings me to the final factor, the one you really CAN do something about. 

4. Situational Consequences. 

Now, I'm not going to go into detail here as this area definitely deserves it's own post. But for now, be assured that understanding how that happens around the same time as the child's behaviour can a) help you to better understand why the problem behaviour keeps happening, and b) help you to understand what needs to happen to change it. 

Keep a lookout for our next post to learn more, and leave a comment if there are any topics you would like us to explain further. 

Olivia Boer is a Clinical Psychologist and Director of Healthy Mind Centre Launceston, a private allied health practice in Launceston, Tasmania.