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Tips For Couples – South West Counselling offers 7 simple concepts to help during Social Isolation.

Our South West Australia

Hi Everybody,

Don’t you just love the facial expressions. Think we have all seen these before…..

In stressful times we get so busy looking after the family, children and work, we forget about the “couple “unit – you know that person you fell in love with. Often when kids  or responsibilities come along, this unit of two gets given the back seat! When the core of the family unit aren’t getting along, it affects everybody in the family.  With of without kids, COVID 19 provides enough stress for everybody. Have the courage to acknowledge the difficulties, rather than putting it in the too hard basket. After a while that basket gets too full!  Taking time to strengthen that unit of 2 right now, and cut each other some slack, might just make a difference in the long term.

Shantell Mclenaughan, a counsellor from South West Counselling Service provides a few tips.

Tips for couples during social isolation:

  • Communication is key, being able to express thoughts, feelings and needs while also being open to hearing your partners thoughts, feelings and needs is a way to see and hear each other clearly.
  • Try not to go on the defensive as this only creates a block in the communication. If able to hear the others hurt, dissatisfaction or frustration at your actions it is important to validate their feelings while owning your actions.
  • Deescalate when conflict feels like it is getting out of hand. Its ok to say you need time to calm down but it’s important to let your partner know you need to time out and how much time you might need. It’s also important you both come together to revisit the conflict to resolve rather than sweep it under the carpet only to come up again.
  • The current social isolation laws have thrown families together for long periods of time in the family home. Talk with your partner about sharing household chores, parenting, time spent as a family, time as a couple and time for yourself.
  • Be tolerant of each other’s faults, we all have them, they are part of our individuality – who we are.
  • Practice kindness, towards yourself and your partner, this is not an easy time and many of us are struggling.
  • Be willing to repair the relationship after an argument, this can be as simple as saying sorry I upset you.

“Our South West” is proudly assisting South West Counselling reach out to people during COVID 19.  Counsellor, Shantell McClenaughan  wanted to advise that she and her colleagues are offering free phone or Zoom counselling sessions throughout May. This is a great service so please call them if you need support.

In a crisis or even in the good times, our mental health is not something to be ignored or dismissed. The “she’ll be right attitude” really does nothing to help us. Our mental health deserves our daily attention to ensure we all have a good quality of life. You wouldn’t ignore a physical health concern , neither should you ignore ongoing feelings of loneliness, sadness or anxiety. With good support, these often overwhelming  feelings, can be well managed, resolved  and  in addition we often learn more about ourselves as a result of the uncomfortable times in our life.

We have three areas to look after -Our Mind, Body and Soul.  We need to keep each area in good shape as we traverse this life. How you choose to do that is up to you, but I would like to suggest that a free chat might just help your mind and your soul.  In turn this might help you look after your body. A phone call and some good advice might just be what you need to move forward.

South West Counselling provides quality, confidential and affordable counselling to support our community in these challenging and uncertain times.

For the months of April and May we are providing free sessions to all current and new clients booking a phone or video counselling session.  Increased after-hour sessions are also being offered.

Please contact us to discuss your options

Phone: 9754 2052

Email: ua.gro.gnillesnuocwsnull@nimda


South West Counselling is a community based not-for-profit organisation supporting children, youth, adults, couples and families.


Emma Morgan

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Might be time to actually write our own story for a change! – By psychologist Joanne Edmond.

Our South West Australia

Adapting and Flourishing in a World of Change

The busy treadmill we were all on, while juggling the many plates of responsibility and expectation, has slowed, or even stopped for most. We have been left unsure of how to step into this new world. We can navigate this together through finding meaning and sharing stories while being compassionate towards others.

I was recently reminded of an old book I read many years ago and felt compelled to re-read it. I started with a story. In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Victor E. Frankl shared several now famous quotes that can speak to us while we are in a state of change; “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedom and to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. From his time in concentration camps, Victor taught us that we have the freedom to choose how we see the unique and current set of circumstances which we are all faced with, as well as to choose how we perceive what’s happening in the world around us. Many of my clients have heard me say, “we each have an opportunity to choose and narrate this chapter of our story and write our own history”. What would we write if we had the chance? What would we want to tell others of our experiences?

Victor’s story included some descriptions of the trauma he was exposed to, but he mostly wanted to share his experience of going deeper and finding meaning in the most challenging of circumstances. He certainly seemed to value gratitude, family, curiosity and courage. So, what else can we learn from Victor’s experience to help us adapt and flourish in our changing world and landscape. I’m sure to some this seems difficult to reconcile when people are suffering. Prior to this change most people spent their time avoiding emotional pain with different strategies including buying things, seeking external happiness, numbing through use of alcohol and other means. What if true happiness lies within each of us? What if we have an opportunity to look within while the treadmill has slowed, and to find calmness and clarity from that space. This blog isn’t about a quick fix to happiness while physically distancing, nor is it about how to look within through mindfulness (this was beautifully blogged by Amiee-Jade Pember recently where she shared some thoughtful and practical mindfulness practices). Instead, this blog is more about finding meaning and purpose in uncertainty, learning and holding your core values closely, asking yourself questions to dig deeper and create the story you would like to tell when this chapter is over.

In Positive Psychology we describe post-traumatic growth, sharing an understanding that there is a possibility for light and joy from struggle and darkness. From this perspective, we recognize that we all have choices about how we see things and the stories we wish tell ourselves. This doesn’t for a moment dismiss the feelings of worry or fear, as it’s normal to feel all the emotions in this shifting landscape.

However, what we know is that when we are overwhelmed with fear or distress, and stay too long with those feelings, we lose our capacity to think well, to be creative, and our health becomes compromised. In contrast, when we experience more happiness, we make better decisions, are more connected to others and our health improves. From this place of inner calmness, more happiness can be created. We can say things to ourselves with curiosity and with a compassionate lens, like why is fear so intense right now? We don’t try to get rid of it, we make peace with it and hold a space in mind that the feeling will pass. In these moments we use self-validation to self-regulate.  On the other hand if we get caught up in the stressful stories we tell ourselves, we can notice this and come back to the stories we want to create. Victor Frankl did this by holding images and stories of his wife in mind, while having hope that he would leave the camps he was held captive in, allowing him to feel calmer.

Positive psychology and neuroscience have identified actions, attitudes and small things we can do to boost our moods over time. Some of these are probably not new to you, but well proven to enhance well-being and to balance out negativity with a more positive mood state. If you could just add one of these into this chapter of your life, your story will also be of greater well-being. Just one small behaviour change can make a large difference over time.

  • Ask yourself and others to reflect on what is working well? This creates a positive shift and allows us to look for more success or achievement, as well as a more balanced mood.
  • Identify your values and what matters most to you. Our values reflect what we find meaningful in life. They are what you care about, deep down, and what you consider to be important.  Everybody’s values are different, and they can change over time. This can bring clarity and help with decision making, as well as bring about more meaning for the days ahead.
  • Martin Seligman and other pioneers of Positive Psychology defines the meaningful life as knowing what your highest strengths are and “using your signature strengths and values in the service of something much larger than you are.” Once you have discovered your values, ask the meaning questions like how do I intend to live this value today? For example, if family is a significant value for you, then how might you share this value with family or act in ways that show your fondness of family? This can help to set meaningful goals through this period of change. You might use this time to cultivate a passion or interest you have thought about, such as learning an instrument.
  • Cultivate positive social relationships. Even though physical distancing is our new current norm, we can use different ways to connect with others to ensure no one experiences loneliness. Engage in your community and engage in random acts of kindness. I have observed so much of this happening and it fills my heart with joy. I’m sure it also feels the recipient with joy too.

When we live closer to our values and find our own personal meaning through this chapter, we will be happier, become more resilient and positively influence others. Be a positive part of someone else’s chapter. I believe that human nature is naturally generous and compassionate. We are all connected to others, through family, friends, community and social media. We all have an opportunity to improve another person’s life in some way; a smile, a kind word or action. This is meaningful, and could help you grow more positive actions, grow others well-being and your own to adapt and thrive through our changing world.

If you would like me to send a values list to help you to discover your own please email ua.moc.gniebllewfoerocnull@eel-latsyrC

Kind Regards

Joanne Edmond

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Finding Ease in the midst of uncertainty – Mindful Living Psychology – by Community Psychologist Aimee Pember

Our South West Australia

Dealing with change is difficult; it challenges every part of our nervous system as we seek to find stability in the unknown. Our brains are wired to look for change and to assess it as a potential threat, triggering the Fight or Flight Response and sending our minds into overdrive as we try to problem-solve our way out. The trouble is that when we are in Fight or Flight, our brain literally deactivates the rational brain (left Prefrontal Cortex) and instead stimulates the emotional brain (right Prefrontal Cortex). This in turn feeds back the state of fear and maintains the activation of Fight or Flight. As a result, we are functioning on auto-pilot, relying on our habitual self-care strategies to get us through.

 The current pandemic is characterised by a state of uncertainty. It’s an unprecedented time that no one “knows” how to respond to. We rely on experts to fix these kinds of problems, but even the experts are working outside of their comfort zones. We see constant changes to recommendations, legislation and the functioning of our community. We feel like we are constantly scrambling to find the latest information to help establish a stable footing. No wonder we are feeling stressed and anxious.

 So how can we adapt to the uncertainty without “knowing” all the answers? The answer lies in learning to calm our anxious minds so that we can calm our nervous system. The mind and body are linked; if we can calm the mind we can calm the body.

 In essence, calming the mind during the pandemic requires learning to sit with uncertainty. One way of calming the mind is to practice mindfulness; to compassionately focus our attention on our present moment experience without getting hooked by judgement. This sounds a lot more simple than it is. Remember, our minds are used to taking control of the steering wheel, often being motivated by the urge to avoid uncomfortable thoughts and feelings. It therefore feels unnatural to watch our internal experiences without trying to distract ourselves from them.

 The practice of mindfulness can be broken down into “noticing” and “naming” what we are observing in ourselves in THIS moment. Noticing the thoughts and feelings that are present, and naming them for what they are. Ah, here’s anxiety. Oh, tightness in my stomach – that anxious feeling is here. Or even just worrying. The practice of noticing and naming helps to engage our rational brain, which means we can take a step back from our emotional responses without being hijacked by them.

The next step is to pause and connect with your body and surroundings; notice what you can see, hear, smell, taste or touch. This will help to draw you out of your head, and to reconnect with what you are meant to be doing in the here and now.

Finally, you can then take mindful action; what does THIS moment require of me? How do I want to be in THIS moment. Breaking our actions down into decisions for the present helps us to focus on what is in our control right now, instead of feeling overwhelmed with decisions about an uncertain future.


Aimee Pember

**you can find Aimee in our business directory.

Our South West Australia


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Telephone Help lines for Counselling and Support – Help is always available.

Our South West Australia


Phone Counselling and Support

Where people are in crisis and need to talk to someone about their distress or trauma, there are a range of organisations listed below that can assist them.

1300 22 4636
beyondblue is a national organisation that has a range of information and resources associated with depression and anxiety. Useful resources and further information about beyondblue programmes are available on its website at or by contacting its Support Service on 1300 22 4636 (toll free). The Support Service runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All calls are one-on-one with a trained mental health professional, and completely confidential.

Lifeline Australia
13 11 14
Lifeline Australia provides a free, confidential and anonymous, 24-hour telephone counselling service for adults needing emotional support. Lifeline Australia also has a range of information and resources available from their website, about providing care in times of crisis.

Mensline Australia
1300 78 99 78
Mensline Australia provides a free, confidential and anonymous, 24-hour professional telephone counselling service for men needing emotional support or in crisis. Mensline also has a range of information and resources available from their website, about providing support and taking care of yourself, in times of crisis.

Kids Help Line
1800 55 1800
A number of children and youth may also need emotional. Kids Help Line is a free and confidential, telephone counselling service for 5 to 25 year olds in Australia.

Black Dog Institute
The Black Dog Institute provides a 24 hour free mobile phone/computer-based programme to assist those with mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress (myCompass).


Suicide Prevention Services

For those at risk of suicide or self-harm the Suicide Callback Service is available seven days a week. Similarly, bereavement services are available 24 hours a day for those bereaved by suicide.

Suicide Callback Service
1300 659 467
The Suicide Callback Service is a free nation-wide telephone support service available to support people at risk of suicide and their carers, and is well suited to people who are geographically or emotionally isolated. The service can support callers through structured 50 minute telephone counselling sessions, scheduled according to the caller’s needs. The Suicide Callback Service operates seven days a week.