Our approach

Psychologists guide people to make useful changes in their lives using in-depth knowledge about scientific theories of human behaviour.

All psychologists have their own therapeutic style. Knowing more about our approach to treatment will help put you in a better position to decide whether we are the right psychologists for you and your situation.

Supportive, compassionate, and change-oriented

Our mission at McKinnon Psychology is to provide psychology services that are supportive, compassionate and change-oriented. We are also collaborative – our aim is to empower you.

Our psychologists have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of therapeutic frameworks.

We are committed to staying up to date with current best practices and some of us collaborate with a range of academics to write scientific papers on mental health. You can feel at ease that we will only adopt the therapeutic approaches that are backed up by the most recent, and best available, research evidence.

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Our therapeutic approach

We draw upon a number of theories to help you.

The first step in making useful changes involves you coming in for a meeting with one of our psychologists and telling your story. We start right at the beginning – asking about any emotional issues that have stemmed from early childhood. Your psychologist will map out the issues you’ve developed, understand what keeps them going, and look at the influence of environmental circumstances and earlier factors in your life.

As you can imagine, it’s a detailed process and is ongoing throughout therapy. However, once the psychologist has understood your ‘life map’, they can guide you to change your life with strategies that are guided by scientific principles.

One important framework used by all our clinicians is called Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or CBT. This is one preferred approach because it’s supported by research – CBT is widely regarded as the treatment of choice for anxiety and mood disorders based on 50 years of accumulated evidence. All our psychologists are also trained in other important therapeutic approaches.

To understand CBT and how it works with a condition like anxiety, let’s go through an example.

Emotions have three parts

Someone with an irrational fear of public speaking may fear that they will muck up and others will judge them. That’s the thinking part.

This fear is accompanied by a range of bodily reactions like nausea, racing heart, breathlessness, shaking, and blushing, that’s the feeling part.

The patient’s solution to the problem is the behavioural response. In anxiety, that solution is often to avoid the situation of public speaking at all costs (which unfortunately has the unwanted effect of making the fear stronger and more persistent).

 

Our approach in action

So, how does this all actually work? What is a psychological tool or strategy?

Every person is different, and there is no one-size fits all approach to the techniques that we would use in therapy. Each treatment plan developed at the clinic is unique, flexible, and tailored to meet your needs.

However, we can illustrate how one of our psychologists might approach therapy by going back to the example of someone who fears public speaking.

Thought strategy

We might work with a client to understand how their thoughts regarding a past, negative experience with public speaking is contributing to ‘negative self-talk’ in the lead up to a presentation. We might then work with the client to challenge their thinking, and develop a set of compassionate and helpful self-statements to use in the lead up to a presentation.

Emotion strategy

We might work with a client to develop an effective plan to cope with strong emotion and physiological reactions in the lead up to a presentation, including deep breathing techniques in combination with use of calming visual imagery.

Behaviour strategy

Once a client has developed tools to manage socially anxious thoughts and feelings, continued gradual practice of public speaking is essential. For example, one strategy could involve videotaping the client giving a presentation and then having the client watch the footage. At other times someone might make an audio recording of their presentation for trusted friends and family to listen to.

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