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Hi, it's me Benji and I'm back for more blogs!

Hi, it's me Benji, back for more Blogs. I know I have been away for a while but I have been working really hard at the office and getting lots of belly rubs from all the super nice humans that come into the clinic.. woof.

My human has always been really amazing at taking me outside, on bike rides, to the beach and to the park, when I am not working, and it made me realise she is always encouraging people to do something called "exercise" ... I am not sure what that is, but I think it means being outside! She says it has really good health benefits, but I thought everyone already liked to go outside and smell everything? Being outside does things like;

- Reduce stress
- Boost happy endorphins
- Improve self confidence
- Alleviate anxiety
- Boost brainpower
- Increase relaxation

She's pretty cool when she's helping other people. Hearing all the good things about being outside makes me want to play outside so that's what I am going to do. Talk soon humans woof!

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A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE OF UNIVERSITY AND STRESS FROM YOUR TYPICAL STUDENT

Hi, my name is Arizona and I work with all the great clinicians at Drop of Life Psychology Clinic and here’s my little take on stress for Stress Down Day (24th of July). I will admit, I experienced stress while completing my degree but nothing seemed to compare to the stress I felt upon graduating and the actual completion of my degree. You’re probably wondering why and to be honest I was as well and it wasn’t until much later, when I looked back, that I even realised myself. As soon as I had lost my identity as a student I thought “who am I now” and to make it worse the constant questions of “what are you going to do now” made me feel lost. It wasn’t until a wise book (The Easy Guide to Unbreakable Relationships for Self, Lovers and Others by Natalie Turvey) once reminded me what I valued about myself and brought me back to those values.

IDENTIFYING VALUES (short form):

Step 1: Identify what you hope and wish others will say about you, think of absolutely everything you hope they would say

                For example- “Arizona is caring and loves to help others”

Step 2:  Rank those qualities in order of importance to you. Do some of them not serve you well? Are there some you can move away from?

Step 3: Look at the list, identify any qualities you haven’t been displaying lately and take action. What can you do right now to bring you closer to these values?

In the chaos of university you grow, evolve and it’s definitely a period of change and I think once it’s all over you struggle to identify yourself and nobody really prepares you for that. I am no longer a student but that’s not all I valued. Turns out I valued so much more than I had given myself credit for and once I had realised what I valued and became a little bit more confident which in turn helped me get a job that brings me even closer to what I value every day.

I hope this blog makes you value more of what is important to you and even who you are as a person because you are important, to more people than you could probably even realise.

With all my warmest wishes, Arizona

If you would like to receive more information about The Easy Guide to Unbreakable Relationships for Self, Lovers and Others by Natalie Turvey it is available for purchase on Amazon- https://www.amazon.com.au/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=easy+guide+to+unbreakable+relationships

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Benefits of Intelligence Testing for Children

At Drop of Life we are now offering psychometric assessments for children and adolescents. You might wonder why children or students need to undergo an intelligence test and what the advantages are of taking such a test. First, I will begin by explaining what an intelligence test measures. An IQ test measures the cognitive and intellectual abilities of a person which are compared to the average population of the same age. The letters IQ, stand for Intelligence Quotient which includes a list of domains such as problem solving, analysing situations, reasoning, planning, learning and visuospatial abilities.

One of the most proven cognitive ability tests is the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-IV) developed by David Wechsler which is often used for children at the beginning of their school career as it can estimate their intellectual functioning through standardized testing with norm-referenced tests. The WISC-IV is the gold standard when it comes to cognitive assessment and measuring intelligence performance, and therefore we administer this intelligence test at the Drop of Life practice. The components of the WISC-IV are verbal comprehension, working memory, perceptual reasoning and processing speed, and these four components generate the general full scale intelligence score.

The WISC-IV can be used for children and adolescents between 6 and 16 years old and provides a profile of their strengths and weaknesses. Seeing that the IQ test can be used as an indicator of academic performance, schools can take advantage of this by determining what educational needs their students require to reach their full potential.

Another advantage of the WISC-IV is that it can address specific learning disabilities (SLD), which could be a leading cause for under-achievement at school. Moreover, behaviour problems and/or mood disorder are often strongly associated with SLDs. The sooner problems like these are indicated, the better the child’s educational and future outcomes. Therefore, cognitive assessment is so valuable for school-aged children.

Overall, the benefits of a WISC assessment are:

  • Provides a full picture and understanding of an individual’s learning profile and how they approach problem-solving
  • Assists schools and educators in developing educational strategies for individual educational plan development for students
  • Determines the student’s strengths and weaknesses which may impact the student’s academic performance
  • To rule-out or identify the presence of a mental disability and to diagnose a learning disability
  • Identification of intellectual gifted children
  • Early recognition of learning and reading deficits.

How to apply for a cognitive assessment?

Drop of Life provides psychometric testing such as the WISC-IV for children from the age of 6 to 16 years old. For further information about cognitive assessment please contact one of our wonderful psychologists at Drop of Life.

Reference: Wechsler, D. (2003). WISC – IV Australian Administration and Scoring Manual. Harcourt Assessment.

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The Aversion to Homosexuality and Transsexuality

May the 17th is a significant day for promoting equal human rights as its the international day against homophobia, transphobia & biphobia. This day tries to raise awareness of violence and repression of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities worldwide. This raises the question, what impact homophobic & transphobic people actually have on vulnerable adolescents who are LGBT.

Homosexuality, after having been described for decades as a mental illness in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), finally got removed from this manual in 1973. Following this, the psychologist George Weinberg introduced a new term, namely homophobia which stands for a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards LGBT people and homosexuality in general. Those with homophobic views see homosexuality as a violation of traditional masculinity. In addition, transphobia and biphobia are specifically focused on the negative feelings and attitudes that people experience towards transsexuality and bisexuality respectively.

Since 2013 the Sex Discrimination Act 1985 has been enforced to make discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity finally against the law. Even with this important step forward LGBT people in Australia still have to endure discrimination, harassment and hostility in everyday life. Young people during their adolescence who are questioning their sexuality can feel threatened, fearful or disgusted of themselves when peers are using hurtful labels and make them feel not accepted. To give you an example, in school, boys can be seen as week when they don’t comply with masculine gender roles and can be called names such as gay and homo, words that also can be interpreted as lame, dumb or stupid. As a result young individuals can feel isolated, misunderstood, ashamed or even have homophobic feelings but directed towards themselves.

There are different factors that lead to people developing homophobic beliefs and attitudes. One of those factors resolve around the idea that homosexuality contradicts gender roles in both men and women. Studies have shown that there are common traits to be found for people who are exhibiting homophobia or transphobia by having attitudes of intolerance and sexual prejudice. So what are those common traits exactly? Well usually they are less educated, conservatively religious, lived in rural areas, they are less likely to have experienced contact with anyone who is LGBT and have a strong belief in gender roles and traditional values.

Overall, homophobia can be damaging to those who are affected by it, especially the young generation who are already struggling with their self-identity. Therefore it won’t surprise you that a large amount of LGBT adolescents are dealing with depression and anxiety, caused by their discriminating environment and by applying negative stereotypes to themselves.

At Drop of Life we can help in different ways to not only support those young adults who are struggling with their sexuality but also their families who might be involved. Some examples are:

  1. Information about homophobia as well as information about the anxiety or depression that is a result of homophobia.
  2. Cognitive behavioural therapy that will focus on the reframing of thoughts and will help to develop coping strategies.
  3. Relaxation and breathing strategies.
  4. Strategies to gain a stronger sense of self.

If you have any questions or would like more information on this matter please visit one of our psychologists at Drop of Life.

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Autism Awareness, Because it Matters!

This month is officially the National Autism Awareness month in Australia and to contribute to Autism acceptance and awareness, I will be writing about this serious disorder and take one moment to focus on all the Australian families who have children on the Autism Spectrum.

So first of all, what is Autism exactly? There are a large number of misconceptions when it comes to Autism, to illustrate, some people think that Autism is caused by bad parenting others think that Autism is caused by vaccination, both these statements are myths. Autism is complex and seems to be caused by many different combinations of genes and environmental factors and is often described as a brain disorder.

If we have a look in the DSM-V, the Autism Spectrum Disorder is described as ‘a developmental disorder with persistent impairments in social communication, social interaction and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. These symptoms must be present in the early developmental period and cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning.’
Interestingly to note that the DSM-IV diagnosis of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) are now given the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Research shows that 1 in 100 children in Australia have been diagnosed with Autism, which reflects how many people and families are dealing with this lifelong developmental disability. With the NDIS scheme starting in July things are about to change for families who can’t afford the necessary extra care for their children. This extra care is needed as children with Autism can progress and improve with the right tools and support, to reach a better quality of life for themselves as well as for their families who love them.

The effects of Autism can often be reduced by early diagnosis and with the right interventions.

So ….what to do? Well, the good news is that there are effective interventions that can help create the best opportunities for children with ASD.

  1. Parent education and training
  2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, this is a very effective evidence-based therapy that improves very specific behaviours and challenges in children and young adults. It is used to help regulate emotions and develop impulse control and improve their behaviours as a result.
  3. Behavioural interventions such as the applied behavioural analysis (ABA), is an effective evidence-based method that targets the learning of skills and the reduction of challenging
  4. Therapy based interventions such as Speech Therapy to develop a child’s communication and Social Skills, and Occupational Therapy to develop a child’s motor skills and stabilize their senses.

The interventions mentioned above are just a range of available treatment options, which can significantly improve the quality of life for children with Autism and their families.

So, behaviour can be changed and improvements can be achieved by taking small steps!

If you would like to receive more information about Autism in respect of diagnosis and treatment please come and visit a psychologist at Drop of Life Psychology Clinic!

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