Who is the best therapist in Sydney?

best therapist in sydney

Who is the best therapist in Sydney?

Are you currently in search of professional help or contemplating it? Of course you are looking for the best therapist but how can you judge the best without speaking to them all first?

Chances are, you may have Googled the “Best Therapist in Sydney”. But what comes next? Do you judge by qualifications? Or whether they use the latest evidence-based intervention? Or have the most 5-star reviews?

The answer depends on who is asking. For example, the best therapist for a couple with relationship stress generally differs from the best therapist for an individual dealing with past trauma.

How to find the best therapist in Sydney, for YOU

1. Ask a friend, colleague or your GP — recommendations from a trusted source can be powerful.

2. Check out therapists’ websites — you can get a good feel for their approach and professionalism by reading the information they provide.

3. Book a call — speak directly with the therapist or service and ask questions!

4. Clarify your need — does your issue require a therapist with specific training or experience?

5. Determine your practical preferences — what is your availability, budget and location?

To help inspire your process, we interview Jacqueline Stone alongside her esteemed retired associate, Heather Firth. Together, they bring their wealth of expertise from over three decades of therapy in private practice at Jacqueline Stone & Associates. With their vast knowledge and insight, they are the ideal guides to assist you in considering the best therapist in Sydney, for you.

best therapist in sydney

Firstly, what makes therapy successful?

Jacqueline Stone: The relationship between a therapist and a client is pivotal. It goes beyond rapport and, in fact, if your therapist is not a person you want to meet for a coffee or hang out with on a Friday night, that is not a bad thing.

In the literature, it is called the Therapeutic Alliance — that makes therapy successful. It comprises many elements, including a commitment to one another to do the work and not to avoid difficult topics or feelings, but to talk about the discomfort, if it is not yet time, or not yet possible to talk openly about the root of the discomfort.

It is important to recognise that sometimes successful therapy is about timing. Are you ready to ponder what is underneath your current struggles? Counselling or therapy is still successful if it supports you through a difficult period, but probably when people think of therapy being really successful, they are thinking about when a person achieves a significant change in themselves or their outlook, or overcomes long-standing hurdles or situations in their life. And sometimes it has to be the right time for that kind of work to occur.

Sometimes clients come for help when faced with a challenging situation, and they finish once they’ve been able to deal with the key issues. Then they may return later ready for deeper change — they can commit and achieve truly life-changing therapy.

I trust you will have an innate sense of who the best therapist in Sydney for you is. However, it’s important to recognize that therapy may not be a simple journey. While it may come smoothly, it is unlikely to be entirely comfortable.

Successful therapy is about working through what lies beneath the stress, the depression, or anxiety. It’s about the therapist listening to you deeply, hearing what is going on for you, arriving together at a place of understanding. Understanding the way you are in the world, what patterns of relating or relationships are stuck or causing you problems. And working together to overcome black-and-white thinking, to confront and grieve loss or trauma and to make big shifts from, say, shame to self-compassion.

What makes a good therapist?

Jacqueline Stone: Good therapists encompass a wide range of shapes and sizes, and determining the best therapist in Sydney for you, may not align with another individual’s preference. I believe certain qualities are commonly found among great therapists.

Beyond good training, professionalism and integrity, specific personal qualities make a therapist good. I think these include a curious mind and intellect. Good therapists are driven to understand the world and people and they are open-minded and are natural lifelong learners. They soak up ideas and perspectives from their reading and their listening, from their pastimes, and from all their interactions with people and the world.

Most, if not all, good therapists have done significant therapy themselves. Whether it is part of their initial training or within ongoing training and development, spending significant time in the role of client, not only helps with their own personal healing, mental health and development, but it also offers a deep appreciation for how therapy works and the demands it places on the client.

I also believe that good experience of therapy as a client, gives therapists confidence and perseverance in the work they do with their own clients.

Beyond essential skills like effective listening and high-level communication skills, a good therapist requires patience and resilience, along with their own healthy sense of sense worth, if they are going to foster this in others.

What is a good therapy experience like?

Jacqueline Stone: I count it to be an incredible privilege to work with people who are striving to overcome stress, trauma, pain, conflict, or inner demons. While it is challenging work, it is very rewarding to see people recover and thrive.

When people face long-held painful memories that cause pain or anxiety, I am often amazed at the courage they find to move beyond just coping, avoiding, or numbing themselves. When we build enough trust and safety to make being vulnerable possible, it is lovely to witness a client surprise themselves with their own resilience.

For some, therapy is like a whole new language, talking about, say, how conflict or tension in their relationships feels, is foreign and uncomfortable. It presents an entirely new way of tackling things and for someone who is used to being good at things, or perhaps the best, to come to therapy and be a beginner is a big ask.

But I think connecting and sharing is an innate human drive, so people take to it and improve and often excel and the flow-on effect in their lives is striking. Perhaps a new opportunity emerges at work or at home and it is wonderful to witness.

It might also surprise you to know how often there are lighter moments in the consultation room. As anxiety subsides, depression lifts and brain fog clears, delight, humour and passion often appear. I cherish the stories of old or new pursuits emerging, like music or travel or play with children. Or jokes at the client’s or the therapist’s expense are shared.

And I love it when new directions or decisions are made. It’s a telltale sign of the client’s hard work paying off.

Heather, what makes therapy successful?

Heather Firth: The relationship between therapist and client is the most important thing, and the research backs this up. Repeatedly, research shows that when the professional relationship between therapist and client is positive, therapeutic outcomes are better. Which, of course, sounds obvious.

It is often a big step for someone to come to therapy for the first time. They have perhaps been thinking about it for ages, weeks, or months, even years. It’s hard trying something new, and therapy is no exception.

Sometimes there’s an instant connection, an instant and easy rapport. Sometimes it takes longer, and that’s why we suggest committing to a few sessions to see.

Sometimes, although it is rare, it is just not there, the connection, and that’s an easy argument for trying another therapist.

When the connection works, being listened to non-judgementally, and really being heard, for some people for the first time in their lives, is powerful. It is the foundation for change. It is how therapy works.

When trust is built and felt, therapy enables a client to share their struggles and their feelings, and to think together with the therapist. This process brings about change.

It takes courage, courage to take the first step. To develop the connection and trust and to talk about how things are for you. But it gets easier, and it brings confidence, a sense of inner strength that grows, with continual connection.

It’s not a quick fix. Depending on the damage felt by a person, or trauma they experienced sometimes very early in their lives, it can take longer. It can be daunting, but some people want to continue to work together over a long period to get the best possible outcomes.

It is common for it to take time to be honest and more open with the therapist because, especially if you’re a people pleaser, it is more difficult to share both the good and the bad.

Maybe a client is inclined to always think they are the one who is wrong. They struggle with the power imbalance, like a parent-child or authority figure/adult-child dynamic. It takes time to come to realise they can speak up, to really feel their adult self.

Successful therapy is most often uncomfortable. Because it is a lot about not knowing what you don’t know, so vulnerability is an important part of it. It is about people letting themselves feel genuine feelings, to feel and sit with discomfort and difficulty and revisit painful times.

Most people come to learn that pain and discomfort are better than anxiety and depression. That, together with a therapist (or within another relationship) it is what enables you to have pain eased. Rather than suffering on your own, going round in circles in your head, or in life.

Therapy comes to be a place where problems feel more manageable, less overwhelming. Safety is created between the therapist and client, and this makes excellent therapy possible.

best therapist in sydney

How to find excellent therapy?

Heather Firth: Word of mouth can be powerful. When a recommendation comes through your personal network, it can be easier to build trust and confidence initially. Sometimes the recommendation will come from a therapist — in speaking to a therapist, they may not be suitable for you, but they can make a recommendation from their professional network.

It is important, all being well in a first session, to commit to a few more sessions, to find the right therapist for you and to be open to how things unfold.

If you feel uneasy, it’s best to communicate this with your therapist. Addressing uneasiness with the therapist strengthens the professional relationship. A good therapist will invite and model this type of healthy communication.

What is a good therapy experience like?

Heather Firth: When trust is built, a client can express emotions they usually hide, like anger and fear. Hesitation and even denial can shift.

Positive changes come when clients can express their present feelings, that were similar to when they were a small child. Maybe they recognise that the disappointment they feel from their boss is like what they experienced with a parent when they were young.

The patterns of relating and relationships are etched very early in life, both positive and negative, and new freedom emerges when we can come to see how this wiring affects us in the present.

Many powerful emotions emerge, including disbelief, broken dreams, grief…but when no longer hidden, they are no longer a burden.

It is always special to realise insight emerging for a client who had always seen things one way and had been stuck within this limited perspective. Then, to see their own new insight and to release old pain and emotions, and to become lighter and more hopeful is wonderful.

It can be a bumpy road, even the client/therapist relationship can be bumpy, but that is realistic because it is a relationship like any other, except in therapy there is the opportunity to work with it constructively and kindly. To model openness and honesty and to talk things through.

Psychodynamic therapy is experiential…not just thinking but feeling, building awareness and resilience, recognising that therapy is neither all bad nor all good, which reflects reality and the human condition.

therapist in sydney

What makes a good therapist?

Heather Firth: A good therapist sits with a client no matter their feelings. They give the time, space, respect and accept the person as they are.

To be heard, and to feel heard, is the greatest gift. To experience it brings relief. It helps people put their own feelings and thoughts into words. A therapist helps them make sense of it, talk things through together and process: the therapist doesn’t know but facilitates exploring together, to draw out the client’s knowing.

Good therapy is unique every time. It’s a creative process.

Good therapy is how the client comes to appreciate and accept themselves and the person they are, through witnessing the acceptance of them, by the therapist, repeatedly.

A good therapist has compassion and models this and with time the client develops a greater capacity for compassion, for others and themself.

Is one of our therapists the best therapist for you?

If you are curious, we would like to help you find out. Our website answers the most common questions we get asked, as well as to provide plenty of information and insight while you consider your challenges and your needs.

We invite you to get in touch, via email for questions, or book now for a free call where we can think about your options and you can decide if in fact once of us may be the best therapist for you.

Therapy in Sydney

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

Some of the most common questions we get are: “What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?” And “What is the difference between therapy and psychotherapy?” And “Do you offer both counselling and therapy in Sydney?”

Let’s begin!

Firstly, Therapy, Counselling and Psychotherapy are used somewhat interchangeably. There are differences and overlaps, and where to draw the line between each is arguable.

You can find more technical or detailed explorations of the definitions, however here is a brief look at how we tend to use these terms.

The difference between counselling and psychotherapy

Really, Therapy is just shorthand for Psychotherapy. Broadly speaking people tend to understand Therapy as professional help or treatment for psychological, emotional and/or mental discomfort or pain. Counselling can be used in much the same way.

In brief, Counselling is usually shorter in duration and more specific in scope. Therapy/Psychotherapy is usually more extensive, aimed at alleviating more complex, long-standing pain or symptoms.

What is Counselling?

Within the profession, Counselling is usually used to describe the support provided to someone who is facing specific challenges in their daily life because of a current situation or set of circumstances. Perhaps they are dealing with relationship, financial, work or health difficulties just now. You can often point to a situation or experience at the root of the struggle. Counselling describes shorter-term support or is focussed on alleviating the pain or stress associated with the current difficulties.

What is Therapy/Psychotherapy?

By contrast Therapy/Psychotherapy is sought by someone looking to address longstanding challenges. It might be that a person recognises that the difficulty in their current relationship or in their work or social life, stems from dysfunctional family dynamics growing up. Or that they are looking for lasting positive change in the face of lifelong self-esteem issues.

You might not know what your problem is, or whether you need Counselling or Psychotherapy — which is why the focus of early sessions includes an assessment of your current difficulties or symptoms, as well as seeking details about your life story and family history.

However, even though you might identify that you had a significant loss or trauma as a child and that you have some personality traits or coping behaviours that cause issues in your life today, you might want targeted, supportive Counselling ahead of an interstate move to pursue a promotion or relationship. Perhaps you will consider Psychotherapy later if struggles persist or resurface.

If you want to know the difference between counselling and psychotherapy because you have to choose, fear not, you only need to deal with one therapist who will meet you where you are.

difference between counselling and psychotherapy

Different types of therapeutic support in challenging times

In recent years with the pandemic, many people experienced additional stress and challenges with fear, isolation, unexpected hardship and struggle. Some sought Counselling to help get them through. Some managed to cope but depressive symptoms or some anxiety surfaced later — whether they associated it with the pandemic or not. Again Counselling can assist you through a difficult period.

Or if this challenging time provoked an old injury or weakness that you have long, and perhaps unwittingly carried, some Psychotherapy that looks a bit deeper or more broadly at how you are in the world and in relationships, may be what you are looking for.

Counselling for emotional injuries

If you sprain your ankle, you rest it, use ice and apply extra support where needed. If you are still limping and it’s painful, you see a physiotherapist who treats it to reduce discomfort and restore functionality while you recover.

We could equate that with Counselling, the treatment and support for recovery from a psychological, emotional or mental sprain.

Therapy for underlying, past-based injuries

Continuing the sprain analogy, if we discover the ankle sprain is recurring or stems from a previous injury or weakness, or due to a problematic running style for example, the physiotherapist may offer treatment and habit changes that go beyond the current symptoms to address the underlying cause.

We could equate this more extensive discovery and treatment with Psychotherapy/Therapy.

Please know that our therapy, psychotherapy or counselling services can happen interchangeably with our Sydney therapists!

I realise this is not a perfect analogy but hopefully, it illustrates that the terms can refer broadly to similar types of treatment and that one or both might be suitable for you at any given time. What is important is to realise that you have a choice as to what you pursue at any point in time.

Local Sydney Therapy, Counselling or both!

We offer our Sydney Therapy services in the CBD at 185 Elizabeth Street. There are parking stations in nearby city streets, however, most clients who drive in for their Sydney therapy sessions avoid the city centre (and more expensive parking fees) and park either in the car park at the Domain or St Mary’s Cathedral/Cook & Phillip Pool.

It is then about a 400m walk. Limited paid meter parking is also available in the streets surrounding the pool and cathedral, near the Domain and the Art Gallery of NSW.

Exposing relationship stress vs. life stress

relationship stress vs. life stress

When a client tells me about relationship stress with their partner, a funny thing can happen.

At first, they are clearly distressed as they describe the arguments they have had over the past week. They feel furious and hurt.

They tell me of the verbal attacks they have copped, the silent treatment they have been subjected to, and the slamming of doors they have put up with.

They often speak of their partner’s ignorance of their suffering.

And yet, further along in our discussion, a surprising shift can occur.

Relationship stress subsides, and another is revealed

Distress melts away. A clearer, calmer reality emerges.

I can actually see their relief. And it is as if I can see part of their brain come back online. They begin to explain matters with more objectivity.

Of course, this is not me weaving some therapy magic. My only intervention so far is to listen, ask the odd clarifying question, and perhaps offer a reflection now and again, which lets them know that I understand what they are saying.

What has happened is that they have vented (with no retaliation from me). They have felt heard and understood (with no excuses or ‘fix-its’ from me). And so their stress levels drop.

And this is where the funny bit commonly occurs. They begin to defend their partner.

“Look…she did give me a hard time, but she is under enormous pressure at work right now.” Or, “I should say…he’s really having a tough time of it, with his mum being so ill”.

It is not that they are excusing their partner’s poor behaviour. Importantly, however, they are flagging the role of stress – the cause of which is external to their relationship.

So stress can really be a double whammy for couples. It can wield power from outside the relationship and cause havoc from within.

Is life stress causing relationship stress?

The evil power of stress – part I

It may turn out, then, that stress is your enemy, but your partner is not.

Consider one of my clients in a therapy session, as described above. His stress levels are sky-high. He feels furious and hurt.

But in the end, his distress dissipates. He recovers and emerges from ‘fight, flight or freeze’ mode to a more grounded state where he is able to see the bigger picture with clarity.

Imagine a different scene – where he is at home confronting his partner, each of them full of anger, upset, and other emotions. Stress escalates and fuels combat.

Nobody is in a position to listen effectively or think clearly at this stage. (This is when smart couples call a cease-fire and suspend the argument until everyone calms down.)

Stress is what makes us lose it. It is the difference between an upsetting argument and an ugly episode of personal attacks, name-calling, and aggression. It goes without saying that it is a destructive element in relationships.

We know that we were hijacked by stress when we felt sheepish and regretful the next morning. We wish we had not said those awful things. We cannot even remember how the argument started.

Of course, not in all cases, but often we ought to point the finger at life stress, not our partner.

The evil power of stress – part II

Now thinking bigger picture, how would you rate your relationship if, by magic…neither of you was under financial or family strain, workplace or time pressure, or dealing with sleep deprivation or uncertainty about the future?

Or, from another angle, do you experience relationship stress when you go on holiday? (A relaxing holiday not requiring driving in foreign cities or other stress-inducing activities.) How is it when you have escaped from the challenges of real life?

Presumably a lot better.

Life stress vs. relationship stress does not answer or solve all of our relationship woes. Removing stress does not necessarily remove communication problems or dysfunctional relationship dynamics. It does not stop your partner from pushing your buttons. However, stress can push an otherwise-ok relationship to the brink and beyond.

How to turn stress into a relationship lifeline

In fact, there is little point in imagining life without stress. What is that expression about there being only two certainties in life…death and taxes? I would add stress to the list.

And while you might not welcome stress in your life, identifying its role in the life you share together can be a real relationship saviour…

It can represent a common enemy. Rather than attacking one another, perhaps you can work together to address the causes of stress in your lives. “Stress is tearing us apart right now” can be a good opener for a productive discussion.

Along similar lines, it can provide a focal point for positive change. Improving relationship dynamics and communication often takes time, insight, and great effort. Identifying small, tangible ways to reduce stress – more exercise, less alcohol, and caffeine, a better diet, more sleep – can bring immediate improvement to how you both feel. This can pave the way for positive change in your relationship.

Do pause and wonder about the impact of stress on your relationship. Doing so is not a panacea, but it can be a really effective start. You might not leap straight into defending your partner after your next argument, but you may feel a little more forgiving of them.

This blog was originally published on the website of Clinton Power & Associates

Stress drinking. When does casual drinking become a problem?

Stress Drinking

Alcohol consumption is a prevalent challenge we face today. But is your drinking just social or is it stress drinking? And what is the impact of stress drinking?

The scale of stress drinking and its consequences is staggering. The World Health Organization reported that more than 3 million people died because of the harmful use of alcohol in 2016 (think disease, accidents, violence). For perspective, COVID killed just under 7 million people in 3.25 years…alcohol kills upwards of 3 million in a single year.

But back to you. You are wise to be thinking about the type of drinking you do. For the sake of your physical and mental health, your relationships, family, work, and livelihood. Even if your drinking is not a problem right now, participating in frequent drinking or occasional binge drinking can put your future at risk.

The warning signs are there

You drink a bit, sometimes a lot, but you could go without it if you had to. You enjoy a nice glass of red or a beer with mates, and you will happily pop the bubbly for a special occasion. Surely, there isn’t a problem with that?

I agree that’s not a problem. The problem is how strong it can be – the urge to have a drink. Sometimes it’s hard to stop at one or two. It’s tempting to have one to take the edge off after a rough day or to help ease you into a good night’s rest.

The problem is when we use alcohol. When we use it the way we use other analgesic drugs. But instead of using it for headaches or lower back pain, we use it to ease tension, lift our mood, and numb the day away. In other words, we use it sometimes to regulate our stress levels.

The risk of stress drinking is real

You might be right that your, your friend’s, or your partner’s drinking is not an issue. However, it is very easy to become a problem. Not only are there increased health risks, but there is a risk that your casual drinking can quickly turn to stress drinking which then can become a struggle.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Low Risk Assessment

  • For woman, you are considered low risk if you do not consume more than 3 standard drinks on any single day, and no more than 7 standard drinks per week.
    (An average bottle of wine is 8 standard drinks.)
  • For men, you are considered low risk if you do not consume more than 4 standard drinks on any single day, and no more than 14 standard drinks per week.
    (4 beers at the pub and a bottle of wine are more than 14 standard drinks.)

If you stick within these limits the NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in the US) suggests you are low risk of developing an alcohol use disorder.

Note: The strength of alcoholic beverages varies, the effect of alcohol on an individual varies depending on body weight, and even what is considered a standard drink varies in different countries. So yes, these measures are not universally applicable.

Do you ever look around the room and wonder about how high the rates of divorce are, or how prevalent cancer is – and wonder whether it will be you? Of course, we all wonder. But why don’t we wonder if we will lose control of our stress-drinking habits?

The old friend whom everyone knows drinks too much, the neighbour who always looks ill, the hassled parent who’s always getting the kids to school late, your coworker for whom stress and sleeplessness is a way of life-the casual drink wasn’t a problem for them either until it was.

And they’re no different from you and me. It’s not because they had an alcoholic parent, or because they have a history of depression, or because they’re weak or have an ‘addictive personality’. It’s just not that simple.

We all know of someone who held it together for so long. Through the shock of the diagnosis, the disruption of life and discomfort. The drinking crept up on them, and it’s just so hard to cut back even though they’ve been given the all-clear now.

Why we’re at risk of stress drinking

I reckon there are two key risk factors. This is why stress drinking can be your problem. They are social and stress factors.

First, let’s be frank, drinking is an undeniable foundation of social life for most of us. It’s everywhere, all the time. It’s not just acceptable or normal to drink, it’s almost expected in most social circles.

Second, stress is unavoidable. You will encounter stress to varying degrees throughout your life. The combination of these two facts puts us at risk.

Because drinking is a part of life, it is too easy to use it when that inevitable stressful time occurs. So, while you have a handle on your drinking now, you can’t know for sure that it won’t become a struggle.

Don’t stop drinking

I’m not so foolish as to suggest that you quit drinking. I know that would be un-Australian of me and understandably unwanted advice. I’ll leave that to the very Australian, former test rugby-playing, quintessential Aussie Bloke, Peter Fitzsimons. He is pretty convincing – he explains that he lost 34kg and notes that a bottle of wine has the same number of calories as a Big Mac!

He understands now, having quit, about having a better mood, improved sleep and thinking more clearly. He also understands that while it might be a “better night” with booze, it’s a better life without it.

He didn’t want to rely on willpower. He felt he knew that if he had just one, why not two, and so on. If all that resonates for you, maybe you want to think about giving it away altogether.

Otherwise, don’t stop drinking but do be aware of the risks. Be conscious of how you use it, and, how you use it in the context of stress.

Top 3 tips for enjoying alcohol and avoiding stress drinking

Measure up

Simple but effective. Count your drinks, measure your alcohol, and keep track of your consumption. You’ll be surprised how this reduces your intake almost without trying.

Rule your world

Make life easier for yourself by choosing the rules of drinking by which you wish to abide. Never more than two a day? A minimum of two alcohol-free days a week? Not on a school night? Don’t open a bottle on your own? You make the rules for yourself and stick to them.

Have your party line ready

Have an explanation up your sleeve. When you’re not joining in with the amount that others are drinking, people will be ready to think you are being antisocial, strange, or judgmental. Pick your line and use it liberally. ‘I’m on a health kick’ , ‘I need to be on the ball tomorrow’, or just, ‘I’m cutting back and feel good for it.’

In closing, I’m not telling you not to drink, I am suggesting you be conscious of slipping into stress drinking habits and to notice when and how you use alcohol.

Journaling for healing? Are reading and writing effective therapeutic practices?

Journaling as therapy

Healing is the journey intended in a therapy session, but growth comes in many forms and reading, writing, and journaling for healing, all can complement the therapy process.

We take some time to interview our experienced therapists in Sydney about their ideas on reading and journaling for healing.

Q. People often turn to books, podcasts etc. as a means of therapy. Does this work?

Jacqueline Stone: It’s understandable that when people struggle, they search for answers. One of the first things they discover is that they’re not alone in their pain or feelings of being stuck or lost.

Looking to books, podcasts and other sources is an easy, low-threat way of beginning to reflect and think about taking steps towards help.

The only potential downside is if they then delay getting the help that they deserve. Ultimately, we’re not meant to be alone in our struggles, so reaching out to others, therapy or otherwise, is important.

Jill Schmidt-Lindner: A lot of therapy happens outside of the therapy room. It’s a very positive thing if clients are seeking growth and are curious about themselves and their relationships. Reading and writing can be a very important part of that exploration.

If their search extends to social media, while there can be constructive information and positive resources there, it can also reinforce a sense of pressure to live up to a fake world.

There is an important role here for therapy, reality testing and facilitating the expression of your own beliefs and thoughts, rather than what they portray on social media.

Journaling as therapy

Q: What role has reading, and writing done for you, either personally or professionally?

Jacqueline Stone: I was never one for creative writing or even for keeping a diary. However, I’ve discovered that writing can be an invaluable introspective tool. Writing is a muscle that you can strengthen with use. It’s not for everyone, but you may be surprised if you’re inclined to give it a go.

Reading has always been a passion that comes and goes in both my personal and professional life. I love the learning, the escape, and the humanity I discover from reading. There is excellent therapy to be found in stories. When you’re struggling with stress, depression, or anxiety, it can be difficult to read and concentrate, but sometimes audiobooks still offer relief.

Jill Schmidt-Lindner: For me, writing has been a wonderful tool for personal development and creativity. Creativity can be a big part of therapy: to create new ideas and possibilities.

Creativity can get stifled in relationships, in work, and in life. Therapy can safely enable personal creativity. In this way, journaling can support this too. It is a therapeutic process, a creative way of working with yourself. It can bring healing and show parts of our internal world that may not be known.

Dominique Smajstr: Writing for me is both a pleasure and a practice that supports my professional and personal development. Writing about my ideas, concerns and feelings helps me to pause and reflect to gain clarity before I act, which helps me live a balanced life connected to my values.

Writing has also been a powerful way for me to tell my story, from which I have found much solace, and it has been an important investment in my emotional well-being.

Journaling as therapy

Q: Some clients are long-time journalers, some take it up during therapy. Is journaling for healing a good thing?

Dominique Smajstr: I think journaling has an inherently therapeutic quality, as it can be a validating and cathartic process. It provides you with the opportunity to express your innermost thoughts and feelings in a safe and private way, as well as offering a space for meaningful reflections.

Journaling can make sense of your experiences, and, in therapy, it can explore recurring themes, patterns, beliefs, wishes and challenges. I think journaling can be a very meaningful adjunct to therapy.

Jacqueline Stone: Journaling, doing ‘morning pages’, or keeping a gratitude diary is an excellent therapeutic tool. If it is not your thing, there are other ways of creating a reflective frame of mind, like walking or swimming.

We spend so little time doing nothing, with our phones always ready to provide external stimulation and there’s little time for thoughts and feelings just to emerge. Like doing therapy, journaling can be challenging but offers a way to reflect, express ourselves and decompress.

Jill Schmidt-Lindner: Writing is a positive and helpful way of externalising thoughts and feelings. It can help to stop the rumination inside. It can be a significant element of personal processing. (However, if you find it extends a negative cycle of thinking, it can do more harm than good — you will recognise if this is the case.)

While it is not for everyone, writing or journaling can be a way to make things concrete, to help us remember and to help us process.

Did you enjoy this?
View more interviews with our experienced counsellors in Sydney’s CBD.

How exercise can help with mental health with Jacqueline Stone.

How individual therapy can help with relationship problems with Dominique Smajstr.

The effects living abroad can have on mental health with Jill Schmidt-Lindner.