Category: Services

February 25, 2016

Hope for all families
Common family issues
Family counselling goals
Types of family counselling
What happens in a family counselling session?
Our specialist team

Family life can be a source of comfort, love and security. Being part of a stable and happy family can foster a fulfilling sense of belonging in adults, adolescents and children. The Australian Bureau of Statistic’s 2010 survey of overall life satisfaction showed that people who had regular contact with family members reported the greatest level of life satisfaction (78%) compared to those who had little to no recent contact (33%). Research shows that healthy family relationships can improve our general outlook on life, sense of wellbeing and physiological resilience.

Yet family life can also be challenging. A family is a group of individuals with different personalities, opinions and attitudes, and conflicts often arise. Family interactions can cause pain and misunderstanding if family members are struggling to communicate and support each other effectively. Families frequently find themselves in entrenched patterns of destructive behaviour or negative interaction, and may have difficulty identifying how to make changes – or even lose faith that the potential for positive change exists.

Hope for all families

Life Supports is here to offer hope when it feels like your family is falling apart under pressure. Life Supports family counselling is designed to help your family members build a sense of interpersonal trust, openness and mutual respect. Family counselling is a complex area of therapy, yet research evidence shows that family counselling, in all its variations, is one of the most effective forms of therapeutic intervention available today.

Traditionally, a family usually consisted of parents and children. These days, a family can take many forms, including:

  • Blended family
  • Extended family
  • Families tied by blood, marriage and defacto relationships
  • Foster and adoptive families
  • Same-sex parented family
  • Separated parent family
  • Single parent family
  • Step family

At Life Supports we can support your family unit – whatever its configuration may be – with professionally tailored, solution-focused counselling services.
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Common family issues

Families may be adversely affected by many different major life transitions and events. These are some of the most prevalent reasons our clients seek family counselling:

  • Blended and step family issues
  • Cultural differences
  • Death of a family member
  • Emotional and behavioural issues: children and adolescents
  • Family member drug and alcohol use
  • Family disputes and conflict
  • Family violence
  • Financial stress
  • Illness and disability within the family
  • Parenting concerns
  • Separation and divorce
  • Trauma resolution

Bear in mind that these are simply some of the most common presentations for family counselling. If your family is struggling to cope with an issue not listed above, we can still help you.  The reasons people attend family counselling are as varied as the types of families we support, and every Life Supports family specialist has advanced training that enables them to address a multitude of family-related concerns. No matter the issue affecting your family, we can help you to work through it and move forward. 
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Family counselling goals

The family counselling process usually involves two or more family members working with a Life Supports specialist to better understand each other’s viewpoint and concerns. Family counselling acknowledges that each person contributes to the family group from their own set of values and perspectives, using their unique personality and interactional style. As such, there are always multiple experiences of reality at play within the family system. The goal of family counselling is to reconcile all those versions of events and relationships in a way that creates trustful co-operation, whilst minimising conflict.

Life Supports counsellors and psychologists can help family members to:

  • Genuinely hear each other
  • Gain meaningful insight into each other’s perspectives
  • Effectively and respectfully negotiate relationship needs
  • Learn to take responsibility for their own actions and reactions within the family context

Identifying ways to communicate more effectively and deal with conflict proactively are at the core of family counselling. These interpersonal tools are essential to creating and maintaining a healthy, harmonious family unit.
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Types of family counselling

Life Supports family counselling is a multi-component service, that often utilises a combination of evidence-based techniques. Family counselling enables family members to safely express themselves to each other, identify and explore issues, and agree upon achievable goals together. Below are three of the most effective techniques used in contemporary family counselling:

Cognitive Behavioural Family Therapy (CBFT) helps families to identify and examine beliefs, behaviours and interactions that are both positive and maladaptive. CBFT aims to reinforce desired family behaviours whilst reducing unhealthy patterns of behaviour and social exchange.

Experiential Family Therapy (ECT) examines the underlying discord in family conflict. By exploring each family member’s experience of themselves, other members, and the family as a unit, ECT can yield important insights about dysfunction within the family system. By communicating honestly and creating new interpersonal boundaries together, families can establish deeper levels of cooperation and intimacy.

Strategic Family Therapy (SFT) looks at healthy and harmful patterns of interaction between family members. The aim of SFT is to identify negative cycles of family conflict, and replace habitual ways of relating with new behavioural responses to family problems. By disrupting the loop of dysfunctional conflict, lasting positive change within the family dynamics can occur.
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What happens in a family counselling session?

 It is common for one or two family members to initiate the counselling process, with other family members joining in if and when they are ready. We also provide individual family counselling if you need a nonjudgmental, confidential space to explore and address your own family issues.

Family counselling is suitable for both small and larger family groups– there are no prerequisites that the entire family needs to be present. In fact, family counselling can be incredibly effective even if certain family members choose not to participate.

Your Life Supports family counsellor or psychologist will collaborate with your family to build on relational strengths and encourage change and interpersonal growth opportunities.

Life Supports counselling helps families to:

  • Clearly identify issues affecting each family member
  • Foster inclusiveness and consideration of every family member’s needs
  • Develop clear family goals (e.g. reducing the frequency of conflict)
  • Practice safe, effective ways to address family challenges and grievances
  • Cease engaging in blaming behaviour, by taking responsibility for the family’s welfare as a group
  • Use effective, respectful communication when discussing distressing or challenging issues
  • Break the cycle of family conflict by encouraging new ways of relating
  • Recognise setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning
  • Focus on and celebrate the family’s unique strengths
  • Review progress and maintain improvements 

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Our specialist team of family counsellors and psychologists

Life Supports specialist family counsellors and psychologists will collaborate with your family to facilitate greater harmony and more positive relationships. All of our family counsellors are experienced at working with a wide range of family configurations and issues, using a targeted, evidence-based blend of counselling techniques to achieve the positive results each individual family needs.

Identifying ways to communicate more effectively and deal with conflict proactively is paramount to achieving a happy, cohesive family unit.

Find a Life Supports family specialist in your local area

To make an appointment or enquiry you can speak with an intake consultant on1300 735 030.

Posted in Services by admin
February 25, 2016

The first important step

Problematic drug and alcohol use may have a detrimental impact on your physical health, and adversely affect your psychological, social and emotional well-being. The effect that drug and alcohol dependency may have on your relationships can be quite devastating, and may even drive your loved ones to breaking point.

Awareness of how alcohol or drug misuse has affected your life and the people you love is a powerful moment of opportunity for change to occur. Taking the step to seek advice may even start improving your relationships, as it demonstrates to your loved ones that you are committed to making positive changes in your life.

When drug and alcohol use becomes a problem

It is very common to turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to avoid some of the difficulties we experience in life. You may not have realised the extent of your drug or alcohol problem, or that your actions are affecting others in distressing ways. Sometimes it’s an event, or the concern of a loved one, that may bring it to your attention.

Common signs of drug and alcohol dependency include:

  • Unable to function well without consuming drugs or alcohol 
  • Unable to reduce or stop your consumption of drugs or alcohol 
  • Increasing your usage in order to achieve the same effect
  • Becoming defensive and lying about how much you consume
  • Relationship breakdown as a consequence of addictive behaviour
  • Detrimental impact on career and finances

Even though using drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with personal difficulties is common, usually the adverse effects outweigh the benefits. There are other ways of coping with life’s difficulties and improving the way that you feel with far fewer negative consequences.

Drug and Alcohol counselling

Through effective drug and alcohol counselling, you will directly manage the root cause of your dependency, regain self-control and set out to live life at your full potential. With Life Supports help, you can move forward in a positive direction and start to enjoy your life free from the constraint of addiction. A drug and alcohol specialist will focus on the key issues that will help you take back control.

Some of these key issues include:

  • Confronting the problem
  • Discovering the underlying cause
  • Breaking addictive patterns and habits
  • Teaching coping strategies to get you through each day
  • Challenging negative thinking

Taking Action

Your relationship with your drug and alcohol counsellor should consist of trust, honesty and confidence in order for you to move forward positively by addressing your problematic drug and alcohol use.

Specialist Drug and Alcohol Counsellors and Psychologists

Providing expert support and treatment is crucial for those with drug and alcohol dependency problems. The implementation of effective strategies to assist in setting achievable goals and maintain positive change is the key to a successful path forward.

Life Supports accredited drug and alcohol counsellors and psychologists are qualified, experienced and competent, and able to provide you with the specialist services required.

Find a Life Supports Drug and Alcohol specialist in your local area

To make an appointment or enquiry you can speak with an intake consultant on1300 735 030.

Posted in Services by admin
February 25, 2016

A time of transition

Childhood is a period of rapid development and intense change. Young people are confronted with a bewildering array of physical, emotional and psychological developmental changes – growing up is a tricky business! For some kids, this can be a relatively smooth, or even exciting process of transitions on their journey to adulthood. Yet for others, the challenges encountered can seem overwhelming.

Life Supports offers specialist child counselling for:

  • anxiety
  • bedwetting
  • behavioural problems
  • blended family issues
  • bullying at daycare and school
  • coping with separation and divorce
  • depression
  • grief and loss
  • school refusal
  • separation anxiety
  • sibling conflict
  • sleep issues

The common bond that links all children is their need for loving adult guidance as they develop, learn and grow. Yet even when parents and carers provide a nurturing home environment, sometimes children still need extra support. The great news is that these very common behavioural and emotional issues affecting children of all ages frequently resolve with specialist child counselling. Life Supports can help your son or daughter to successfully overcome childhood challenges by developing their resilience, self-esteem and psychosocial skills.

Child counselling (3 to 12+ years)

The childhood years present a unique set of challenges, for children and parents alike.

Young children frequently find it difficult to regulate their emotions and articulate the complexity of what they are feeling. From temper tantrums to social withdrawal, and concerning behavioural issues such as biting and bedwetting, young children regularly express their distress in worrying ways.

As older children develop, they may struggle with interpersonal conflicts such as sibling rivalry, or social problems as a result of being bullied. Isolation, anger, anxiety and depression are commonly reported issues that pre-teens face as they navigate their way into adolescence amongst their peer group.

Frequently asked questions

As a parent or carer, what can I do to help my child?

Every parent/carer wants their children to feel safe, happy and secure. So what can you do to help when your child is struggling to cope with life’s challenges?

Firstly, know that by talking openly with your child about whatever is concerning them, you’re already equipping your child with skills of communication and resilience that will serve them throughout their adult life.

Secondly, if your child’s mood or behaviour has deteriorated to a point that has you concerned, consider specialist counselling as an effective means of external support. Counselling gives children an opportunity to explore what’s happening in a safe, confidential space. Counselling will help your child develop healthy behaviours, coping skills, and emotional intelligence.

Am I allowed to attend my child’s counselling session?

Rest assured that Life Supports specialist child counsellors and psychologists will wish to speak with both you and your child (before or) during the first appointment. Some parents/carers prefer to negotiate an initial adults-only session to discuss any concerns with their child’s counsellor – these sessions are arranged at the discretion of your Life Supports practitioner.

Ongoing, child counselling is most effective as a combination of child-only and joint parent-child sessions. Your Life Supports counsellor will assess your family’s circumstances during the initial session, and recommend a course of counselling to best meet your child’s needs.

What happens in my child’s counselling sessions?

Your child’s Life Supports counsellor or psychologist may use a combination of talk, art and play therapy in each session, depending on the age and individual needs of your child.

Specialist child counselling is practical and solutions-focused. Your Life Supports counsellor will:

  • Speak with both you and your child to gain a clear, balanced understanding of the situation
  • Establish achievable outcome/s that both you and your child are motivated to achieve (more peace at home, being able to catch the bus to school, attending school most of the time)
  • Help you and your child define a shared understanding of what needs to happen for everyone to have their needs met
  • Co-ordinate counselling sessions involving only your child, only yourself, and joint sessions
  • Make recommendations of steps you can take to support your child
  • Review progress with everyone
  • Celebrate breakthroughs and successes
  • Be clear about barriers and address them
  • Review the plan, and maintain the improvements achieved

Will the counsellor keep me updated?

Absolutely! Your Life Supports counsellor will be available to answer any questions you may have, and keep you up to date with regards to your child’s progress. Life Supports specialist child counsellors and psychologists will help your child to feel happy, secure and confident within themselves and your family dynamic.

Life Supports also provides specialist parenting counselling to support you in developing effective parenting strategies. Essential skills include modelling (and encouraging!) desirable social behaviours for your child, and adopting appropriate verbal and physical responses whenever your child is exhibiting unsafe or disrespectful behaviour. Life Supports family counselling is another excellent option, especially if you’re wanting to address issues as a family unit.


Find a Life Supports accredited child counselling specialist in your local area

To make an appointment or enquiry, please call our intake consultants on 1300 735 030.

Posted in Services by admin
February 25, 2016

Anxiety and depression are both normal human emotions that may be appropriate and healthy responses to troubling situations. However, when either anxiety or depression linger for a substantial period of time, or are frequently triggered, it can have a devastating impact upon your life, making usual day-to-day activities extremely difficult to manage.


How do you know if you have anxiety?

Anxiety is often characterised by feelings of fear, heightened worry or uneasiness. Anxiety is a normal response when feeling threatened, vulnerable or under pressure. Anxiety produces a physical response, allowing you to feel sharp and alert. However, these physical reactions usually disappear once the stressful situation (or ‘stressor’) has passed. It is when the anxiety remains heightened for a significant period of time that it can begin to negatively impact upon your life. At this point, counselling may be extremely beneficial.

Anxiety can be a general emotional response, or it can be triggered by specific situations or events. Sometimes anxiety can occur when faced with a particular event or object, such as flying on an airplane or fear of getting an injection. Other times, anxiety can present itself after a traumatic experience, such as experiencing a death, injury or abuse. Experiencing such a traumatic event may lead to feelings of extreme fear or helplessness. Anxiety can also generate specific, repetitive behaviours that may be disruptive to a person’s daily life: for example, constantly washing hands, or regularly checking that doors and windows are locked. This type of behaviour is generally acknowledged by the person as being somewhat unreasonable, yet they persistently behave in the same manner.


When anxiety counselling is right for you

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following statements, you may find counselling for anxiety worthwhile:

  • I have difficulty sleeping
  • I feel uncomfortable or fearful in situations where most people seem comfortable
  • I have difficulty concentrating
  • I feel restless or on edge
  • I feel easily irritated
  • I sometimes experience panic attacks
  • I have noticed a difference in my appetite
  • I frequently experience a number of physical responses: hot and cold flushes, racing heart, tightening of the chest, obsessive and obtrusive thoughts and/or muscle pain

More often than not, anxiety can tamper with your general mood and trigger dramatic emotional highs and lows. Although it is common to feel sad or moody from time to time, anxiety can result in these feelings occurring intensely, and over a substantial period of time. Sometimes it is difficult to explain the way you are feeling to others; anxiety often leads to social withdrawal and isolation if left untreated.


How do you know if you have depression?

Whilst feelings of sadness and low mood are quite common, severe forms of depression have a seriously detrimental effect on your physical and mental health. At its worst, depression can induce feelings of self-harm or suicide. Thoughts about self-harm and suicide often occur when a person with depression feels an overwhelming sense of helplessness, being ‘trapped’, and unable to see a way out. However, even if it is not possible to change everything in your life for the better, it is possible to change the way you feel about it – this is something you do have control over.


When depression counselling is right for you

If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of the following statements, you may find counselling for depression worthwhile:

  • I frequently have negative thoughts
  • I often feel overwhelmed and indecisive
  • I don’t enjoy things that I used to enjoy
  • I don’t go out or see family/friends as much as I used to
  • I’m losing interest in everyday activities
  • I struggle to get out of bed in the mornings
  • I always feel like I’m ‘getting sick’
  • I feel hopeless
  • I feel lethargic and tired
  • I have noticed a change in my eating habits
  • I struggle to contain emotions such as tearfulness

Counselling for depression will provide you a variety of treatment options, professional support and practical guidance. Life Supports counsellors and psychologists can show you the way forward, and help you to live a life free from debilitating moods.


Moving on from Anxiety and/or Depression

Anxiety and depression have the ability to affect people from any background or walk of life. These moods don’t discriminate between rich and poor, or young and old, and don’t always have identifiable reasons for affecting you.

Just like any other illness, anxiety and depression can get better with treatment. 


Specialist Anxiety and Depression Counsellors and Psychologists

If you are suffering from anxiety or depression, and want to identify workable strategies that you can use to manage these moods, it is crucial to have expert support. Setting achievable goals and implementing effective strategies are the keys to a positive and successful path forward.

Life Supports accredited anxiety and depression counsellors and psychologists are qualified, experienced and competent in providing you with the specialist services required.

Find a Life Supports accredited anxiety and depression specialist in your local area


To make an appointment or enquiry you can speak with an intake consultant on 1300 735 030.

Posted in Services by admin
February 25, 2016

Anger management counselling
Anger management courses
Our clients
Anger and behavior
Anger and gender
What happens in a session?
Our specialist team


Anger is a signal that something needs to change

We all get angry. It’s a normal, healthy response to any physical or psychological threat. Yet frequently feeling angry and frustrated is a sign that something in your life is out of balance. Anger management counselling can help you take control of your anger, and live a fulfilling, balanced life. Instead of reacting aggressively to situations, you will learn how to safely release your anger. Rather than hurting or alienating your partner, family or friends, you will master ways to process anger safely, and express yourself more effectively.

Anger management isn’t about denying or repressing your anger. Expressing anger appropriately can be useful: it can keep us safe, address injustice, improve our relationships and motivate healthy change. Unchecked expressions of anger – from heated arguments to full-blown rage – clouds our judgment and ability to think clearly. Anger management counselling works because it taps into the core issues that underpin inappropriate anger, helping you to identify why you’re feeling angry.

Anger is often a mask for deeply vulnerable feelings such as hurt, fear, shame and grief. Identifying underlying concerns, recognising your anger triggers, and consciously choosing how you react are the keys to successful anger management.

Research shows that of all the human emotions – including sadness, fear, and anxiety – anger is the most difficult emotion to control. With the mounting pressures of daily life, we all need easy and safe ways to effectively discharge feelings of anger. Life Supports anger management counselling will equip you with these skills.
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Anger management counselling

If you frequently find yourself feeling angry, some areas in your life may be in need of attention. Suppressing those angry feelings, or acting out aggressively in anger – verbally or physically – is not the solution to life’s difficulties. It is important to acknowledge that anger stems from our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours rather than other people’s behaviour. Anger management counselling aims to draw your attention to your own personal traits and triggers; this awareness will help you to take back control and behave in ways that are consistent with your values.

Anger management counselling is built around the idea of ceasing to use anger as a habitual way of managing everyday feelings. The goal of anger management counselling is to establish helpful and constructive behavioural ways of managing anger when it arises, and to better regulate your emotions.

Life Supports anger management specialists help individuals, couples and families address a range of concerns arising from anger management issues. If you or someone you know is struggling with anger, Life Supports anger management counselling will give you the tools you need to:

  • Reduce your anger and stress levels
  • Communicate effectively
  • Consistently behave in ways that get your needs met – without hurting other people in the process

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Anger management courses

We offer tailored one-on-one sessions for those who are seeking to participate in an anger management course. These intensive courses are approximately 6 to 12 weeks in duration. Our unique Life Supports anger management course will help you to:

  • Identify underlying causes of your anger
  • Recognise your personal high risk triggers, and start using practical tools to effectively manage your anger in these situations
  • Address the impact of your behaviour on family members and others
  • Develop skills to create positive outcomes from conflict situations and destructive interactions
  • Break the cycle of anger by adopting new behavioural practices

A Life Supports anger management specialist will work with you within the context of your individual situation. By encouraging you to develop practical strategies to recognise your emotional triggers and modify your behavioural responses, we can help you maintain a healthy balance between your thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Our anger management course will help you identify, create and maintain positive change in your life.
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Our clients

Our Anger Management clients range from children and adolescents to adults, all struggling to cope with anger in their own unique ways. Common presenting issues include:

  • Conflict, unresolved arguments and communication breakdowns within relationships and families
  • Emotional and behavioural issues in children and adolescents
  • Work-related disputes and concerns
  • Domestic violence perpetrators
  • Domestic violence victims
  • Public violence such as road rage and assaults
  • One-off incidents, as well as entrenched patterns of behaviour
  • Anger problems associated with drug or alcohol use

Anger management issues rarely occur in isolation. Depression, anxiety, substance use and stress often accompany struggles with anger. All of our Life Supports anger management specialists are expertly trained in other areas of treatment, and can help you address a range of issues through individually tailored anger management counselling.

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Anger and behaviour

Anger is often a red flag, a storm warning on our emotional barometer. For some people, anger is a feeling that can quickly spiral out of control. If left unchecked or allowed to build over time, feelings of anger can erupt in a sudden rage of words and/or actions. We all know the feeling of doing or saying something in the heat of the moment that we bitterly regret afterwards. Incidents that may seem trivial in retrospect often trigger uncontrollable anger being expressed in unsafe ways, with harmful, long lasting consequences.

Below are some examples of common ways that internal feelings of anger manifest as outward behaviour:

  • Arguments
  • Passive-aggressive behaviour (internalised anger)
  • Road rage
  • Workplace conflict
  • Sporting incidents
  • Public violence
  • Drug and alcohol fuelled rage
  • Destruction of objects and property
  • Domestic violence: emotional, psychological, and physical

These expressions of anger vary in degrees of intensity and aggression, but they all have one thing in common: they have the potential to destroy our reputation, damage professional relationships and deeply hurt the ones we love.
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Anger and gender

Although people express anger in a range of ways, research shows that there are distinct, socially conditioned gender norms that influence the way men and women handle feelings of anger.

Women frequently report feeling angry when their core values and beliefs have been violated, especially in intimate relationships. Culturally, women have been conditioned to suppress anger. Yet internalising anger often leads to harmful passive-aggressive behaviour and stress-related illnesses including anxiety, insomnia and digestive disorders.

Men predominantly report feelings of anger when they feel unable to control or fix interpersonal issues and practical problems. Biologically, men also have a very strong physical response when angry. Although many men report having learned to react to potential conflict by withdrawing, anger creates unreleased tension that may discharge through physical acts of frustration (throwing something, yelling). Men in particular are at increased risk of high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke if their anger isn’t handled constructively.

Of course women may also act out their anger, and men may internalize their feelings too. Regardless of gender, both men and women frequently report feelings of depression, guilt, shame and self-blame about their anger issues – especially if an angry outburst has hurt or caused others pain.
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What can I expect in an anger management session?

Your initial session with your Life Supports counsellor or psychologist is often used to establish a clear understanding of your personal situation, and formulate an individualised treatment plan. Together, you and your counsellor will:

  • Identify your habitual anger ‘triggers’ – these may involve certain people, situations, or feelings
  • Determine how your thought patterns affect your behaviour, and show you how adopting new patterns can work to your advantage
  • Identify new ways to manage stressors in your life, including lifestyle adjustments
  • Work towards improving your relationship with yourself and others

Life Supports anger management counsellors and psychologists use evidence-based interventions such as solutions-focused therapy and stress reduction techniques to help our clients address anger management concerns. By far, the most effective evidence-based treatment for anger management is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Research shows that CBT is an incredibly useful anger management tool. In a recent analysis of multiple CBT trials, 76% of clients reported a medium to long-term improvement in anger management capabilities compared to control groups. These results show there is real hope for those struggling with anger management. Life Supports anger management counselling can help you reduce your anger levels, and regain control of your emotions and behaviour.
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Specialist anger management counsellors and psychologists

Seeking expert support is crucial for those struggling to manage their anger. Setting achievable goals and implementing effective strategies are the keys to regulating your emotional responses effectively, and living a life free of unnecessary conflict and stress.

Life Supports accredited anger management counsellors and psychologists are qualified, experienced and competent to provide you with the specialist services you need.

A letter of participation is available for all Life Supports anger management services.

Find a Life Supports accredited anger management specialist in your local area


To make an appointment or enquiry about anger management counselling, please call our intake consultants on 1300 735 030.

Posted in Services by admin
February 25, 2016

Adolescence: a time of change

Adolescence is one of the most important stages of human development. During the teenage years, young people navigate many physical, psychological, identity and relationship changes on their journey to adulthood.  While adolescence is often stereotyped as a difficult and tumultuous time, it is important to remember that many adolescents navigate this developmental stage of life respectfully and peacefully.  Life Supports adolescent counselling services help teenagers and their families to identify ways to approach this time in a way that encourages their psycho-social development. Counselling helps teenagers to be safe, feel good about themselves, and to navigate relationships respectfully.

Life Supports offers specialist adolescent counselling for:

  • anger management
  • anxiety
  • behavioural concerns
  • body image issues
  • bullying (online and at school)
  • depression
  • drug and alcohol concerns
  • eating disorders
  • family conflict
  • grief and loss
  • interpersonal conflict
  • relationship issues
  • school refusal and disengagement
  • self-harm and suicidal ideation
  • self-esteem issues
  • sexuality
  • sleep issues
  • social isolation
  • stress

Teenagers and mental health: the latest statistics

The teenage years should be a time of newfound independence and confident exploration: yet for many adolescents, the experience of growing up is a confusing phase of isolation, worry and fear. The 2015 Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reports that 1 in 10 adolescents have experienced mental health issues in the past year, whilst 1 in 13 children aged 12 to 17 have seriously contemplated suicide. Of all the Australian kids who reported mental health concerns last year, less than 5% had received appropriate therapeutic support.

These figures are deeply concerning. Yet there is a strong evidence base that early intervention counselling during adolescence can support and enhance mental wellbeing, self-esteem and psychosocial resilience. Teaching teenagers coping strategies (such as behavioural change and mindfulness techniques) equips them with a skillset strong enough to withstand a lifetime of personal challenges. Life Supports specialist adolescent counselling can help ensure your teenager’s journey to adulthood is a safe, respectful and fulfilling experience.

Risk-taking: an important phase of growing up

A crucial stage of individuation involves teenagers experimenting with new social roles, behaviours and situations. This exploration is integral to establishing their adult identity, distinct from their childhood self. Decades of research suggest that the dramatic hormonal changes and rapid brain development that occur throughout adolescence commonly result in lowered impulse control, coupled with heightened risk-taking behaviours. Problematic behaviour may manifest externally (anger, aggression and family conflict), or your adolescent may internalise their feelings about transitioning into adulthood (anxiety, depression and family withdrawal). Counselling for adolescents is an invaluable therapeutic tool designed to help adolescents make sense of themselves, their behaviours and interactions with others during this critical time of development.

Is your teenager sad or withdrawn?

As teenagers start to explore their adult identity, they commonly experience high levels of anxiety, doubt and self-consciousness. Adolescents are discovering who they are, trying to find ways to be comfortable with their newfound status as young adults, and figuring out how they fit in with their rapidly changing social environments.  While this can be an exciting and liberating time, it can also create high levels of anxiety and distress.  It is crucial that teenagers are encouraged and supported in their efforts to mature and take their place in the world of adults. Counselling can be extremely beneficial if your teenager is struggling to manage their emotions at this time.

Adolescent counselling (12 to 18+ years)

The adolescent years present a unique set of challenges, for teenagers and parents alike.

Young teenagers often struggle with social integration at school – current estimates suggest that 1 in 6 Australian children are bullied at school every week. Unusual mood swings and withdrawal from the family unit may be the first signs that something is wrong. Additionally, the onset of puberty can be a confusing and distressing time. Body image, anxiety and self-esteem issues are common amongst this age group/at this developmental stage.

Older teenagers frequently engage in risk-taking behaviours, such as experimenting with smoking, alcohol and illicit substances. These behaviours can result in health risks, interpersonal conflict and undesirable social behaviour, such as: mental health issues, aggression and violence, drink driving, unsafe/unwanted sex and unplanned pregnancy. Car accidents and suicide are the two leading causes of death amongst adolescent Australians. If your adolescent is exhibiting concerning behaviours, it’s very important that they receive encouragement and help to successfully navigate/overcome the challenges of adolescence.

Typical adolescent counselling sessions

Specialist child counselling is practical and solutions-focused. Your Life Supports counsellor will:

  • Speak with both you and your teenager to gain a clear, balanced understanding of the situation
  • Clarify barriers to wellbeing, and address them
  • Establish achievable outcome/s that both you and your teenager are motivated to achieve (more peace at home, being able to go out with friends, practising honest communication)
  • Help you and your teenager define a shared understanding of what needs to happen for everyone in the family to have their needs met
  • Co-ordinate counselling sessions involving only your teenager, only yourself, and joint sessions to review progress
  • Make recommendations of ways you can support your teenager
  • Celebrate breakthroughs and successes
  • Review the plan, and maintain the improvements achieved

What if my adolescent refuses to attend counselling?

We often hear from parents and carers who know that there is something troubling their teenager, but their teen is resistant to seeing a counsellor. The most common reason adolescents don’t want to attend counselling is concern about privacy – particularly if they’re grappling with issues and behaviours that they don’t feel comfortable discussing with other family members. It is crucial that your teenager knows that their relationship with their Life Supports counsellor is completely confidential, and anything they choose to disclose in counselling may only be shared with their consent. Of course, if there are issues your teenager is dealing with that you as a parent can help support them in addressing, your teenager’s counsellor or psychologist will notify you as such. Reassuringly, all practitioners are legally mandated to disclose any factors that may impact an adolescent’s safety, or put those around them at risk.

What can I do as a parent?

Talking to your teenager about this will hopefully allay any fears they have about counselling. However, if they still refuse to come, we highly recommend that you consider specialist parenting counselling. Your Life Supports parenting counsellor or psychologist will help you identify ways to look after yourself – especially if there is distressing family conflict – whilst also providing you with effective strategies for parenting/supporting your teenager. Essential skills include modelling (and encouraging!) desirable social behaviours for your teenager, and adopting appropriate verbal and physical responses whenever your teen is exhibiting unsafe or disrespectful behaviour.

Happy family, happy teenager

Life Supports specialist adolescent counsellors and psychologists will help your teenager to feel happy, secure and confident within themselves and your family dynamic. Many of our adolescent specialists are also trained as family therapists – Life Supports family counselling is an excellent therapeutic option, especially if you’re wanting to address issues as a family unit.

Specialist adolescent counsellors and psychologists

At Life Supports, we meet adolescents at their developmental level, implementing effective strategies to help them cope with the challenges of growing up and finding their place within their family, their social circles, and society at large. Our adolescent specialists are highly experienced in working with teenagers and their families to facilitate understanding of the unique issues they bring to counselling. Setting achievable goals – encouraging safe behaviours and respectful relationships by implementing effective strategies – is the key to a positive and successful transition through adolescence.

Find a Life Supports accredited adolescent counselling specialist in your local area

To make an appointment or enquiry, please call our intake consultants on 1300 735 030.

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