What is therapy?

What is therapy, and how can it help me? What should I expect from attending therapy sessions with a psychologist or mental health practitioner? What are the different types of therapies?

What do we mean by therapy?

Therapy (also known as psychotherapy or talking therapy) is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between you and your psychologist or practitioner. Therapy sessions are a safe and supportive space for you to talk to a trained professional who is objective, neutral and non-judgemental. Everything that happens in therapy is confidential, except if your own or another person’s safety is at risk.

In Australia, psychologists must be registered with the Psychology Board of Australia (PsyBA) and listed with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). They must have a minimum of four to six years of university training, engage in ongoing education, and adhere to strict ethical standards.

How can therapy help?

People choose to attend therapy for a lots of different reasons, and your therapist will work with you to put together an individualised program based on what you want to achieve by attending therapy.

Therapy can assist you by resolving problematic behaviours, beliefs, feelings and related physical symptoms that are stopping you from being your best self. Together with your psychologist you will work on understanding what is holding you back from enjoying your life to the full, and helping you to overcome these challenges.

People of all ages can find therapy helps them live a happier, healthier and more productive life.

How do I start therapy?

It’s sometimes tough to make the decision to start therapy, and you are sure to have many questions. Please have a read through our website, especially the FAQ page, to find out more about what you can expect when attending therapy sessions at The READ Clinic.

You don’t need a referral to start therapy, however you may want to talk to your GP about obtaining a Mental Health Care Plan which will enable you to claim the Medicare Rebate for up to 20 sessions per year.

To book your first appointment, simply call our administration team on (02) 4363 6600 and they will help match you up with the practitioner who best meets your needs and book your first appointments.

What will my first appointment be like?

Your first appointment (known as an Initial Consultation) is a very important part of your therapy journey. This is where your therapist will ask you questions to start to get to know you, and to understand what you want to achieve from therapy.

Types of Therapies

Psychologists and practitioners at The READ Clinic offer high quality, evidence-based therapy. Your therapist will customise your therapy for your needs and may use a combination of therapeutic methods.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by modifying dysfunctional emotions, behaviours, and thoughts. Unlike traditional Freudian psychoanalysis, which probes childhood wounds to get at the root causes of conflict, CBT focuses on solutions, encouraging patients to challenge distorted cognitions and change destructive patterns of behaviour.

CBT Resources
For more information about CBT: Healthdirect (external website)
EMDR is a fairly new, non-traditional type of psychotherapy with a strong evidence base. It’s growing in popularity, particularly for treating trauma from distressing childhood events to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In EMDR, the therapist uses eye movements or rhythmic tapping with the client. These swift eye movements or tapping movements are said to loosen knots in the person’s memory and allow negative thoughts and distressing memories to be favourably reprocessed with minimal guidance from the therapist. Some have thought the process is similar to REM sleep, where eye movements accompany the digestion of daytime memories. For more information about EMDR: EMDR Association of Australia (external website)

ACT is a type of psychotherapy that helps you accept the difficulties that come with life.  Categorically speaking, ACT is a form of mindfulness based therapy, theorising that greater well-being can be attained by overcoming negative thoughts and feelings. Essentially, ACT looks at your character traits, values and behaviours to assist you in reducing avoidance coping styles. ACT also addresses your commitment to making changes, and what to do about it when you can’t stick to your goals.

ACT focuses on 3 areas:

Accept your thoughts and feelings
Choose to be guided by your core values
Take action

For more information:


Internal Family systems, known as IFS is a new therapy that is based on the concept that the mind is made up of multiple functional parts with the central part being the person’s true Self. A person’s inner parts are often seen as the way the individual copes and deals with stressful events. Our inner voice for example, is often linked to a part. Therefore some inner parts can take functional roles to help the person, like being perfectionistic, sarcastic, funny, drinking, avoiding, or to gamble. These functional roles can over time become extreme and dysfunctional. Parts can also hold the person’s deepest wounds and traumas. Within IFS each and every part is seen as having a positive intent. In IFS the individual is supported to develop a healthy relationship with their parts, to promote internal connection, care and compassion so that wellbeing is brought into balance.  

Schema Therapy (or more properly, Schema-Focused Cognitive Therapy) is an integrative approach to treatment that combines the best aspects of cognitive-behavioral, experiential, interpersonal and psychoanalytic therapies into one unified model. Schema-Focused Therapy has shown remarkable results in helping people to change negative (“maladaptive”) patterns which they have lived with for a long time, even when other methods and efforts they have tried before have been largely unsuccessful.

The Schema-Focused model was developed by Dr. Jeff Young, who originally worked closely with Dr. Aaron Beck, the founder of Cognitive Therapy. While treating clients at the Center for Cognitive Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Young and his colleagues identified a segment of people who had difficulty in benefiting from the standard approach. He discovered that these people typically had long-standing patterns or themes in thinking, feeling and behaving/coping that required a different means of intervention. Dr. Young’s attention turned to ways of helping patients to address and modify these deeper patterns or themes, also known as “schemas” or “lifetraps.”

For more information about Schema Therapy: International Society of Schema Therapy

Gottman Method Couples Therapy was developed out of  research to help partners:

  • Increase respect, affection, and closeness
  • Break through and resolve conflict when they feel stuck
  • Generate greater understanding between partners
  • Keep conflict discussions calm

Combining the knowledge and wisdom of nearly forty years of studies and clinical practice, Gottman Method Couples Therapy helps couples break through barriers to achieve greater understanding, connection and intimacy in their relationships. Through research-based interventions and exercises, it is a structured; goal-oriented; scientifically-based therapy. Strategies are based upon empirical data from Dr. Gottman’s study of more than 3,000 couples. This research shows what actually works to help couples achieve a long-term healthy relationship.

Find out more about the Gottman Method: Gottman Institute (external website)

Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.  Mindfulness is Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present.  When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience.  

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

DBT helps people who have trouble managing their emotions to change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving and to accept who they are. They learn skills to build a ‘life worth living’.

It is designed for people with borderline personality disorder (BPD) or who have difficulties controlling their emotions.


Book your first appointment

To make your first appointment, please call us on 4363 6600.

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