Provide integrated and holistic mental health care
Prescribe medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and mood stabilizers
Provide 'talking treatment' such as counselling, psychotherapy or family therapy
I am a 'child and youth psychiatrist', in other words I specialise in working with children, teenagers and young adults. I see patients between the ages of 8 and 25.
Assessment and diagnosis
A psychiatrist makes a diagnosis by comparing the patient's symptoms to the diagnostic criteria of standardized international manuals such as DSM or ICD. There are no specific 'tests' for psychiatric diagnoses. A diagnosis is really just a convenient and simple description of a typical pattern pattern of symptoms, rather than an explanation. A diagnosis can nevertheless be useful because it can indicate on the basis of research what treatments are likely to be helpful or not helpful.
A comprehensive 'assessment' is generally more useful than a simple diagnosis. With your help, I will develop an understanding of you (or your child), your life circumstances, your personality and your current difficulties, and on this basis will collaborate with you to outline an individualized treatment plan that will work best for you. A comprehensive assessment will include:
Biological factors - The state of your brain due to your physical health, genetic vulnerabilities, and use of illicit drugs, alcohol and prescription drugs
Psychological factors - Your habitual thought patterns, habitual ways of coping, the impact of past experiences, your personality and your current emotional state
Social factors - stresses and supports in your social world including your family, school or workplace
Spiritual and cultural factors - The beliefs, values and aspirations which give your life meaning and purpose.
Treatment of mental health problems would usually include the following:
Providing information and advice
Counselling, psychological treatment or psychotherapy
Supporting families and carers
Information and advice
A big part of my work with you will be giving information and advice:
I will give you an explanation for your (or your child's) mental health problems. Sometimes I might do this as a detailed written 'formulation'.
I will explain how treatment works.
I will point you towards other sources of information, including 'self-help' information. This is the main purpose of this website.
I do not believe that any mental illness is caused by a 'chemical imbalance' in the brain, or that there is any medication can completely cure any mental illness. The brain is much more complex than that. But I do believe that medications can have specific effects on mental functioning which can help you cope with life and help you recover from your difficulties. Some of these specific effects include:
Increasing mental energy and motivation
Reducing anxious and fearful feelings
Reducing angry and aggressive feelings
Improving attention and concentration
Medication can also have harmful effects, and my philosophy is to prescribe as little as possible, for as short a time as possible. Here are some links to useful medication information.
Medication is almost never the only treatment, and should almost always be combined with some kind of 'talking treatment'.
Psychotherapy and counselling
I might offer to do therapy with you myself, or I might refer you to another psychotherapist or psychologist, or recommend that you carry on with your usual therapist or psychologist. This depends on your preference, your needs, my skills with your particular problems, and my capacity to take on more work at that time.
Sessions are usually once a week and a course of psychotherapy can take from around three months to twelve or eighteen months. A psychiatrist can offer up to 50 Medicare rebate sessions per year.
Working with families
When working with children and teenagers I always include parents and families in treatment. This could be as simple as a brief feedback meeting with a parent after a meeting with a teenager, or could take the form of whole-family therapy sessions, parent and child sessions, or separate meetings with one or both parents.
I have been trained in systemic family therapy. The purpose of family therapy is to improve communication between family members, help family members understand each others' points of view, help the family find new ways of thinking about the problem and help the family find their own solution to the problem. Family therapy is an evidence based treatment for young people with a range of disorders including depression, adolescent self harm, eating disorders, and early intervention with psychosis.
Admission to the Townsville Private Clinic may be an option, to provide relief in a crisis, to help us do a more intensive assessment of your difficulties, or to provide more intensive treatment including group therapy.
This is only available for my young adult patients (18 or older).