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Trauma Informed Care in Primary Health Settings


Dr Jasmine Pang describes the impact early adverse childhood experiences have on individual later-life health and well-being, with advice for general practitioners and health providers in how to provide trauma-informed care.

  Primary health settings provide a unique environment for the provision of trauma informed care. Many trauma survivors […]

The myth of watch and wait

Something’s not quite right

James was like any other 9-year-old, but at the first mention of school his whole body would shrink and he would stare at the floor. Even though he had some good friends and wasn’t being bullied, he really didn’t like school. He didn’t have any ‘obvious’ issues, but he just couldn’t seem to keep up with the schoolwork and even started to call himself ‘the dumb kid’.

Chloe needed constant help to do her homework and was embarrassed to read in front of others. She was losing her confidence and every day became a battle to make it through the afternoon. Her parents were worried because they could see that if they didn’t do something she would be left behind, and their cheerful little girl would slowly withdraw away.

Parents are the experts on their children and they know when things aren't quite right.

Ryan has always seemed a little different from his brother. He didn’t play the same games and would spend hours alone, lost in “Ryan’s World”. He seemed to be a bright kid, but he never quite got it when it came to friends. One moment he would be smiling up at his parents and the next he would be on the ground. His parents were lost for how to help him.

The myth of watch and wait

These stories are ones we hear every day. Unfortunately, parents concerned about their child’s development are all too often told to ‘watch and wait’. They’re told that they are just ‘anxious’ parents and that their child’s problems are ‘just a phase’. These messages are not only invalidating for parents – they leave children behind and leave families and educators lost.

The path to helping children develop begins with being able to understand how they view the world.

Parents are the experts on their children. They are number one. They know their children better than anyone else, and they know when things aren't quite right. Trusting this intuition as a parent and getting support as soon as possible, can help children reach their potential and be the best they can be before a small problem becomes a big one.

Finding a path for your child

Sometimes parents feel like they’ve tried everything to help their child and nothing seems to make much difference. They feel like they are sailing in the dark – not knowing which direction to turn. The real issue is that often we don’t have a clear understanding of the child’s thinking style or view of the world.

The path to helping children who are experiencing challenges in their social, emotional, behavioural, or academic development begins with understanding. A developmental assessment can provide this key and open up the pathway to change.Assessments for children can include a range of developmental areas. For example, cognitive assessments help parents to understand their child’s way of looking at the world.

Assessments for children can include a range of developmental areas. For example, cognitive assessments help parents to understand their child’s way of looking at the world, and can detect if a child is struggling to keep up, if they need more help, or if they have difficulty with a particular area of learning (such as problems with reading or paying attention). Assessments can also target specific developmental challenges, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders or Asperger’s Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and clinical anxiety.

Quality matters

At Benchmark Psychology, we have a team of clinicians experienced in a range of developmental assessments for children and young people. Assessments are conducted directly by registered a clinical psychologist or clinical neuropsychologist with experience in assessments and postgraduate university qualifications.

We only use the gold-standard measures for assessment, such as the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC), Weschler Individual Attainment Scale (WIAT), and Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS-2).

Every family is engaged in their child’s assessment process from start to finish. Parents receive a written report, outlining the assessment steps, the findings, and detailed recommendations to help parents decide where to from here. Parents also attend a feedback session with the clinician to go through the report together, discuss the results, and ask any questions.

Benchmark Psychology also offer families full assessment packages at a low cost (compared to other psychological practices in South-East Queensland).

To find out more or book an assessment today, call (07) 3349 5511 or visit for information about cognitive assessments or for autism spectrum disorders assessment.

This post was written for us by Dr Grace Sweeney and Dr Richard Wellauer from Benchmark Psychology.

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    Pokemon GO might treat depression, but will it make your OCD worse?

Pokemon GO might treat depression, but will it make your OCD worse?

Pokemon GO is a mobile game that gets people walking around with their phones in the real world to collect virtual animals, items, and experience points. The app uses your phone’s GPS to work out where you and then allows you to collect different rewards in the game.

Already people are reporting that it’s helped them get out and about and as a consequence they feel more positive and are overcoming mental health issues such as depression. (Check out this article from the ABC for details.)

Although there’s not yet any published scientific evidence that playing Pokemon GO will improve your mental health, the rationale that Pokemon GO will improve mental health disorders like depression is pretty strong. However, there are also risks, and it’s possible that playing a game like this could also worsen some mental health symptoms.


Depression symptoms include low mood and a reduced level of activity. There is strong research evidence that exercise alone can improve depression symptoms, particularly for mild to moderate depression. Another key intervention is called ‘behavioural activation’ or ‘pleasant event scheduling’, which involves helping people to engage more in activities that they used to find enjoyable. Pokemon GO encourages people to get our more and increase their activity levels, so it’s likely that it would help with symptoms of depression.

check-1-iconFear of the outdoors (agoraphobia)

Some people feel very anxious being outside or leaving the house, and if these issues significantly interfere with their daily life, they might be struggling with agoraphobia (fear of being outdoors). Cognitive behavioural therapy treatment involves gradually encouraging people to challenge themselves so they become desensitized to the feared situation. Pokemon GO could enhance motivation for people to overcome this fear, so it’s likely to help.

flagSocial phobia

People with social phobia have an overwhelming fear that they’ll make a social faux pas or won’t know what to do or say in a conversation and so avoid social interactions and isolate themselves from others. Pokemon GO could help someone with social phobia to get out more and it also gives people something to talk about with other gamers, but a game like this can encourage people to avoid interacting in social situations and instead to get out their phones. Although the game has social aspects, it doesn’t really encourage people to use or improve their social skills and may not help people feel more confident in real life social situations.

flagObsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)

People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) have an overwhelming preoccupation with things being ordered and clean (contamination) or difficulty getting rid of possessions (hoarding). Pokemon GO encourages people to collect and collect and collect so that they can be the best and is likely to involve the same neural reward circuits in the brain that reward people for following their OCD impulses. Pokemon GO could encourage hoarding-type symptoms of OCD and also encourages people to spend more and more time on their phones to the exclusion of other activities.

flagProblem gambling

People with gambling issues are so focused on the next reward or payoff that they neglect their other responsibilities or values. Pokemon GO encourages people to spend more time chasing after rewards and points and also allows you to spend real money to improve your status. If you’ve got a gambling problem Pokemon GO might be healthier than blowing thousands of dollars on the pokies but isn’t likely to cure your addiction.


Games like Pokemon GO can really help to improve people’s motivation to get out and about but they have a real potential to become addictive and lead to people neglecting other important areas of life. When used carefully they are likely to improve mental health for a substantial number of people, however, you need to be aware of potential negatives. There’s no blanket rule about when things like Pokemon GO should and shouldn’t be used but if people monitor both their game use and their mental health symptoms they can make a decision for themselves about whether or not a strategy like this is helpful or harmful for their situation.

What makes you happy?

This is an interesting question that philosophers, psychologists, and psychiatrists have struggled with for years. But it seems that the epidemiologists have finally answered it.


The data revealed from a series of surveys on happiness reveals that there is a “golden triangle” of happiness – Love, Money and Activity.


Love – […]