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New therapy groups – one to help expectant and new mothers with emotional wellbeing, and another on healthy eating – are available from June at Massey University’s Centre for Psychology at Albany.
A new eight-week programme will provide a community-based service for pregnant women and new mothers who feel vulnerable, depressed and in need of support, says Kirsty Furness, an intern clinical psychologist running the group.
She says that although treatment is available through hospital-based services for women experiencing more intense symptoms, this group fills a gap for those not at the severe end of the scale. The therapy is for women from the second trimester of pregnancy through to after the baby’s birth.
The centre, which has been offering low-cost therapy for depression, anxiety and low self-esteem for a number of years, is also introducing new group therapy for healthy eating.
Coordinator and clinical psychologist, Kay Mathewson, says the healthy eating group teaches strategies to overcome “self-sabotaging” thoughts that can lead to behaviours that undermine healthy eating goals. She emphasises the therapy is not a dieting or weight loss programme, but a practical approach which uses cognitive awareness to help reinforce healthy eating habits.
“It teaches people to be aware of emotional triggers that can compel us to act in ways we know are not helpful – like over-eating as an emotional reward or distraction, then feeling guilty later. This kind of self-sabotaging can happen in many areas of life – whether its relationships, personal finances or eating”, she says.
The groups, catering for up to eight, are based on cognitive behaviour therapy, which provides a practical approach to help manage and overcome problems, says Ms Furness. “It starts with how we think, and how this makes us feel and act, then how we can reframe our thoughts so we act and feel more positively.”
“It’s about learning to be aware of certain triggers for negative thoughts, then learning how to use practical techniques and tools to combat these negative thoughts.”
The centre also offers clinical expertise for a wide range of needs, including children with emotional, learning or behavioural difficulties; individuals or couples with relationship problems; older adults suffering anxiety, grief or depression; people with work-related difficulties; and new migrants struggling with adjusting to a new culture and customs.
For more information contact Helen McMaster: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 09 441 8175.
People interested in therapy do not need a GP referral but will be assessed at the centre first.