I am a counselling psychologist and family therapist. I studied psychology and family therapy at Monash and Swinburne universities. I was awarded a PhD by the Australian Catholic University. The research for my doctorate examined 20 chemically dependent women’s responses to their pregnancy, antenatal care and birth and how they negotiated strategies for recovery and their development of a 'mother identity'.
I am also a registered nurse and once worked as a barrister. I am married with adult children but also am part of a larger blended family. I live in a small rural community about an hour's drive from Western Plains Psychology.
Why I personally trained as a counselling psychologist is a long story, summarised simply by saying I enjoy helping to empower people, whether it be an individual, a relationship or a family. Besides feeling effective and useful, I find the work endlessly enjoyable and rewarding, not just because of the ideals of helping, but I really like the work itself. I look forward to meeting each new client but also saying goodbye to those who have completed work with me. I do enjoy a challenge. I like to learn about the aspects of neuroscience, habit change and relationship complexities that we each share. I enjoy the countless ways that makes each person's mind, body, history, emotions, thought processes, network of relationships unique.
However, this work is not just about the ideals, but also about the day to day work. For psychology, this means: you have to like talking and helping people from various backgrounds. You have to accept paperwork (I'm still working on that; what I can say is that the client time makes the paperwork bearable).
Finally, to be a psychologist, you have to be mentally flexible, able to see things from another person’s perspective while helping them to build on their own culture, ideals and resources. This has enriched me for I get to see life through hundreds of different lens and watch life develop on a myriad of diverse pathways.
For light relief I listen to music, catch up with friends and family, chase kangaroos away from my farm and find a million excuses not to do housework.
I believe that everyone holds the key to their own happiness and each and every one of us possesses the power to change our lives for the better...
However, sometimes we need the help of others to guide and support us to evaluate a situation, understand our needs, recognise our thinking patterns, and identify what needs to change.
My greatest reward as a psychologist is when I assist clients to discover ways to make changes in their lives, so that they can face the future with brightness and hope.
Everyone needs someone to talk to, who will accept them, listen with empathy, be nonjudgmental, and help them to identify and overcome the problems that stand between them and the life they want to lead.
I work with clients across the lifespan, from young children with developmental, behavioural and/or psychological disorders, through to elderly people who are in need of support, compassion, and a listening ear, as they face major transitions in their lives, or in the lives of their partners.
I have experience in collaboratively managing mood disorders, behavioural problems, relationship difficulties, grief and loss, hoarding, and parenting problems, and I use a variety of therapies, depending upon the clients' particular needs. Approaches and modalities include Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, Mindfulness, Interpersonal Therapy and Solution-Focused Therapy.
Prior to studying psychology, I was a special education teacher for many years, so I am passionate about supporting children with learning disabilities, improving their level of self-esteem, developing their resilience, and improving their confidence and social skills. I hold postgraduate degrees in both psychology and education and am a trained ABA therapist. I also have a particular interest in conducting assessments to support government funding for school children with special needs.
If you believe that you are committed to making positive changes in your life, and you feel that I can help you to do so, it may be time for you to take the first step. I look forward to meeting with you and working with you at Western Plains Psychology.
As long as I can remember I have been passionate about creating bonds and working with people. It was this passion that drove me to a career in psychology. I believe that everybody has the right to access mental health care and support to navigate some of life’s tougher obstacles.
I believe that it is of great importance to develop a strong therapeutic relationship through trust, empathy and respect. I work with a variety of clients, including children, with diverse presenting issues. Being the only male clinician at Western Plains Psychology (besides Max, the therapy dog) has led me to choose male mental health and wellbeing as an area of focus. Male mental health and wellbeing are areas that I am passionate about and I look forward to continuing my growth and development in this area.
Through my training and recent completion of a Masters of Clinical Counselling I have gained extensive knowledge in the use of differing therapeutic techniques. These include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Solution Focused Therapy (SFT) Client Centred Therapy (CCT). My approach is tailored to each client’s individual needs.
I have played sport most of my life and I enjoy the fitness, challenge and comradery that comes with being a member of a team. I have lived in rural Victoria, the outer suburbs and inner-city areas of Melbourne. I have enjoyed the different lifestyles each has to offer.
I am a registered psychologist and a trained ABA therapist. I have recently completed a Masters in clinical counselling. For the past 12 months I have worked with clients throughout the lifespan and across a variety of presenting issues. I feel confident engaging with children, parents and families to help each individual to improve on their strengths in order to work through and help them establish a positive environment to cope and understand the issues presented.
At Western Plains Psychology I believe in connecting with each individual on a personal and emotional level to ensure that their journey is unique and personal. I hope that my clients feel secure through the process, and that despite the challenges, there is a sense of comfort and wellbeing.
I have an interest in sport, healthy eating and positive personal experiences, which help in the holistic approach I undertake myself. I endeavour to encourage the client to pursue their individual goals based on their own personal values, interests and strengths. I have gained a knowledge and understanding of anxiety, depression, stress and relationship issues. I work with evidence-based therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, (ACT) and Mindfulness to assist each client to achieve the best possible outcome.
As an ABA therapist and psychologist I have had the opportunity to work with children of all ages and their families. I have a passion for working with children who need help with anger, behavioural issues, Autism, Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) and social skills.
I commenced my tertiary education in Psychology and Criminology from the University of Montreal in Canada. I then completed a Bachelor Degree in Sexology at University of Quebec in Montreal. Whilst doing my degree, I received a scholarship to study in Belgium for a semester where I completed coursework from the Master in Family and Sexuality Studies from the Faculty o Psychology. After moving to Australia, I completed a Master of Clinical Counselling at the Australian Catholic University.
I use a wide range of theoretical counselling modalities ranging from harm reduction and humanist approach to more tailored psychological interventions in private practice.
I am currently doing a Professional Doctorate in Public Health at La Trobe University, specialising in the mental health of parents experiencing the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Special Care Nursery. This project has been motivated by my own experiences whilst having children. I believe that mental health is a central component of an individual's overall health that can be affected by current life challenges. Research reports that most people will face some mental health difficulties throughout their life.
Therefore, I think that an individual's mental health exists on an ongoing continuum, which may improve or deteriorate from time to time. Counselling can help by providing a safe and supportive environment. I think that psychological interventions need to be tailored to each person's needs and circumstances, I have a strong interest in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Schema Therapy, Psychoanalytical and Attachment-based approaches.
I will be offering counselling sessions at Western Plains Psychology via telehealth appointments.
Valencia is a psychotherapist at Western Plains Psychology offering Relationship Counselling, Family Counselling, Family Dispute Resolution (Mediation) services, Play Therapy and ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) Therapy. Following an undergraduate degree in Psychology, Valencia's special interest in human interactions, family dynamics and parenting let her pursue postgraduate qualifications in Children and Family Studies, ABA Therapy, Play therapy, Social Work and Dispute Resolution.
Valencia is accredited by the Attorney General's Department to provide mediation services to separated parents, while maintaining the focus on the best interests of the children, towards establishing effective co-parenting relationships.
Valencia also provides post-separation mediation for property and financial matters, encouraging parties in a dispute to consider their current and future needs, prior to entering into lasting financial agreements.
Through her work with children diagnosed with ASD and their families, Valencia adopts the strengths-based approach to encourage independence, confidence, improved social skills and to address problem behaviours through Play and ABA therapy.
As a mother to a blended family herself, Valencia understands the challenges that clients face in everyday interactions and relationships - including power imbalances, parenting, relationship breakdown, disappointment and ineffective communication.
By encouraging clients to recognise unhelpful patterns of behaviour, to assume accountability and to participate in strategy building, Valencia aims to empower each client to realise that they possess the ability to action change within their lives.
Sue Pallo is the Practice Manager for Western Plains Psychology. Sue has worked with the clinic for several years and is very experienced at connecting clients with the most appropriate psychologist to commence therapy. She may be the first person you will speak with when you ring for an appointment or enquiry. Sue provides effective and efficient management in co-ordinating all areas of the clinic and also plays an important role in delivering key services and the day-to-day running of the clinic.
Maxwell the therapy dog
"Western Plains Psychology" has a new trainee therapist... He is small, cute, hairy and irresistible. His name is "Maxwell"... Max for short, he is a toy French Poodle. Max loves to meet and greet the clients and charms everyone he meets… if you are lucky he will let you play with his toys.Just by having a friendly pet like Max in the room, people can feel more relaxed and at ease with the counselling process.