Psychological Services Group

Psychological Assistance and Counselling - Bariatric Patient Support and Assessment

Ms Tara Griffin, MPsych (Clinical) MAPS

Tara is a skilled and empathic therapist who assists clients using a predominantly Cognitive Behavioural Therapeutic approach balanced with counselling skill. She has developed particular strengths in Bariatric Psychology, Health concerns, Diabetes support, and Youth and Family problems. 

We interviewed Tara to find out more:

How do you describe your main therapeutic approach and/or what modalities do you use in therapy?

First and foremost I use a client centred approach – as I believe people are more than a “text-book”. I also consider it to be extremely important to build a trusting relationship with patients. Other modalities I use include; psychoeducation, motivational techniques, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (including trauma focused CBT and mindfulness/relaxation techniques), behavioural, interpersonal, psychodynamic, play therapy, and bariatric assessment.

Regarding the above, who might benefit from this approach?

Everyone who is willing to engage in therapy can benefit. I have seen patients from 3 to 91years of age. It doesn’t matter what age someone seeks assistance, it definitely appears therapy can always be beneficial.

What are some of the more specific and specialised presenting problems that you work with?

I have experience with a range of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, burnout, workplace/school bullying, encopresis/enuresis, disordered eating (including those considering or who have had bariatric surgery), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, and Chronic health conditions – namely Diabetes Mellitus, Fibromyalgia, Multiple Sclerosis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

What are some of your more general skills, life experiences, or practise settings that have contributed to your development as a psychologist and how do these assist you in helping others?

At the age of 14 I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This enlightened me to a variety of reactions by other people, some positive and supportive; whilst other’s not so much. I think at a time when I was trying to understand my “new” self I learnt I also had to understand other people’s behaviour too. I guess this is when I first became interested generally in human beings’ minds and actions. In addition, managing a chronic disease has also presented many challenges, from shock, to denial, undesirable weight-gain, and burnout - although it has also emphasised the importance of being able to adapt to adversities in order to reduce further difficulties.

I have also been employed in numerous work environments, in a variety of roles that has further developed my understanding of people and differing contexts/pressures, including; large multinational companies, being part of varying multidisciplinary teams with other health professionals’ (surgeons, endocrinologists, dietitians, nurses, psychiatrists, exercise physiologists, and general practitioners), sessional teacher (psychology lecturer), senior researcher, family support services and school settings.

What is important about obtaining/engaging in psychological services? Or in other words, what you could say to prospective clients pondering counselling?

Unfortunately some people can feel there is a stigma attached to seeking therapy in Australia, or that it means that maybe they are “crazy” if they do seek help. This perspective couldn’t be further than the truth. Counselling is just like the gym is for our muscles- it helps our brains/mind to function better, be healthier, and stronger. Counselling services also provides people a SAFE PLACE to share and discuss their distress, without it having any negative implication for others around them. Think of it more so like quality “Me” time – something we often don’t allow ourselves in our busy lives.

However, sometimes I hear how someone has previously sought therapy but weren’t happy with the approach of the previous therapist. If this is the case, I urge people to not give up. Just because someone has had a “bad” experience doesn’t mean the same result will occur with another therapist. Just like friendships, it’s important to find someone who suits you. So please don’t give up on your well-being, trust your self, and try again – because you’re worth it!