Psychological Services Group

Psychological Assistance and Counselling - Bariatric Patient Support and Assessment

Dr Flora Gilbert, DPsych

Flora is a registered clinical and forensic psychologist with extensive experience working across a range of mental health settings. Flora aims to bring a compassionate, supportive and non-judgemental approach to her work and recognises that clients tend to be best assisted in overcoming psychological difficulties through the development of a mutually respectful, open and honest relationship. Flora works with clients in regard to a wide range of areas of psychological difficulty including anxiety, depression, trauma, anger management and emotion regulation, identity issues, assertiveness, interpersonal difficulties and personality disorder, and grief and loss issues. 

We interviewed Flora to find out more:

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

I generally aim to be responsive to a client's needs and at times may integrate different, complementary, treatment modalities. In addition to use of the cognitive behavioural (CBT) framework, associated modalities I use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT), Schema Therapy, mindfulness and relaxation training, motivational interviewing, psychoeducation, assertiveness and communication skills training and solution-focussed therapy. I believe that therapy should always remain focussed on the client's own goals and that it may also be important for me to assist clients in identifying or developing appropriate goals for intervention. I also believe that it is important for clients to have an understanding about the rationale for adopting a particular approach and how this relates to their goals and presenting difficulties. 

- Regarding the above, who might benefit from this approach?

I believe that anyone can benefit from the above approach - I tend to see my role as being to support clients to understand and feel confident in managing overcoming their particular areas of psychological difficulty and to identify the strengths they already possess that they may have lost sight of.

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

I work with high prevalence disorders including depression and anxiety. I am experienced in and enjoy working with individuals experiencing social anxiety and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I also work with people experiencing adjustment difficulties associated with significant life changes or events and grief and loss issues. I really enjoy working with clients to find ways to understand and more effectively manage their emotional experiences, and this includes anger management difficulties. I have a particular interest in personality difficulties and the impact these issues have on functionality and interpersonal relationships, including Borderline Personality Disorder.

- 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?

I have always been interested in understanding the factors that drive people to behave in a particular way and make certain choices. I have worked in inpatient-settings, which assisted me to gain insight into the breadth of mental health difficulties and to recognise and diagnose symptoms and mental health disorders. Much of my past experience has been in forensic settings including prisons which has enabled me to work with socially disadvantaged populations; I believe that this has fostered my ability to adopt a non-judgmental attitude and to see the person holistically rather than reduce them to a stereotype or label. Personally, I have found that experiences of travel and living in different countries have taught me about the aspects that all humans being have in common in terms of goals, a desire for connectedness to others and values. 

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

I am a strong believer in the power of psychotherapy to assist individuals to find meaning and improve their quality of life. I have encountered many individuals who have found that therapy has provided answers that have not been achieved via alternative means of addressing psychological issues. For individuals who hold some uncertainty about the process of engaging in therapy, all I would encourage is an attitude of openness to the experience. The client will always be the “expert on themselves” and this ought to be respected. I continue to learn about and be impressed by the ability of people to be resilient in the face of adverse life experiences. I recognise that it can be extremely daunting to start working with a psychologist. I strive to ensure clients feel as comfortable as possible by adopting a person-centred approach, by initially attending to the therapeutic relationship and establishing the boundaries of the work together so that clients feel safe and secure and know what to expect moving forward.