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Working with Mental Health

Angelica and Terence Atman’s Approach to Working with Clients to Maximise Mental Health

They focus on establishing a heart-centred, caring, non-judgmental, supportive and collaborative relationship with each and every client. They have long recognised the intrinsic unity of the human being in their somatic (physical) nature. Hence, rather than choose one approach, they use interventions that provide a bridge between body and mind which deepens and benefits both.

Their goal of using Body Psychotherapy in conjunction with other psychotherapy approaches is to offer solutions that support the integration of bodily sensation, thought, affect, and movement, thus supporting an individual’s increasing connection and aliveness and while emphasising the person’s strengths, resources and resiliency.

Clients are taught to become aware of their bodies, how to track bodily sensations, and how to implement physical actions that promote significant change in their cognitions and emotions. Thus, helping them discover which resources are available to them and which need to be challenged or changed.

A typical psychotherapy session can include ways of breathing, sound, movement, gentle massage and other soft techniques. People that suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or trauma hold their body in a way that keeps the pain trapped. Using these gentle techniques helps release and heals those tensions and the trapped grief and trauma, and also contributes to free emotion as well as increase vitality and relax the body.

This enables clients to shift themselves consciously out of the old habitual and dysfunctional patterns and behaviours that kept them ‘stuck’, into fully integrated and embodied states of well-being, thereby creating new cellular memories, thus revealing an expanded and conscious awareness of their sense of self.

Every therapy session is different. Angelica and Terence follow what is presented by the client and support the client in whatever way is more beneficial for them. With some clients, incorporating the bodywork is appropriate, while with others, other therapies such as hypnotherapy, cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), mindfulness, eye movement desensitisation reprocessing (E.M.D.R), and emotional freedom technique (E.F.T), may be more suitable. There are no rules; the integration of different approaches means therapy can be tailored to meet the needs and concerns of the individual client.

Furthermore, this integral model allows for greater awareness of the complexities of human nature and healing. It helps to create a strong union between mind and body – empowering clients to practise new behaviours that will enable them to free themselves of issues, traumas and emotional upsets, and bring conflicted parts of the mind and body into harmony.


Legal and Ethical Obligations for Counsellors

As councillors and therapists, it is our legal and ethical obligation to ensure our clients get the best possible care and treatment as well as the best advice regarding supportive services.

We observe the client’s right and respect of one’s human worth, dignity, and privacy in accordance with their gender, ethnic lineage, social background, occupation and religious orientation.

As a standard we adhere to:  The Australian Counselling Association Code of Ethics and Practices.

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Mental Health Information Sheet

What is Mental Illness?

Approximately 20 percent of the Australian population will experience mental illness in any given year. Mental Illness is a term that describes some diagnosable disorders that significantly interfere with an individual’s cognitive, emotional and social abilities. Mental Illness can affect any person at any age and from any socio-economic or cultural background.

The term mental disorder is also used to refer to health problems. A Mental Health Problem also interferes with how a person thinks, feels and behaves, especially when under stress, but to a lesser extent than a mental illness. However, they can develop into a mental illness if they are not dealt with.

Most people with Mental Illness recover and go on to have a good life and a great job and enjoy living with their family and friends, and make a satisfying contribution to their community.

Types of Mental Illness

There is a range of mental illness. Some of the major types are depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorder and eating disorders. It depends whether the person is psychotic or non-psychotic.


People experiencing an acute episode of psychosis lose touch with reality and perceive their world quite differently from normal. Their ability to make sense of thoughts and feelings and the world around them is severely affected. A psychotic episode may involve false beliefs of delusions of grandeur, persecution, or guilt. It may involve hallucinations, where the person sees, hears, smells or tastes things that are not there. These episodes can be threatening and confusing to other people.

Schizophrenia is characterised by sensory hallucinations and uncharacteristic behavioural changes.

Bi-Polar Affective Disorder (Manic Depression) is marked by extreme mood swings, from elation, high activity and psychomotor agitation, to a depressive state in which the individual lacks energy and purpose and may even, in sever circumstances, feel suicidal.

What causes psychosis?

The specific causes of psychosis are not entirely understood. A combination of hereditary and other factors such as stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed, can trigger the first episode. Some people only experience a brief form of psychosis which lasts only a few days or weeks and some people experience psychosis associated a longer term illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Most people can recover from an episode of psychosis. Treatment includes a combination of medication and community support.

Non-psychotic Illness

Non-psychosis mental illness include personality disorders, neurotic disorders (e.g. hypochondria) and other conditions and disorders such as phobias, eating disorders, anxiety attacks, and some types of depression.

Anxiety Disorders sometimes progress to panic attacks where a person may feel dizzy and experience breathing difficulties.

Treatment can include medication, cognitive therapies, counselling and relaxation techniques.

Depression is characterised by a prolonged sense of hopelessness, lethargy, emotional numbness and confusion. Suicidal ideation and suicide attempts can occur in people who are severely depressed.

Treatment may include anti-depressant medication, counselling and exercise.

Usually, people with non-psychotic mental illness are more likely to be aware that they have a problem than those with psychotic illness. They are more liable to respond to counselling and psychotherapy.

Causes of Mental Illness

The causes of mental illnesses are unclear. A predisposition to some mental illness, such as schizophrenia, can run in families. But many other factors can contribute to the onset of a mental illness in people with a predisposition such as stress, bereavement, relationship breakdown, child abuse, unemployment, social isolation and times of accidents and life-threating illness. Reluctance to talk openly about mental illnesses is a barrier to seeking early treatment.

Dealing with the stigma of Mental Illness

Myths, misunderstandings, and negative stereotypes surround mental Illness. These result in stigma, discrimination and isolation of people with mental illness along with their families and carers.

Stigma is one of the biggest problems for people with mental illness.

Confronting the negative attitudes of other people often results in a feeling of isolation and despair that can lead to further symptoms.

Positive and hopeful attitudes of family, friends, service providers, employers, and other members of the community are critical to ensuring the quality of life for people with mental illness.

Assist friends and family with a mental illness to obtain care and treatment as soon as possible. Remember early intervention can alleviate or prevent symptoms from becoming worse.

  • Make certain high-quality support and treatment services are provided to people with mental illness.
  • Think about mental illnesses just like you would any other disease or health condition.
  • Talk about mental illness openly and let other people know the facts. Many people are ignorant about mental illness and therefore are afraid of it; by helping them understand the symptoms and treatments they will feel more comfortable and less fearful.
  • Actively support family members and carers of people who have a mental illness. They too can also experience the confusion, distress, and the stigma that can accompany mental illness.
  • Learn ways to deal with stress in relationships and life’s circumstances.
  • If necessary seek professional support to help the development of resilience and coping skills.

Where to go for more help?

Your first stop for more help

  • Your general practitioner.
  • Your community health centre.
  • Your community mental health centre.
  • For information on services, check the Community Help and Welfare Services and 24-hour emergency numbers in your local telephone directory.
  • For immediate counselling assistance, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.  Lifeline can also supply you with contacts, further information and help.


Other useful sources of information about mental illness are: