Psychotherapy in Melbourne
 
 

I am a qualified social worker and psychotherapist, with professional membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers. I am also a member of the International Association for Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology, member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, and member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy.


I offer here some information about my professional background and personal philosophy as these form a fundamental part of who I am as a person and inevitably what I bring in some shape or form to my therapeutic relationships. The old Freudian model of the therapist being a ‘blank slate’ is generally not considered to be possible or even wanted in a therapeutic relationship anymore and gone with it is the idea that one therapist can indiscriminately be suited to and able to work with every client. Who the therapist is as a person will inevitably be noticed and experienced by the client and the client should choose a therapist they believe or feel to be a ‘good fit’.


My own desire to become a psychotherapist was in part motivated by a long-term interest in how we as humans make meaning of our suffering. I initially studied comparative religion and sociology at university, trying to understand the ways that different societies across the world have attempted to make meaning of  human existence and suffering through the development of different religious and spiritual traditions.


During my study I unexpectedly discovered a different knowledge base that helped me to make meaning of my experiences in political terms. Feminism offered a way of seeing the world that explained the suffering of women and children in terms of social causes. This knowledge and many subsequent realisations directed me into the study of social work and the pursuit of social justice for women with the goal of improving women’s mental health.


I initially worked as a social worker in women’s health, providing counselling and advocacy support to women with a wide range of difficulties including a history of child abuse, adult sexual assault, domestic violence, miscarriage and neonatal loss, unplanned pregnancies, chronic health conditions, disabilities and past experiences of trauma. Working in the public health system I also supported many migrant and refugee women from Africa and the Middle East who experienced significant difficulties as a result of violence, resettlement, ongoing discrimination and isolation.


Many of the women I worked with were diagnosed with depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, personality disorders or psychotic disorders. However almost all of them had experienced some form of emotional, psychological or physical trauma in relationship with another person. What this therefore reinforced for me is that mental health cannot be understood solely through genes or brain chemistry, or treated solely with medication, but rather mental health must be understood as being impacted by our environment and our relationships within that environment. This not only gives us a more useful and realistic understanding of the development of mental health difficulties, but it also guides us in knowing what is most useful in the treatment of mental health difficulties.


My desire to be able to understand, connect and work with women experiencing these psychological and emotional difficulties led me to study a relationally-based psychotherapy that incorporates an understanding of the place of early attachment relationships in shaping our mind and body, and the ongoing impact of relationships in the formation and maintenance of psychological and emotional functioning (please see my Psychotherapy page for more information).


Since this time I have been working therapeutically with women who have experienced trauma, incorporating my understanding of the impact of early childhood experiences as well as social influences on an individual’s emotional, psychological and physical health. I remain deeply and passionately committed to the process of exploration, expression and relationship within the psychotherapeutic process. I maintain my own personal psychotherapy, clinical supervision and self-study as these continue to contribute to my own personal and professional development. In 2012 I presented a paper at the CASA Forum’s biennial conference titled,  “Retaining a feminist philosophy whilst incorporating neurobiological knowledge: can we have it all?” In 2014 I presented another paper at the CASA Forum - “Ten years a schizophrenic: working therapeutically with hallucinations.” I am currently completing postgraduate research at Melbourne University examining the therapeutic impacts of a feminist analysis of violence in the counselling of victim/survivors of sexual assault.




Relevant Links:

Australian Association of Social Workers

International Association for Psychoanalytic Self-Psychology

American Group Psychotherapy Association

ABOUT ME

Bree Weizenegger

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