Sleep psychologists specialise in diagnosing and treating sleep problems that are behaviourally and/or psychologically based. Sleeping difficulties are often connected to underlying problems such as stress, anxiety and depression.
Some sleep problems only last for a short time and may be related to an aspect of the individual’s life (fear of the dark, starting school, loss of a loved one, workplace stress, divorce, etc). Sometimes acute sleep problems develop into chronic problems, which can have long term effects on physical and psychological health.
A sleep psychologist can help people manage the thoughts, feelings and emotions that can interfere with a healthy night's sleep. Sleep can be one of the first things to be affected when an individual is worried about something or has a major life transition.
Research indicates that there is a large percentage of children in Australia who are in need of assistance with their sleep problems. Regardless of the issue, these children are likely to experience poor mood, behavioural problems and reduced academic performance. Fortunately, many sleep problems can be addressed with a few simple techniques. However, unlike other areas of a healthy lifestyle, such as diet and exercise, sleep education for parents is scarce. I aim to provide parents with the necessary information and practical tools to help their children improve their sleep health and general well-being.
I take an interdisciplinary approach and work closely with other medical professionals to address the concerns that can co-occur with sleep disorders. If sleep problems are suspected to be medically based (such as sleep apnoea) you will be referred to a medical specialist. I participate in multidisciplinary team meetings for individuals with sleep disorders in the Illawarra region.
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Clinic meetings are co-chaired by Associate Professor Stuart MacKay (Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgeon) and Dr Terry Sands (Paediatrician and Sleep Physician) and attended by Dr Andrew Jones (Respiratory and Sleep Physician), Associate Professor Graham Hart (Respiratory and Sleep Physician), Dr Matthew MacFarlane (Psychiatrist), Dr Sebastian Sekulic (Dentist), Dr Kamal Ahmed (Specialist Orthodontist), Dr Steve McCrea (Dentist) and other allied health professionals who have an interest in disordered sleep.
APS Branches support members and promote psychology at a state and regional level. I am also a registered Medicare Provider.
I have provided education seminars to GPs and GP Registrars in the Illawarra on common sleep disorders and non-drug related treatment, with a focus on cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBTi). I have also presented to the general public on behalf of various organisations including CatholicCare and the Leukemia Foundation.
I keep up to date with advances in psychological treatments by attending the ASA's annual conference and by undertaking other extensive professional development activities throughout the year.
I am passionate about improving sleep and well-being and I am committed to ongoing professional development. I am a registered psychologist with AHPRA (the national governing body) living and working in the Illawarra.
I am a University of Wollongong graduate and a member of the Australasian Sleep Association (ASA), the ASA's Chronobiology Council and Insomnia Special Interest Group. The ASA is the peak scientific body in Australia and New Zealand representing clinicians, scientists and researchers in the broad area of Sleep.
I am a full member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS) and a committee member for the Illawarra Branch.