Interview opportunities: National Psychology Week

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A positive outlook and healthy mind are essential to getting the most out of life. During National Psychology Week, 12 – 18 November 2006, psychologists throughout Australia will showcase the ways that psychology can make a difference to the quality of people’s lives.

Detailed below is a series of interesting story opportunities of interest during National Psychology Week.

  1. Are you an askable parent?
  2. Why happy employees are not necessarily engaged employees
  3. Rituals, obsessions and fears – treating Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

1. Are you an askable parent?

Spoken to your teenager about sex lately? Most parents would rather go bungee jumping, according to counselling psychologist Dr Sharon Horne. Dr Horne, who runs sex education workshops for parents, said talking to teenagers about ‘the birds and the bees’ can be challenging.

“Many parents worry about saying the wrong thing and fear that giving away too much information may actually encourage sexual activity,” said Dr Horne. “However, research shows that teenagers who discuss sex openly with their parents are less likely to engage in early or irresponsible sexual activity.”

Dr Horne said parents are best suited to educate their teenagers about sex because they can share core family values, while providing vital information. “Try to be an ‘askable parent,’ which means your teenager comes to you with questions first, rather than seeking answers from their friends, in magazines or from television.

“You don’t need to know all of the answers, but it is important for your children to see you as an askable parent. It’s never too late to start,” Dr Horne said.

Dr Sharon Horne is available for interview to give advice on how to be an ‘askable parent’.

2. Why happy employees are not necessarily engaged employees

Too much pressure on employees to be happy at work can actually have an adverse effect, according to an organisational psychologist.

Employee engagement expert Amanda Ferguson says that while staff want to be involved in their jobs, there can be too much pressure to be outwardly happy. This can lead employees to pretend to love their job more than they do, and prevent them openly discussing what concerns them for fear that this would create a bad impression.

“It’s great that many organisations are focusing on employee engagements strategies, but they need to make sure they are really listening to what employees want and are meeting their needs, rather than just delivering superficial incentives like yoga classes or better coffee,” she said.

“If not, it can jeopardise staff loyalty because staff are reluctant to get too involved at work if they are not getting the same engagement and loyalty in return.”

Employee engagement can be described as a combination of job satisfaction, commitment to the organisation and intention to stay.Employees who are engaged are more productive, and productivity is crucial to the bottom line of all organisations.

Amanda says that the responsibility is on both employers and employees to find out what makes them feel most connected to their work – emotionally and intellectually – and people should be aware that this is likely to change over time.

Organisations should regularly seek feedback from employees, listen to their concerns and display how they have taken their suggestions onboard.Managers should also be open to new trends and ongoing education in order to get the most from staff relationships, and to attract and retain the best staff.

Amanda Ferguson is available for interview about employee engagement.

3. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is highly treatable

Excessive washing and checking, rearranging objects until the position feels right and trying to get rid of unwanted thoughts are just some of the symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which affects nearly two per cent of Australians.

While rituals and habits form part of everyday life, for people with OCD their fears significantly impact on their daily routines.In OCD, the obsession is the part that the person fears, such as contamination or something bad happening.The compulsion is what the person does to prevent it from happening, such as checking a hundred times that the stove is off.

More seemingly senseless rituals may be performed to ward off harm or get rid of unwanted thoughts, and such rituals may take many forms, including entering and re-entering a doorway numerous times.

People with OCD are often acutely aware of the fears driving their compulsions.Clinical Psychologist Dr Lisa Storchheim, who has researched the mechanics of obsessions and compulsions, says an important key to successful treatment is helping the person to understand the factors that underlie his or her obsessions, such as inflated sense of responsibility, intolerance of uncertainty and giving too much importance to thoughts.

“When people understand what is driving their obsessions and compulsions, they have a very good chance of improving and learning coping strategies to remember for life”, said Lisa.

“There is a stigma attached to OCD and many people are embarrassed about it and keep it secret.People should know that it is highly treatable.

Dr Lisa Storchheim is available for interview to discuss Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


To schedule an interview please contact:

  • Elaine Grant on 03 8662 3363 or 0412 683 068
  • Clare Johnstone on 03 8662 3300 or 0421 071 364

For more details about National Psychology Week:

Referral service

The APS runs a free referral service for the public, GPs and other health professionals who are seeking the advice and assistance of a qualified psychologist.

Call 1800 333 497
or visit Find a Psychologist to find a psychologist in any area in Australia.