Western Sydney psychotherapy program tackles trauma with unique and sensitive methods

Associate Professor Loyola McLean

Trauma and loss can get us “stuck” and psychotherapy helps us find ways together to get life “unstuck” says Loyola McLean, Associate Professor course coordinator Brain and Mind Centre and course co-coordinator Westmead Psychotherapy Program.

Loyola has been working in the Westmead Psychotherapy Program in the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) since 2016 and said the need for psychotherapy is something “we are passionate about for Complex Traumatic disorders because we need a trauma-informed and connected, relational approach with all our patients and their carers, with deep listening”.

“It is such a basic human thing to seek help and connection in a conversation, especially when we are struggling but things often get in the way, like past trauma or unhelpful relationships,” she added.

Psychotherapy listens deeply to build a conversational relationship to help us connect and work together on solving the problems and healing the past.

The more positive and supportive our society is across the board, the better our health as Australians will be with Loyola stressing that “we manage the tough stuff best together and accepting that psychotherapy is a basic and powerful treatment and a right in our health care system is important to our flourishing”.

The WSLHD’s Westmead Psychotherapy Program helps patients choose the next steps in their recovery journey and is unique in that there’s a dedication to an approach called the Conversational Model which Loyola says “brings together neuroscience, developmental psychology and linguistics to help connect with patients, even at times they feel very disconnected or distressed”.

“Many psychotherapies do this, but this model really teaches skills in deep listening, connecting right here, right now with our patients, and responding in the moment,” she added.

Loyola believes psychotherapy is one of the most exciting and rewarding areas of psychiatry because it involves “neuroscience and medicine, the mind, body and spirit, listening and speaking plus art and science all coming together… what’s not to love about that?”

And I get to walk with and grow alongside my patients and students.”

Loyola McLean

Loyola identifies an Aboriginal Yamatji woman with a Stolen story, still seeking reconnection with Kin and Country.

Her feeling is that the best hope we have as a community becoming healthy is to “build a sense that we are all walking home together – in Wajarri (although I am an early learner) that would be said as Nganhu wanarayimanha nurragi”.

“To me, when we listen deeply we honour each other and Country and the Dreaming: past, present, future, always.”