Meet our Practitioners

Valerie Ling

Director (Clinical Psychologist)

Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, has helped clients of all ages find their voice and their way. Valerie has worked in community health settings as well as hospital inpatient and outpatient settings.

Her private practice work has been located previously in North Turramurra, North Ryde and now in Westleigh. Some of the issues Valerie has helped her clients with include Depression, Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Trauma, Body Image and Eating Disorders, and Child and Adolescent psychology.

Valerie began her career as a consultant in the corporate world, working internationally in talent assessment and development. As such she is able to engage with her clients facing career transition or work related stress.

Valerie has a special interest in the prevention and treatment of burnout. She is frequently called upon by organsations to speak to members and staff of welfare, helping and teaching professionals.  At an organisational level Valerie is involved in consulting at a strategic level to optimise resiliency and mental health wellbeing.  Valerie is the wife of a Presbyterian Minister with cross-cultural experience, and burnout is a topic that is both lived experience and professional passion.

Valerie has a special interest in:

•   The prevention and treatment of burnout
•   Cross-cultural and humanitarian workers
•   Empty Nesters
•   Trauma
•   Parenting

In her down time, Valerie enjoys coffee, books, writing, music, and occasionally running.

David Blyth

Senior Associate (Mental Health Social Worker)
BSocStud (USyd) MSW (UNSW)
MAASW (91725)
Memberships: ANZAED, ASTSS, ACGB
Senior Associate
Mental Health Social Worker
Couples and Family Therapist

David has over 39 years of clinical experience as a Mental Health Social Worker combining working with Children, Adolescents and their Families in tertiary level Hospital based Public Mental Health Services as well as with Young Adults, Adults, the Elderly and their Carers in Inpatient, Day Patient and Outpatient settings within the Private Mental Health sector. He has developed close partnerships through Shared Care with General Practitioners and Psychiatrists in Private Practice since 1992. David’s experience and strengths mean that he is able to not only support the individual through their mental health needs, but also provide support for their partners and family members.

Couples Therapy is offered by David to address issues of concern that may occur at important turning points in one partner’s life or in the couple’s life together. This includes couples in the stage of early formation, pre-marriage, relationship crisis or attachment review, and those couples seeking a safe forum for conciliation and decision making in the process of separation and divorce. In earlier sessions, the therapeutic conversation within each session aims to re-build trust and safety around expressing and understanding uncomfortable feelings, processing hurts, disappointments or betrayal, and guiding unnecessary conflict and defensive communication towards more effective and supportive communication. Later sessions focus upon promoting a refreshed partnership with renewed boundaries that support ongoing viable closeness, clarity around joint responsibilities and a shared vision for the future.

Family Therapy is provided by David to support families at all stages of the family life cycle, from welcoming home a new born child, in effectively parenting children, adolescents and young adults, for maintaining a healthy work/family/life balance in the face of the challenging simultaneous demands of urban life or the threat, loss and challenge involved in international relocation and repatriation. At later stages of the family life cycle, adult children in the role as carers of elderly parents or as grandparents maintaining diplomacy within complex family situations may value a forum in which to confirm effective strategies in their role as carers, to identify the impacts of ‘carer strain’, upgrade stress management techniques, employ self-care and maintain social supports.

David is a seasoned therapist of almost 40 years clinical experience.  He is warm, knowledgeable and greatly respected and liked by those who he works with.  As an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, sessions with David enjoy the Medicare Better Access to Mental Health Care Plan rebates where applicable. 

David’s interest areas are:

•   Couples and Family Therapy
•   Psychotic Disorders, Eating Disorders, Chronic Pain
•   Chronic Physical or Life limiting Illness
•   Loss, Grief and Traumatic Bereavement
•  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
•   Addictive Behaviours, Substance Abuse Disorders and Gambling

Michelle Dean

Clinical Psychologist

Michelle Dean (M Clin Psych, BA (Hons – First Class), brings her genuine care and compassion for people, along with her keen insight and analytical abilities to her work.

Proficient in her skills of clinical psychology, Michelle’s experience comes from working in both public and private settings. This includes working in roles at Westmead Children’s Hospital, Blacktown Mental Health, the Brain and Mind Research Institute, Headspace and The Hills Clinic.

Across all these roles, she has provided diagnostic assessments and individual therapy for mental health issues, including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Michelle enjoys working with anxiety disorders, self-concept and self-worth issues, and mood and affect regulation issues. Michelle has worked with both adolescents and adults facing these difficulties.

Through her various roles, she has developed a deep understanding of how these difficulties develop and impact on people in different life stages. Michelle has been able to assist her clients in developing skills to manage their anxiety and depression, along with enabling them to develop a healthy sense of self and greater self confidence.

Through her outpatient work experience, Michelle is interested in Anxiety Disorders and self-esteem work.  Michelle is a high calibre and compassionate professional and she is wonderful at being able to see the complexities of a clinical presentation and bring her therapeutic work down to a manageable and structured approach.

Michelle has a special interest in:

•  Anxiety disorders
•  Self-esteem
•  Work stress
•  Adolescent mental health
•  Men’s mental health

She is also an invited guest lecturer at Western Sydney University, having lectured in subjects on psychological disorders, assessment and treatment.

Michelle likes dogs, squash and relaxing on the weekend by buying a coffee and going for a walk.

Jessica Buster

Psychologist

Jessica Buster (M Clin Psych, Grad Dip Prof Psych, BA Psych Hons) is passionate about creating a caring and safe space to promote effective working relationships. Jessica applies evidence-based interventions in a client focused and collaborative manner to assist children, young people and their families move towards their goals of growth and wellbeing.

Jessica’s clinical training and experience has equipped her with skills in the assessment and treatment for mental health issues. She has gained experience working in roles across non-profit, hospital and private settings. This has included working as an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist and roles at Guardian Youth Care, Headspace, Westmead Children’s Hospital Psycho-Oncology, and Healthy Minds Happy Kids.

Across all her roles, Jessica has pursued her interest in working with children, adolescents and their families experiencing a range of mental health difficulties including anxiety, emotion regulation difficulties, behavioural difficulties, social difficulties, and disability. She has been able to promote understanding and engagement with these clients by integrating a sense of fun and creativity into treatment. 

Jessica has a special interest in:

•  Anxiety Disorders
•  Depression
•  Bullying and Social Problems
•  Child and adolescent mental health 
•  Parenting support
•  Disability
•  Challenges related to medical conditions 

Away from work, Jessica enjoys walking her dog, doing yoga, and spending time with friends.

Sophie Antognelli

Psychologist

Sophie Antognelli (M Psych (Clinical), B Psych (Hons – First Class) is passionate about working alongside individuals and families to live more full lives, overcoming difficulties they may face.

Having completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology, Sophie has skills in performing diagnostic assessments and treatment across a wide range of issues across the lifespan including anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, psychotic disorders and perfectionism.

Sophie’s interests are in child and adolescent mental health are emotion regulation issues and anxiety. Her experience working at Rivendell Child and Adolescent Unit at Concord Hospital, being an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist (working with children with special needs) and postgraduate training has equipped her with the ability to connect with children and their families.

Sophie is interested in working with her adult clients to regain quality of life through early psychosis intervention, the management of symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as the broader clinical issues of perfectionism, adjustment to life stressors and low self-esteem. She developed these interests across her work in both inpatient and outpatient hospital settings.

Alongside her clinical work, Sophie is also involved in a number of research projects exploring new approaches to anxiety disorders – with specific interests in investigating potential new avenues for addressing unhelpful thought patterns in health anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and hoarding disorder.

While Sophie draws on her research experience to provide an evidence-based approach to treatment, she is also a warm and caring therapist who enjoys the privilege of hearing people’s stories and working flexibly with them towards living meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Sophie has a special interest in:

•  Child psychology
•  Psychotic disorders
•  Perfectionism
•  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
•  Health anxiety
•  Emotion dysregulation
•  Effects of media on behavior (particularly video games)
•  Schema development & treatment in Trauma
•  Adolescent mental health

Sophie enjoys bush walking, reading and spending time with her dogs.

 

Sarah Hindle

Psychologist

Sarah Hindle (M Psych (Clinical), B Psych Sci (Hons), Grad Dip Psych) brings her warmth,
wisdom and rapport to the individuals and families she sees; the knowledge that a strong
and collaborative therapeutic relationship is foundational to the successful outcome of any
intervention. 

Sarah’s clinical training has equipped her to diagnose, assess and treat psychological disorders and she has experience working in a variety of settings (private practice, inpatient facility, secondary school). Sarah is passionate about providing individualised evidence-
based treatment in a time-effective manner and uses a range of treatment modalities including Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). 

Sarah has experience working with adolescents, adults and families facing a range of mental health difficulties including depression, anxiety, attachment and parenting issues, eating disorders and the management of stressful life events and adjusting to change. As a former classical musician, Sarah also has a particular interest in the treatment of musical
performance-related anxiety, a topic on which she has delivered individual therapy and psycho-educational seminars. Sarah also has a particular interest in working with children/adolescents and families facing challenges related to learning difficulties and
attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Psychological research projects conducted by Sarah have included an investigation of intensive parenting practices as they relate to attachment theory, and the lived experience of parenting a neuro-diverse child (e.g. managing own mental health, negotiating socio-
cultural messages about raising a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder, experience of
stigma).

Sarah is committed to a variety of professional development activities such as reviewing the
psychological treatment literature, peer consultation, and regular supervision to make sure her clients receive the highest standard of treatment.

Sarah has a special interest in:

•   Adolescent mental health
•   Anxiety (e.g. excessive shyness or worry),
•   Clinical perfectionism (e.g. overworking and unrealistic standards),
•   Performance anxiety (e.g. musical performance anxiety),
•   School difficulties,
•   Parenting support for families of children/adolescents diagnosed with ADHD,
•   Adjustment and relocation
(e.g. cross-cultural, Defence).

Although downtime as a mum of older children and teens is challenging, Sarah recharges by going on micro-dates with her partner, listening to classical music and Sunday morning walks with her labradoodle Reg.

Sheraan DeSouza

Mental Health Occupational Therapist
Sheraan is a Mental Health Occupational Therapist, BAppSc (Occ Therapy) who specialises in working with adults, adolescents and children in the community where mental health difficulties impact on their ability to perform in their everyday function and participation in the community.

Sheraan has 20 years of experience working at a tertiary level. She has worked in community, inpatient, forensic and residential mental health settings with both children and adults. Sheraan is skilled in providing both individual and group based recovery focussed interventions according to what will be most helpful to the individual person.

Sheraan is able to provide assessment and interventions in clinic, community and home visit contexts.

Sheraan’s areas of interest are:

• Chronic mental health difficulties including schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, BPD, anxiety and clinical depression.
• Working with people’s strengths and values to assist them in overcoming any challenges that may be present due to mental health difficulties, in their activities of daily living (ADL’s), vocation/study roles and/or leisure activities.
• Youth, adolescent and parenting interventions.
• Home based assessments and interventions.
• Group therapy including skills, education and support-based.
• Comorbid physical impairments

Jessica Tilbrook

Dietitian

Jessica Tilbrook (BNutDiet) is an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) with a passion for people, their stories, and understanding their relationship with food.

Jess has completed a Bachelor in Nutrition and Dietetics with Flinders University, and has since gone on to train in disordered eating, intuitive eating and mindfulness.

Since graduating she has worked in the acute, sub-acute and private sectors, including aged care, rehab and mental health specialties. Most significantly, she has spent three years managing Dietetic services across QLD, NSW and ACT for a large non-for profit.

Jess respects body diversity and understands that health looks different on everybody. She loves to empower clients to live a healthful life, in a way that promotes autonomy and dignity, and is true to their values, and believes good nutritional care should be inclusive, and delivered in a compassionate and holistic way.

Jess has a special interest in food and body image concerns, including disordered eating, eating disorders, chronic dieting and emotional eating, as well as polycystic ovarian syndrome and women’s health. While her diverse professional background has also allowed for strong medical nutrition therapy skills, including management of complex gastrointestinal disorders, kidney disease and liver disease.

Jessica is a current member of the Dietitians Association Eating Disorder Interest Group.

Jessica has a special interest in:

•   General nutrition
•   Women’s health
•   Disordered eating
•   Eating disorders
•   Eating disorder awareness
•   Emotional eating
•   Chronic dieting
•   Medical nutrition therapy (diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, allergy/intolerance)

Away from work, she loves cooking and trying out new cuisines.

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Is this true? Anyone relate?Repost from amazing artists @lizandmollie - many of us can relate to this! Which is your go-to party plan and what's your #mbti type? #ISTJ #ISFJ #INFJ #INTJ #ISTP#ISFP #INFP #INTP #ESTP #ESFP #ENFP #ENTP #ESTJ #ESFJ #ENFJ #ENTJ #personality #introvert #introversion ... See MoreSee Less

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*** BEING MISUNDERSTOOD***

Did you happen to catch my Thursday Live Stream from my home office when I push to invent solutions for a world without burnout? I don't save them as ANYTHING can happen on these lives. As I genuinely lock myself up for a few hours, put on some music and *paint*, in a manner of speaking.

I let something out of the bag on one of these lives. I confessed one of my biggest fears. One of my children out of the blue asked me this same question the other day. "Mum, what's your biggest fear". Without blinking I said - being misunderstood. I guess I have thought about this before.

Today I went to the gym and found myself parallel on the floor doing crunches and then stretches with a complete stranger next to me. Man! They were a huffing and puffing and a grunting and spitting out of the effort they were putting in. I wasn't sure whether to be impressed by the sheer determination this person had, or to stop and offer them a drink!

While many thoughts crossed my mind about this scenario, the one that stuck finally was this. I don't know why this person was in training, why they were putting themselves through this in such a public place. And it is not my place to work it out or judge this either. Beyond judging this person - it is also somehow making leaps of assumptions about their motives, character and intention.

For many of us we are so often misunderstood. Particularly if there is a reason why we hide our private thoughts and feelings about a situation at hand. It can be so much easier to just stand down, re-direct our attention, or under-function.

When we do this, not only do we miss out on growing ourselves, we miss out on growing with others. We do not advance, we stagnate, and eventually retreat.

Perhaps for me being misunderstood is about not feeling validated, not having someone like me, and deep down inside, not having someone see the same thing I see when I look in the mirror, which is often more warts then I care to reveal. So being misunderstood feels like another heaping of warts. This type of personal doubt and vulnerability is not great for one's mental health or grit in the ring.

Yet, the root of the word understand is to stand among, to grasp meaning and clarity from within. So to be misunderstood I guess is to feel that someone has not had the chance to stand among, amidst and within your perspective, and vice versa.

So it takes conversations, the willingness to make time and space for these conversations. Once clarified, to be able to respectfully disagree, and choose your paths differently. To accept that sometimes that alignment may not come, once we have tried to look at the matter fairly and squarely. To hope without expectation that there could be a time to pick up the conversation again, and if not to let it go.

In this space, it is less about fearing being misunderstood. It would be pretty expected and normal! It provides an avenue to pick up the conversation and lean into it and see where it may lead....
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