Here’s how.

I love Mark Manson’s theory of fuck yes — i.e., unless a person, or two people are a fuck yes about something (he uses this in the context of relationships and dating), then it is a fuck no. So many people struggle to say either a fuck yes, or a fuck no, to things. To say or recognise one, we need to recognise the other.

Saying no is a skill that most of us struggle with. It is very common for many people in therapy to trace some of their anxiety, stress and overwork to difficulties, or an utter inability…

What to do when you have a person in your life who makes you feel crazy.

Gaslighting is a common word that comes up in my work with survivors of a range of relational traumas (i.e., traumas that have been inflicted within the bounds of some kind of interpersonal relationship). The term first entered the popular lexicon after the 1944 film ‘Gaslight’, where a husband convinces his wife that she is going crazy by subtly dimming their gas-fuelled lights each day, and telling her she is hallucinating.

The term is most often used within family or intimate partner violence parlance, but I also see it occurring very often when adults describe emotional abuse they experienced during…

A clinical psychologist’s guide to setting good boundaries.

In my last piece, I addressed what boundaries were, i.e., limits we place around our energy, time, money, relationships and selves — so that we can fully show up for the things we value. Two of the things my clients find very difficult when initially forming boundaries, is translating the general concept of a boundary to a more specific set of principles and with holding in mind the dialectic — or tension — between their own needs and those of other people.

The majority of us know about SMART goals and I like to use a similar conceptualisation when discussing…

We are not all in this together.

I write this in the aftermath of a few conversations over the past few weeks with a range of people in Australia about COVID-19. The conversations have typically had a few themes. One — anxiety about the side-effects of vaccinations and debate about whether people should be vaccinated at all or just wait the pandemic out. Two — disquiet about having received the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccination instead of the Pfizer vaccination (AZ has slightly lower effectiveness at preventing communicable disease but is 100% effective at preventing serious disease or death).

A psychologist’s guide to managing health anxiety during a pandemic.

Health anxiety is a strange beast. We are all likely to have difficulties with health at some point in our lives — this is an inevitable function of ageing, accidents and disease vectors (i.e., germs). Some of us become very highly anxious about health and what symptoms might mean and some of us are able to accept the realities of illness and age and don’t carry the same level of anxiety.

I have noticed that people who experience intense health anxiety often have concurrent fears of death [1] and have a level of dissatisfaction with their life [2]. Clinically, this…

And why I didn’t worry about it.

As a healthcare worker in Melbourne, Australia, I was offered the COVID-19 vaccination in Stage 1B of the roll-out and eagerly jumped at the opportunity. When I arrived at the vaccination hub, the nurse told me I would be getting the AstraZeneca vaccination and not the Pfizer shot, and asked if I still wanted to proceed.

Of course — 100% protection against serious illness and death and 79% protection against symptomatic COVID-19 infection VERSUS a currently incalculable risk ( — because we have no community transmission of COVID-19 in Melbourne and thus do not know how quickly it might spread)…

A sex-positive, forensic psychologically informed guide to seeking sexual consent.

Consent, as a word, has probably never seen as much airtime in Australia as in recent weeks. There is good reason for this, with a rolling wave of allegations of rapes and assaults rolling out of Canberra, private schools and other bastions of power and privilege. There has been a renewed call for engagement with education about consent in intimate relationships and the bulk of the conversation focuses on the need to impart this education to boys and male adolescents, within the domains of school (nb: I disagree, this is why).

Why “no means no” is never enough.

Consent education largely focuses on “no means no”, but…

And what psychology says you can do about it.

Modern dating is an emotional minefield for everyone, yes, even a psychologist. As any adult who has found themselves single sometime over the past 12–15 years, I have turned to the solace of dating apps and websites to find a partner. Sometimes in a healthy and considered manner — with a well-articulated sense of what I want and the flexibility to realise that I will never find exactly that — and sometimes with some panic (“I am too old and will never meet anyone now”, “all the good men are taken”), worry (“what if no one wants to be with…

A psychologist’s guide to the importance of placing limits around yourself.

If I had to pick one concept absolutely essential to mental health — it would be, boundaries. People have a range of reactions when I say the word boundary, including “here we go again”, or “I don’t need boundaries with people I care about”. I have heard boundaries described as “a line in the sand…if you step over it, we’re done”. This is the instinctive and somewhat naive conceptualisation we all carry about boundaries, and is perhaps the reason we flinch when someone says the word boundary. It feels…

While noticing that you are experiencing manipulation within a relationship is the first step, it can be difficult to know how to address this.

I have three easy steps I use when I realise there is manipulation occurring, and one optional one. I largely encounter what we could often call manipulative (or influencing) behaviour within a work context in my job as a forensic psychologist and not very often in my personal life. It can often be easier to challenge these dynamics at work (some of this is because I have a very supportive and skilled team who are interested…

Dr Ahona Guha

Clinical & Forensic Psychologist, DPsych | Real Psychology, No Woo | Melbourne, Australia | also blogging @ Psychology Today | All views my own.

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