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Can Anger Be Tamed?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

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Norfolk Island Fitness and Health News

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Who are we and what do we offer?

We are a functional facility offering Personal Training, an 8 week Body Blitz program which can start at any time, Group Exercise and Gym Memberships.

Health and wellness is what we do and have done on Norfolk Island since 2012.

Your health and happiness starts with you and we will assist and guide you where we can.

However YOU need to hold yourself accountable for YOUR lifestyle choices.

We provide key programs that will help you and give you that energy and productivity that a healthy lifestyle brings.

                                UP FOR A TEAM CHALLENGE?
"LETS MOVE FOR A BETTER WORLD" starts in early March and runs for 8 weeks.

This is a TEAM challenge and Teams of 4 is ideal.

Lots of inclusions. As a Team you will be collecting "MOVE" points weekly.

Support the global fight against physical inactivity and the Chronic disease it brings and get your Team ready.

Contact Kay for more detail on 52809 and to register your interest.

                                   "ONE LIFE. LIVE IT WELL."

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The good in the Bad: Facing Negative Emotions as Food for Growth

Thursday, January 24, 2019

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Norfolk Island Fitness and Health News

Saturday, September 22, 2018

WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW? ... Our 8 WEEK BODY BLITZ PROGRAM ... Want to drop a size?

This program helps you Exercise and Eat wise!!

WHAT'S COMING? ... Our NEW GROUP EXERCISE CLASS "Pump It" ... Monday night at 5:15pm

                                                                      ... Our 6 week FITLITE program. Live life fit and healthy.
                                    ... New Lorna Jane Active Wear
                                           Just in time for Xmas!!!!


                        "Fit is the new rich and Healthy is the new wealthy."

                                    All enquiries to 52809 or 57989.

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Has Social Media Killed Kindness and Compassion?

Saturday, September 22, 2018

In the times we’re living in, it seems that narcissism – extreme focus on the self over and above others – is the accepted way to be. Everywhere we go, we see people taking selfies and then uploading these images immediately to the ever-growing band of “followers”, or those we might call worshippers. People whose every waking breath is dedicated to waiting for the next piece of trivia fed to them by their idols.

Praise is heaped on those who build up massive numbers of adoring fans, even to the point where we now call these people “social influencers”. Apparently, social influencers now have the capacity to instantly shape social opinions and determine the success, or failure, of brands, products, businesses, even reputations. They are even being engaged by companies, at huge sums of money, to simply take a selfie showing themselves somehow associated with a product – and no doubt they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Whatever has happened to social conscience, compassion, kindness and respect?

As a neuropsychotherapist, I worry about the pervasive influence of the media on our brains, and then on our society more broadly. Most “social influencers” are in their twenties and thus running on brains that still haven’t fully come online – the last part of the brain to fully mature and become operational is the frontal cortex, the area directly behind the forehead. These parts of the brain drive those human experiences we refer to as meaningful – compassion, insight, wisdom, kindness, respect, perspective.

In particular, myelination (the maturing of brain cells) of areas deep beneath the frontal area, known as the pre-frontal cortex, is not often completed until our late twenties. Unfortunately, due to the slowing down of neural pruning during this phase of development – that is, the discarding of unnecessary or faulty cells – this is the stage of development when the most severe pathologies can begin to emerge. These include psychoses (like schizophrenia) and serious personality disorders like psychopathy and narcissism.

So the world we have created, with unfettered social media, is inadvertently providing boundless fuel for those vulnerable people most at risk during a stage of development when they are least able to tell the difference between reality and pathological fantasy. When enough of these people get together, it’s easy to start to believe that mental disorder is in fact “normal”. By normalising the abnormal, there is a huge risk to our society.

As real social influencers – adults and parents – what can we do?

Some are despairing that it’s too late to turn the tide. Well, unfortunately that has to be a cop-out. We are all still stuck here on this planet with nowhere else to go (despite Elon’s great promises!). Therefore it’s time that those of us who have nurtured our brains to full maturity band together to set the standards for what is “normal”. Some are referring to the current “toxic triangle” – destructive pathological leaders, susceptible followers, and conducive environments.

We can start by examining our environments – are we creating environments that provide opportunities for kindness, compassion, respect, and reflection? In our homes, do we engage in balanced debate that promotes deeper and more critical thinking from a variety of viewpoints or perspectives? In our community, are we supporting and promoting groups whose sole purpose is to unconditionally give back for the greater good of all?

We can then start to examine those we follow with a bit more critical reflection. How do our leaders show that they are acting for the benefit of something higher than themselves? If self-interest appears to be the primary drive, perhaps it’s time to un-follow them. Perhaps it’s time we looked at the background behind the selfies.

Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist

Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island


TEL: 52112 or email

Please 'contact us' for more information.

Diagnosing Mental Disorders: Time to Lift Our Game

Friday, August 31, 2018

Getting an accurate diagnosis for problems of the mind still lags well behind the science of diagnosing problems of the body, or physical conditions. All too often, I hear that a diagnostic “label” has been given to a client on the barest of symptoms and commonly without any use of diagnostic procedures.

I don’t believe anyone would be happy with being told they “probably have liver cancer” on the sole basis of reporting abdominal pain. At the very least, we’d expect a series of questions about symptoms including pain, energy levels, appetite, digestive changes and much more. Then we’d expect to have medical tests – standardised procedures with a solid evidence base - such as an ultrasound, blood tests, even a biopsy before we accept a definitive diagnosis. We’d consider this normal before starting any form of treatment.

However, when it comes to conditions of the mind, we seem willing to accept something far less rigorous, and plunge ourselves into treatment regimes, including medications, without even asking about options.

As an example, it’s sadly still common to have a client referred with a diagnosis of, say, Bipolar Disorder on the basis of a brief clinical interview. The patient may have reported periods of low mood, hopelessness, irritability or outbursts of anger that fluctuate with periods of feeling energetic, sleeping less than usual, or having a burst of grand ideas. Depending on the mood state at the time – either low or high – they may be prescribed either antidepressants or a mood stabiliser without much, if any, other diagnostic investigation.

And the rub is that inappropriately prescribed medications for mental health problems can have a range of side effects that in themselves set off a cascade of physical and psychological changes that can be problematic, as well as masking the original symptoms, making it even harder to get to the core of the real problems (if any).

Diagnosing mental health disorders – problems of the brain and the mind – is a complex process that cannot be done properly in a single brief clinical interview.

Detailed History-Taking

A detailed history of the patient’s physical, emotional, cognitive, social and cultural experiences looking for potential triggers in each group is absolutely basic. Finding out how that person typically responds to life events helps us formulate an idea of the influence of personality, whilst getting a detailed life history of parents and grand-parents helps uncover patterns that may have a genetic basis. Understanding how their cultural background and belief systems shape the way they think and feel – or even interpret physical changes in the body – is absolutely necessary to determine whether the person is unwell.

Using Validated Psychological Tests

To help us put symptoms into perspective, psychologists have a wide range of tests we use to measure how far out of the normal range are a patient’s symptoms. At the very least, the DSM-5 Self-Rated Level 1 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measure is a quick-and-easy self-report profile of psychopathology based on the internationally defined criteria for all mental health disorders. Depending on the information emerging from this screening tool, patients may then complete several of the Level 2 Cross-Cutting Symptom Measures which focus in on more specific clusters of symptoms that might indicate conditions like Depression, Sleep Disorders, Mania, Substance Abuse and others.

Each of these allows the clinician to drill down to gain a deeper understanding of the patient’s mental health condition.

Investigating Severity

Then we want objective data about the severity of symptoms, and factors influencing severity, along with personality factors such as negative affect, detachment, or antagonism. These measures give us important details that help narrow down the range of possible pathologies or disorders, and the complex interactions between states (how we feel or experience ourselves and the world moment-to-moment) and traits (general patterns to our responses to experiences). Most importantly, we could use the Early Development and Home Background (EDHB) Form to investigate early-life experiences such as trauma or broken attachments that we know shape the development of the brain, and hence the mind.

Other Possible Influences

Finally, the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) helps the clinician find out more about the presenting clinical problem from the point of view of the person within their social network (i.e., family, friends, or others involved in the current problem). It also includes the problem’s meaning (what the person believes about their symptoms), potential sources of help they have used or might use (like herbal medicines or religious activities), and expectations about the value of services they might use for recovery.

So the next time you hear of someone being diagnosed with depression just because they told the doctor they were feeling sad or can’t sleep, or any other mental health condition without having had a comprehensive diagnostic assessment, please recommend that they seek advice from a practitioner specifically trained in drilling down to get an accurate diagnosis. And who can then follow that up with a treatment plan that tackles the real problem, not just relieves symptoms.

Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist

Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island


TEL: 52112 or email

Please 'contact us' for more information.

Norfolk Island Fitness and Health News

Friday, August 24, 2018

FITLOSOPHY: "ONE LIFE. LIVE IT WELL." Our Centre provides a place filled with Motivation, Inspiration, Care and Knowledge to support our clients in achieving their goals.

HOW?....  Personalised Programs, Group Exercise (Indoor Bikes, Boxing, Core Strength, PILATES),Gym Memberships, Body Composition Analysis and Nutritional Consultations, FIT COLLEGE, Health and Fitness Challenges (our 8 WEEK BODY BLITZ PROGRAM can start at any time and includes Personal Training and full Gym Access).

... ALL of the above delivered by fully Qualified Fitness Trainers.



All Gym Enquiries to Kay 52809

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How Much Do You Know About Dementia?

Thursday, August 16, 2018

About 47 million people worldwide are living with dementia, and a new diagnosis is made every 3 seconds according to the World Alzheimer Report 2015. 
Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a Global Action Plan on Dementia urging all nations to run public health campaigns to raise awareness about dementia, and to put in place strategies to foster a “dementia-inclusive society” by 2025.

For public health strategies like this to be effective, we need to know what people already understand about dementia. We need to know the people with facts versus fiction, who seeks early diagnosis and which groups don’t have access to early intervention and treatment services. Community surveys help us uncover general community attitudes to dementia and help policy makers plan where to direct funding for prevention through to palliative care services.

A recent systematic review (a search of the data from a large collection of research studies in Europe, the US, Eastern Asia and Australia) found the following beliefs about dementia:

48% of people believe that dementia is not preventable;
42% of people believe they can act to reduce their own risk;
71% of people believe alcohol consumption increases the risk;
56% of people believe stress increases the risk;
37% did not believe that there are medications available to prevent or reduce the risk of dementia;
75% believe vitamins are available to prevent or reduce risk for dementia;
61% believe that risk for dementia is reduced with mental activity;
41% believe risk can be reduced with physical activity;
37% believe eating a healthy diet reduces risk;
13% believe risk can be reduced with social activity.

What do you believe about dementia?

The review also looked at people’s beliefs about available treatments for dementia. Results showed that:
42% believed a cure is available;
89% agreed that people should seek help for memory problems;
55% believe effective treatments exist but only 42% believe effective treatments exist to slow the progression of the disease;
82% of people believe treatments are available to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia.

How much do you know about treatment options for dementia?

Over the last ten years, the belief that dementia is a preventable disease has increased. Fewer people believe that there is a cure for dementia, while belief that effective treatments exist appears to have increased. However, belief that dementia is a normal part of ageing has remained relatively steady.

In a nutshell, this huge review found that the common misconceptions that dementia is a normal part of ageing and it’s not preventable are still very widespread, even among health professionals who diagnose and treat dementia. 

Knowledge about the importance of cognitive leisure activities has improved but still needs a lot more awareness in the community, along with raising awareness of the importance of formal educational attainment and reducing cardiovascular risk factors as preventative strategies. More people need to be aware of evidence that both medical and non-medical methods can delay functional and cognitive decline as we age.

So here are some evidence-based facts about ways to reduce your dementia risk:
People who are happily married (or in a secure long-term relationship) have a lower risk – the relative risk for lifelong singles is 1.42 and the relative risk for those who are widowed is 1.20. This is about being happily engaged in positive intimate relationships .
Nutritional interventions including dietary changes, medical food or nutraceutical supplements (e.g. fish oil, flax seeds) have shown moderate results for preventing the onset of dementia ;
A risk index (Lifestyle for Brain Health, LIBRA) based on 13 measured risk and protective factors can accurately predict future risk of dementia, for example, a one-point increase in LIBRA scores relates to a 19% higher risk for dementia. LIBRA provides a solid tool for “prescribing” changes to lifestyle-related risk factors that may reduce an individual’s risk of dementia in later life .

Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist
Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island
TEL: 52112 or email 

Please 'contact us' for more information.

What Makes Families Thrive?

Friday, August 10, 2018

With the recent opening of Norfolk Island’s new child and family support service, it’s timely to find out what we know about families that thrive. Surprisingly, apart from a raft of Google pages devoted to blogs telling people to spend more time together, tackle conflict positively, recognise each family member’s strengths, and follow the lead of good role models, there seems to be little evidence-based research that unpacks the ingredients of successful families.

The guru of couple’s therapy, John Gottman, who has devoted over 40 years studying couples, is one exception who has turned his sights on families. Gottman’s research was the first to use observational coding systems refined over many years to map out the critical elements or building blocks of successful couples. His scientific research with thousands of couples and families included observations, interviews, physiological, and questionnaire data. Some families were tracked for as long as 20 years to observe changes in how this social system works at different stages in the family life cycle.

Gottman’s research pinpointed the emotional climate between the parents as being a core indicator of thriving families. By this he means the strength of each adults’ ability to manage their own emotional states, and to be attuned to the emotional states of their family members. Put simply, this means having the capacity to look inwards whilst also being able to look outwards. It means being focused on the multitude of subtle changes in emotional states we have ourselves in response to things going on around us, and at the same time being able to observe and make sense of subtle changes in the emotional state of another person (or in the case of the family, several other persons).

In his books, Gottman is critical of much of the popular parenting literature as he claims the focus on “discipline” rather than “attachment” and “interaction” is flawed. For families to thrive, people have to (a) feel safe and connected to each other, and (b) attune their brains to each other, like master satellite dishes constantly on watch for changes in each other. More importantly, he suggests that we must also have the skills for smoothing out ripples in the emotional climate, bearing in mind that there’s no “one size fits all” method for getting disturbed emotions back into a state of stability.

Another key element Gottman recognises is that there’s much more to re-stabilising emotional ripples than just words – saying “the right thing”. His work with communications experts like Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen led to developing the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF) for observing emotional shifts between people in families. These are tied to behavioural patterns, the habits people develop over time which becomes a kind of short-hand communication system

Another body of work that helps us identify what makes families thrive is that of Stephen Covey. His book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families” (1997) also took the focus off discipline and parenting. Instead, Covey emphasises “beginning with the end in mind”. That is, what is your vision for this family? He recommends looking beyond the front fence and developing a “flight plan” which is the end point at which you are aiming. Covey asks us to describe our family in 20 years’ time – how will it be operating?

Covey talks about being proactive – looking into the future and seeing possible road bumps, then putting in place plans to avoid or minimise them. He suggests learning to “hit the pause button” rather than instantly reacting and being able to respond thoughtfully rather than react uncontrollably. Part of being proactive is also depositing into the family’s emotional bank account.

Understanding is critical to successful families. By this, we mean not jumping to conclusions or making hasty judgements, but being able to listen with an open mind and heart, as well as being able to share openly your own views, needs or emotions. It’s about setting up an open flow of information between family members about they each tick.

Finally, Covey talks about celebrating differences rather than trying to clone every member of the family. Differences are what captivates our attention in the wild, and in our social systems it’s no different. Seeing and thinking differently give us the opportunity to critically review our own positions on thing. It is also a chance to see completely new and exciting ways to move on from an argument or stonewalling.

What Covey and Gottman have in common, apart from their guidelines being based on extensive research, is that they drill down into how families work based on good evidence which is now being supported by neuroscience. They also talk about good research showing that families can be coached to success in the same way we do with individuals and with work teams. Rather than waiting until the family is in trouble, both suggest learning techniques from coaching so that your family becomes a work or art, a dynamic living being that is constantly nourished to grow stronger and more resilient.

Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist

Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island


TEL: 52112 or email

Please 'contact us' for more information.

Trying to Make Sense of the Unthinkable

Friday, August 03, 2018

Every now and then, things happen in our lives that are unthinkable. Our nice ordinary everyday routines are stopped in their tracks by a piece of news or an event that leaves us shocked to the core. We question whether it’s true, how it could be true, what made it happened. We try to come up with explanations to make sense of it, to put it into some form that eases our need for predictability. We feel compelled to find some reason for the unthinkable. And often we latch onto something that makes the unthinkable seem plausible, so we can then rest easy “knowing” why the unthinkable happened. All too often, we find that our first “explanation” is way off track…but only if we make the effort to dig down and find the real reasons.

The Birth of Brain Science: What Makes the Brain Tick?

The fact is, unfortunately, that many “causes” for human behaviour are still largely unknown. This is because “brain science” – the scientific study of how the brain operates – is still very much in its infancy when compared to our understanding of how other organs of the body work. This is despite evidence that early Egyptians knew about the importance of the brain. An ancient papyrus dating back to 1700 BC is the earliest known medical text discussing the brain, the meninges, the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid. It contains details of 7 medical cases that deal directly with the brain, and documents brain injuries that were described as untreatable. 

It wasn’t until 1929 that Hans Berger invented electroencephalography (the EEG, a device that measures electrical activity in the brain. In 1938 Isidor Rabi discovered nuclear magnetic resonance which led to the development of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In 1974 The first Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanner was invented, providing visual information about brain activity. 

The last decade of the 20th century was declared the Decade of the Brain, and in 1992 functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was first used to map activity in the human brain. In 2009 the Human Connectome Project (HCP) was launched to build a "network map" of the structures and anatomical functions of the human brain. This is the first time in human history that an investment has been made into finding out how the brain works and to link this to other aspects of our behaviour such as the genome and biochemistry of the body – basically to explore that question: what drives people to do what they do?

Brain “Fingerprints” and Human Behaviour

Recent evidence coming out of the project suggests that specific patterns or “fingerprints” of both structure and neural activity (the ways in which various types of brain cells operate) predict personal traits such as intelligence, personality, behaviour habits (for example, gambling) and even some mental illnesses. This is done by correlating patterns of brain activity with test scores on widely used psychological tests. One study has reported that scans explained more than 20% of the variability in an intelligence test based on verbal reasoning. However, as the HCP progresses, the complexity of the way the brain operates becomes more and more evident. The old model that suggested certain regions of the brain were the seat of certain human behaviours or experiences, such as Broca’s Area operating speech, have now largely been discarded. Recently, it was found that some brain cells communicate by biophotons (low visible light produced by biological systems).

Can We Understand Unthinkable Behaviour Using Brain Science?

So how do we make sense of unthinkable behaviour - doing things that most people would find utterly despicable like sex offending. The answer is, we simply don’t know, but what we do know is that “unthinkable” behaviours arise from malfunctions in the brain. Sometimes these are the result of injury or disease, like the case of a paediatrician whose unspeakable acts happened out of the blue and were found to be the result of an intracranial bone tumour that affected orbito-frontal cortex and hypothalamus. His behaviour never occurred again after surgery to remove the tumour . 
Recent studies have found that paedophiles show notable differences in certain brain areas like the anterior insular cortex, which is linked to nurturing responses, and these differences were not the same as brain activation patterns found in child sex offenders. About 40% of child sex offenders have been abused themselves, suggesting specific patterns of brain changes may be related to specific types of childhood trauma, and may provide the foundation for aberrant patterns of behaviour.

Whether understanding what drives people to commit unthinkable actions helps forgiveness is a personal process. For many, forgiveness of unthinkable behaviours will be impossible. However, we should all resist the urge to be quick to judge. Judgement can only come when we have all the facts and evidence before us, and sometimes those facts reveal back-end stories that put an entirely new slant on the question “Why?”

Dr Kate Lemerle, Psychologist
Chrysalis Counselling & Coaching, Norfolk Island
TEL: 52112 or email 

Please 'contact us' for more information.

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