Areas of Special Interest

Child, Adolescent, and Family Psychology

Cherie has a special interest in working with children, adolescents, and families.  She offers expertise in evidence-based (well-researched and found to be effective) interventions for:


•     Anxiety

•     Bullying

•     Anger and irritability

•     Depression

•     Oppositional behaviours

•     Autism and Asperger's

•     Assessment, diagnosis, and treatment


•     Peer relationships

•     Anxiety

•     Self-esteem problems

•     Depression

•     Oppositional teen behaviour

•     Self-harm


•     Family distress related to child/adolescent problems

•     Parent-child interactions

•     Attachment therapy (specifically for separation anxiety)

Perinatal Psychology

Cherie has also undertaken specialist training to assist with stress that can often be associated with the life changes of having a baby.  The focus is on the perinatal period (which includes pregnancy and the postpartum period) and the physical, emotional, social, and relational changes that having a baby can bring.  During the perinatal period there is an increased risk for the development of common mental health conditions including both depression and anxiety.

Cherie is registered to provide Medicare rebated non-directive pregnancy support counselling services; and can provide a safe, confidential process that helps families explore concerns they may have about a pregnancy.

Mood Disorders

Depression refers to a range of mood and other symptoms that are more intense, pervasive, and long-lasting that cause distress to the person and may interfere with day-to-day life and relationships.  Vanessa and Cherie both have extensive training to assist people who may have symptoms of depression.  We will ask some questions about your history, circumstances, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.  We may also use specific questionnaires to gather more detailed information.  We work closely with individuals to understand the varied factors that may be contributing to difficulties.  A treatment plan is then developed and we offer evidence-based options (e.g., CBT, IPT or other psychological strategies) to help in the person's recovery.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety refers to feelings of worry, nervousness, or a sense of apprehension, typically about an upcoming event where the outcome is uncertain, or where the person feels he or she might not be up to the task.  Anxiety is commonly experienced in high pressure situations, for example, prior to making a speech or just before an exam.  Feelings of anxiety can also arise following a stressful event, like an accident where the person is left feeling shaken.  Anxious feelings are usually accompanied by physical sensations such as a churning stomach, light headedness, and a racing heart.  While anxiety is considered a natural reaction to a stressful situation, for some people anxious thoughts, feeling, or physical symptoms can become severe and upsetting, interfering with their ability to go about their daily lives.  Where symptoms of anxiety occur frequently, occur over a period of time, and interfere with functioning, it is typically considered an anxiety disorder. Vanessa and Cherie are both trained and experienced in methods of treatment for symptom relief including:

•     Problem solving

•     Exposure and response prevention

•     Cognitive restructuring

•     Mindfulness

•     Relaxation

•     Breathing control

Psychological Trauma

Vanessa has trained extensively with Professor John Briere to better understand and manage psychological trauma.  Cherie has undertaken specialist training in the assessment and treatment of PTSD under Dr Leah Giarratano and The Australian Centre for Post Traumatic Mental Health, focusing on traumatic experience with children and adolescents.  Both are well versed in the largely cognitive behavioural treatment of PTSD following a traumatic experience.  Many people can recover well with the help of family and friends and may not experience any long-term problems.  However, some people may struggle to cope or function normally following a particular traumatic event (e.g., car accident, assault, abuse, near-death experience, etc.) and can develop problems (either immediately after a trauma or even much later) and may require professional assistance.


Vanessa has recently completed further study via King's College (London) in the area of drugs and addiction.  She is qualified to explain how addiction develops and understands the current evidence for treating and/or preventing addiction from developing.

Evidence-based interventions

There are many effective psychological treatments. Certain specialised forms of psychological intervention tend to be more effective than general supportive counselling, as they address current issues and symptoms and also aim to reduce the likelihood of having future difficulties. Vanessa and Cherie are both trained in the following interventions:

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) focuses on unhelpful thoughts about the self, others, and the future which may contribute to depression. The goal of this type of therapy is to identify, examine, and modify these unhelpful thoughts and the behaviours that follow, and increase behaviours that might improve mood and quality of life. This includes ensuring a balance of enjoyable activities throughout each day and a range of activities that give the individual a sense of achievement. Problem-solving to help address possible causes of stress and lowered mood is also an important component.

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT)

Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) involves addressing problems in the person's relationships and expectations about others that might be contributing to the symptoms of depression. The aims of this type of therapy include helping the individual to find new ways to develop and nurture relationships, resolve conflicts with others, express emotions and communicate more effectively, adapt to life-role changes, and improve social support networks.

Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP)

Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapy (STPP) can help the person to become more aware and reflective of their own feelings, desires, motivations and thoughts. The goals of this therapy are to identify and change unhelpful defences which may be getting in the way of a healthy life, decrease vulnerability to depression, and build resilience.