Addiction Counselling

Addiction Counselling2020-07-02T15:33:46+10:00

Addictions involve unstoppable and repetitive behaviours that typically have a negative impact on the individual. The addictive behaviour affects the way an individual feels mentally and, in most cases, physically. These feelings can be pleasurable and create an urge to repeat the behaviour to reproduce the feeling. An addiction can get out of control as an individual needs more and more of the substance or behaviour to satisfy the craving and receive the same ‘high’. If not treated, addictions can seriously affect a person’s psychological and physical health, social life, career and financial stability.

Why do people develop addictions?

There are many reasons why someone might develop an addiction. Some examples are:

  • Trauma
  • Avoiding withdrawal (from a substance)
  • To cope with distressing thoughts, feelings or events
  • To help manage an underlying mental illness
  • To cope with emotional or professional stress
  • To cope with unemployment or poverty

This TEDEd video gives an interesting insight in to why people develop addictions.

Signs that someone has a problem with addiction

Recognising an addiction in a friend or family member can be hard. It can also be difficult for the individual with the addiction to recognise that they have a problem. General signs of addiction are:

  • Unexplained need for money
  • Changes in appetite – overeating or under eating
  • Repeating a behaviour or action even if it has negative consequences
  • Being angry, irritable or violent
  • Experiencing shakiness or feeling sick when attempting to quit
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Not attending work or school
  • Loss of interest in other areas of life
  • Difficulty concentrating

Types of addiction

Something that all addictions have in common is a failure to resist temptations or urges, which ultimately affect the individual negatively. Some common examples of addictions are:

  • Smoking
  • Drug abuse
  • Alcohol dependence
  • Gambling
  • Compulsive shopping
  • Internet addiction
  • Overeating

When to seek professional help

Whatever a person’s addiction, they can’t control the behaviour associated with it and it can have a significant impact on the individual themselves, their family and friends. It can be difficult for the individual or the individual’s loved ones to tell when an addiction has become too intense and requires treatment. Good indicators that professional help is needed are:

  • The addiction is significantly impacting the individual’s daily functioning. An addiction can take up a significant amount of a person’s time through thinking, doing or planning the behaviour. The more time the addiction is given by the individual, the more they will withdraw from other areas, such as work, school or social life.
  • An attempt to reduce the behaviour has failed previously. This can cause a feeling of hopelessness in the individual and a further lack of control over the behaviour
  • Making excuses for the addiction or downplaying it. This behaviour shows that the individual is either aware of their addiction but does not have the strength to face up to it, or is unaware that they have a problem.

What are the treatment options?

Although extreme cases of addiction, such as severe substance abuse, may require treatment in hospital, most addictions can be successfully treated with psychological therapy. Counselling can help an individual recognise their addiction, help them understand it and subsequently control it. Individuals have found their life drastically improves once they gain some control over their addiction and begin to recognise their dysfunctional behaviours.

At the Act of Living, we believe that addictions provide an opportunity for growth and change. Our practitioners are experienced in the treatment of addictions and we use a variety of evidence based psychological therapies to treat them. These therapies include, but are not limited to, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and positive psychology. Often a combination of techniques works best for our clients.

Coping with addiction on your own is difficult. We understand that it can be hard to talk to others about your addiction due to the associated stigma and it is unlikely that others have had the same experience as you. Our practitioners can help you work through your challenges, the reasons behind your behaviours and give you the support you need in a safe space.

It is normal to feel stress and concern in relation to a family member or friend’s addiction. This is why we provide counselling for family members or friends of someone with an addiction. We can teach you strategies to help cope with a loved one’s addiction and guide you in helping them regain their daily functioning.

Our Addiction Counselling Practitioners

Patch Callahan
Patch CallahanClinical Psychologist
Josh Hobson is a compassionate and supportive psychologist who works with his clients to identify their inner strengths, and to draw on these strengths so that his clients […]
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Brock Bastian
Brock BastianPsychologist
Practising as a psychologist for the past 15 years I have worked with a great variety of people from a wide range of backgrounds. My approach draws on […]
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Dayana Noor
Dayana NoorPsychologist
Dayana is a Registered Psychologist with the Psychologist Board of Australia. She is also a full member of the Australian Psychological Society and a member of the Association […]
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Steve Fahey
Steve FaheyPsychologist
After previously working in the corporate and tertiary education sectors, Steve Fahey has been a registered psychologist since 2004. He has worked as a counsellor in community and […]
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Jed Blore
Jed BloreSocial Worker & Counsellor
I specialise in counselling for men. I have worked as a counsellor and mental health practitioner for the past two years in correctional and community settings with men who […]
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Josh Hobson
Josh HobsonPsychologist
Josh Hobson is a compassionate and supportive psychologist who works with his clients to identify their inner strengths, and to draw on these strengths so that his clients […]
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Get Your Life Back On Track, Find A Way Forward, Experience Peace of Mind

We’re here to help you find the way into a life you love. You may be facing one of life’s everyday setbacks like separation or a relationship breakup, loss of a loved one, conflict at work or change of job, loneliness, family problems and so on. Or you may be experiencing a mental health condition like depression, anxiety, addiction or trauma. Perhaps you’re just trying to understand yourself, your thoughts, emotions, sexuality or relationships, or perhaps to understand and find purpose in your life. A skilled Melbourne psychologist expert in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and other scientifically supported therapies, will work with you, putting your strengths and new insights in the service of a more fulfilling life. Phone today to chat with one of our friendly psychologists, or complete this form and we’ll call you back.

Get In Touch

If you have any questions, please call our Intake Staff on (03) 9939 9437 or complete the form below and we can call you back.


Commonly Asked Questions

Should I come in for my appointment? Are you still open? – COVID-192020-04-21T19:16:22+10:00

No. Under Stage 3 restrictions, we are seeing clients only in telehealth sessions (via videoconference or phone). (Updated April 21 to take into account current Victorian and Commonwealth Government instructions). When Stage 2 restrictions are re-introduced, the following measures will be taken to continue to protect you, our practitioners and the general community.

What we are doing to prevent COVID-19 transmission

Our staff have been instructed to follow these safety measures to reduce contamination:

  • Cease physical contact between staff and between staff and clients
  • Each hour, wipe with disinfectant, door handles and the EFTPOS machine
  • Routinely use disinfectant spray and wipes to clean pens, pencils, whiteboard markers, tissue boxes, light switches and tables and desks.
  • Ask clients not to touch any door handles or light switches
  • Stop using the tablets for collecting data from clients
  • Increase the frequency of cleaning the bathroom and kitchen area

The number of people coming through our premises is quite low – about 20 per day, so safer than many other places you might routinely visit such as shops, cafés and most workplaces.

What you can do during Stage 2 restrictions

You can help to keep you, us and the community safe by following the government recommendations on social distancing, hand-washing, avoiding touching your face and sneezing or coughing into a tissue that you immediately dispose of.

We would also appreciate your cooperation in:
  • cancelling your appointment if you are unwell, and especially if you have early symptoms of cold or flu such as:
    • high temperature
    • shortness of breath
    • cough
    • runny or blocked nose
    • sore throat
  • likewise cancelling if someone in your household or with whom you come into regular or prolonged contact shows these signs or has recently returned from or through a country experiencing a COVID-19 epidemic, or if that person is being tested or has been tested for COVID-19, or is self-isolating. Cancellation fees will be waived in these situations during the crisis.
  • not touching door handles, light switches or any devices or objects that you don’t absolutely need to
  • using the plastic cups for drinking water that we are providing. Please don’t touch the water jug, the practitioner will pour the water for you. Ideally, bring your own water bottle. We are also for the duration of this crisis, no longer providing hot drinks. When you are finished with the water cup or if you have brought a takeaway hot drink, please dispose of the cup in the bin in the counselling room or the bin marked ‘Waste’ in the kitchen.

Please go to our contact form to arrange a telehealth consultation.

What are my options during the COVID-19 crisis?2020-04-21T18:52:42+10:00

Medicare psychology items during COVID-19

Clients with a Mental Health Care Plan under Better Access can now attend telehealth psychology sessions.”Telehealth” sessions can be conducted by videoconference or by phone.
Note that these counselling sessions are conducted under the same criteria as regular Better Access sessions (items 80100 and 80110). So if you have had 5 ‘regular’ in-person Better Access sessions, you can now have 5 bulk-billed telehealth sessions. This initiative has a 6 month limit from March 13, so may not be available after September 13. On the other hand, the government may decide at that time to extend it.
If you don’t have a Mental Health Care Plan, or prefer not to go through the Medicare system,  you can book a telehealth session during the COVID-19 crisis (or in fact, any time). During the crisis, private health insurance companies, as well as TAC and WorkCover have allowed telehealth sessions to be eligible for their rebates or third party payments. Check with your health fund before booking to ensure your eligibility and determine your rebates.

Booking telehealth appointments

You can book a telehealth appointment by contacting your regular psychologist, or if you are a new client, completing our contact form, and we can arrange an appointment with your preferred practitioner.*
*Subject to availability.
Are there Medicare rebates for telehealth sessions? Or private health rebates? – COVID-192020-04-21T19:22:16+10:00
Yes. The government have made a special range of items, just like the regular Medicare items 80110 and 80100, and these COVID-19 telehealth sessions are available to all Australians with a Medicare card.

Rural telehealth appointments

In addition, in 2018, the government made telehealth psychological counselling available to clients in rural and remote Australia. To see if your area is eligible, search for your town/location here and click on “Modified Monash Model” in the filter on the left. Zones 4-7 are eligible for these telehealth items. Find out more about these items here:

Medicare Bushfire Recovery initiative

If you have been affected by the 2019-2020 bushfires, even if you don’t live in one of the above rural or regional areas, you may also be able to claim Medicare rebates for additional telehealth sessions with our psychologists in Melbourne. More information on this initiative is here: These sessions are available until 31 December 2021 and do not require a Mental Health Care Plan or GP referral.

Non-Medicare sessions

Regular non-Medicare sessions can also be conducted by telephone or videoconference. Check with your health fund as to whether they will provide a rebate for these sessions.
What is a telehealth session? How do I set one up? – COVID-192020-04-21T19:28:47+10:00
A telehealth session is simply a counselling session conducted by phone or videoconference. Our practitioners have experience using the software and hardware involved. We can’t set up your equipment and software, but we can make sure that things are working properly on our end.

What you need

A reliable internet connection (can be mobile, but a video session may use a lot of data – check your plan), so broadband is recommended.
A quiet room where you will not be interrupted. Just like a session at our rooms, we recommend you turn your phone off unless that’s the device you’re using.
A headphone or earphone set with a microphone. You can use your computer’s speakers and microphone, but we find that this configuration sometimes leads to people talking louder than normal and depending on who is around, might make your session a bit less private than you’d like.
Some of our practitioners use platforms like Skype or which mean that you may have to install an app or download software to connect with them. Our psychologists’ personal pages show what kind of telehealth services they offer and which platforms they use. If you need them to explain any details just call them directly on the numbers on their page. Note that most of our practitioners work part-time and all are busy at this time, so please be patient – we make take a day or two to return your call.

Making a Telehealth appointment

You can make an appointment in the normal way by calling our landline, emailing us or using one of the contact forms on our website. Some practitioners will have a direct link for making a telehealth appointment with them on their webpage.

Security and privacy

Our psychologists will all be taking steps to ensure as usual that your health information is secure and your privacy and the confidentiality of your sessions is respected. The ethical guidelines and privacy principles that govern in-person sessions are the same ones that apply to these telehealth sessions.
What Is A Psychologist?2020-03-20T15:14:24+11:00

The term “psychologist” refers to a person professionally-trained and certified to provide psychological assistance to clients ailed by a wide variety of conditions that range from mild to more severe issues. The psychologists at Act of Living are university-trained and have professional training and skills allow them to deal effectively with various psychological issues.


What Is Therapy And Counselling?2020-03-18T23:09:34+11:00

Counselling is the professional service psychologists offer that is designed to help individuals deal with issues and concerns in life that may be affecting them emotionally or mentally. Unlike simply giving advice, counselling allows psychologists to apply particular techniques and strategies that are specifically designed to deal with concerns of mental and emotional health.

When Should I Get Counselling?2020-03-18T23:12:36+11:00

There is no set rule for when someone should seek counselling. People seek counselling for many different reasons and at different points in their life. Common reasons are to help manage symptoms of a mental illness such as anxiety or depression, to provide clarity, support or motivation. Counselling provides an opportunity for you to talk freely with an empathetic and non-judgmental professional that can help you work through your everyday experiences and issues. For more information on how our practitioners can help you click on the ‘our team’ tab to see our different practitioners. Alternatively, you are welcome to call or email the clinic.



Is Counselling Private?2020-03-20T15:19:26+11:00

All counselling sessions at the Act of Living are private and exclusive only to you and to your psychologist. As our psychologists and therapists are accredited and licensed, we make sure all correspondence during sessions are kept confidential. The only exception to this is if your information is specifically requested by the courts, or if you request this data yourself.

What Should I Expect For My First Session?2020-03-20T15:22:32+11:00

For your first session, you can expect this to be something that will help you and your therapist zero in on your particular concern or issue. This means your psychologist will more or less begin the session by asking you about things that are happening in your life and about your particular issue. How much you open up about your issue is up to you. From this session, your psychologist should be able to plot out a basic overview of the approach they will take throughout the course of your sessions together, in order to get your desired result. Your first session is important as it allows both you and your therapist to identify aspects of the problem that need focus. It also marks the beginning of the therapeutic relationship and will allow you to feel more comfortable when discussing issues with your therapist.

Can I Stop Seeing My Therapist?2020-03-20T15:22:58+11:00

As much as we’d feel sad seeing you go, you are allowed to cancel your sessions with our team and your psychologist. Do clarify with our customer service representatives regarding the specifics of your cancellation of our service. However, remember that our team will always be here should you want to start seeing us again, as we understand that our customers also tend to exit their sessions because of a wide variety of reasons. Our doors will always be open to accommodate you and help you find the best solutions in order to solve your particular concerns.

Is Counselling Effective?2020-03-20T15:23:28+11:00

Yes, over 80% of people who see a counsellor experience improvement, and generally fewer than 10% will be worse off after effective counselling. At The ACT of Living we measure the outcome achieved for each client and publish our aggregate effectiveness. In fact we’ve been certified as effective by the Center for Clinical Informatics.

What approach do you use?2020-03-20T15:24:00+11:00

We mainly use Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, but we are trained in other methods such as humanistic and existential counselling, cognitive-behavior therapy, solution-focused therapy, functional analytic psychotherapy, positive psychology, motivational interviewing and more.

How Much Does It Cost?2020-03-20T15:24:29+11:00

See the fee and rebate details for each practitioner by clicking on the ‘Practitioners’ menu above and choosing the practitioner you’re interested in.

How Long Does It Take?2020-03-20T15:24:52+11:00

That depends on many factors. Most people achieve a significant benefit by around 6-10 sessions. The average client who achieves any improvement with us does so in around nine sessions. This varies a lot though from one client to the next.

To understand more about our approach to counselling and therapy email or call us today!