All Posts By

Ruth Magnusson

Finding treatment that works for you

Why choose mental health treatment at a place like Retreat South?

There are many mental health conditions that can affect us. Sometimes it is not mental health problems. Lifestyle or relationship changes, bereavement or physical illness. these too can affect or wellbeing.

Some mental health conditions can cause other problems too. You can be experiencing more than one thing at any time. If you have problems with addiction, for example, it’s likely you could also be experiencing anxiety or depression too.

Seeking help from a professional is one of the things we should do when dealing with mental health problems.

Sometimes the problems seem too much to deal with in weekly or monthly sessions. The idea of spending some time at a place where you can have holistic treatment to deal with these problems in an intensive, daily routine can be appealing.  Especially when the treatment is individual and focussed on you and your situation alone.

At a place like Retreat South, you can change your environment to a peaceful rural setting. Then experience psychotherapy, yoga, relaxation and mindfulness, catered meals, activities to help you create or keep fit and recover physically as wells as mentally.

Obtaining professional and high-quality support is is important to remember.  It is essential that anyone with mental health concerns seeks treatment from well-trained and credentialed practitioners. At Retreat South, our staff comprises highly trained, experienced and credentialed.

If you are thinking about what treatments could work for you, contact us here for further information or telephone +61 3 5568 4155

Individual therapy is all about you

At Retreat South, we offer individualised programs.  Your treatment is individual too.

No group therapy

At Retreat South your treatment is delivered in one-on-one sessions with our therapists.  In one-on-one sessions, you have one-on-one attention from each member of our therapeutic team. They work with you alone, and understand your specific needs and work with you toward your recovery.

Therapy works as a relationship between the client and the therapist. This is called the ‘therapeutic alliance’ and that alliance is strongest in individual therapy.

This way the treatment best suits your own specific needs and reasons and pace.

Because working one-on-one with your therapist, you control the pace of your recovery too. The focus is on you alone and working with you to find the best paths to your recovery.

This way you have a greater opportunity to strengthen the therapeutic alliance and participate in your own recovery process.

Pets, PTSD and wellbeing

Pets can play a major role in supporting a person with PTSD and other emotional and physical conditions.

Recently the Australian government has announced financial backing to trial assistance dogs with veterans. The dogs will be specifically matched to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

The trial will involve matching the specific needs of the participating veteran to the most appropriate breed and temperament of the dog, and the bonding process between the dog and participant.

Assistance dogs differ from companion dogs. Assistance dogs are part of a clinical care plan involving the veteran and their mental health clinician. These dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that contribute to the clinical recovery goals of the individual.

Assistance dogs learn to detect signs of distress and perform specific tasks to help lessen those symptoms.

The link between animals and supporting us in a therapeutic role has been understood for many years. As that understanding increases, they can become an essential part of recovery as well as providing companionship.

At Retreat South pets are welcome as we understand the bond between people and their pets can be very important in the recovery process.

Depression and Diet

The role of nutrition in helping people with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression is gathering more and more support in treatments.

UK researcher Joyce Cavave recently wrote that psychiatrists are becoming more aware of the benefits of nutrition in mental health call and are calling for wider support and research.

Although people in the UK, as well as most developed countries, eat a greater variety of foodstuffs than before – but it doesn’t mean they are well-nourished. People are missing out on essential nutrients for good brain health because diets are too often dominated by heavily processed foods containing artificial additives and sugar.

Here in Australia, a study at Sydney’s School of Public Health looked at psychological distress in middle-aged and older adults and how increasing fruit and vegetable consumption may help them reduce psychological distress.

With the understanding that mental health and physical health are connected and the importance of brain function, improving diet can be a useful addition for treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Another factor with diet and mental health is the importance of gut health. Research also indicates that antidepressants and other psychiatric medications, while beneficial in treating something like depression, can affect the composition of gut bacteria. What happens is an interaction with the nervous system, which can influence the likelihood of depression. Improving diet while taking these medications is a way of helping your body deal with the condition.

So thinking about diet as part of treating mental health issues. Trying foods that promote gut health like whole grains while cutting back on red meat may be helpful. Choosing fewer processed foods and eating vegetables at each meal may also be a natural way of reducing depression and anxiety.


Retreat South is one of Australia’s leading facilities for the treatment of trauma, PTSD and grief. We also specialise in effective and enduring treatment for depression, anxiety, stress and drug and alcohol addiction. All our treatment programs are tailored to best help you on your path to recovery. Please contact us here for further information or telephone +61 3 5568 4155

Study finds genetic link to PTSD

New research has linked genetic risk factors with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The American researchers identified genetic risk factors for a major PTSD symptom. People with this condition often experience flashbacks or other forms of re-experiencing a trauma.

The research also links PTSD to schizophrenia and high blood pressure.

The research used information from over 165,000 American veterans participating in the Million Veterans Program. The program examines how genes affect the health of veterans.

By studying genomes, they found that one aspect was close to a gene that is active in responding to stress.

This suggests a genetic influence a person’s risk for the condition.

The study also uncovered other links between trauma symptoms and other mental health conditions including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. This might suggest a relationship between the auditory hallucinations experienced with schizophrenia and the re-experiencing of traumatic events.

In discovering the links between genetics and reliving traumatic experiences, the new research can point toward new approaches for treating trauma.

Beat stress with a simple walk

Taking time for a walk can be one of the simplest ways to beat stress. According to neuroscientist Shane O’Mara, DPhil, an afternoon walk may just the thing to reduce stress or get some peace of mind.

“Our sensory systems work at their best when they’re moving about the world,” O’Mara says in a recent interview. “The brain systems that support learning, memory, and cognition are the same ones that are very badly affected by stress and depression… And, by a quirk of evolution, these brain systems also support functions such as cognitive mapping.”

O’Mara likens ‘cognitive mapping’ to our mind’s internal GPS.

O’Mara also considers the brain to be “motor-centric” – that it supports movement so, if we stop moving about, it does not work as well.

Perhaps this explains why the great thinkers, artists and composers of the past favoured taking a walk to boost their creativity.

This is very likely the case as O’Mara explains, “from the scientific literature, that getting people to engage in physical activity before they engage in a creative act is very powerful.”

The effect can benefit our mood as well as our creativity. Going out and walking gives you a chance to fill your mind with other thoughts. And if you can get out to a park or some open-air places, breathing the air and enjoying the scenery can be a natural stress-relief.

Walking can loosen up your muscles and help you feel physically relaxed. That can help to feel mentally relaxed too. And, as O’Mara says, “you don’t need to bring anything other than comfy shoes . . . You don’t have to engage in lots of preparation; stretching, warm-up, warm-down.”

Poor mental health and poor physical health

Having poor mental health increases our risk of poor physical health. Conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. These are some of the findings of a commission into the physical health of people with mental illness.

The findings highlight how poor physical health can often mean poor personal and social wellbeing. Poor physical and mental health also means medical and other costs increases and impacts on our lives.

People with major depression are more likely to smoke and have a poor diet than the general population. The research also shows that one in five people with anxiety disorders misuse alcohol, and people with social phobia are physically active because of their condition.

Sometimes medications for some mental health conditions are needed and these can slow people down. Looking after the physical side of a person’s health when the side effects of psychiatric medications can affect them should be part of their health care.

The commission’s findings show the importance of early intervention during the initial stages of illness. They also suggested that multidisciplinary lifestyle treatments can be effective. These should target a range of health behaviours, like physical activity and healthy eating.

At Retreat South we value a holistic approach to the treatment of Anxiety, Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other conditions. Physical activity and healthy eating are an equally important part of how we tailor a treatment plan to suit the needs of each of our clients.

Treatments are one-on-one so activity-based therapy goes at your own pace and physical requirements.

To find out more about how Retreat South can help you on the path to emotional and physical recovery, contact us here or call us on +61 3 5568 4155

Art therapy for PTSD

A special facility for members of the armed forces has adopted art therapy into its Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) treatment program.

The program is based at Adelaide’s Jamie Larcombe Centre, a veterans’ mental health precinct at Glenside, and run by South Australian organisation The Road Home.

Art therapy is a specialised psychotherapy where art making is an important part of the therapy process. The use of art in therapy began in Australia in the 1950s and since then has been used as a therapy practised by trained art therapists has increased in recent decades.

Art therapy has produced positive health outcomes for military veterans with PTSD in three significant areas. Firstly, as a means of expressing thoughts which could not previously be verbalised. Improving social relationships which reduce social detachment. Reducing re-experiencing, hyper-vigilance and emotional numbing. There were also notable reductions in anxiety and an ability to control intrusive thoughts.

The South Australian program is the only art therapy program in Australia for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Art therapy has been used successfully in PTSD treatment in America for several years.

At Retreat South our team includes an art therapist who can offer this unique form of expression as part of your individual treatment plan. To learn more about how art therapy or any other of our treatments can help you, please call us on +61 3 5568 4155 or contact us.

Talking about Depression

Depression is a condition with a variety of causes. It can be caused by biological, psychological, and even social factors. Depression affects around one million Australian adults each year. Depression can occur at any stage of life. Environmental factors and life-changing events can also cause depression.

Because depression has more than one cause, there is more than one treatment. There are different individual responses to treatments, so it has been found that better results come from a different mix of therapies.

Psychological therapy
Talking with a psychologist or other therapist is an important aspect of effective treatment. There are different psychological approaches used. One of these is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT examines a person’s thought process and behaviour. How we think about things, react to situations and develop certain behaviours that can reinforce negative feelings. Examining those thoughts and behaviours can be a way of replacing negative relations and feelings with more positive ones.

Other interventions
Exercise and regular physical activity have shown to have a positive effect on mood.
Regular exercise has shown to boost the brain’s serotonin levels. Serotonin regulates mood. Exercise also helps us keep fit increases energy. Regular exercise has been shown to improve mood in less severe cases of depression.

Research shows a balanced diet and a selection of nutritious foods also improve mood. Yoga and relaxation can help us improve the ways we relax and deal with stress. Yoga, diet and exercise are becoming a part of multiple approach treatments. They are effective in conjunction with established treatment approaches like psychotherapy and medication.

In the last few decades, a number of medications have proven effective for depression. These are often called ‘antidepressants.’ Medications can make a considerable improvement to depression and are often used in conjunction with psychotherapy.

Our qualified therapists bring a variety of treatment options to address the many aspects that can cause depression.

So, if you or someone close to you needs help with depression, contact us today to talk about how our team can best suit your needs.

Mental health concerns in the legal profession

Australian judges and magistrates experience high rates of occupational stress, burnout, alcohol addiction and even PTSD.

A new study from the University of Melbourne has found the rates of judicial officers’ with psychological issues were considerably higher than the general population. These members of the legal professions were experiencing mental health issues ranging from problem drinking and sleep disorder to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Over half reported some level of psychological distress. Three-quarters were at risk of burnout. One-third were experiencing symptoms of secondary traumatic stress warranting formal assessment for PTSD.

Almost one in three have alcohol problems.

Nearly half had trouble sleeping as well as intrusive thoughts about work.

The nature of some legal work and court cases is sometimes very confronting. Sometimes court cases can involve testimony about violence and other distressing situations. The effect of hearing this can cause secondary PTSD. As many as one in five legal professionals felt they had relived the traumatic experience of a person appearing in court.

Obtaining support and trying, as far as possible, to reduce other stressful experiences is important in PTSD treatment. This allows the person to focus more on recovery. If they are distressed after a traumatic event, they should seek help from a health professional.

Like so many people in workplaces requiring highly skilled professionals, people in the legal professions need to take care of their mental health as well.

At Retreat South we recommend that if you are experiencing stress, anxiety or are overwhelmed by workplace events, you seek professional support. If you think you might need to take time out and visit a retreat, take some time to read what Retreat South can offer or call us today.