Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 29-04-2012


When was the last time you read some poetry?

I often set poetry reading as an at-home activity for my clients, particularly the ones who have come from the country to live in the city and who have lost some of the connection to the landscapes they love and are attached to.

To help guide your interest in poetry have a think about what you are attached to? Animals, people, the city, the bush?

A great poet for city lover’s – lovers of culture and the grit of life is a collection I’ve been reading by Allen Ginsberg who was one of the great beat poets who wrote from the late 40s to late 90s. What a poet! He is a descriptive God.

Ginsberg is a thinker’s poet. He records his experience and his poems are highly autobiographical yet written so well that his experience is familiar.

If you’re interested in looking for an easy mental escape or if you need to reinforce your connections to place or promote your other attachments, why not seek out a book of poetry at a good book store like Planet Books in Mt Lawley or that new bookstore Beaufort Street Books in Highgate.


Art recalls the memory

Of his true existence

to whoever has forgotten

that Being is the one thing

all the universe shouts.  

-        Allen Ginsberg.


If you’re looking for a good poet to begin your quest try reading anything by Rainer Maria Rilke. You will not be disappointed!

Ungirdle your Mind. Perfectionism and Unrelenting Standards.


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 31-03-2012

One of the most common difficulties I see in clinical practice is perfectionism – the idea that we need to have absolute control; life needs to be predictable; we need to be efficient; we must be perfect…

Many people experience mental rigidity and this negatively impacts on their capacity to feel joy. They don’t allow much pleasure in their life: LIFE HAS TO HAVE A POINT, RIGHT? They say “No” to sewing. They say “No” to laughter and cheekiness. They say “No” — and like to play it safe.

There is a positive side to perfectionism. Having very high standards means that if you decide to paint your house you’re going to do a super job! Or, if you’re going to make a child’s cake from that uber-decadent book of magical cakes from Women’s Weekly Magazine, then you’re going to give it the best and it’s going to look A-MAZING.

It’s good to be good at things. It’s great to take pleasure in making things nice.

The problem with perfectionism occurs when the point of the task is lost. The child that spends so much time colouring in between the lines that it takes her 5 times longer than her classmates. Colouring in is not an act of joy but a task to get JUST RIGHT and then at the end, the perfectionist will stand back and see flaws. They do not reward themselves for the tasks they have achieved they only hook into what they feel they didn’t get quite right. All that effort forever goes unrewarded.

Perfectionism can give people a sense of control. That can be good. You can feel good about your clean house – clean house clean mind, but what happens if you don’t get what you want? Do you feel anxious and irritated? What if the kids keep undermining your glistening floors, greasy fingers on clean windows, yet another poo on the floor!

It is a trap to feel that due to a sense of obligation you are always working even when you’re NOT WORKING.  The weekends are a blur of tasks to get done: the garden, the cleaning. jobs jobs. check lists. more to do…

A personality disorder called Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder takes perfectionism to the extreme. This is a problem of Rules, Orderliness, and Control. This disorder is NOT the same as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (an anxiety disorder) although the attempt to maintain control is common to both.

When I am with clients and I suspect a very high degree of perfectionism, the main clue I look for I gauge by whether the person can stop and listen and communicate. The person who has OCPD speaks as if they are reading from a script. They believe they are right, incalculably so that they find it hard to stop and consider other view points. Communication is not an interaction. They have already decided what value they will give you and their attention reflects this bias. They typically minimise your input. They are so driven it is as if they act as their own overseer. They have a monkey on their back that says GO GO GO.

They do not stop and listen when you speak – they may be quiet, but they are still thinking of rolling out their thoughts. They always-always talk about work. Or their home which they regard as work. Or their family that must achieve and work. They are driven without knowing why. They do not question the meaningfulness of their actions and efforts. Consequently, they can be very dull to other people. Their relationships can suffer…

When you suggest Stopping. Observing. Looking at the meaning, their anxiety shoots to the surface. Ironically, they are not in control at all – they are living out their greatest fear under the pretense of Just KEEP SWIMMING.



Cognitive Behaviour Therapy – a highly structured therapy is very helpful for people with OCPD to help them to understand their thoughts and the connection of their mental rigidity to their moods and poor relationships.

One of the exercises I prescribe for someone with extreme mental rigidity comes from Improv Wisdom, by Patricia Madson. The exercise is to practice saying YES to everything offered to you for just one day. This comes with the caveat that people need to maintain their health so do not eat cheesecake if you are offered a slice and have diabetes, but do take it home to a loved one instead.

Practice letting go of your mental resistance and need for control, say YES. Perhaps write the word YES with a permanent marker on your hand as a visual reminder. Go for JOY not drudgery.


New Books Have Arrived in the Creative Focus Library!


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 08-03-2012

Check out our latest acquisitions, free for borrowing by our clients… 


  • Ignore Everybody: And 39 other Keys to Creativity, by Hugh MacLeod.
  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, by Brene Brown
  • Autonomy and Rigid Character, by David Shapiro
  • Life is A Verb: 37 Days to Wake UP, Be Mindful, And Live Intentionally
  • Composition In Retrospect, by John Cage, WE LOVE GETTING YOU LOOKING AT ART!
  • Collected Poems, Allen Ginsberg: We LOVE GETTING YOU READING POETRY!
  • Couples Therapy: Homework Planner.
  • The Red Book, by Carl Jung.

Your Legitimate Rights


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 02-03-2012

I often have clients who are grappling with uncertainties in their relationships, particularly more casual relationships or toxic relationships. It can help to know what your rights are as people who are caught in a toxic web often feel obliged or guilty about putting their own needs first.

We all need to manage our relationship boundaries and this can be delicate. If you change the status quo of a relationship you can expect a reaction, but who is to judge that response? For example, if you decide that a friendship is toxic and you no longer want to indulge the friendship and you put in place a new boundary — who is to say that the person in question won’t learn something positive from your refusal to participate?

Many people assume too much responsibility in their relationships but what would it be like to give some of that responsibility back? To feel okay about doing it? Have a look at this list of your legitimate rights – they may surprise you …

Remember. Just as you have these rights, so too do others …



  1. You have a right to need things from others.
  2. You have a right to put yourself first sometimes
  3. You have a right to feel and express your emotions or your pain
  4. You have the right to be the final judge of your beliefs and accept them as legitimate
  5. You have the right to your opinions and convictions
  6. You have the right to your experience – even if its different to that of other people
  7. You have a right to protest any treatment or criticism that feels bad to you
  8. You have a right to negotiate for change
  9. You have a right to ask for help, emotional support, or anything else you need (even though you may not always get it)
  10. You have a right to say no; saying no doesn’t make you bad or selfish
  11. You have a right not to justify yourself to others
  12. You have a right not to take responsibility for someone else’s problem.
  13. You have a right to choose not to respond to a situation.
  14. You have a right, sometimes, to inconvenience or disappoint others.



Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 23-02-2012

Spend too much time ruminating over and over? I often tell my clients that your mind is not your best friend, it’s a survival machine. We are creatures of the animal kingdom; you often can’t flee or fight through your problems so lots of anxious energy gets directed into a system with no healthy outlet.

Want to train your mind? Learn the basics of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT). The premise of this model is that your mood follows your thoughts, so if you change your thoughts you can change the way you feel. As part of CBT you can learn about maladaptive-thinking styles and how your mind can get you into trouble. Discover a deeper level and uncover your underlying belief-system – is it helpful? What are your traps? Know and set goals around what you value to lead a meaningful life.

In Cognitive Behaviour Threapy you learn how to use an evidence-based model to challenge your thoughts, and you devise positive actions for behavioural change. You learn how to defuse your thinking and how to bring down your levels of stress, anxiety and/or depression. You can adopt healthy strategies for relaxation. Learn the good stuff!


Call Dr Hughes and lets get it happening! 0433 500 606

Stressed Australians


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 06-02-2012



The findings from an online survey commissioned by the Australian Psychological Society were recently reported as a part of Mental Health Week. The survey showed that higher than ever levels of stress are being experienced, particularly by younger Australians. The key findings from the survey were:

  • 12% of Australians report experiencing severe levels of stress.
  • Young adults (18 to 25 years) report higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and significantly lower levels of wellbeing compared to the general population.
  • 1 in 3 Australians report experiencing depressive symptoms.
  • 1 in 4 Australians report experiencing significant anxiety.
  • Those experiencing family or recent relationship breakdown and those who are separated reported higher levels of stress and distress.
  • 52% of Australians report financial issues as the main cause of their stress.
  • 30% of people identified the workplace as a source of stress.

The primary sources of stress experienced by Australians relate to financial issues, personal health difficulties, family issues and the health of others.

It is important for people who are experiencing considerable degrees of stress and who may be feeling distressed to seek help from their GP or to talk to a clinical psychologist. Did you know that Medicare funds up to 16-sessions for each person per calendar year for conditions such as depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, drug and alcohol use and complications of bereavement.

With a referral from a GP, you can see a Clinical Psychologist and receive a rebate for each session.  Get busy with your wellbeing and learn how to better cope with stress. Make an appointment with Dr Simone Hughes TODAY.

Brainstorming is to Business like Butter is to Bread


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 13-01-2012

Creativity is knowing how to add or modify something that already exists. Take your subject and TURN it into something else. At Creative Focus, we’re using THINK PAK – a powerful process devised by Michael Michalko involving idea-triggering cards to help people brainstorm and shift their focus. This is a great opportunity for small businesses looking for a new way through a problem.

The first step is to help people clarify their plan, problem, or challenge they face and to write it as a specific problem statement. Then we go to town!

There are 7-stages to a THINKPAK brainstorming sessions as well as an evaluation stage where the ideas generated are put through tests. We work with well-known idea generating strategies. For example, the Lotus Blossom is an exercise that starts with a central theme and works outward. Central themes lead to ideas that themselves become central themes. The unfolding is like unfolding petals that trigger new ideas and themes.

Einstein imagined he was a beam of light hurtling through space, which led him to the theory of relatively. Antoine Feutchwanger tried to sell sausages: first on a plate, then with gloves (the hotdogs were hot!), and finally his brother-in-law suggested “What if I bake a long roll and slit it down the middle to hold the sausage: You sell the sausage and I’ll sell the bread. Who knows, it might catch on?” The post-it note was created when Arthur Fry, a 3M chemist, dropped his bookmark from his hymnal and understood that the purpose of the glue should be in attaching paper to paper.

The 7-stage brainstorming process is named SCAMPER:

Substitute something.

Combine it with something else.

Adapt something to it.

Modify it or Magnify it.

Put it to some other use.

Eliminate something.

Reverse or Rearrange it.

THINK PAK helps you to generate a quantity of ideas quickly. The process of applying THINK PAK can be done randomly or sequentially. There are lots of opportunities to see the problem from different perspectives. We work with individuals and in group sessions. Group sessions are fun: especially when participants start to piggy-back on each other’s ideas.

Get introduced to THINKPAK.

8 Tips for Keeping your New Year’s Resolution


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 30-12-2011


  1. Understand that your resolution needs to be specific and measurable. How will you know when you’ve achieved your goal? To set a goal you need to be clear about What you want to achieve, When you want to achieve it, How you will go about achieving it, and WHY you want to achieve it. Do you want to lose weight so that you will fit more comfortably into your clothes or to have more energy? If you want to achieve something, put an affirmation around your home about why the goal is important to you – a reminder in the bathroom, for example.
  2. Know what you VALUE. Values are like lighthouses in the distance that keep you on track. Goals that are set in line with your values tend to be more meaningful.
  3. Often the pressure of New Year Resolutions and the tendency to make a bigger resolution rather than take smaller steps leads to people foregoing their resolution entirely. Goal setting isn’t black and white – it’s a learning process.
  4. With some goals, especially changing bad habits such as smoking and drinking behaviour, you may need to consider what you are going to fill the void with, by stopping. A negative behaviour has a purpose. You will need to address what purpose the behaviour serves and whether you are likely to be satisfied with a healthier alternative.
  5. In behaviour change, the costs of not changing the behaviour need to outweigh the benefits of keeping the behaviour. For example, your perception of the likely costs of developing lung cancer need to outweigh the benefits you get from smoking. For behaviour change, costs need to exceed the benefits of keeping the behaviour. This ‘equation’ plugs directly into motivation.
  6. Take away the self-judgement and get some perspective. Behaviour change is difficult and there can be reasons that make it even harder, such as temperament and personality factors. Learn to be kind to yourself. If you experience a set-back, try to imagine what you would say to a friend who has experienced the same set-back. We tend to be kinder as friends then we are to ourselves! If you learn self-compassion you are more likely to understand about the factors holding you back in a non-judgemental way.
  7. Resolutions need not be to change a negative behaviour. Why not have a positive New Year’s Resolution like dance more, or take more relaxing baths, or be more creative!
  8. Find a way to be accountable. Get a psychologist or friend who will facilitate your process for change and hold you to account. A psychologist is trained in behaviour change and the challenges that can undermine success. Often the root cause of failing to change behaviour is a low stress tolerance. If you can increase your emotional resilience you are more likely to succeed.
Best wishes for 2012!                                                        

Dr Simmo’s HOT READING TIP FOR 2012.


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 28-12-2011

Self-Compassion: Stop Beating Yourself up and Leave Insecurity Behind, by Kristin Neff.

This book encourages you to be compassionate toward your failings and imperfections, to take away judgement of yourself and to end the self-esteem game. Learn to give yourself the same caring support you’d give to one of your friends.

“Western culture places great emphasis on being kind to our friends, family, and neighbours who are struggling, Not so when it comes to ourselves… self-kindness, by definition means that we stop the constant self-judgement and disparaging internal commentary that most of us have come to see as normal. It requires us to understand our foibles and failures instead of condemning them. It entails clearly seeing the extent to which we harm ourselves through relentless self-criticism, and ending our internal war. ”

This excellent book looks at the origins of self-blame and criticism.Choosing to relate to ourselves with kindness rather than contempt is a pragmatic approach. Ask yourself:

What are you observing?
What are you feeling? What are you needing right now?

Here’s an exercise used by my clients for learning about and changing critical self-talk.                                                     

1. The first step toward changing the way you treat yourself is to notice when you are being self-critical. Try to be as accurate as possible and note the language you use toward yourself. In a sense you can use this exercise to both learn about your self-talk and to defuse it. I encourage my clients to write what are called ‘morning pages’: a free, uncensored, stream of consciousness writing for about 15 minutes every morning. What is the tone of the language you use? What of your self-critical voice seeps through? Morning pages can help you to get a clear sense of how you talk to yourself.

2. Underline particularly damaging self-statements. Make an effort to soften the voice and do so with compassion rather than self-judgement. Create alternatives by reframing your observations in a more positive and self-accepting way. It might help by imagining what a compassionate friend might say to you in this situation. Learn supportive self-talk in this way. The important thing is that you find a gap to start acting kindly, find a moment of peace, a suggestion of acceptance.

When faced with human imperfection we can either respond with kindness and care or with judgement and criticism.

We’re all in this together … more self-compassion exercises to follow soon!




The Writer’s Process


Posted by Dr.Hughes in the Creative Community category on 06-12-2011


Build your foundation by reading, writing, engaging with other writers, and editing your work.


Get inspiration. Read Craft books on writing. Ask yourself as you read: How did the author achieve that? What was their intention?

Use all the senses: Seek inspiration in art galleries, and online. Stop: Breathe. Stop: sit and focus on a visual work of art – describe it.

Stretch yourself. Submit your work. When it comes back, look at it again with ‘fresh eyes’ – edit it NOW. Make it stronger, better, more precise. Send it out again. If it comes back, continue on. Never let go. Never stop. Determination is everything.


Print. Read aloud. What is on the page is different to what you think it is.

Share. Let others tell you their impressions.

Practice craft technique: dialogue, plotting, characterisation.

Use copy and paste in curious ways. Cut a piece of text and see if belongs in an entirely new context. Break the rules.

Keep a ‘visual’ and ‘written’ journal – buy one from an art store – get one that has blank pages.

Collect affirmations.

Rip pages from magazines. Brainstorm using the visual as a launching board.

Be curious. Use your mind and develop creative thought experiments.

Acquire new aids: books that serve as seeds of inspiration.

Breath: Practice Slowing Down. Practice reducing resistance.

Be mindful of procrastination and question its purpose.

Create a sense of community. Get in touch with other writers.

Write in different settings: cafe, art gallery, park, cemetery, roadside.

Have fun!

Don’t take yourself too seriously.

OUR TOP PICK: Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice by Laraine Herring. This pearl of a book looks at focusing the mind then builds into Deep Writing Process as well as embracing what and where you are — the book advocates ‘substance’ writing: getting to know yourself at new levels as you experiment with new writing strategies.  Got a recommendation? Tell Simone at simone@creativefocus.net.au or use the website’s contact form.