Lisa Fleming

Psychotherapy, counselling and coaching in Sydney

Lisa Fleming random header image

My Background

I have a psychology degree and a diploma in somatic psychotherapy. Somatic means body so the therapy includes an understanding of how our  bodily states impact how we feel, and how emotional states impact on our body. This approach uses the relationship to help people understand why they respond the way they do and  to respond differently.

I am in private practise and have worked as a student counsellor with people from many different countries, and at South Pacific Private treatment centre. I have taught Counselling and Communication Skills and Theories of counselling & Psychotherapy at the Australasian College of Natural Therapies.

I came to somatic psychotherapy while studying coaching psychology at Sydney University. I discovered somatics through yoga and doing a lot of practise that helped me learn to be more present in my body, to notice my body more, and use this ability to help soothe and calm my mind. I was finding the cognitive behavioural approach not broad enough to include my own experiences. I still use some CBT techniques and find them very useful, but I now have a much broader approach and bigger toolkit.

My clinical work is underpinned by rigorous research, academic and clinical training. I am involved in continuing study and supervision and my own personal work.

I do research in the area of stress physiology which investigates how reactive we are to triggers in our environment and how to train the nervous system to become less reactive. When we are feeling down or are triggered or anxious it is difficult to access and use different areas of the brain that help to calm ourselves. It is also difficult to access the rational thinking part of our brain so it is difficult to see things clearly or think very well.

I am interested in the field of interpersonal neurobiology and neuroplasticity. This means that the way our brain functions is experience dependent. Depending on the environment we have been in, our brains work in a certain way. Through different experiences we can strengthen and create different neural networks and thereby change the way our brain functions.  This is a science that investigates how our brain functioning is affected by our environment. It explains how psychotherapy works by rewiring the neural networks. From this perspective our feeling states and ways of being are adaptive and make sense in terms of our experience so far. It is reassuring to know that the brain is able to change, so it becomes possible over time to respond to our environment in different ways.

This science provides a basis for understanding how we can become happier, calmer, more integrated, and have more supportive satisfying relationships. I am influenced by  the work of Louis Cozzolini, Alan Schore, Dan Siegel, Stephen Porges, the work of Russell Meares and the Conversational Model and the Westmead psychotherapy program, and others.

I use mindfulness training and other techniques to help train the nervous system to become less reactive.  For example, doing some exercise is one way to help boost the brains capacity to cope with stress more effectively. Research has shown that children who exercise regularly have increased volume in the hippocampus area of the brain which is associated with stress reactivity.

I am a clinical member of ASPA, the Australian Somatic Psychotherapy Association and member of IARPP, the International Association of relational psychotherapists and psychoanalysts. ASPA is a member organisation of PACFA (Psychotherapy and Counsellors Federation Australia).

Prior to this I had a varied professional background and have worked in many different jobs. As well as a Psychology Degree and Diploma in Psychotherapy I have a Masters in Management from Macquarie Grad School of Management, BA(hons) Griffith Univerity – majoring in Sociology & Comparative Studies in History & Literature, Cert IV Workplace Assessment and Training.

I worked in strategic planning at Australian Stock Exchange, management & marketing consulting, politics for a Labor member of Commonwealth Parliament, and worked and studied criminal law for a little while.