Dr Bronwyn Massavelli
BPsychSc (Hons1), MClinPsych, PhD. MAPS
Senior Clinical Psychologist
Qualifications:Dr Bronwyn Massavelli, Clinical Psychologist
B.Psych Sc (Hons 1), M.Clin Psych, PhD (Psychology). MAPS, MCCLIN, MPAIG, MPAWS
Dr Bronwyn Massavelli is a registered Clinical Psychologist and provider with Medicare, a member of the Australian Psychological Society, the Australian Psychological Society College of Clinical Psychologists, the Psychology and Ageing Interest Group and the Psychologists for the Promotion of Animal Welfare Group. Bronwyn completed all of her training through the University of QLD.
Bronwyn also holds a strong background in research and likes to maintain a good clinical and research balance in her work in line with evidenced based practice. Bronwyn has attended and presented research findings for various past research projects at a number of prestigious national and international conferences.
Her research is listed further below. Her workplace history includes in aged care, within a high secure inpatient mental health facility, with older adults with osteo-arthritis and adults with a variety of mental health problems. In addition to individual treatment, Bronwyn has experience facilitating group programs for Social Anxiety Disorder, as well as Relaxation and Storytelling with older adults in aged care facilities.
Bronwyn provides skills within Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Interpersonal Therapy (IPT) frameworks, as well as Motivational Interviewing and some Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Bronwyn is an accredited Triple P provider.
Bronwyn is committed to providing evidenced based psychological interventions that are tailored to the individual and developed on the basis of ongoing assessment and a collaborative working relationship. Bronwyn believes that a strong collaborative working relationship with patients is a key contributing factor for good therapeutic outcomes.
Bronwyn has a key interest area which pertains to older adult mental health and in addition to aged care, she holds experience working with community based older adults (depression, anxiety, osteoarthritis, health-related concerns and interpersonal difficulties). In addition to individual treatment, Bronwyn has facilitated group programs for Social Anxiety Disorder, as well as Relaxation and Storytelling/Reminiscence with older adults in aged care facilities.
Other specific clinical interest areas pertain to the psychological benefits of pets and companion animals, and increasing awareness amongst professionals and the community that depression is not a normal part of ageing.
Bronwyn also has a clinical interest in general Depression, Anxiety, and Psychosis, Grief and Loss of Pets and Companion Animals, the Psychological impact of health-related conditions, Stress Management and Work-Life Balance.
Bronwyn primarily treats adults and older adults, and occasionally children (aged 8-12) with mild anxiety and mild anger difficulties, and adolescents.
Older Adult Mental Health
Our population in Australia like the rest of the world is ageing. Therefore we are living longer and our incidence and prevalence of diseases and health related conditions are also increasing. In addition to the typical stressors common to everyone, older adults are more likely to be impacted upon by loneliness, isolation, loss of independence and psychological distress that are associated with health concerns affecting mobility, chronic pain, increasing frailty and falls risk, a loss of independence, change in role and life transition. Older adults also are more likely to encounter bereavement and loss of friends, family and pets. The research suggests that 15-20% of adults aged 60 and above are affected by depression, anxiety and other conditions, with Depression, Dementia and Anxiety among the most common difficulties affecting older adults. A common myth associated with ageing refers to Depression and Anxiety being seen as a normal part of ageing which should be expected. This is not the case, and as such, the signs and symptoms of these are often misidentified in older people and missed by health-care professionals. Furthermore, there may be an increased reluctance for older people to seek help for their concerns. Increased education and training amongst health care providers and encouragement to seek support can aid treatment and intervention of psychological distress in older age.
Social Anxiety is one of the more common anxiety disorders that is characterised by a fear of negative evaluation and judgement from others and a fear of embarrassment or humiliation in public. Social anxiety tends to begin in childhood or adolescence and affects around 1 in 10 people at some point in their lives. Common situations that are significantly difficult for people with social anxiety include public speaking, appearing anxious to others, making requests, dating and relationships, meeting new people, performing around others and dealing with authority figures. Individual affected by social anxiety experience marked psychological and physical anxiety which results in marked avoidance of the feared social situations and often leads to social isolation.
Gold standard interventions such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which incorporates cognitive challenging, behavioural experiments and Exposure, can be collaboratively tailored to the individual to improve functioning through effectively targeting the factors that contribute to Social Anxiety.
The Psychological Benefits of Pets, and the Loss and Grief of Pets and Companion Animals
The Human-Animal Bond refers to the attachment bond between people and their pets and if this is broken, creates significant impact on people’s psychological and physical health. The importance of pets and companion animals in people’s lives should therefore not be underestimated or de-valued. They play an important role in our psychological, social and physical health and wellbeing across the age span. Specifically, increasing research supports the benefits relevant to companionship, positive emotional well-being, reduced loneliness, increased physical activity, ownership and mastery. Other benefits may include Functional (caring for another, improved self-image, mobility), Relationship (pets give warm and non-judgmental attention, the giving and receiving of affection), Passive (animals are entertaining, enhanced relaxation and social interaction), Cognitive (stimulated self-reflection, memories, sharing anecdotes/funny stories of pets) and Spiritual (Enlightened mood, a feeling of “normality” to have animals around).
The impact of a loss of a pet or companion animal can be likened to losing a human companion or significant other, and for some people, their pets/companion animals are their family. The grief process is suggested to be similar, whereby people experience a sense of numbness, shock and disbelief, feelings of guilt, sadness, and depression, and commonly anger. There also may be a preoccupation with thoughts and memories of their pet and difficulty concentrating and making decisions. The Psychological impact of pets is a rapidly developing area in psychology and the impact of pet loss is becoming a more common reason for referral for psychological support. Psychological support can assist people who have lost their pet to reflect on the meaning and significance the pet had in their lives, mourn for their pet and process this loss, and accept that their grief is warranted.
Stress Management & Work-Life Balance
Everyone experiences stress in some aspects of their lives on a regular basis and some stress is in fact healthy. Stress is an indication that things in our life are causing us concern and impacting on how we are thinking, feeling and behaving. For example, stress can help us perform under pressure and motivate us to achieve goals and our best potential. However, too much stress can have the opposite effect, causing us to operate in emergency mode and impact negatively on our thinking, feeling and behaviour. Some of these signs may be feeling overwhelmed with responsibility, difficulty coping and making decisions, feeling burnt out and losing a connection with some areas of your life (e.g. relationships, decreased work productivity and job satisfaction, family, interests and hobbies). High amounts of stress and pressure over a period of time can also lead to depression and anxiety. Achieving and maintaining a healthy work-life balance and implementing good lifestyle choices can act as buffers to stress.
Psychological Impact of Health-Related conditions
Poor lifestyle choices and increasing age can increase susceptibility to health-related difficulties and chronic conditions. Some common examples of these include heart disease, diabetes, obesity and weight gain, and hypertension. Our mental health has a bi-directional relationship with our physical health, such that as mental health deteriorates, physical health may also deteriorate, and deteriorating physical health may result in poorer mental health (e.g. Depression and Heart Disease). Developing and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits, self-care and adherence to tailored treatment protocols can assist us to maintain healthy physical and mental health. Similarly, acceptance to development and onset of health related difficulties and chronic conditions can aid in management and prevention of further difficulties and enhanced quality of life.
Bronwyn has appointments available at Nundah, Banyo and Strathpine. Please call KCPsych on (07) 3256 6320 or book online now.
Bronwyn has coauthored the following research projects and articles which may be of interest:
Presentations , Conferences and Published Papers
As part of my PhD requirements, Masters Degree and past research positions, I have presented at numerous International and domestic conferences.
- Massavelli, B.M., Lipp, O.V., & Pachana, N.A. (2007). Emotionality Across the Adult Lifespan: Is there a change in emotional responding with age? [Abstract]. Poster presented at the 11th Cognitive Ageing Conference Down Under (special event), July 12-17, Adelaide, Australia.
- Massavelli, B.M., Lipp, O.V., & Pachana, N.A. (2007). Emotionality and the Affective Evaluation of Pictures: Does stimulus arousal have important implications and behavioural consequences for older adults? [Abstract]. The Gerontologist, 47 (Special Issue 1), P371. Poster presented at the 60th Annual Scientific Meeting for the Gerontological Society of America, November 16-20, San Francisco, United States of America.
- Alhadad, S.S.J., Lipp, O.V., & Massavelli, B.M. (2008). Attentional startle modulation: Effects of trial structure and cue-target interval. [Abstract]. Psychophysiology, 45, S59. Presented at the 48th Annual Meeting for the Society of Psychophysiological Research (SPR), October 1-5, Austin, Texas, United States of America.
- Massavelli, B.M., Lipp, O.V., Pachana, N.A. (2009). Ageing and Emotional Reactivity: Do older adults show differential subjective and physiological responding during picture viewing compared to younger adults? [Abstract]. Journal of Nutrition, Health and Aging, 13 (Supplement 1), PC6 678, P336. Poster presented at the XIXth World Congress of Gerontology and Geriatrics (IAGG), July 5-9, Paris, France.
- Pachana, N.A., & Massavelli, B.M. (2010). Impact of Pets on Older People. Talk presented to caregivers at Alzheimer’s Australia Queensland, May, Brisbane, Australia.
- Meehan, M., Ueda, A., Massavelli, B.M., & Pachana, N.A. (2010). The Role that Companion Animals Play in Social Support in Later Life. Poster presented at the 63rd Annual Scientific Meeting for the Gerontological Society of America’s ‘Transitions to Care’ Conference, November 19-23, New Orleans, United States of America.
- Massavelli, B.M., Vearncombe, K.V., Pinsker, D., Stone, V., Byrne, G., Wilson, J., Tilse, C., & Pachana, N.A. (2011). The Utility of the Social Vulnerability Scale as a Predictor of Financial Capacity in Dementia Patients. Poster presented at the 15th International Congress Reinventing Aging through Innovation Care, Research, Technology. The Netherlands, September 6-9, The Hague, The Netherlands.
- Massavelli, B.M. (2011). Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) in the Nursing Home: Important implications for enhancing quality of life in older people. Poster presented at the 15th International Congress Reinventing Aging through Innovation Care, Research, Technology. The Netherlands, September 6-9, The Hague, The Netherlands.
- Massavelli, B.M., Vearncombe, K.V., Pinsker, D., Stone, V., Byrne, G., Wilson, J., Tilse, C., & Pachana, N.A. (2011). Social Vulnerability as a Predictor of Financial Capacity in Dementia Patients. Talk presented at the Australian Psychological Society’s Psychology & Ageing Interest Group Conference, November 18-19, Swinburne University, Melbourne, Australia.
- Massavelli, B.M. (2012). Why Pets are Important to Older People, and Integrating Pets into Aged Care: A Psychologist’s View: Talk presented at the Conversation for Pets: An Initiative to Better the Current Legislation on Aged Care and Pets, May 17th, Canberra, Australia.
- Massavelli, B.M., Mitchell, L., Pinsker, D., Vearncombe, K.V., Stone, V., Byrne, G.J., Wilson, J., Tilsle, C., & Pachana, N.A. (2012). The Utility of Social Vulnerability in the Assessment of Financial Capacity. Poster presented at the International Psychogeriatric Association International Meeting Conference, September 7-11, Convention Center, Cairns, Australia.
- Mitchell, L.K., Pachana, N.A., Wilson, J., Vearncombe, K.J., Massavelli, B.M., Byrne, G.J., & Tilse, C. (2013). Promoting the use of enduring powers of attorney in older adults: A literature review. Australasian Journal on Ageing, 33(1), 2-7.
- Pachana, N.A., Byrne, G.J., Wilson, J., Pinsker, D.M., Massavelli, B.M., Vearncombe, K.J., & Mitchell, L.K. (2014). Predictors of financial capacity performance in older adults using the Financial Competence Assessment Inventory. International Psychogeriatrics, 2, 1-7.
Approach to Therapy:
Main Areas of Interest:
Full List of Services Provided
- Academic performance
- Alcohol Dependence
- Anger Management
- Assertiveness Training
- Behaviour Problems
- Cancer Support
- Carer Support
- Chronic Illness
- Eating Disorders
- Grief & Loss
- Health Related Problems
- Impulsive Behaviours
- Internet Gaming, Social Networking
- Life Transition & Adjustment Issues
- Life/Personal Coaching
- Memory Problems
- Mental Illness
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Pain Management
- Panic Disorder
- Psychological First Aid/Crisis
- Relaxation and Meditation
- School Issues
- Self Esteem & Self Development
- Self Harm
- Shyness & Social Skills
- Sleeping Disorders
- Victims of Crime
- Weight Management
- Work Stress
- Work Stress/Life Balance
- Workplace Issues