After 40 years of service in the job Murray Ashby now helps first responders and military personnel both in and outside the job with their mental health as a Psychologist specialising in Trauma, PTSD and Anger utilising exercise and yoga as part of his treatment plan.
An interview with Murray:
Q.What motivated you to become a Psychologist and Yoga instructor setting up your own psychology practice after 40 years in the job?
- ‘From a young age I was always interested in sport and activity including playing league football. I joined Victoria Police as a 17 year old cadet and it didn’t take long to realise that physical exercise and breath work was important to manage the stressors of police work. Exercise continued to play an important part of my life during my policing career as well as studies in mental health and policing. In 2006 I was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in this area of mental health which then led to further studies and becoming a registered and practicing Psychologist. After working for many years and seeing the effects of policing on members mental health I knew that I wanted to pursue this area and become a clinician to help those who often were silently suffering’.
As a consequence Murray and his wife Rita (also a Police Veteran) founded Brave Health Group as a Psychology and Allied Health Practice in Doncaster East.
As part of the client’s treatment plan Murray integrates trauma aware yoga as an extension of exercise and has found this very beneficial in treatment particularly for anger issues which is a predominate issue with people who are suffering from trauma. A study is the USA found that 745 people diagnosed with PTSD were also diagnosed with anger symptoms as a consequence and Murray has created a specific treatment course for anger.
‘There is a direct benefit of implementing psychology, psychological breath work and yoga/exercise to improve mental health in police members including ptsd and I find the similarities in other first responder groups and military’.
Q What would you say to a police member who might be thinking that they want to talk to someone about an issue but are unsure?
- Our practice understands the hesitancy for help seeking – we know those groups of first responders normally do assisting rather than seeking help and it’s different to other areas of the community. We want to reassure members that if you do seek help it’s not one dimensional and what that means is that we work together in therapy at the clients speed. If the client is unsure we take it slower and adjust to their needs and we do this with first hand knowledge of the culture of the job. Trauma is on a spectrum of symptoms but you don’t need to be diagnosed with PTSD, we adjust according to the needs of the client as it’s not one size fits all, its individual.
We also understand the reasons for hesitancy and perceived stigma for seeking help and the benefit with having served many years in the job is that there is a clear understanding of policing structures for confidentiality both within first responder and military. Murray is uniquely positioned to provide that guidance on specifically the best path.
Murray holds a Masters Psychology, Bachelor Psychology (Honours), Graduate Diploma (Psychology) and Bachelor Arts (Monash) and is registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority and Psychologists Board of Australia, is a fully qualified and practicing yoga instructor and uses yoga, breath work and exercise to compliment the treatment programs with his clients. Murray has studied at Harvard University in Mind Body and Medicine (2019) and has presented his innovative trauma programs overseas to major veteran groups (USA). Murray also is very active in psychological advancements and can provide a suite of therapy interventions.
Brave Health Group also has a team of Allied Health Professionals who understand first responder clientele including Occupational Therapists with therapy dogs (and soon to commence equine therapy sessions), exercise physiologists, and nutritionists able to assist clients with weight and lifestyle changes through nutrition.
As a whole of body intervention Police Veteran of 23 years Rita Ashby has been assisting clients with nutrition, weight management and exercise to compliment psychological therapy interventions.
There are many studies that show the importance of diet and its relationship with the prevention and treatment of mental health conditions in particular depression and anger’.
Brave Health Group nutritionists understand that dietary changes and incorporating food for mood is well recognised as having correlating effects on the immune system in order to reduce dysfunction and inflammation. Studies have shown that anti-inflammatory diets (Mediterranean) have continually been associated with a reduced risk of depression and pro-inflammatory ultra processed foods have the opposite effect.
Rita holds a Bachelor Health Science (Nutrition), Diploma (Fitness) and Diploma (Counselling) and has a specific interest in the relationship between exercise, nutrition and mental health including Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Exercise programs are formulated in consultation with psychologists and other health practitioners from Brave Health Group with an emphasis on developing safe and encouraging programs, which enhance learning from exercise that can be mirrored in day-to-day life experiences.
Brave Health Group is registered with Worksafe, TAC and the VicPol Employee Assistance Program as a provider but also sees first responder clients for private consultations.
For further information or assistance with counselling, nutrition or allied health please refer to the website www.bravehealthgroup.com.au or call 1300 000 105. Please be advised that all calls are strictly confidential.