goldfish wisdom
nigel latta

Finding help


finding help

Finding someone who can help you

Unfortunately I don't have a database of people around New Zealand and Australia that I can recommend (simply because that's a big job and way beyond my humble logistical capabilities) but there are lots of good people out there. That said, I do have a small list of names of people I can personally recommend in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin and you’ll find them below.

Given that I don't have a large referral database I thought it might be helpful to provide a few suggestions to get you started if you're at the point where you're needing some help:

  • Ask around your friends for recommendations. You might be surprised how many people have consulted with professionals for a bit of help. There's nothing better than the recommendation of someone you know and trust.

  • Call Citizen's Advice Bureau. It's an oldie but a goodie.

  • Call some of the public counselling agencies in the white pages in the front section of the telephone book (eg places like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, Presbyterian Support, or Community Alcohol and Drug Services). If you speak to them and they aren't the right people to help they can almost always tell you who the right person to ring would be.

  • If you are in New Zealand, click on this link to the New Zealand Psychological Society website where you will find listings for psychologists in your area

  • If you are in Australia, click on this link to the Australian Psychological Society website.

  • Call your local hospital. If they can't help then they will be able to give you the contact information for someone who may be able to. Talk to your family GP. Often they will have referred families to psychologists or counsellors and may be a good source to find recommendations.

  • Call someone in private practice from the Yellow Pages. This can feel a bit hit and miss if you don't have any kind of recommendation but there are some ways to help you decide whether someone might be a good person to see.

  • If it's a matter related to Family Court then your first point of call should be your lawyer. If you don't have a lawyer then you should ring the local Family Court Coordinator (they are based at the Court Building and you'll find the number in the white pages) and he or she will be able to assist you to find someone to consult with.

If you've decided who to ring then these are some suggestions that may help you decide if this person/place is right for you. I just need to say though that these suggestions are purely my personal opinion and should be given no more weight than that. I'm sure not everyone who works in this field would agree with everything I've said below so you need to bear that in mind. I'm not saying I'm right, this is just what I think:

  • Counsellor or Psychologist? In my opinion it doesn't really matter because all you want is someone who can be of practical help.

  • Many people in private practice have websites that outline the types of work they do, and how they work. Have a good look at this and see if it fits with you and your family.

  • In my humble old opinion I always recommend that parents see a professional who ticks these boxes:

    • Practical and realistic as opposed to all flouncy and touchy feely.

    • Someone who is goal focussed.

    • Someone who keeps things simple and pragmatic.

    • Someone who will give you an actual plan of what you should do to get things back on track.

    • Someone who thinks that, 95% of the time parents are the best therapists for children.

These are some of the things I don't think are helpful as a general rule:

  • Professionals who want to make things unnecessarily complicated. Einstein said "Make everything as simple as possible, and no simpler". I'd completely agree.

  • Long term family counselling (in fact the research shows that the most change happens in the first 8 sessions and after that change seems to plateau out). The most frequent number of sessions that people have when they're seeing someone in private practice is 1. As you can see I'm pretty anti the idea of long term counselling, particularly with kids and families, because I don't think the results are any better between 2 sessions and 20. With most common childhood behaviour problems you should be able to get a result in 1-2 sessions tops.

  • Long term counselling for children, for all the reasons I've outlined above. Often therapists will meet and talk to children, but in my view this should not be long term. You need to get in and get out as quickly as possible. Clearly there are times when the issues are a little more complex when children may need to see a counsellor for a series of sessions, but even then I'm not a fan of long term counselling unless there are very real and pressing reasons, and just as importantly there are clear results.

Basically you need to find someone you 'click' with, and someone who can give you practical strategies to help you get the problem sorted. You also need to keep in mind that if they aren't helping then you should tell them that, and if they still aren't able to come up with some solutions then fire them and move on to someone who can.

Most of all remember that you should always think carefully about any parenting advice that you receive. Ultimately you are the one who knows your children best (even though it may not feel like it sometimes) and so the final call should always be yours.

People I know

There will be lots and lots of good people all around the country, these are just some of the ones I know.  As with anything, it's all about you finding the right fit for you.


Lyn Nicholls. I've known Lynn for years and I really rate her. She has worked with some of the most difficult young people you could ever imagine and has a great deal of experience. She's pragmatic, to the point, and direct. She works with families and couples, and children aged from preschool to adolescents. She's based in Auckland but also does phone and skype consultations.

Marlyn Robson.  I've also known Marlyn for years, and she's also very good. Marlyn is a psychotherapist and experienced trauma therapist working in central Auckland, registered to work with ACC sensitive claims clients, using trauma focused therapies, Sandtray, DBT, and Mindfulness. She also works with a wide range of commonly presented issues such as depression, anxiety, life crises, grief, and couples therapy. Marlyn works with children and adolescents as well as adults. Marlyn can be contacted via email or phone 021 284 5100.

Leanne Taylor-Miller. Leanne is an experienced Clinical Psychologist who works with issues like anxiety, depression, stress, communication, relationship issues, and social skills. She’s very experienced, and uses a collaborative approach working with her clients.


Prue Fanselow-Brown. I haven't worked with Prue but I do know she is highly respected and has a very good professional reputation. She works with children/adolescents, adults and family court. Please click on the link to see the specific areas within which Prue is able to help. 


Jim Hegarty. Jim works in Dunedin and works with adults and older adolescents. He works a lot with people using mindfulness-based therapies.