Sleep & Health Problems

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads chronic health physical problems

Living with a chronic health problem or chronic physical illness, such as chronic insomnia, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, chronic pain or fatigue, can be extremely challenging.

Chronic health problems can impact all aspects of life, including work, social and family life, as well as enjoyment of hobbies and interests. It is therefore not surprising that these conditions are linked to higher rates of depression and anxiety. Research has shown that 28% of people with a chronic health problem or illness also have a mental health condition.

Learning to cope with a chronic illness and or health condition is an ongoing journey, as symptoms can fluctuate daily, and you may find that some weeks are much better or worse than others.


Typical feelings you may have when living with a chronic illness include:

  • Feelings of grief and loss as you remember aspects of your life you enjoyed prior to the illness
  • Anger and frustration at your limitations or limitations of medicine
  • Anxiety about the future
  • Low mood and depression
  • Jealousy or envy about what others can still have or can enjoy in their lives
  • Low motivation or energy
  • Stress and overwhelm, managing appointments, medications and other treatments

Avoka Health Dr Giselle Withers tugun gold coast kirra northern nsw tweed heads golden grass

Managing chronic health problems

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How can a psychologist help?

While you may have a number of doctors and medical specialists helping you with your physical illness, they may not have the time or the training to assist you with the psychological aspects of living with a chronic illness. 

Psychologists can help you with:

  • Learning to manage daily energy
  • Improving sleep
  • Psychological strategies to manage pain
  • Managing any co-occurring mental health problems (e.g. PTSD, panic attacks, depression)
  • Improving mood and reducing anxiety
  • Emotional support, validation and understanding of your experience
  • Releasing tension and stress through talking about impact of illness
  • Adjustment to losses in your life due to the illness, overcoming grief
  • Learning stress management and relaxation skills
  • Learning mindfulness and acceptance skills
  • Staying motivated to follow the treatment advice of the doctors


Psychological therapy for chronic health problems on the Gold Coast

Dr Giselle Withers is an experienced Clinical Psychologist at Avoka Health on the Gold Coast, who can help you mange a chronic illness or health condition.

Giselle has advanced training at a doctoral level in mental health assessment and psychological therapy, a Post-graduate Diploma in Health Psychology, and has worked in senior psychology positions at specialist centres for a range of chronic health problems such Barts and the London Hospital Centre for Excellence in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (London, UK), The Caulfield Pain Management and Research Centre, Alfred Health (Melbourne, Victoria), Peter Mac Callum Cancer Centre (Melbourne, Victoria), and Melbourne Sleep Disorders Centre (Melbourne, Victoria). In these roles she has worked closely with doctors, medical specialists, and allied health professionals (physiotherapists, occupational therapists, etc) to provide holistic treatment interventions for patients.

Giselle has a compassionate and non-judgemental counselling style, and will work with you to understand your unique needs, develop treatment gaols, and help you learn a range of skills and strategies to live confidently and cope well with a chronic illness. Learn more about Giselle’s approach here.

Your first step

If you have a chronic illness or health problem, and believe you would benefit from talking with a psychologist, a first step would be to talk with your general practitioner (GP) about a referral under a Mental Health Treatment Plan which will allow you to access a Medicare rebate for your psychology sessions.  Getting the right support early can help you make the adjustments you need to manage a chronic illness, prevent feelings of anxiety or depression developing, and stay motivated to follow the advice of your treating team. 

Making a booking with Dr Giselle Withers

To make an appointment with Dr Giselle please contact Avoka Health using the links below.

If you have a GP referral, you can ask your GP to send this directly to Giselle or you can email a copy to Giselle yourself before your first appointment.

Book appointment:

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Insomnia Clinic @ Avoka Health

Avoka Health now offers an Insomnia Clinic to help you sleep better and overcome insomnia. You can register for our Sleep Well, Live Well program which involves three individual appointments with a psychologist (via video call) and a six-week evidence-based online program called “Sleep: A Mindful Way” teaching you the skills and strategies to overcome insomnia.

This combination of individual guidance and online learning is an effective and affordable way to improve your sleep, with the convenience of undertaking the program at your home and in your own time. The clinic is suitable for people with stable mental health, who do not require standard psychological therapy (weekly or fortnightly sessions).

Learn More