Dr. S. Giac Giacomantonio, Ph.D.
Dr. S. Giac Giacomantonio. Ph.D., M.C.C.P., M.A.P.S.
Clinical Psychologist, Psychotherapist
Lecturer, University of Queensland
Lecturer, Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists


Dr Giac Giacomantonio is a Clinical Psychologist in Brisbane, Queensland.

He has a special interest in Psychoanalysis and the Psychoanalytic Psychology of the Self. Psychoanalysis is a form of psychotherapy that helps people by developing an understanding of their unique experiences of themselves, others, and the world. People who see a psychologist for psychoanalytic therapy typically value personal growth and self-development, and want to understand themselves better in addition to feeling better. It can be helpful with many different psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, low motivation, dissatisfaction with achievements, relationship problems, and understanding how the past repeats itself in the present.

The process of therapy

Psychoanalytic therapy aims to help people through a process of broadening conscious awareness. This has, in the past, been mistaken to mean that it is a 'mental' or 'intellectual' therapy. The truth is more complex.

For the therapy to be effective, I believe it requires a balance of emotional experience and insight. True healing involves a coöperative between what we might poetically call the heart and the mind, i.e., the emotional and the mental. We all have defences, and each of these has the inevitable side-effect of unbalancing the healthy union of mind and heart. We instate defences believing they will help us, and whether or not they do, they will eventually become a future-obstacle for us. They are to be understood for their initial purpose, if a new balance between heart and mind is to be found.

Insights that exist on the mental level alone, usually provide some mild, brief relief, or sense of containment. But in the long run, patients often experience them as failing to make a real difference to their experience of life, themselves, and the world. If a therapy is too focussed on mental-level changes alone, patients can be left feeling that they must now 'manage' their emotions permanently, into the future, instead of the change in their problems they had really hoped for. 'I know it is right, but I don't feel it', is a phrase often heard in psychotherapy, especially when changing mental-level activity is a focus. Some patients are then left to feel that mental health comes at the price of endless self-correction and self-restraint, like putting more and more buckets under a leaking ceiling when the source of the leak has not been found, much less repaired.

On the other hand, emotional expression without insight can lead to reinforcement of past difficulties. For those patients who would describe their difficulties as their emotions 'running wild', certain emotions can feel sufficiently uncomfortable to make them want to shut their emotions down in some way, or in some area. Feelings are often driven out of awareness in the first place because they are judged as problematic, wrong, or evil, etc. When they are given a chance to resurface without a better insight into what they have to tell us, or why they were there in the first place, they may just trigger the same old judgements against them. This can lead to a repeat of the whole cycle, where the 'problematic' emotions are sent back into hiding, and little is gained from the whole process, (except for a stronger resolve never to let ourselves feel 'X,Y, & Z' ever again). A better balance is needed, and balance can be created in psychotherapy with honesty, acceptance, and the decision to find the truth.

The balanced state can lead to better healing, and it more often looks like both a correction in the mind (i.e., a correction of beliefs and judgements, usually about our emotions) and an expression of previously unacceptable emotions that are allowed to return to the light of day, to be seen, felt, and expressed, and in some new way to be found acceptable. This can lead to a new position of better integration. Without this last aspect, insights often feel like they just bounce off us, like they have nowhere to land. The held emotions have occupied the landing place. When the two work together, a new balance is found, which usually permits a greater self-expression and a (pleasurably) more-intense experience of being alive. Patients have described this as feeling 'really alive for the first time', as feeling a zest for their life, relationships, and work, and as a greater sense of knowing who they really are and who they really were all along.

If acceptance of our emotional reality can be found, then long-held emotions can become the agents of real change. But this typically requires acceptance within us of the parts of ourselves we have deemed unacceptable for a long time. So our denied emotions will always engender some fear in anticipation, for one reason or another, until we lift the veil and look at them in the light, which lets us see their true nature, perhaps for the first time.

Dr Giac's Work

Giac has been a lecturer on psychoanalysis and clinical psychology, and a supervisor in the psychology and psychiatry training programmes at the University of Queensland, the Queensland University of Technology, and the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He has taught on the subjects of Meta-psychology, Clinical Theory and Technique in Psychoanalysis, and Professional Ethics. He completed doctoral research at the University of Queensland on Therapeutic Change, to examine the adequacy of explanatory models in psychotherapy research.

Giac maintains a private practice in Brisbane for individual psychotherapy, collegial consultation, and supervision for registrars.

Contact Dr Giac.