We offer regular workshops to help overcome shyness, public speaking anxiety workshops and group hoarding sessions too.

Contact us for the next available workshop schedule if they do not apply below.


Do you fear:

  • public speaking
  • acting assertively
  • meeting new people
  • initiating and/or participating in conversations
  • job interviews
  • dealing with authority figures
  • eating in public
  • writing in public
  • performing  (e.g. singing, acting, playing a musical instrument)

The Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety Group Therapy program covers the roles medication, exercise, nutrition and lifestyle factors can play in alleviating social anxiety. There is a strong emphasis on increasing participants self esteem and overcoming fears around public speaking.


Homework exercises designed to consolidate the lessons learnt in each session are provided. These involve some reading, practicing relaxation techniques learnt in the group and completing sheets and workbooks.

The major advantages of a group program include:

  1. provides participants with the opportunity to role play feared social situations in a friendly, supportive environment
  2. allows sufferers to see that others face similar difficulties in life, and
  3. can provide an avenue for making new friends.

The number of participants is limited to 8 to ensure everyone receives adequate attention. Individual sessions are also available for people who do not wish to join a group.

Please ring to arrange an individual session prior to booking for the group. This is to ensure that group therapy is appropriate for you and to obtain information about the difficulties you are experiencing.

Note: People who do not wish to role play can opt out.

Current 2024 SCHEDULE

Wednesday 17th  April 2024 -Wednesday 19th June 2024

Thursday 7th March 2024-Thursday 25th April 2024 

Thursday  2nd May- Thursday 20th June 2024

Note: Groups run over 8 weeks from 7.00 — 9.30pm

Groups are not held on public holidays.

Hawthorn Community Centre

32 Henry Street, Hawthorn


$800 or $500 for health care card holders

Medicare refunds $300 approx of the cost

Note: Private health fund rebates may apply if you have extras cover. You will need to check whether you are covered for group therapy. Medicare rebates are now available for group therapy so please consult your G.P for a Mental Health Care Plan as it may entitle you to a rebate of $260 approx

Fee includes:

  • 8 x 2.5 hour group sessions
  • a comprehensive manual and booklist


Phone 0429 883 671 for further information or to register for group therapy sessions.

Download Registration Form (Word Doc, 28Kb)

Note: There are no refunds for non-attendance at sessions or for people who cancel  within 5 working days of the course they booked for commencing.


Catherine Madigan (B.A. Hons., M.A. (Clinical Psychology), M.A.P.S.

Catherine Madigan is a Melbourne Clinical psychologist who specialises in the treatment of social anxiety. She offers a group cognitive behavioral therapy program for social anxiety sufferers. Catherine has been offering this group program for over 8 years and has conducted these groups for both the public mental health system and as part of her private practice. The Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service and  job placement agencies have referred clients to ‘Overcoming Shyness and Social Anxiety’.

Catherine’s work with social anxiety sufferers has been featured in publications such as The AgeThe Herald SunNew IdeaFor MeWomen’s Health & Fitness magazine and War Cry.

The ‘Overcoming Shyness & Social Anxiety’ program teaches cognitive therapy and relaxation techniques (e.g. slow breathing, isometric relaxation) and provides the opportunity for participants to role play their feared social situations (exposure therapy).

Public speaking courses are commonplace in Melbourne, but only some are explicitly tailored to meet the needs of those who experience debilitating anxiety when participating in meetings and/or giving presentations.

Melbourne Clinical Psychologist, Catherine Madigan, understands that some people are more than just a little bit anxious about public speaking. You have a social phobia and therefore you might be able to get a Medicare rebate for your individual and group consultations by consulting your general practitioner to see if you are eligible for a mental health care plan.

You dread public speaking. You try to avoid public speaking. You may find an excuse to be absent from school, or work or university on days when you know you will be required to present to others or participate in small groups or training days. You may have chosen your university subjects on the basis of whether presentations were required or not. You may have chosen a career path that minimised the need to engage in public speaking. You might be self medicating your anxiety with alcohol or drugs just to get through the situation.

Catherine will meet with you one on one prior to the overcome fear of public speaking course commencing. This ensures that group treatment is appropriate for you at this point in time. Some people may require individual therapy prior to doing a group to overcome public speaking fear. Fortunately, Catherine conducts courses in Melbourne throughout the year.

The individual session goes for approximately one hour and will explore what factors make public speaking more or less difficult for you. We also look at how anxiety affects your ability to present, e.g. Do you blush, sweat, shake? Do have difficulty breathing, do you mumble, speak too fast, fidget, fold your arms?

Questionnaires are administered and measures are taken so we can track your progress throughout the public speaking group.

The participants in our groups experience real anxiety so when you attend one of Catherine’s overcome public speaking fear courses in Melbourne you know everyone in the program knows how stressed you feel about presentations as they are suffering too.

There are other public speaking courses in Melbourne which can also help you to become a more confident, polished presenter but this course is specifically targeted at people who experience more than average degree of anxiety re presenting to an audience. This overcome fear of public speaking course in Melbourne aims to get you to the point where you can present without having a panic attack or experiencing a debilitating degree of anxiety.

This course aims to get you to the point where you can :stand up, speak slowly, loudly, clearly, make eye contact with the audience and appear competent.

Many of our participants go onto to do other public speaking courses in Melbourne to refine their skills and build more confidence. However, many people state that they had tried other courses before doing Catherine’s and found that these other courses were not tailored to the needs of people with a debilitating phobia, and therefore were too anxiety provoking.


Contact us for the next workshop schedule

Wednesday 17th  April 2024 -Wednesday 19th June 2024

Thursday 7th March 2024-Thursday 25th April 2024

Thursday  2nd May- Thursday 20th June 2024

Full fee is $800 ( you may get back $276.80 of this fee from Medicare if you attend all 8 sessions as the rebate is $34.60 per session)

Concession rate is $500 ( you get back $276.80 of this fee from Medicare if you attend all 8 sessions as the rebate is $34.60 per session)

Note: Groups run over 8 weeks from 7.00 — 9.30 pm
Groups are not held on public holidays


Phone 0429 883671 for further information or to register for group therapy sessions.

Download Registration Form (Word Doc, 28Kb)

Note: There are no refunds for non-attendance at sessions or for people who cancel within 5 working days of the course they booked for commencing.


  • Affordable Stress Management services are offered by Catherine Madigan, a Melbourne Clinical Psychologist.
  • Catherine offers both stress management workshops and individual therapy.
  • Stress management workshops can be conducted on site at your location and tailored to the needs of your organisation.
  • Training seminars may be held for periods of one hour, or even a day or two, depending upon the needs of the client.
  • Catherine has provided stress management workshops to schools such as Camberwell High and Carey Grammar, employers, community groups and tertiary institutions such as William Angliss.
  • A typical stress management training course may cover  topics such as those outlined below


Stress begins with our appraisal of a situation or event. Stressed people have generally evaluated an event as being negative in some way (e.g. painful, dangerous,difficult) and may have decided that they lack the resources to cope with the situation they are confronted with. Effective stress management may involve the sufferer learning to identify and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs they have about the stressful event and replacing unhelpful thoughts with more adaptive ones.


Stress comes from 4 sources:

  • There are environmental stressors such as climatic conditions, pollution, traffic and noise.
  • There are social stressors such as: bereavement, deadlines, financial difficulties, job interviews, presentations, and excessive demands on your time.
  • There are physiological stressors such as: lack of exercise, poor nutrition and lack of sleep.
  • Another source of stress is your perception of events, your thoughts. You brain interprets what is going on in your environment and body and determines when it activates the stress response.


People experience many changes in life, both big and small. Even positive changes need to be adapted to and therefore can trigger stress. Some stressful life events include:

  • A decrease/increase in type or amount of recreation
  • A decrease/increase in social activities
  • major change in one’s financial state
  • sexual problems
  • moving house
  • marriage
  • divorce
  • separation from spouse
  • son or daughter leaving home
  • retiring from work
  • being fired from work
  • taking out a mortgage
  • taking out a car loan
  • going on a holiday
  • pregnancy
  • public speaking
  • job interview
  • beginning or ending formal schooling
  • death of a spouse
  • death of a close friend
  • sustaining a major illness or injury
  • significant change in working hours
  • building or renovating a house
  • changing schools
  • difficult relationship with in laws
  • change in number of arguments had with partner
  • major change in the behaviour or health of a family member


When people are exposed to prolonged periods of stress their physical and mental health can be adversely affected. Chronic stress can play a role in the development of anxiety disorders and depression. Chronic stress also puts people at increased risk of heart disease, digestive problems,and obseity. Chronic stress can also aggravate skin conditions such as eczema. Chronic stress can also lead to insomnia and memory impairment. Stress can affect the repoductive system and cause women to stop menstruating and ovulating and to experience loss of libido. Men who are stressed may also find they are experiencing impotency and loss of libido.

Chronic stress can negatively impact upon arthritis, diabetes and chronic pain. Chronic stress can lead to the immune and inflammatory systems being ihibited so people are more vulnerable to catching colds and flu. Chronic stress adevrsely affectes respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitiss and increases the symptoms.


  • substance abuse (drugs, alcohol)
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • increased smoking
  • jaw pain
  • skin problems
  • more colds, flu
  • hair loss (e.g.alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, trichotillomania)
  • overeating
  • weight loss/weight gain
  • constipation
  • diarrohoea
  • upset stomach
  • neck pain
  • shoulder pain
  • shortness of breath
  • muscle tension
  • insomnia
  • back pain
  • abdominal pain
  • difficult concentrating
  • high blood pressure
  • aggression
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • confusion
  • headaches
  • getting upset about trivial things (e.g. crying easily over things unrelated to your major stressor)
  • finding it difficult to relax
  • getting impatient when delayed in any way (e.g.lifts, being kept waiting at traffic lights
  • irritiability
  • difficulty tolerating interruptions to what you are doing


Stress management involves:

  • regular exercise
  • appropriate, healthy diet
  • relaxation techniques
  • adequate sleep
  • engaging in relaxing hobbies
  • cognitive restructuring (Stress is caused by how our minds perceive stressful events, not the event itself).

Stress management may also involve doing courses (such as the Group Therapy and Workshops offerred by Social Anxiety Assist Australia) to redress percieved skill deficits. For example people who find job interviews and/or public speaking stressful would be advised to take steps to overcome their anxiety.


Exercise is a simple, and effective means of stress management. When people are under pressure from life stressors one of the first things they often neglect to do is exercise as they consider they re too busy/anxious/depressed etc to work out. People are advised to exercise regularly as part of their stress management routine and to find some form of physical activity which they find enjoyable so they are more motivated to carry it out. 1/2 an hour of exercise 5 times a week has been found to be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.


Good nutrition is one aspect of stress management. People are advised to:

  • reduce fats
  • reduce their sugar intake
  • limit their salt intake
  • eat a variety of foods
  • eat complex carbohydrates
  • limit caffeine
  • limit alcohol
  • eat frequent meals.


Sometimes people are unable to exercise due to physical injury and/or time constraints . However, these people may find that they can integrate relaxation techniques into their lifestyle. For example, busy executives doing a lot of business travel could listen to a meditation track or a guided visualisation on their ipod whilst on a flight. People travelling to work on public transport could practice diaphragmatic breathing whilst commuting back and forth.

Relaxation techniques include:

  • meditation
  • guided imagery
  • tai chi
  • yoga
  • self hypnosis
  • diaphragmatic breathing
  • progressive muscle relaxation

Some relaxation techniques may be more beneficial than others depending upon the symptoms you are experiencing. For example, people who are experiencing :muscle tension, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain etc may find progressive muscle relaxation beneficial for symptom relief. People who are worrying excessively may find meditation particularly helpful as a form of stress management.


When people are stressed they often have difficulty falling and/or staying sleep. Some stressed individuals report that they have no difficulty falling asleep and that they are obtaining their usual number of hours of sleep but they do not feel refreshed when they wake up. It may be that they are not sleeping as deeply as they usually do because of their high level of stress. Implementing relaxation techniques and regular exercise should help with sleep disturbance but if problems persist you may wish to consult a psychologist for further assistance.


Time out is an important aspect of stress management. Absorbing hobbies such as arts and crafts can be a good distraction from one’s worries


A psychologist can help people to identify their negative thoughts and beliefs about their stressful life events. Once these negative thoughts and beliefs have been identified , the psychologist can help the stressed client to challenge their unhelpful thoughts and to develop more helpful, adaptive thoughts about their situation. If people can change the way they think about a situation they can change the way they feel.