Areas of Therapy
Examples of possible difficulties for which therapy are sought:
- Marital / couple’s difficulties
- Child – learning difficulties, bullying, impact of divorce, stealing, bed wetting, separation anxiety)
- Communication training
- Adjustment issues
- Emotional difficulties
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Grief and loss (bereavement therapy)
- Behavioural difficulties
- Anorexia and bulimia
- Parental guidance
- Trauma (hi-jacking, burglary, etc)
- Assessments (Children and Adults) (intellectual, educational and emotional, school readiness, career, neuro-psychological)
- Forensic assessments
Individual psychotherapy looks at the nature and quality of the person’s interpersonal relationships (behaviour patterns) directly correlated to their degree of mental health. I approach psychotherapy from a systems paradigm.
The aim of therapy is to mobilize clients in identifying and addressing their difficulties in a tangible manner, which in turn creates a feeling of control and power within their life.
My focus is on resolving the issues that bring individuals to counselling and in assisting them to start living more satisfying and fulfilling lives.
The duration of psychotherapy is often completed in a limited number of sessions. However, the level of progress is determined by the complexity of the client’s situation as well as the level of commitment of the client.
All cases which involve a child will begin with a session with a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) of the child, which entails a:
- full developmental,
- social and
- educational history taking session
where the current presenting problem and reason for referral is discussed in detail.
From this information gathered an effective therapeutic intervention will be identified.
I deal with a broad range of psychological, emotional, educational and social difficulties that children could present with.
Couples therapy is for couples who are experiencing difficulties in their relationship.
It is a process that aims to provide the partners with a neutral space in which to reflect on their relationship with the help of an objective professional.
Research indicates that effective communication is essential for marital/relationship satisfaction. The quality of the communication in a couple’s relationship is indicative of the levels of satisfactions within the relationship.
Both partners are seen individually by the therapist for assessment regarding where they stand in their relationship and whether or not couples sessions are appropriate.
Once commitment is received from both parties couple’s sessions commence.
Therapy focuses on equipping the couple with effective speaking and listening skills (communication skills) to increase resolving conflict areas (such as trust, parenting, boundaries, trauma and so forth) constructively.
Psychological assessment is available for adults and children.
The assessment is based on clinical observations and various assessment tools depending on the reason and requirements of the assessment. All of these are combined to form a comprehensive clinical assessment of the client.
Assessment could include but is not limited to intellectual, personality and career choice assessment, and for children: school readiness, emotional functioning and scholastic evaluation.
Forensic assessments are also done.
School Readiness Assessment
School readiness assessments provide a holistic investigation into all areas of developmental (coordination, social, language, performance and reasoning) to understand the preparedness of a child to start grade one.
This assessment also offers insight into developmental strengths and weaknesses, and thus the areas to focus intervention, assistance and growth.
Furthermore, I include an emotional assessment to gain a better understanding of the child’s emotional world and how this may impact on their ability to successfully enter primary school.
I provide scholastic assessments for children (from 6 years) and adolescents (teenagers).
These assessments may be done for various reasons such as:
- understanding poor school performance,
- picking up learning problems,
- gaining support for a diagnosis and treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and
- finding appropriate intervention (extra lessons, remedial assistance, school placement, occupational therapy, speech therapy etc.).
Intellectual assessments provide insight into an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses. My standard psychometric battery includes an intellectual, neurological and an emotional assessment (this helps to gain a better understanding of the child’s emotional world and how this – for example anxiety or depression impact on their ability to function academically, occupationally and socially).
I provide assessments for high school learners and adults. These assessments may be done for various reasons, such as school subject choice, to assist in deciding on further education and training or career changes and the suitability thereof.
I use psychometric tests to determine an individual’s:
- abilities and aptitude
- preferences and interests
- needs and values
- personality and
- potential and competencies
Forensic assessments are completed on a case to case basis after individual consultation and or discussion.
What is trauma?
Trauma can be defined as an incident or event involving a perceived or actual threat of harm, injury and/or death, which overwhelms an individual’s coping resources.
There are many types of trauma like hijacking, robberies, rape, car accidents, physical assault, domestic violence, war and combat, natural disasters.
Other types of trauma also include the loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship or divorce, retrenchment and being diagnosed with a threatening illness (eg cancer, lupus).
What to do?
During the first 24 hours after the traumatic event, an individual experiences shock. Feelings of numbness, disbelief, denial, confusion and disorganization are common during this time.
It is important to receive emotional support and reassurance from friends and family, and ensure that the person is in an environment where he/she feels relatively safe and secure.
It is very important to contact a mental health professional who can provide psychological assistance to work through the difficult emotions and reactions which will follow the traumatic incident experienced.
When is the best time to start trauma debriefing?
Between 24-72 hours after the incident is probably the best time to see a trauma counselor. The shock will begin to wear off by then, and difficult and uncomfortable emotions such as anger, anxiety, pain and guilt will begin to emerge. It is at this time that the person will want to start talking about the experience, and it is important for him/her to talk about it to a trained professional who will be able to help the person explore what had happened and work through the difficult and frightening experience.
Trauma Debriefing – the process
Generally the trauma debriefing process lasts about 4-6 sessions. However, the amount of sessions needed largely depends on the severity of the traumatic event, as well as on the person self.
Trauma debriefing will help the individual process what has happened to him/her and work through the painful feelings the trauma may have triggered in them.
If counselling is not sought after a traumatic event, the emotions and the traumatic incident itself may be suppressed, and can re-emerge at a later stage as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is far more difficult to deal with than the stress and anxiety generated by the initial traumatic incident.
Bereavement and Loss
The loss of a loved one or of a meaningful relationship is often a devastating and painful experience. Many difficult and uncomfortable emotions are usually experienced in its aftermath.
Some of these emotions are shock, anger, guilt and depression. It may feel like the sadness will never go away or let up. Although these feelings can be overwhelming and frightening, they are normal reactions to loss. Accepting them as part of the grieving process and feeling these emotions is a necessary first step towards healing.
Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience which depends on an individual’s personality, coping style, life experience, faith and the nature of the loss.
The grieving process takes time, and healing happens gradually – it can’t be forced or hurried. There is no ‘normal’ time frame for grieving, and it varies greatly from person to person.
How can grief/bereavement counselling help?
- Offers a space where feelings of anger, guilt, fear, anxiety and sorrow can be expressed.
- Provides support to individuals working through the various stages of grief
- Helps to process, understand and come to terms with the painful emotions which accompany loss.
- Helps to think creatively about the challenges that follow loss and how to best cope with them
- Helps in the adjustment to new life circumstances and a new sense of self