Clinical psychologists treat people with relatively serious kinds of psychological distress, like depression or anxiety disorders. They hold Master’s Degrees in Clinical Psychology and are registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
My journey started in 1983 at the University of South Africa (UNISA) with training in Clinical Psychology Masters. Our training in Systems Theory was fairly unusual at the time, as we were introduced to Constructivism and Post Constructivist Theory which have paved the path towards current advancements in Psychological practice, drawing on the quantum physics principles of change in human systems. Thorough training in Neuro-psychology added to a holistic understanding of human difficulties.
A 1 year Internship at II Military Hospital comprised of a rotation system of 3 months per division, which offered my initial exposure to mental health problems such as Psychosis, Dissociative Identity Disorder, Trauma following amputations, head injuries, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder etc.
During my first 6 years after completing the Clinical Training I worked in Educational settings with children with Developmental and Neurological Difficulties. This has provided me with an opportunity to develop an in-depth understanding of the variety of factors influencing the development and well-being of children during those early years.
I then moved to Cape Town and started a Private Practice in Cape Town and surroundings. During the next five years I was struck by the high prevalence of Child Sexual Abuse and the devastating impact this has on survivors and their families. Another serious condition I often encountered in my practice was the aftermath of young men who were conscripted to the ‘Border-war’ in South Africa and Angola. Many of these young men who suffered from Post-Traumatic-Stress (PTSD) resorted to unhelpful coping strategies such as alcohol, drugs and sex, which have a devastating impact on the quality of their lives and those of their families.
During this time I did further training in Narrative Therapy and Hypnotherapy. I have found Narrative Therapy particularly helpful with clients presenting with fragmented and traumatic ‘stories’, After five years in Private Practice I felt the need to broaden my therapeutic skills and knowledge. I qualified for the ‘Statement of Equivalence’ in the United Kingdom, which allowed me to practice as a Clinical Psychologist.
I am currently registered with the Board for Health Professionals in the UK. I started my journey in the UK in 1999 with a locum post on the’ Isle of Guernsey’ in a Child and Adolescent Service. My next position was in Oxford in a Youth Offending Service. As part of a new government initiative to address the level of youth offending in the UK, I was tasked to develop this service with a multi-disciplinary team. We had intensive training in different aspects relating to violence, sexual offending, managing anger and mental health problems.. An understanding of the impact of micro and macro systems on individuals, the narrative constructs of power issues in relationships and in society, developmental factors and traumatic experiences, contributed to an understanding of very troubled young people and assisted us in developing an appropriate and successful service. I was simultaneously attached to the Park Hospital Children’s services in Oxford as well as a community clinic in Banbury. In Oxford I was able to do intensive in-house training in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. After completion of this contract I was offered a position in Edinburgh in the ‘Young People’s Unit’ ‘YPU’ at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Working with major Depression, Severe Anxiety, Psychosis, suicide, family violence and emerging personality disorders provided me with further specialised learning opportunities.
I was also part of the ‘Child Sexual Abuse’ (CSA) team, providing services to survivors of sexual abuse and support to colleagues. During this time I also started Post Graduate Studies at Bristol University in ‘Narrative and Life Story Research’. As part of these studies I did a research project, looking at the impact on clinicians working with CSA. Together with the findings of another similar study, Supervision Guidelines were developed for clinicians working with CSA to prevent and address the prevalence of ‘Secondary or Vicarious Traumatisation’.
Towards the end of 2005 I returned to South Africa to complete my dissertation on the impact social and political changes had on the First People of SA, The Khoi-Khoi. My interest was in inter-generational trauma and the transfer of coping skills from one generation to the next. This research did not find its way to a dissertation, but in a Publication, with the purpose of providing for the people a space where their voices could be heard.
During my last 5 years in England I worked in the field of Forensic Psychology in low and medium secure Hospitals for Mentally disordered offenders. The prevalence of Traumatic Experiences during childhood and PTSD was unusually high. I had ample opportunities for training in this field and also working with Psychosis, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders and Bi-polar disorder. With colleagues I developed a Family Service for Families with a member diagnosed with Psychosis or Schizophrenia. We also developed a Group process to support clients dealing with Voices, Hallucinations, and Paranoia.
I started with training in Schema Therapy during this time and continued the training after my return to South Africa in 2012. Understanding the core beliefs that drive our thoughts, feelings and behaviours has become a major component of my therapeutic approach. New understandings regarding mental processes in the brain, the impact of stress, and epigenesis, complements my aim to provide a holistic service towards mental wellbeing.
I feel privileged to share with my clients in Private Practice my knowledge and skills to work together towards a more healthy, contented and compassionate life.
HPCSA Number: PS 0025585
Practice Number: 086 000 8614032