The mind I love most must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody's fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.
Therapy, or more fully psychotherapy, is a psychological service that is provided to individuals, couples, families, or other groups of people by a specifically trained and licensed health professional. Clinical psychologists, in particular, are specifically trained to provide psychotherapy services (amongst a broad range of other psychological services).
As a therapeutic tool, psychotherapy makes use of the content, processes, and dynamics that emerge during assessment and therapeutic consultations in order to identify, assess, manage, and alleviate personal difficulties, or psychological distress and / or psychiatric illness.
There are literally hundreds of different types of psychotherapies, emanating from different theoretical schools. Some of the more well known theoretical schools include the cognitive behavioral, existential, humanistic, psychoanalytic, and psychodynamic schools, whilst well-known psychotherapies include CBT, logotherapy, psychoanalysis, and brief or long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy.
The most useful and beneficial psychotherapies tend to be informed by both theory and practice that has been, and continues to be, developed by clinical practice and empirical research based on the principles of ‘evidence based practice’ and ‘practice based evidence’.
The motivation for seeking psychotherapy remains intimately personal to each individual. Some clients and patients wish to meaningfully explore their own personal development; others may desire a better understanding of personal relationship dynamics or difficulties; some seek relief from current painful emotional and personal distress; and others the treatment of more demanding psychological and psychiatric challenges or illnesses.
Irrespective of the reasons for seeking psychotherapy, the overarching principal objective of psychotherapy is the improvement of ones’ own sense of well-being and the further development of personal functioning across different life areas (such as relationships, family and work). On a practical level this is achieved by developing existing or new abilities, strategies and personal resources that can be used to prevent, resolve, or better manage personal or psychological or psychiatric challenges.
PRACTICE ORIENTATION and PROFESSIONAL INTERESTS
I practice psychotherapy primarily from an integrative psychodynamic approach. This means that I place an emphasis on developing a strong and purposeful working relationship with my clients and patients so that together we may discover and come to understand how thoughts, feelings, and
behaviors contribute towards the development and maintenance of personal difficulties or psychological distress or psychiatric illness.
My professional interests include psychotherapeutic practices that assist clients or patients who are experiencing or suffering from / with:
- personal trauma and loss;
- anxiety or stress related difficulties;
- mood difficulties, including low mood and depression, excessive irritability or anger, or fluctuating or persistent mood states that may be find difficult to manage;
- bipolar related illnesses;
- interpersonal and relationship difficulties, particularly when experienced in personal, family or work relationships;
- parental mental health related issues, including during the periods prior to pregnancy, during pregnancy (prenatal and perinatal / antepartum), and after birth (postnatal / postpartum); and
- individuals and families who are finding it difficult to cope where a parent, child or sibling suffers from psychological difficulties or psychiatric illness.
- transitional or life-change challenges, including parenthood, separation, mid-life, career, and existential related challenges.
Although I practice from a integrated psychodynamic framework, in certain circumstances I augment my practice with other non-dynamic psychotherapies. This decision is based on clinical best practice after considering the presenting circumstances and the individual client or patients’ personal psychotherapeutic goals and fit.
MORE ABOUT PSYCHODYNAMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY
Psychodynamic psychotherapy builds on the principal processes involved in resolving, reducing or managing distressful thoughts, feelings and behaviors by facilitating a more generous, in-depth therapeutic inquiry.
As a particular psychotherapeutic process, psychodynamic psychotherapy is specifically directed towards further developing an individual’s internal psychological resources in order to enhance their capacity to better prevent, cope with, and manage life (or other) stressors that may otherwise trigger, maintain or exacerbate personal difficulties, psychological distress or psychiatric illness,
In broad terms this requires a focus not only on the presenting symptoms or cluster of symptoms (such as depression) that a client or patient may be suffering from, but also the reasons as to why such symptoms or cluster of symptoms may have arisen in the first place, what sustains these symptoms, what makes them worse, and what helps reduce or alleviate these symptoms. This more in-depth inquiry facilitates a process that contributes to the development of personal awareness and reflectivity – important personal resources that may be used to explore thoughts, feelings, and behaviours in order to resolve and / or manage presenting personal challenges, or psychological distress, or psychiatric illness,
On the whole, individuals may expect from psychodynamic psychotherapy a valuable opportunity to:
- further develop their own psychological resources, for meaningful and effective personal functioning, and
- learn about themselves by exploring self-reflective questions such as: why do they make the decisions they do; what motivates them; what works for them and what doesn’t; why do they do certain things and why do they behave in certain ways at different times – resulting in meaningful personal growth.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT PSYCHOLOGIST
Choosing which psychologist to see is at least as important as choosing your doctor or dentist or other health professional – perhaps even more so because of the potential for a very personal and demanding commitment.
The nature of the relationship between a client or patient and their psychologist has been the focus of some important research over the last few decades – research which has consistently identified the therapeutic relationship as being one of the most significant factors influencing therapy outcomes.
Simply put: your relationship with your therapist is absolutely critical to your therapy.
On deciding which psychologist, you should, first and foremost, feel comfortable that you can form a reliable and safe professional relationship with them. This may not be evident immediately, but it should be within a reasonable period of time, or within the first few sessions. Some useful thoughts and questions that may help you with this decision includes asking (yourself and / or your psychologist!):
- what services may this particular psychologist offer (there are different types of psychologists who have different scopes of practice, as prescribed by the Health Professions Council of South Africa);
- how does this particular psychologist provide their services (psychologists with the same scope of practice may differ vastly in the way that they practice); and
- who is this psychologist (personal attributes such as gender, age, or general disposition are important indicators as to how well you may “fit” with a particular psychologist and / or to what extent you may develop a successful working relationship with them).
For more information about the different registration categories for psychologists (clinical, counselling, educational, industrial and research psychologists) with the Health Professions Council of South Africa, please click here.