Registered Clinical Psychologist
Practice Number: PS 0051373
I have 27 years of experience as a clinical psychologist. I qualified in my mid-thirties – relatively late in life – having had diverse work experience, including banking, publishing, non-profit organisations, HIV research and training, and university teaching. Now I provide psychotherapy but remain involved in other forms of work – including in the past five years HIV research, health systems strengthening, evaluating community projects, editing and writing. Publications I have edited or contributed to include a trailblazing account of apartheid-era hit squads, a shortened version of Nelson Mandela’s autobiography for translation into German, maths textbooks, basic communication skills for medical students, and empowering rural women through crafts development. I have edited books on a wide range of topics, including animal welfare across Africa, adolescent-friendly health clinics, encouraging men to utilise health services, comprehensive sexuality education in schools, university education in East Africa, developing financial literacy amongst disadvantaged women, transgender youth, and personal narratives of South Africans affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
My approach to psychology is solution-focused: the therapy process evolves in a way that draws on the unique strengths of the client. I believe everyone has the capacity for growth and healing, and that through psychotherapy I can help my clients arrive at unique strategies and answers for daunting life challenges. My psychotherapy is informed by Carl Rogers’ person-centred philosophy, Michael White’s narrative therapy, Brené Brown’s research on vulnerability and shame, mindfulness, embodiment practices, and Gabor Maté’s work on addiction and trauma. Dialectical-based therapy (DBT), Life Training, integration of the shadow, Esther Perel’s work with couples, and imago couple therapy have also contributed to the ways that I work.
Travel off the beaten track to some 45 countries over the past three decades has broadened my understanding of the human condition, and helped me recognise the value of other cultural perspectives. I’ve learned to appreciate South Africa’s diversity, and recognise our unique challenges. Many South Africans have experienced – and some still experience – trauma such as racism, gender-based violence, poverty, ableism, ageism and crime. I try to be mindful of such issues and their potential impact on clients.
- 1989: BA (cum laude) – University of South Africa
- 1991: BA Honours (Psychology) (cum laude) – University of South Africa
- 1995: MA (Clinical Psychology) (cum laude) – University of Johannesburg
My Clinical ExperienceMy clinical training has included working in prisons, supporting an addiction treatment programme, systemic thinking, diverse approaches to couple and family therapy, facilitation of group therapy, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and recognising diversity.
Areas of Interest
Areas in which I have particular experience include working with:
- social anxiety and building self-esteem
- living with chronic illness or disability
- living with HIV
- relationship challenges, including dating, marriage, polyamory, infidelity and divorce
- sexual identity, including assisting clients who are trans, gay, lesbian, questioning or queer
- life transitions and midlife crises
- dealing with work stress and managing personal burnout, and
- dealing with loss and bereavement
I was a consultant to two employee assistance programmes, ICAS and Careways, for a decade. During this time I counselled employees and their families, provided trauma debriefing, and supported individuals who faced retrenchment or retirement.
I can help individuals and couples struggling with relationships. Few of us get taught how to build a healthy relationship. In reality relationships need conscious effort for them to work. Many relationships start out well, but come unstuck because partners have different expectations or values, change at different tempos or are moving in different directions. My approach to couple counselling gives everyone a safe space to talk, addresses thorny issues and helps individuals improve their communications skills. Couple counselling can clarify whether a relationship can be saved and how to go about improving it.
Working with addiction
I have a keen interest in helping clients and their families overcome addiction. I support clients who adopt the twelve-steps strategy for recovery of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other fellowships, and shared by residential treatment programmes across South Africa.
I offer an alternative approach to addiction using dialectical-based therapy (DBT) and embodiment principles. In the course of DBT-based sessions I teach clients diverse research-based strategies to manage their addictive urges, so that once therapy is concluded they can confidently draw on a personal array of learned techniques to help them overcome addiction.
My third approach to addiction uses SMART Recovery. SMART is a proven approach to addiction utilising and the principles of cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT) and is utilised in more than 30 countries globally. SMART views addiction as reflecting an unbalanced life, self-medicating or trying to cope with trauma. Recovery involves identifying triggers and mastering personal strategies to cope better with cravings. Regaining life balance is critical. The SMART approach recognises that every addict’s recovery journey is unique. SMART regards ‘slips’ on the road to recovery as normal. A ‘slip’ does not mean failure, and blaming or shaming addicts is unhelpful. Every slip is an opportunity to refine and improve one’s personal recovery plan.