I believe that the purpose of life is to be of value to society, to uphold the rights of others, and to engage in work or activities that enhance the psychological, emotional and physical well-being of others. This belief led me to pursue a career in psychology.
➾Master of Arts Degree in Clinical Psychology (WITS)
➾Honours Degree in Psychology (UNISA)
➾Psychology for Non-Degree Purposes (with Distinction) (WITS)
➾Bachelor of Arts with Honours (Drama) (with Distinction) (UCT)
➾Performer’s Diploma in Speech and Drama (with Distinction) (UCT)
I am currently in private practice at the Child and Family Centre in Parktown. I offer short and long term therapy to adults, adolescents, and children. I adopt an integrative approach, using a psychodynamic orientation as well as cognitive behavioural therapy and dialectical behavioural therapy, depending on the needs of each client. I also offer specialist assessment services in forensic psychology and neuropsychology. My forensic work includes conducting medico-legal assessments for clients with personal injury claims, such as motor vehicle accident claims.
I was employed as a community service clinical psychologist at Modderbee Correctional Centre in Benoni. Modderbee Correctional Centre is a medium security prison housing approximately 4900 adult male offenders. A large part of my work involved conducting comprehensive forensic risk assessments. Offenders who were serving life sentences were referred to me for psychological evaluation, following which I submitted reports detailing my findings. These reports were intended to provide the Case Management Committee, Correctional Services Parole Board, the National Council for Correctional Services and the Minister’s office with information regarding each offender’s functioning, possible risks, rehabilitative processes and recommended management strategies that could assist with whether offenders were suitable candidates for parole.
The process for assessments was as follows: I conducted comprehensive clinical interviews with offenders, as well as collateral interviews with family members and unit case officers. I also reviewed all documents in offenders’ case files, including sentence remarks, court judgments, and previous psychological reports. I made use of an internationally standardised risk assessment measure to objectively establish the number of risk increasing and risk decreasing factors in terms of offenders’ likelihood of recidivism. I then compiled my reports. These reports were to be used in conjunction with all other relevant information, documentation, and reports in order for the relevant parties to make an informed decision.
I also facilitated three-month sexual violence programmes with offenders imprisoned for rape. These programmes were adapted from the Sexual Treatment of Offenders in Prison (STOP) Programme, designed by Nevada Department of Corrections’ Correctional Programmes Division in the United States. The focus of the programme was on cognitive restructuring in order to maximise relapse prevention. In addition to this, I conducted individual therapy with offenders who were referred to me for a wide variety of reasons, including suicidality, substance abuse, and parole-breaking.
As an intern clinical psychologist at Tara Psychiatric Hospital in Sandhurst, I was employed in the male inpatient psychiatric ward as well as in the outpatient department. The male inpatient psychiatric ward was made up of approximately 30 adult individuals suffering from severe cases of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar mood disorder. My work included conducting weekly group therapy sessions as well as individual therapy and climate meetings on the ward. I worked as part of a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers and nurses, and was required to attend weekly ward rounds with the team to optimise the management of these cases.
I was also tasked with assisting family members of patients by providing psychoeducation and counselling in preparation for patients’ discharge from hospital into family care. In the outpatient department, I was responsible for conducting weekly group therapy sessions with outpatients suffering from bipolar mood disorder and schizophrenia. I also provided individual therapy to outpatients with a wide range of psychiatric conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, complex bereavement, mood and anxiety disorders and psychotic disorders. As part of the outpatient multidisciplinary team, I was also a group facilitator on two 12 week Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) programmes which were offered during my employment at Tara hospital. DBT is a form of therapy designed to assist patients struggling with emotional regulation and relationship difficulties. I also worked as a family therapist and as part of a reflecting team of therapists on Tara’s outpatient family therapy programme. In both the inpatient and outpatient departments, I conducted neuropsychological assessments for the purposes of diagnosing and treating a variety of neuropsychological conditions such as HIV dementia.
I was employed as a clinical psychology intern in the Child, Adolescent and Family Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto. As at Tara Hospital, I worked as part of a multidisciplinary team in both the inpatient and outpatient departments. In the outpatient department, I was involved in three different areas.
Firstly, I worked with adolescents who had been admitted to the hospital’s medical wards for attempted suicide. I was committed to providing these patients with a safe, non-judgmental space in which to receive counselling and learn coping skills, before conducting suicide risk assessments to determine whether they could be discharged or should remain admitted. Secondly, I conducted medical consultations. These involved responding to doctors’ calls from various medical wards in the hospital, where adolescents and children were struggling to cope psychologically with various physical illnesses and injuries, such as HIV/AIDS and severe burns. Thirdly, I conducted individual and play therapy with adolescents and children with a range of difficulties including sexual and physical abuse, rape, unplanned pregnancy, substance abuse and parent-child relationship problems.
In the inpatient department, I was the intern psychologist responsible for the child psychiatric inpatient ward. This ward provided for the admission of children being abused in the home and children with severe psychiatric disorders whose parents required assistance by trained health professionals. I conducted individual play therapy and group therapy with these inpatients.
In both the inpatient and outpatient departments, I offered parental guidance sessions and conducted cognitive and emotional child assessments. In the parental guidance sessions, I provided parents with the psychoeducation relevant to their child’s difficulties. Cognitive assessments were conducted to determine learning difficulties at school so that appropriate interventions could be implemented as necessary, and emotional assessments were conducted to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders. During my employment at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, I worked closely with other health professionals and was required to both attend and conduct presentations at inter-hospital ward rounds. This afforded me the opportunity for ongoing professional development.
As a clinical psychology master's student, I completed a coursework component and a research component. The coursework component consisted of the following theoretical modules: psychoanalytic psychotherapy, developmental psychology, community clinical practice, psychopathology and the cognitive, emotional and neuropsychological assessment of adults and children. The coursework component also involved the practical application of these theoretical modules. I therefore conducted short and longer-term psychotherapy and child assessment under supervision at the Wits Emthonjeni Community Psychology Centre. I also conducted an adult neuropsychological assessment under supervision at Life Riverfield Lodge, an inpatient mental health facility.
The research component of my master's degree consisted of the completion of a supervised research dissertation to be undertaken at the same time as the coursework component. Having always felt strongly about social injustice, human rights, and human suffering, and keenly aware of the high levels of gender violence in South Africa, I chose to research the attitudes of male university students to campus date rape in South Africa.
While completing my psychology honours degree, I worked as a volunteer counsellor for a number of organisations, namely Gateway House, Children of Fire, Lifeline and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG). Gateway House is a residential facility for individuals with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I facilitated group and individual counselling sessions as part of the facility’s psychosocial treatment programme. Children of Fire is a charity that provides medical treatment, education, and accommodation for child burns survivors. My volunteer work included visiting children in hospital burns units, taking case histories for legal proceedings and media campaigns, facilitating a reading scheme at Joe Slovo informal settlement and offering piano and swimming lessons to the children. Lifeline and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) are non-profit organisations which provide confidential counselling services. I completed their training programmes and worked for both organisations as a volunteer counsellor, assisting callers with a wide range of difficulties including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, trauma, substance abuse and suicidality.