Psychotherapy is an English word derived from the Ancient Greek word “psyche” meaning breath, spirit or soul and the word “therapia” meaning healing or medical treatment. Psychotherapy can be described as the therapeutic process that takes place between a therapist and a client and is characterised by healing and personal growth in the context of an honest, caring and accepting relationship.
It is important to find the right match between yourself and the therapist you decide to work with. You need to feel a connection with your therapist, and conversations you have with them must feel comfortable, balanced and natural. It is important to feel understood, to be comfortable talking to your therapist about personal issues and to trust them to keep you updated with how your therapy is progressing. A bad match could undermine your therapeutic work, so it is important to choose your therapist carefully. Usually one session is enough to establish whether you will be able to work together.
Therapy usually takes place once a week for approximately 55 – 60 minutes. During a crisis more sessions may be required, and once therapy has progressed, you may feel you need fewer sessions. Therapy is flexible and sessions will be scheduled to suit your needs.
Depending on your therapeutic goals and needs, therapy can be for a brief period and only last a few sessions or it can be for a longer term. It is important to discuss your therapeutic goals with your therapist beforehand to establish a mutual understanding of how you would like to work together – the more you believe you can change and that therapy can make a difference, the more positive and successful your treatment will be.
Therapy is always your choice, and it will always be up to you whether to discontinue therapy or to choose another therapist. Some people decide to leave therapy before the therapist thinks it is healthy to do so, and your therapist is obligated to express any concern if you opt to discontinue therapy before the therapy has been “completed.” However, this concern should not make you feel obligated to continue seeing the therapist, and the choice remains yours
Psychotherapy is private and confidential and is a process based on honesty, openness and trust. Your therapist is under ethical obligation to keep your personal information confidential. While there are some occasions when it is necessary for a therapist to break confidentiality, these are outlined very carefully.
When can a Therapist divulge the contents of a therapy session or sessions?
– If the client has a serious intent to hurt themselves or others, the therapist is obligated to inform appropriate family members, friends or medical professionals in order to protect the client and the public. – If abuse of a child or elderly person is suspected or reported, confidentiality will be broken in order to protect the vulnerable members of our society.
– If ordered to do so by a Court of Law.
Adults, adolescents, children, couples and families can all benefit from psychotherapy. There are no right or wrong reasons to see a therapist, and people require psychotherapy for many different reasons. While some individuals may be struggling to adjust to major life changes such as retirement, changing jobs, moving to a new home, getting married, having a baby etc., others seek out psychotherapy because of a personal crisis such as trauma, bereavement, divorce or retrenchment. Regular therapy sessions can provide relief to those suffering from symptoms of clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia that disrupt their daily functions of sleeping, eating and working while some people need assistance with day to day life to relearn how to make healthy decisions and set healthy boundaries.
Clinical symptoms often cause significant distress and suffering and may also require the assistance of a medical professional such as a Medical Practitioner or Psychiatrist, but this will be discussed with your therapist who will make recommendations if necessary.
Couples may choose to consult with a therapist to address issues in their relationship. A therapist can help a couple identify and diagnose the interpersonal difficulties in their relationship or assist with ending a relationship in a healthier manner, should that be the appropriate and agreed upon solution.
Consulting a professional during times of emotional difficulty does not mean you’re crazy, abnormal or strange. The non-judgmental, constructive support and professional skills of a therapist can help you heal, grow and become a happier and healthier human being and to replace feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger and frustration with happiness, peace and hopefulness for the future.
A Clinical Psychologist is a mental health professional who is trained to work with acute and clinical mental illnesses such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders and psychotic disorders as well as to assist individuals who are experiencing significant stressors and emotional difficulties, most commonly major life transitions such as separation/divorce, bereavement, grief and trauma.
A Clinical Psychologist holds a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and is registered as a clinical psychologist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
A professional Psychologist will have a HPCSA number and a practice number.