What is a clinical psychologist?
A Clinical Psychologist usually undergoes 5 to 6 years of academic training, after which he/she completes an internship at an institution where they are trained to treat people with mental illness and psychiatric problems. They work with these individuals under supervision of trained psychologists. Some of these Clinical Psychologists will stay on at these institutions, some will become involved in research or academic training of students and some may end up in private practice.
Clinical Psychologists in private practice are trained to see patients with any form of psychopathology, but they also work with individuals who are experiencing general life crises, dealing with personal problems or difficult relationships, wanting to enrich their lives or deal with specific difficulties in their lives. It is not only people with psychiatric problems who consult a Clinical Psychologist, but also people who experience general difficulties in their lives.
A Clinical Psychologist is trained to deal with problems across the whole spectrum, throughout all the different life phases and usually makes use of psychotherapy, assessments and analysis to do so.
Who needs therapy?
What happens in therapy sessions?
Will I have to lie on a couch while someone writes things down about me?
Will the therapist hypnotise me or read my mind?
Hypnotherapy is merely a method that some psychologists use to work with information on a subconscious level. I will always make the patient aware of the intention of doing hypnotherapy during a therapy session. He/she will be briefed on what will be happening during hypnotherapy and he/she will be asked permission should the therapist ever decide to make use of this method. There is therefore a clear distinction between therapy and hypnotherapy and both the therapist and the patient will know when hypnotherapy is being used during the therapy session.
What do I do if I want to book an appointment and how much does therapy cost?
What is the point of talking about your problems?
Psychotherapy is often referred to as the “talking cure”. If you, however, attend therapy and it merely feels as if you are talking to a good friend, it is not therapy. It often helps to talk to someone who is a total stranger to you, as there are no “consequences” in that it does not matter what the person thinks, as he/she does not share a life with you. It is also beneficial that this person is a professional with the necessary training and experience. Therapy is also confidential and one therefore does not have to feel afraid that what is discussed in therapy will ever be told to anyone else.
Therapy does not only involve talking about your problems, but rather confronting your problems, fears, past, future, or a difficult or dysfunctional relationship. Different methods are used like role reversals, letter writing, open chair, reflection and re-framing. Therapy is most successful when people eventually reach their own solutions and feel empowered after the therapy process to deal with their lives, problems or relationships. This, however, does not imply a passive therapist who only asks “so how do you feel?” It is a complicated process which evolves over time.
Will I have to dig into my childhood?
Will there be long awkward silences?
How long does therapy take?
The number of sessions a person needs often depends on the problem. Sometimes people come to therapy with a certain problem and the problem shifts and they want to address other difficult areas of their lives. At times people only attend one session, often when they have a burning issue, want an opinion, or just need some direction in their lives. More commonly people attend a course of therapy sessions where problems are discussed and they then go home with certain insights, new ideas, or tasks to complete. This gets discussed in the following therapy session. Some people also choose to attend therapy over an extended period of time, which can vary from a few months to a few years. If it is an extended time period that people attend therapy, they usually work on issues of self-knowledge, life enrichment, or trying to change certain destructive patterns in their lives.
Why should someone have therapy?
I believe that everyone should consult a therapist somewhere in their lives, in order to understand themselves better, to empower themselves, enrich their lives, become aware of certain realities about themselves, what other people see that they are not aware of, to confront certain demons, hurt or trauma from their past, to escape old destructive patterns, to confront relationships that are hurtful or that keeps them stuck, to confront fears, to challenge themselves, to make peace with certain situations or personality qualities. People differ. Just as many differences that exist among people, just as many reasons exist to come to therapy. Everyone will have a different reason, but everyone will have a reason.
One of the many definitions of therapy is: “…the ability to re-story one’s life by co-creating meanings with others without constraint or limit, rather than the ability to bring to a relationship a clear story about one’s self (Weingarten, 1991). This implies that therapy creates a space to grow, to explore, to test the limits, to discover and to grow.
Therapy is, however, also a context of healing where people bring their vulnerabilities, where they come to in a time of crisis, of pain, of uncertainty and where they are able to eventually heal themselves and find purpose and relief again.
Contrary to what many people believe, counselling is not always a “soft option”. It can often be difficult to admit to certain feelings or thoughts you may be experiencing or to sometimes relive a past trauma. However, many people find that they feel an improvement once they have discussed these things and even feel empowered when they find solutions, or a change in attitude, or acceptance of certain events.
Does therapy actually work?
For therapy to work, it is important that there should be a fit between the therapist and the patient. If the patient does not feel comfortable with the therapist, it is important that he/she finds someone where they can feel comfortable, understood and accepted. This does, however, not mean that the therapist won’t sometimes say things that the patient may feel defensive or uncomfortable, or even angry about. Especially because the therapist needs to challenge the patient and needs to say things that are uncomfortable for the patient to hear, it is important that there is a strong and trusting relationship for the therapist to be able to be provocative.
Therapy is also not a “quick fix” and often people need a few sessions for change to be induced. It is not a case of the patient sitting back and waiting for the therapist to come up with a magical solution or “fix”, neither is it a process of the therapist merely listening and reflecting on the patient’s feelings. It is rather a collaborative process where the patient and therapist face a journey of confrontation, realizations, challenges and change together. It is not a matter of the patient sitting back and waiting for the therapist to come up with a magical solution or “fix”, neither is it a process of the therapist merely listening and reflecting on the patient’s feelings. It is rather a collaborative process where the patient and therapist face a journey of confrontation, realizations, challenges and change together. This process takes time and effort, which leads to growth and differentiation in the patient’s life. This process is often not predictable (although it can be if certain clear goals are set) and evolves over time.
How long before I start feeling better or seeing results?
It is important to note that people often feel different about therapy sessions. Some patients report a feeling of huge relief and were able to view the problem or issue in a completely different context. They report experiencing immediate changes in their lives. For others, therapy can at first be a very painful and emotional process and things may even feel worse than before they started attending therapy sessions. With time, they however start to put things into perspective and begin the path of healing.