Q & A

How do I know if I need to see a psychologist?
All sorts of people consult a psychologist over a range of different issues. Many individuals who see a psychologist are generally successful people who may be troubled by dysfunctional moods experience high stress levels or are subject to episodes of depression, low self-esteem lack direction that prevent them from functioning at full capacity or enjoy optimum health and wellbeing.

Adapting to life’s challenges and the ever increasing demands of the workplace often challenge our ability to adapt and prosper. Alternatively, some individuals struggle to find direction or motivation to realize their ambitions. In this way life passes them by.

We identify and build on your existing strengths and provide the counselling assistance and support necessary to help overcome your challenges. We value using a team approach to providing treatment establishing a positive relationship between the client and other wellness professionals – general practitioners and psychiatrists – when appropriate.

What should I expect in my first interview with a psychologist?
Before the initial session there is some paperwork to be completed. Your first visit will typically last 90 minutes. Included you will find a basic client information form as well as information about fees – first fee is R400 that includes an assessment questionnaire to be completed. Subsequent sessions are charged at R300 a session.

Your first session will be different from future visits. It is understandable to feel uncomfortable or anxious in talking to a new person about sensitive personal information.
The initial visit is a period for you and your therapist to get to know each other and get an idea where to proceed.

In the first session, the assessment session your psychologist will talk with you to gain a full picture of your current concerns and circumstances, and any related factors and history. There will be an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have for the psychologist.

Towards the end of the assessment, you will be asked about your goals. What do you want to gain from coming? This helps your therapist to understand how best to target intervention so that you are getting what you want out of treatment. It may be a good idea to have a “think” about your goals before your first appointment.

Once the assessment phase is completed counselling goals and a therapeutic plan is formulated with the therapist and client working together. Whatever issue you are working on, expect homework. Working on tasks in between sessions is a fundamental aspect of gaining skills and a better insight into yourself.

How many sessions will I need?
The number of sessions required will vary depending on the issue and your individual needs and circumstances and any related factors and your history. Most clients require between 4 and 6 sessions. Many clients have issues that have extended for many years and have deeper origins and sessions my be needed over a longer period of time.
How long are sessions?
The first session (requiring paperwork and assessment) is usually 90 minutes long. All other individual sessions are 60 minutes long.
What are the differences between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists and psychiatrists both work in the area of mental health, and often refer to each other. There are some significant differences between the two professions with each having their own area of expertise and skills.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have gone on to specialize in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications to treat mental illness such as antidepressant medication for patients who have been diagnosed with depression. In South Africa most psychiatrists work through prescribing medication to treat mental disorders. As a rule of thumb psychiatrists are not trained to provide counselling or psychotherapy. Psychiatrists who practice in South Africa have to be registered as a psychiatrist with the HPCSA.

Psychologists generally have at least six or more years of university training in the field of psychological treatments and mental health training. Psychologists use treatments (counseling/psychotherapy) and techniques (for example, systematic desensitization, exposure therapy, meditation, mental imagery etcetera) to assist individuals with psychological issues. A psychologist’s training also involves expertise in administering and interpreting psychological tests. All South African psychologists need by law to be registered with the HPCSA.

Are sessions confidential?
It is natural to be concerned about your confidentiality when you are sharing intimate details about yourself with your psychologist. Information obtained from you during a sessions is confidential and cannot be disclosed without your consent. There are some legal limitations to confidentiality which your psychologist will discuss with you in the first session.

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