Frequently Asked Questions“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are” - Anais Nin
How do I know you are the right psychologist for me?
No one therapist is necessarily right for everyone. Your fit with a particular therapist is a personal one and also depends on the therapist’s training and experience in your particular difficulty. It is very important that you feel seen, heard, respected and understood by your therapist and that you feel you can work openly with your therapist. When you are in therapy with me, ask questions and don’t be afraid to talk to me about any concerns that you may have. Your secure relationship with me is part of your healing process. Remember that we often project our past fears and hurts onto others and this may be part of your journey with me. I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation. This will be helpful for both of us: for you to get a sense of whether you would like to work with me and for me to ensure that I can help you with your concern. You will also have the first session or two to decide before we continue with therapy.
What is therapy and who can benefit from it?
Therapy is an opportunity to talk through and explore anything that is of concern to you in a non-judgemental, emotionally safe and confidential space. All of us can benefit from therapy. Therapy helps you work through emotional pain, anxieties and concerns that affect your well being and quality of life.
Does going to therapy mean I am not ‘normal’ or crazy?
Seeing a psychologist to get support with a problem is the same as going to a doctor if you are not feeling well or to a dentist if you have toothache. Seeing a psychologist who is trained to help you with your problem is a sign that you value yourself or your relationship and will help you heal much faster and more effectively.
Does my problem have to be serious for me to attend therapy?
No. Therapy can be seen as a journey of self-discovery and greater insight. It can help you enhance the quality of your life, improve your relationships and achieve greater peace and fulfilment over time. It can be seen as support on your journey when you need it. It can be short-term or long-term.
Does what we talk about in therapy remain confidential?
Yes, information shared in therapy sessions remains confidential. Exceptions to this are if your therapist feels that you or another person is in danger or if a therapist is subpoenaed by the court.
Information that you share about your child and family will also be kept confidential. Permission from you will be requested if any information needs to be shared with another professional for the benefit of your child. You will meet with me at regular intervals to discuss your child’s progress or any changes noted at home. However, specific details will not be be disclosed. This is important as your child or teen needs to trust and feel safe with me for therapy to be effective.
I am concerned that you are going to judge me in therapy?
Therapists are trained to see the bigger picture. Unhealthy thoughts or behaviours develop within a context. You are the way you are partly because of your environment, society, genes and family experience. My role as your therapist is not to judge you. In fact, there is probably not much that will shock a therapist and, if there is, then you are in the right place. In fact, most therapists become therapists because they have experienced a trauma or life event that has drawn them to this profession or have had to do their own internal work. The success of your therapy is very dependent on your feeling respected and understood by me.
I am a very private person. If I attend a couples workshop, will we be sharing personal information about our relationship and ourselves with the group?
The Couples workshop offers an enormous amount of information and insight on couple relationships. Each couple then focusses on different aspects of their relationship together, working privately on exercises given to them. Some activities do involve the group but any participation or sharing of information is voluntary.
I’m not seeing results quickly enough. In fact, things seem to be getting worse rather than better. Should I terminate therapy?
Therapy is a process and needs patience. Often, if things seem to feel worse initially, it may be because you are starting to work with underlying issues that you have not been facing or have been unaware of that need to be worked with. Long-standing beliefs and behaviours also take time to change as they have become habitually ingrained or may not be fully conscious. However, you should be seeing incremental progress, have greater insight into your problem and start to feel better with time. The timing and pace in therapy varies from client to client. Factors that affect the pace of change are the nature of your difficulty, how long-standing your difficulty is, how committed you are to change, how open you are to insight as well as how skilled your therapist is.
I feel like my partner and I are becoming more and more distant. How will therapy help us?
The therapy models I have trained in are designed to encourage empathy and closeness. What therapy uncovers is how you both sabotage happiness and connection in your relationship and, through insight and understanding, you will become more conscious of the emotional needs and feelings that underly unhealthy behaviours and patterns. You will have a much more profound understanding of both yourself and your partner. This insight will change the way you view and relate to each other and you will both be better able to care for each other and your relationship in a healthy way.
I am concerned that you are going to side with my partner in therapy?
My focus in couples therapy is your relationship and how both of you contribute to the difficulties in your relationship. As a trained therapist, I do not judge or take sides but understand that the coping mechanisms and the behaviours that have developed between the two of you, have been shaped consciously and unconsciously from childhood. These unhealthy behaviours, fears and wounds maintain the "stuckness" of your relationship. The purpose of couples therapy with me is to gain insight into these behaviours and feelings, and understand them. With the growing awareness of your true underlying needs and feelings, comes change.
What happens if my partner does not want to attend therapy?
Distress in a relationship is due to the interactional patterns and contributions of both partners. It is challenging for one partner to create change alone. However, you can still learn so much in your own individual therapy about how to become a better partner and how not to feed into the dysfunctional pattern in your marriage, of which you are a part. One person can change what they are doing in the dysfunctional dance with their partner and plant the seeds of change. The more insight you have, the more you may be able to communicate what you know, with care, to your partner. You can also read self-help books (listed in the resources section) or suggest that you both attend a couples workshop (see the workshops section).
What's the difference between play therapy and playing with my child at home?
Play therapy is not the same as playing with a child. The child psychologist is trained in child development and attachment (the bonding process).; knows how to use play, a child’s natural form of expression, as a means for understanding and communicating with a child about feelings, thoughts and behaviour; provides empathy and acceptance and knows how to look for and treat emotional difficulties that are communicated by the child through play.
Will attending therapy stigmatise my child or teen and make him/her feel like there is something wrong with him/her?
Children generally enjoy play therapy. Your child will play and will not be interrogated or made to sit and answer questions. The pace of therapy is according to what is comfortable for your child. Introduce the idea of therapy to your child as a special, safe space where your child can play/talk and get help with whatever is troubling them.
What if my child is in Play Therapy because of my behaviour or because of unhealthy dynamics in our family?
Some parents and carers often delay seeking help because they worry that they will be blamed for their child’s behaviour. Feeling responsible for a child’s distress or problems is a normal part of caring. The fact that you have the commitment to start addressing the difficulty is a significant part of helping your child. I understand that most parents do the best they can with the knowledge they have at the time. Your parenting skills or family dynamics are a result of conscious and unconscious factors in your own childhood experience and current life situation. The fact that you are bringing your child for therapy is evidence enough of your care and love for your child. With greater awareness and learning, will come healing and change.
Why can I not be in the play therapy room while my child is in play therapy?
It is important that children in therapy have their own private space to explore their true emotions without being concerned about you, as their parent, being upset by what they may say or feel. In filial therapy, you and your child do interact together in play therapy sessions with the aim of improving the parent-child bond or to help your child with their difficulties with the support of a child psychologist.
What can I do to help with my child when they are attending Play Therapy?
You are very important in supporting your child through the play therapy process. Encourage your child to attend play therapy sessions regularly. Play Therapy can be messy so let your child wear comfortable old clothes so that they do not feel anxious about dirtying their clothes. It is important that parents give their child their private space in therapy. Try not to question them after every therapy session. Don’t ask them to be good or to behave in therapy. Don’t tell them to talk about issues you think are important for the therapist to know. Try not to discuss your child or ask me how the sessions are going in the presence of your child after sessions. I need to maintain your child’s trust for therapy to be effective. Play Therapy is a space where your child needs to be able to express all his/her feelings (positive and negative) at their own pace. Remember that therapy is a process and that your child’s behaviour may get worse before it gets better. Please feel free to discuss any concerns with me throughout the therapy process. At feedback sessions, I may give you information on other ways you can help your child.
My child is very tech-savvy and plays mostly on screens. I don't think s/he will benefit from or will enjoy playing in Play Therapy.
Undirected play comes naturally to children. Screens (computers, television, ipads, smartphones, video games, social media or texting), however, are taking over many children’s playtime, which ironically makes play therapy even more important. Parents are often too busy for playtime and may not be willing to deal with the mess that imaginative play creates. Sometimes television seems easier. Many parents need to learn how to play with their children and to encourage more balance in their activities such as time playing outdoors. For a child to play in the presence of a person who gives them their full attention in a sensitive and emotionally responsive way is validating and healing.
I'm in a custody battle over my child; Can play therapy help my child?
The Play Therapy provides an environment where a child feel safe, accepted and understood. Children caught up in turmoil at home may not feel safe to express their true emotions. Play Therapy offers them a space to express all these feelings.
What is group play therapy?
Group play therapy can be used to help a small group of children practice and learn social skills with a child psychologist.
Some members of my family do not want to attend family therapy. They feel that we should rather try to sort this out ourselves.
Deciding if family therapy is right for your family can be a big decision. While it may feel initially like admitting defeat or failure, in reality choosing family therapy can be a big step forward. Think of family therapy as adding some tools to your family's relationship toolbox. You can learn new ways to communicate, to work through problems and to relate to one another. While it is ideal to attend family therapy with all members of the family present, some members attending is better than no-one attending therapy at all. One or two members becoming more conscious can affect the entire family system.
What is Attachment Theory?
Attachment theory focuses on the emotional bonds and relationships between people, particularly long-term relationships, such as the relationship between a mother and her child or the relationship between life partners. Attachment theory states that we need to feel safe in our connections with others and that we are made healthier by emotional contact.
What is Emotionally Focussed Therapy?
EFT is a blend of experiential therapy (such a person-centred therapy and Gestalt therapy), systemic therapy and attachment theory. EFT works on the theory that our feelings are connected to our needs. If we work through our feelings, we can change our problematic emotional states and interpersonal relationships.
What is Systemic Therapy?
A systems approach to therapy does not view the individual in isolation but rather as part of a system. The individual affects a system and is affected by the system. Examples of a system are a family, a relationship between partners or the relationship between a parent and child.
What is Psychodynamic Therapy?
Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the unconscious forces within human beings that affect their current behaviour, their perceptions and their relationship with others.
What is Person-Centred Therapy?
In Person-Centred Therapy, the client directs the general direction of therapy. The therapist’s attitude is crucial for therapy to be successful. A therapist creates safety through being open and genuine, accepting the client totally for who he or she is without judgement and showing empathy (seeing the client’s situation from the client’s point of view with understanding and sensitivity throughout therapy).
What is Gestalt Therapy?
Gestalt Therapy helps clients focus on the the present and understand what is really happening in their lives right now rather than what they may perceive to be happening based on past experience. Instead of talking about past situations and feelings, clients are encouraged to experience them in the present through various techniques introduced by the therapist.