Psychologists are health care workers registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA). They provide services in the field of psychology and mental health. Currently, the HPCSA has five registration categories for psychologists: Clinical Psychologists, Counseling Psychologists, Educational Psychologists, Industrial Psychologists and Research Psychologists.
Psychologists in their various capacities, are generally trained in the field of Mental Health and required to complete an undergraduate degree (all registration categories), honors degree (all categories) and master’s degree (except Industrial psychologists). Hereafter, an internship in the respective sub-field of psychology should be completed. Clinical psychologists are also required to do a community service year before qualification.
Psychologists in the respective categories of registration, generally provide psychotherapy and psychological assessment, assisting organizations to best manage human resources or doing research. Psychologist in their respective field of qualification work with thought patterns, emotional reactions and behaviors to address various difficulties encountered individually, within an organization or in communities.
A psychologist is a heath professional that is registered under the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and trained to work with psychological difficulties. Psychologists (Clinical, Counseling and Educational) use psychological diagnostic tests and interventions to dissolve or improve psychological distress.
A play therapist can either be a health care practitioner registered under the HPCSA or another organizational body. Play therapists refers to professionals that work with children (usually between the ages of 3 to 12 years) that utilize play as a form of therapy to address emotional and behavior difficulties. Counselors are also registered under the HPCSA and provide basic psychological assessment and intervention.
Counselors usually work more short term (maximum of 6 sessions) and if more specialized psychological intervention is indicated, they refer to either a psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are medical doctors that specialize in the field of psychiatry and are registered under the HPCSA. Psychiatrists diagnose psychopathology and usually treat psychological difficulties using medicine.
Clients are referred to see a psychologist often by themselves, family members, teachers or other educators, employers or other medical practitioners when they are experiencing distress that is of an emotional nature. A referral to the different psychology fields is often determined by the presenting difficulty.
Generally, if one struggles with stress, feelings of failure, recurring thoughts related to traumatic experience, sleep difficulties, weight management difficulties and body image problems, over-spending, anger outbursts, constant conflicts, unexplainable physical symptoms, enduring sadness, excessive substance use, reality testing challenges or prolonged grief (to name a few), it may indicate the need to see a psychologist.
What is the difference between a Clinical, Counselling, Educational, Industrial and Research psychologist? Who does what?
As mentioned before the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) make provision for five registration categories in Psychology: Clinical, Counseling, Educational, Industrial and Research psychology.
Clinical psychologists are psychologists that work in the field of psychiatric diagnosed disorders, developmental and psychological distress. Counseling psychologists work with life challenges and adjustment difficulties encountered in everyday living.
Educational psychologists work with difficulties related to development, learning, education and career development.
Industrial psychologist work within organizations to optimize human resources in order to enhance organizational behavior effectively.
Research psychologists work in the field of psychological research.
Psychotherapy is the implementation of psychological methods and techniques to assist people to change behaviour, feelings and thoughts and overcome problems in desired ways.
Psychotherapy aims to improve an individual’s well-being and mental health, to resolve or mitigate troublesome behaviours, beliefs, compulsions, thoughts or emotions and to improve relationships and social skills. Psychotherapy is conducted by a psychologist in a respectful manner with the consent of the client and information is treated with utmost confidentiality.
Psychotherapy is also known as Talk therapy. It is aimed at addressing psychological complains by utilizing various psychotherapeutic techniques to assist the client to cope more optimally with feelings and symptoms related to the presenting difficulty.
The psychotherapeutic relationship is considered vital in the success of the therapy. Clients are therefore advised to seek out a psychotherapist that they feel they can trust and feel comfortable with. To use the analogy of seeing a physiotherapist when you have tangled muscles and walking out feeling sometimes more stiff, you know that the muscles will relax as the spasm dissipate.
Just so is psychotherapy – one sometimes feel emotional stirred up leaving the therapy room, however, great emotional healing follow as the brain form new connections and the necessary change is achieved.
All psychotherapist have a unique style and approach to psychotherapy. This also determine the length of the process. Usually, the first session is aimed at establishing if the client feels comfortable with the therapist, building therapeutic rapport and gathering information related to the presenting difficulty.
During the first session the aims for therapy are formed and the therapist may discuss with the client the suggested therapeutic intervention as well as the length of the process. All concerns are also addressed. From the second session therapy can start and depending on the therapeutic modality utilized by the psychotherapist, the client may also get homework.
The psycho-therapeutic process concludes when the client has resolved the emotional crisis that they presented with, gathered the skills necessary to cope more optimally and/or the presenting difficulty has been resolved sufficiently
Psychotherapy services as inpatient or outpatient is expensive. More and more, clients seek out cost effective therapies to lighten the financial burden. No wonder clients seek out shorter interventions and steer away from the traditional lengthy psychotherapy approaches.
The length of psychotherapy depend on various factors including, the presenting difficulty, the style of the client and the preferred working method of the therapist.
I am trained as an Integrative Interactional psychotherapist which means that when a client presents to me in therapy, my aim is to link the presenting difficulty to the client’s interactional style. From here, I can determine what psychotherapy modality will best address the presenting difficulty (humanistic approaches, behavioral approaches, psycho-dynamic approaches or interactional approaches) in the optimal time.
I belief that great work can be done in 4 – 10 sessions in optimal circumstances.
Psychotherapy is expensive and most people prefer using their medical aid to pay for therapy. Most medical aids cover psychotherapy depending on the client’s plan option.
When seeing a psychologist in private practice it is important to make sure with you medical aid that you plan option makes provision for outpatient allied psychological services. Some medical aid plan options only cover psychotherapy inpatient care, which means that should you be admitted to hospital one would have access to psychological services, but not on an outpatient basis.
It is important to negotiate financial limitations with the psychologist as part of contacting the length and extent of psycho-therapeutic assistance.
Psychologists that are registered under the HPCSA adhere to a strict ethical code of conduct. Confidentiality means the personal information of the client and what is shared with the psychologist verbally or in writing, shall be strictly kept confidential.
Confidentiality will only be broken in the case where the client has given written consent to do so, the client is under the age of 14 and the parents/ legal guardians have given written consent to disclose information, disclosing of information is by court order or the therapist discloses confidential information as this disclosure is in the client’s or public’s best interest.
Generally, when seeing a psychologist in private practice the aim is to assist clients to function optimally in their daily lives and resolve emotional distress. When you see a psychologist as an outpatient in private practice setting, admission is indicated when the client asks to be admitted and it is clear that the client need specialist psychiatric medical intervention.
Alternatively, admission may also be indicated when the client struggles with reality perception distortions (delusions and hallucinations) which threaten the client’s safety, his/her integrity or the safety of others. When seeing a psychologist and it is the clinical impression of the psychologist that admission is indicated, it will be thoroughly discussed with the client.
Under the Mental Health Care Act 17 of 2002 , a client may be admitted to a health establishment when the client consents to admission, when a court orders admission or when psychological functioning is of such a nature that admission is in the client’s best interest.
Admission may be in the client’s best interest when the client presents a risk to self, others or the property of oneself or others. A client can either be admitted to a private (e.g. Denmar Psychiatric Hospital) or to state health establishment (e.g. Tshwane District Hospital) that offer specialized psychiatric services.
Admission to the health establishment may differ in length from patient to patient depending on the presenting difficulty and other coexisting medical conditions.