Your registered psychotherapist: What to expect from me

Starting a therapy process can be a bit daunting, and it’s important to find a licenced, registered psychotherapist who you can relate to. I wrote this article in the hope that knowing what you can expect will help you decide if I’m the right therapist for you.

A registered psychotherapist in the clinical/medical model

As a South African clinical psychologist, I trained in the medical model at a major psychiatric hospital. I was part of a multidisciplinary team made up of consultant psychiatrists, clinical, forensic and neuropsychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, addiction specialists, and more.

My internship included rotations in all the wards. I spent almost a year in the maximum-security unit where I formed part of the forensic team who assessed whether (alleged) offenders sent for observation by the legal/court system suffered from mental illness. It wasn’t unusual for me to interview my patient accompanied by an armed security guard!

With years in private practice and extensive training in a psychology centre, I am equipped to work with every kind of mental health difficulty. From severe forms of illness to the everyday problems of life, occupational functioning, and interpersonal relationships, I am comfortable with the full range of mental health issues (and qualified to work with them all).

My focus is private practice

My expertise in working with all kinds of mental health issues led me to Dubai, where I am a registered psychotherapist who practices integrative counselling as part of the Be Psychology Center for Emotional Wellbeing. I work mainly online, providing breakthrough online therapy to a clientele of mostly high-functioning individuals who aren’t seriously ill. This doesn’t mean that they don’t experience mental health issues and significant distress – but that they aren’t ill enough to be admitted to a psychiatric unit.

Nevertheless, my wide experience working in the public psychiatric system has made me comfortable with anything – which means you can feel free to tell me anything, without any shock or judgement from my side.

I work collaboratively with you

To me, psychotherapy is a collaborative process that uses both clinical assessment and psychodynamic narrative to explore your journey to the present and help you to build a vision for your future. I want to understand what wounded you and how you heal, what you have overcome and what barriers are still preventing you from living your life to the full. I combine elements of life coaching and clinical psychotherapy to provide an approach that will help you achieve your goals. However, it is important to note that you as the client will need to do a lot of the work that leads to long-term change.

Feedback can improve psychotherapy

You’ve probably lived most of your life without really understanding yourself or taking the time to reflect on who you really are. Psychotherapy works by collaboratively exploring your life, your pain, your story and your childhood in a whole new way, so you really understand what made you who you are today, and your future direction becomes clear.

As we go along, I’ll share my thoughts, interpretations, and connections with you. Throughout the process, I will check in to measure your evaluation of your own progress as there is evidence to suggest that alignment between therapeutical and self-feedback can improve psychotherapy.

The first few sessions: The start of a rewarding relationship

Although my process varies according to the needs of the individual, generally our first session is about starting to build our relationship and to understand the main difficulties that you are facing.

Therapy questions that get to the root of the problem

 To come to a clinical (medical) diagnosis, I ask many questions to explore the issues that brought you to therapy. Although therapy is not only about illness but about growth and joy, a proper diagnosis is a requirement of the Dubai Health Authority, which is the official government body that licences clinical psychologists and other medical professionals in Dubai.

A clinical diagnosis is usually covered by your medical insurance, whereas a non-clinical diagnosis such as marital communication issues or a requirement for executive coaching is usually not claimable.

Shared expectations with your registered psychotherapist 

Usually within the first few sessions, I set some goals with you. This is important so we have a shared vision of where you want to be, and we can start making a plan for how to get there. This is where you’ll really start to see the merging of psychotherapy and life coaching in an integrated counselling approach.

Treatment recommendations

Depending on your unique situation, I may make recommendations early in the process based on your diagnosis. These can include referring you to one of my trusted psychiatrist colleagues for an assessment should you require medication. Psychotherapy and medication combined usually work better and faster than either would alone, especially for treating illnesses such as clinical depression or anxiety, or situations that are causing you so much distress that you’re battling to function.

I often refer my clients to general medical practitioners for overall wellness checks, to make sure a vitamin deficiency, thyroid problem or other illness is not negatively impacting their health and mood. If my clinical judgement is that a referral may benefit you as my patient, I will refer you to a gynaecologist, a cardiologist, a physiotherapist, an osteopath, a nutritionist or dietitian, or any other kind of medical professional that I believe would be helpful to you in your particular situation.

What to expect from working with a registered psychotherapist

In the sessions that follow, we may focus directly on reducing your symptoms and helping you find a place of stability. If it is appropriate for you, we’ll use some sessions or parts of sessions to explore your past, from your childhood to the present, in order to identify the wounds causing barriers that hold you back, as well as the strengths that you may not realise you already have.

If you are seeing me for executive coaching or career coaching, we will not only explore your personal journey, but focus closely on your career path so far, your work relationships and boundaries, and your vision for your career future.

You’ll enjoy a safe space to grow

My focus is entirely on you, without judgement. I want to see the world through your eyes, and I’m trained to give you a safe space in which we can both learn all about you, understand the context that shaped you, and explore the ways of being that will enable you to live authentically and move towards your best, true self.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about working with a registered psychotherapist who understands and connects with you, please feel free to contact me and I will email more information. You can also set up a free 15-minute phone consultation with me so you can hear my voice and see if we’d be a good fit for your journey of exploration and growth.