About Bryn: Clinical Psychologist Parkhurst

I obtained my Masters in Psychology from The University of the Witwatersrand and completed my clinical training at Tara’s Ward 4 & 5 (Personality Disorder Unit) and Charlotte Maxeke’s acute adult psychiatric unit for six months respectively. For my Community Service, I was placed at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital for one year. Collectively, these placements provided me with a thorough grounding of adult-specific psychopathology, ranging from mild to severe.

How I like to work therapeutically.

I would define my personal therapeutic style as one of warmth, genuineness and straightforwardness. It is this therapeutic ‘stance’ that I seek to embody in my work with my clients.

For those of you who like therapy terms, I work primarily from a ‘psychodynamic,’ insight-orientated perspective, meaning that I am inclined to emphasize the influence of one’s childhood – as well as their on-going relational experiences – as being central to how a person functions in the present day. In other words, I see the intricacies of a person’s psychology as being a product of their formative environments and experiences, and the therapy is intended to help a person understand how these distal, “forgotten” or wished away ‘parts’ of themselves might still, in fact, be lingering, and which seem to continue to undermine their ability to lead a more satisfactory, fulfilling life on their own terms.

In order to facilitate this process of self-discovery I aim to build a secure and trusting connection with each and every client I see. As a non-directive therapist, I generally follow the client’s lead in terms of what is discussed and I won’t necessarily control or direct you to areas of your life that I feel you need to be talking about. That being said, if I feel that a particular point you’re bringing in session warrants further discussion, I might invite you to be curious with me about what it is you’re bringing in session.

Frequently Asked Questions

If your question isn’t answered in my F.A.Qs below, please feel free to contact me.

How can talking to a Psychologist help me?

Therapy offers you a safe space in which you can look closely at the challenges you are experiencing. I will work with you over time to help you better understand the patterns of thought and behaviour that affect your life. In learning about who you are and also how you function in the world, so you are empowering yourself to begin to make the changes you deem necessary to make in your own life.

What should I expect on my first therapy session?

Our first session will normally begin with a discussion of your reason(s) for coming to therapy at this particular point of time in your life. At some stage during the session I would also like talk about your needs and expectations of the therapy (if any). A brief and relevant history of important areas of your life might also be looked at as needed (e.g., if you’re in a relationship, your family structure, living circumstances and if you’ve had any previous therapies). The specifics related to the above talking points then gradually begin to make way for the essence of your story to take centre stage. The therapy is likely to continue as such over the next session or two until things are gradually understood by me and a treatment plan begins to evolve. After about the third session, and once I feel comfortable that a preliminary understanding of your concerns has been reached, I’ll ‘check in’ with you regarding how the therapy is progressing for you. At this point, should both parties be reasonably satisfied that they can work meaningfully together, so the therapy will continue to take shape over a course of time. A therapy session typically lasts between 50-55 minutes.

This initial “assessment phase” of therapy is important because it essentially allows both the client and therapist the time needed to gauge whether or not they will feel comfortable working together. Therapy is, after all, an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, and it is important that you feel that the therapy is working for you. From the client’s perspective, things that might be important for you to consider are whether or not you feel safe and respected within the relationship, whether you feel relatively free from judgement and whether or not you feel that the therapist has your best interests at heart.

On a side note, it may surprise you to hear that a manageable degree of anxiety is almost always a feature of the therapeutic encounter, and for good reason, as anxiety seems to facilitate people’s need to work in therapy. Therapy is not supposed to feel so comfortable or overfamiliar that you simply come to kick back and dose off on the couch! Instead, what’s important is learning about and negotiating the ins and outs of who you really are – the good, the bad, and, yes, even the ugly! Given the nature of the work, it is true that, at times, therapy can be quite distressing, but it’s often a necessary part of the process and it should be survived with your therapist, who is specifically trained to manage what emerges in therapy. So, without labouring the point too much, therapy is really hard work at its best but it’s meant to be, and anxiety as a feature of psychotherapy is often a needed ‘ingredient’ for promoting meaningful change.

After the initial assessment phase, what does a typical session entail?

In a typical session I work with my clients to look at those ‘parts’ of the self (in other words, how you are on a daily basis in the present day) that have had to creatively adapt to one’s past experiences and relationships, and which, in turn, have left the individual with some sort of psychological disturbance in its place (normally presenting as a symptom or cluster of symptoms). I am of the view that the more we are able to learn about, develop a language for and understand these composite parts of ourselves and how they impact us, the greater our chances will be of using the insights we might have garnered in therapy to make healthier choices for ourselves.

Ultimately, I believe that the process of psychotherapy should bring about an improvement, however modest, in a person’s quality of life, such that he or she may begin to engage more authentically and meaningfully with the world around them.

How many sessions will I need?
Well, there’s no easy answer to this question, but, generally speaking, it depends on the nature and severity of the problem(s) that is troubling you. Also, some people tend to be more ‘therapy ready’ than others (without ever having had a therapy before), meaning that they bring with them a way of thinking and feeling that is more amenable to intervention and they would thus need less time to integrate what is being learned. Generally speaking, however, and although I know that short-term interventions have their place, I am more in favour of medium to longer-term therapies as I find them to bring about the most sustainable, integrative change for the client.
Therapy Fees and Medical Aid Cover.
Other important talking points that warrant discussion in the first session concern the therapist’s fee, a payment plan, and what happens in the event of a late cancellation (i.e., within 24 hours of your scheduled appointment).

My fee is within standard medical aid rates, which are regulated and approved by the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF). I operate as a cash practice and as the client you will be responsible for payment to me which you can then claim back from your medical aid (depending on your specific cover). Before embarking on a course of therapy it is worthwhile getting in touch with your medical aid provider to enquire about available funds, how these are allocated and what benefits you might be entitled to.

Please note that I am contracted to most major medical aid providers.

Is therapy confidential?
Yes, absolutely! Confidentiality in therapy is one of the cornerstones of good therapeutic practice. What’s discussed in therapy can only be disclosed to someone else with your written consent. However, there are rare times when I am obligated by law to break confidentiality, but this will always be discussed with you first. These circumstances include:

* When the client presents as an imminent danger to themselves, others or property.

* When the client reports that their life is under significant threat by another.

* When a court orders the disclosure of therapeutic records.

* If forensic work is required (Please note that I do not conduct work for forensic purposes).

* If there is evidence or just suspicion of abuse in any form, as determined by the law.

A final word…

I am well aware that many people find therapy to be a daunting experience, mainly because, initially, it’s such an unfamiliar experience. However, I’m here to tell you that it really shouldn’t be and it does get better with time and commitment.

I hope that I have succeeded in familiarising you with some of the basic premises of psychotherapy, so that you may be able to have a better understanding of what psychotherapy entails. There exists today a myriad of ways and means of intervening meaningfully in people’s lives, of course, and the views expressed here are by no means an attempt to consolidate them all into one modality or lay claim to which is the “best” therapy. Rather, they reflect my way of thinking, feeling and working in the world as a psychotherapist and how I believe sustainable, integrative change is achieved.

Take care, and I hope to hear from you soon.

Warmly,
Bryn

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