I completed my undergraduate studies at Wits in 1989, then moved to RAU for Honours (1990) and Masters in Psychology (1991-1992), graduating in 1993 with an M.A. Clinical Psychology (cum laude). At the time, Prof Eddie Wolff (a Fullbright scholar who trained in CBT in the US) was part of the faculty, and I was able to obtain additional cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) training from him, which started a lifelong passion for this approach. My training at Wits was psychodynamic, and at RAU a combination of systemic, interpersonal and person-centred. The CBT completed the picture.
I had done my internship at Sterkfontein Hospital, mainly with adults, and on qualifying I spent a year as Resident Psychologist at two Places of Safety, assessing and working with children and teens, until commencing full-time private practice in 1995, focusing mostly on the anxiety disorders (panic, social phobia, agoraphobiaa), and with an interest in stress, health and pre-surgery intervention. I continue to find the cognitive-behavioral (CBT) paradigm most useful, and have made several trips to congresses as well to David Barlow's unit (CARD) in Boston, to receive further training.
In addition to private practice, in 1999 I was elected to the Scientific and Advisory Board of the South African Depression and Anxiety Support group (SADAG), where I am currently the Chairperson. My work for SADAG is my CSI initiative, and my responsibilities include selection, training, supervision and debriefing of counsellors, as well as being a media spokesperson. I have trained several colleagues in the use of cognitive behaviour therapy, and co-run a CBT supervision group for psychologists wishing to continue their education. I have also been working with Maureen Kark and Associates for several years, doing Employee Assisstance Programme (EAP) workshops and talks, also individual work (CBT and resilience coaching) at Investec, Silica, Oracle and Growthpoint.
Writing has always been an interest, leading first to the completion of a Doctorate in Psychology (2000) and then to authoring ‘Get the balance right- coping strategies for working mothers’ (Metz Press, 2005) and a guest chapter in the CALE leadership handbook (2009). The audio book "Butterfly wisdom" and CD "Relax to optimal functioning" were part of this process.
Sharing information widely is another interest, and to this end I have ended up featuring as a psychology expert in the media- written (Longevity, Femina, Cosmo, The Star), radio (A word on Psychology, the Jenny Crwys-Williams show- radio 702; Monica Fairral's Health Show, SAFM) and television (3 Talk, Great Expectations, Morning Live). My latest project is a self-help website based in CBT: www.thoughtsfirst.com. As our thoughts (cognitions) are what give rise to our emotions and behaviours, modifying negative thoughts is where it all begins.
In recent years I have discovered meditation and mindfulness, and I use mindfulness combined with CBT, a new trend in the CBT research.
My approach can be summed up in a wonderful quote from Alvin Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”