UKZN academics Dr Thirusha Naidu and Dr Suvira Ramlall launched their book, Talk Therapy Toolkit, at the second annual Durban Mental Health Symposium.
The Symposium was held to commemorate 2016 World Mental Health Day and was themed: “Psychological and Mental Health First Aid”.
The book deals with psychotherapy in the South African context and addresses emerging areas in the realm of psychotherapy and counselling, including reflective practice, basic techniques, supervision, and the social determinants of mental health.
It also explores the neuroscientific basis of psychotherapy and the role of spirituality in psychotherapeutic practice.
Naidu is a Clinical Psychologist in the Department of Behavioural Medicine while Ramlall is a Psychiatrist and Acting Head of the Department of Psychiatry.
The authors said they developed the tool kit in response to the absence of text that was relevant to counselling and psychotherapy in the local context. ‘Psychotherapy is seen as a Euro-American practice with available texts written by and based on people and cultures different to that in South Africa,’ said Naidu.
Psychotherapy chapters, which include a step-by-step breakdown on how to apply different modalities of therapy, are written by clinical psychologists who have practiced in the public sector.
While the step-by-step approach might be contrary to purist recommendations of psychotherapy practice, the editors have found in their experience as teachers that this is required to facilitate teaching and learning of counselling and psychotherapy in the South African milieu. Each chapter includes composite case studies based on real experiences of clinicians as well as diagrams and tables that outline and explain key elements of the theory and practice of psychotherapy across contexts and modalities.
The authors were keen to produce a practical accessible text that would guide emerging therapists in South Africa and possibly other countries in Africa and the developing world. ‘The book was inspired by our teaching of psychiatrists and psychologists who we found were ignoring their rich, real-life personal, contextual and community experiences in working with clients in favor of what was recommended in Western texts,’ they said.
‘The book is intended to encourage and support practitioners to develop their psychotherapy, counselling practices and perspectives that are reflective of and responsive to contextual issues, social determinants and the real life and real world needs of the people they support.’
The book will be available electronically and in hard copy at Van Schaik Publishers this month.
The launch formed part of the second annual Durban Mental Health Symposium, hosted by the KZN Mental Health Advocacy Group - a newly formed umbrella platform aiming to unite all stakeholders working in mental health in KwaZulu-Natal.
The Symposium speakers included Chair of the HPCSA Board for Psychology, UKZN’s Professor Basil Pillay; Director of Special Needs Education Services, Mr Niranjan Bridglall; a social worker in private practice, Dr Cathy Hasleau, and Acting Head of Psychiatry at the King Dinizulu Hospital Complex, UKZN’s Dr Saeeda Paruk.
The keynote address was delivered by the National Director of Non-Communicable Diseases in the Department of Health, Professor Melvyn Freeman.