Psychology has been practiced for years yet in our shores it seems to conjure up varying emotions when mentioned.
On the backdrop of what seems to be an avalanche of problems, bad news and the apparent ignorance of the laws of our country, one cannot help wonder how people cope during these trying times.
Following an insightful conversation with a local clinical psychologist, it is worth noting that there is help available to deal with the many troubling circumstances we find ourselves in at different times and stages.
“Psychology is the study of behavior and mind, embracing all aspects of conscious and unconscious experience, as well as thought. It is an academic discipline and an applied science which seeks to understand individuals and groups by establishing general principles and researching specific cases.”
Christina Bitsang (nee Kgathi) is a practising psychologist, since 2006.
She offers private consultation and also practises at the University of Botswana.
Kgathi says though it may not necessarily make everyday open conversation, more people are waking to the availability of the services they offer.
“Though there are some that still have a negative view of what visiting a psychologist communicates, and the actual work involved, there is notable change in perceptions. There is still a lot of information and knowledge to be shared and it is available.”
She goes on to point out that most people do not take the time to do their research so as to be able to take advantage of what is being offered.
We need to refrain from relying on just what others say based on their own misconceptions but interrogate further to understand what one should expect when consulting with a psychologist or any other professional.
The profession is broad and one needs to understand the different disciplines.
There are, for example, Industrial psychologists, Child psychologists, Organisational psychologist, just to name a few.
Understanding what each discipline entails is important.
Like other professions, there are regulations that safeguard the integrity of the profession.
There are laws and ethics that bind psychologists therefore it is unethical and an offence to not adhere to the regulations.
This ought to offer some comfort especially in a society where many are afraid of what people might say, should it be known they are seeking the intervention of psychologists.
Kgathi explains that anyone can seek help.
People that seek assistance include all members of society including; individuals, parents, couples, young people and professionals.
Though there are multiple reasons that characterise the need for help, Kgathi says the most common include misunderstandings in relationships (family, marriage, work), finances and trauma.
It is important to destigmatise the profession and change perceptions.
Asked whether everyone gets assistance, Kgathi says at times client’s expectations are not always aligned with the experience.
“One can have preconceived notions of how the session will go and if this is not the case then it can be a disappointment. However, it is important to have an open mind and receptive to the therapy.”
Kgathi says though it is believed – and to a large extent is true – that men do not communicate, in her experience she has realised that many are open to the consideration of seeking this kind of help though they do not want it to be an open matter to friends and family.
To derive much benefit, Kgathi says as it is the case with going to a doctor, a full assessment is made to determine the cause of therapy one may need.
“It is important to have full knowledge of the client’s needs before one can attempt to be of any help.
Kgathi does point out the pitfalls that we are faced with as a society that have impeded our emotional growth.
“As a nation, we have focused largely on economic development, people want more of everything, more money, faster internet and always on the go.
There is rife competition and very little grounding for many people. It cuts across age and sex.
This has led to burnout and much unhappiness. Missing the opportunity to attend to this can lead to self destruction and lack of control.
This may be the explanation to why society seems so lopsided. Can one survive life’s perils without ever visiting a psychologist? Well, one can liken it to sharing one’s intimate details of their fears, hopes and disappointments with a close, non judgmental friend that has their best interests at heart, only thing is, in the real world, it is rare to find a genuine friend who can stay true and not be swayed by jealousy and offer advice.
By the nature of their work, psychologists are one’s best bet.