Durban-based clinical psychologist and PhD candidate in psychology, Sithabile Ndlovu, believes that her love for psychology was sparked in her childhood when she grew up watching Dr Phil. Today she is a real life psychologist and is board certified by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and The Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF).
Ndlovu (30) is currently working at a children’s hospital that services children that have neurodevelopmental disorders.
“I have vast experience in mental health care having worked in a psychiatric hospital, employee wellness, institution of higher learning, and private practice,” she says.
She is also trained to manage and treat all psychological disorders and general life stressors. “I am skilled in individual psychotherapy and couples therapy, tackling relationship difficulties, trauma, anxiety, depression, grief, and bereavement issues.”
As a mental health advocate, Ndlovu uses her social media platform and other media platforms to educate people about psychology.
Psychologists need TLC too
Ndlovu tells Health For Mzansi that working with psychological illnesses can be draining, which is why it is important that therapists themselves also seek help so that they pour from an overflowing cup.
“Working with psychological difficulties all day every day can be emotionally draining but that’s why therapists need therapists as well,” she adds.
Adjusting in the global pandemic has shifted the way we deal with mental illness and even exacerbated mental health conditions, according to Ndlovu.
“The pandemic was tough on all of us, what I imagined were essentials in my job (couch and clipboard) were things I could work without when everything had to go online. I had to adjust and accommodate the ‘new normal’. As a psychologist I was not exempt from anxiety, there were times when I was anxiously arriving at the hospital not knowing when the virus will get me. But being in therapy myself was very helpful.”
Self-care is fundamental
Apart from work, Ndlovu loves spending time with family, travelling, and exploring artisanal restaurants. She is also big on serving various communities that are in need. This includes a weekly soup kitchen where they provide food parcels for the needy.
Recently she was part of the KwaZulu-Natal flood relief’s efforts where she offered psycho-social support to the affected communities and donated clothes for them.
She also does children’s mission where she develops emotional awareness for children. “It is important that we focus not only on individuals but on communities because human strengths and problems are best understood and changed when we view people within their social-cultural economic historical and geographic cultures,” she says.
Ndlovu says that the biggest win in her line of work is seeing patients overcome psychological challenges and learn new ways of functioning after having received help. That is why it is important for people to seek help, she adds. “Therapy helps you make sense of all your emotional distress. [It] helps you develop healthy coping mechanisms and enables you to live a fuller more meaningful life despite life’s adversities.”
Fast-forwarding to the future, Ndlovu says she would have completed her PhD, would love to be on an international or national stage to share her insights on psychological knowledge, and hopes to be a mom.