helen laurenson

Photo of helen laurenson

Clinical Psychologist  ?
 M Clin Psych (UCT)

HPCSA Number: PS0109266
Practice Number: 086 001 0416517

Works with: Adults and individuals.

Specialising in: Anxiety disorder, depression, life changes, loss/grief, relationships, self development, trauma, family difficulties, and fertility related issues.

Working in: English.

I am a registered clinical psychologist practising from a peaceful garden setting within walking distance of UCT and Cavendish Square. My aim is to help you find solutions to your difficulties through offering a warmly supportive insight into whatever is troubling you – within a completely confidential and professional framework.

How does therapy help?

Therapy can help you • overcome the distressing symptoms of anxiety, panic, depression, grief and trauma • share in complete safety and privacy things that are hard to discuss with affected family members and friends • feel more in charge of your own life • develop greater insight into yourself and become more contented and self-accepting • evolve into the unique individual you were meant to be – both personally and professionally

What is my approach as a therapist?

My approach draws on the following perspectives:

• Psychodynamic: Sessions are used to look gently beneath the surface and explore the patterns and causes underlying your current difficulties. This takes place through a supportive, non-judging relationship which gives you space to express yourself freely.

• Attachment style: Our early attachment history has a marked impact on all our later relationships. In brief, every human baby needs to attach to a primary caregiver in order to survive, both physically and emotionally. Being helpless, the baby has no choice but to adapt to fit the needs of its particular caregiver. In this process, one of a number of possible attachment styles (e.g. secure/insecure) develops. Exploring these patterns can be very helpful.

• Cognitive: Gently questioning the negative thoughts you may have about yourself can be liberating.

What can you expect from therapy?

The first one to three sessions take the form of a careful assessment in order to determine the precise nature and full complexity of your difficulty. We will then agree together on whether only a few sessions, or a longer-term therapy, are appropriate. If referral to a different professional (e.g. psychiatrist, addiction counsellor) is indicated, I will help you to find the right person.

I am willing to work shorter- or longer-term, according to your preference and the nature of your difficulty. Sessions last 50 minutes and we would usually commit to meeting once a week.

Areas of interest as a therapist

• Enhancing personal growth: When understood at a deeper level, life’s setbacks and crises can be transformed into rich opportunities for growth.

• Depression: Depression is an intense form of suffering that is often misunderstood and judged by those around the sufferer. Yet if properly understood, your depression can turn out to be a remarkable wellspring of new possibilities. I am interested in depression generally and have a particular interest in pre- and postnatal depression. Depression often resolves through therapy and without medication.

• Anxiety and panic: People who suffer from anxiety and panic are often told to ‘pull themselves together’ and may carry a heavy burden of shame as a result. Yet these very real forms of distress, when approached with insight and without judgement, are very treatable (often without medication).

• Grief: Grief may persist long after others think we should have ‘got over it’ and ‘moved on’, but is one of the most painful forms of suffering. A warmly supportive space in which to work through the full complexity of your feelings can be extremely valuable, no matter what the nature of your loss.

• Trauma: Trauma is often devastating to the way we see ourselves and brings with it very painful emotions. The task of dealing with the trauma can be made even harder by the well-meaning but unhelpful reactions of friends, family and co-workers. Therapy allows the trauma survivor to regain control and heal in their own way.

• Career/work/lifestyle stress: I am interested in the stresses and challenges of the contemporary lifestyle, particularly in the workplace when there is a tension between the demands of an organization and an individual’s personal growth path.

Qualifications and experience

Clinical psychologists undergo a rigorous academic and practical training lasting up to eight years and must be registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa. With this background they are able to diagnose and work with all types of mental distress, from everyday life dilemmas to more serious psychiatric conditions.

My work in psychology has seen me gain experience in a wide variety of settings, from community health clinics to psychiatric hospitals (inpatient and outpatient), as well as private practice. My clients have included both individuals and groups.

Business experience: My first career was in the publishing industry, where I worked in both creative and management roles. I particularly enjoyed mentoring staff along their paths of career development, as well as managing creative teams of authors, editors and designers. I remain very interested in the tension between the demands of an organization and people’s individual growth paths.

Parenting: My work as a therapist has been greatly enriched by my experience of being a parent and step-parent.


• BA and BA Honours (Rhodes, with distinction) • B Social Science Honours (University of Cape Town, with distinction) • Masters in Clinical Psychology (University of Cape Town, with distinction) • Postgraduate two-year Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Training (Cape Town Psychoanalytic Self Psychology Group)

Professional memberships

• Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) • Cape Town Pyschoanalytic Self Psychology Group • Postnatal Depression Association of South Africa

Practice no 086 001 0416517 HPCSA registration no PS 0109266

Contact via Find Help

3 Alster Avenue
Cape Town

Mobile: 078 032 3907
Skype: helenlaurenson

[email protected]