Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need therapy?
  • If you have problems with self-defeating behaviours, such as addiction, codependency, acting out on other behavioural addictions, obsessing,  finding yourself doing the same things over and over or relationship issues, you may need help resolving  these compulsive behaviours.
  • If you have difficulty releasing body tension and daily stress you may need help in doing so.
  • If you have experienced trauma, you may need help finding the root of the trauma, and thereafter resolving the trauma symptoms.

How do I choose a therapist?

Based on these questions, you should be able to choose the right therapist for you:

  • What are they qualified in?  For how long have they been working as a counsellor?
  • Are they registered with the HPCSA? (This is important as it means you can claim from your medical aid. It also means they are professionally trained and are in ongoing training and are bound by ethical regulations).
  • What types of therapy do they use? Is this appropriate for your problem?
  • Do they come recommended? By whom? Other professionals, clients?
  • What do they charge? Is this negotiable? Can you claim from medical aid?
  • Where are they based?
  • Are they available after hours? 
  • What expectations do they have of you (family involvement, written work, attendance of support groups)? 
  • What is your gut feeling? Do you feel drawn to the counsellor?

What is addiction? 

Addiction can be described as a pathological relationship to any mood altering substance/ behaviour. Although there are negative effects which impact one's life, the usage is continued. It is not the substance that is the problem, it is the way you are relating to the substance/ behaviour.

Addiction is an organic brain disorder/ condition characterised by the maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment manifested by three or more of the following:

  • Increase in use of substance or time taken in acting out (behavioural addictions) – i.e. a loss of predictable control
  • Unsuccessful attempts to control reduce/ stop
  • Much time spent on sourcing, using and recovering
  • The falling away of other activities (social, recreational, occupational, familial)
  • Continued use although the person is aware of negative consequences
  • Increased tolerance 
  • Withdrawal symptoms (physical/ psychological).
Adapted from: American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fourth Edition. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000

What is addiction treatment?

There are different ways of treating addiction (be it substance abuse or behavioural addictions):

  • Inpatient therapy. Most private addiction clinics include detox, inpatient treatment, 12 step programmes and aftercare/ recommended outpatient therapy).
  • The State offers different inpatient and outpatient programmes. The matrix model is an increasingly popular manualised outpatient programme (it includes cognitive behavioural therapy, relapse prevention, 12 steps, psycho-education and family work).
  • Outpatient addiction therapy is often provided through an eclectic group of therapies – motivational interviewing, 12 step, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT is an evidence-based approach used by many therapists), relapse prevention,  pharmacotherapy, family therapy). Generally an outpatient programme offers one to three sessions a week. View my Services.
  • 12 step groups: This is a free network of  self help support groups that use the 12 step approach  in the community in order to maintain sobriety/ balance.

Benefits of addiction treatment?

There are a myriad of benefits that can be experienced through addiction treatment. To keep it simple though:

  • Abstinence from your addiction/self-defeating behaviour  can be achieved.
  • With abstinence, long lasting behavioural changes can be made.  Physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, financial and social changes can be felt. In other words “You can get your life back”.

What is trauma?

Quite simply trauma is any experience that overwhelms one's normal coping mechanisms. The experience/perception of helplessness defines trauma.

What is trauma therapy?

Trauma disrupts the body’s natural equilibrium, freezing you in a state of hyperarousal and fear: your nervous system gets stuck in overdrive. Succesful trauma treatment must address this imbalance and re-establish your physical sense of safety. The following therapies are commonly used in the treatment of emotional and psychological trauma:
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) helps you process and evaluate your thoughts and feelings about a trauma. While CBT doesn’t treat the physiological effects of trauma, it can be helpful when used in addition to a body-based therapy such as TRE.
  • TRE (Trauma Releasing Exercises): TRE is a simple technique that uses exercises to release stress/tension from the body that accumulates from everyday circumstances such as difficult situations, immediate or prolonged stressful situations, or traumatic life experiences (i.e. natural disasters, social or domestic violence). It involves a set of six exercises (stretches) that help to release deep tension from the body by evoking a self-controlled muscular shaking from the psoas muscles in the body called neurogenic muscle tremors. TRE is a quick, immediately effective method for consistent relaxation, releasing chronic traumatic stress, physical tension, emotional trauma, everyday stress, tension, and anxiety that evolves from the daily pressures of life. 

What are the benefits of trauma treatment/therapy?
  • Since tension/trauma is stored in the body, it is essential to treat the body too. By incorporating body work and psychotherapy, you will be able to become more resilient and just feel better about life. By including certain body work, then talking in psychotherapy, if necessary, your symptoms will most likely reduce. Whether PTSD commonly experienced flashbacks, hypervigilance, fatigue and numbing, or just general tension, or addictive behaviours are your presenting symtoms, a greater feeling of wellbeing will be felt.
  • Trauma therapy, particularly whilst body work is being practised, may evoke the emotions more easily and the thought process may become clearer and more rational. In this way you can find meaning in your current behaviours, reframe your past traumas, interpret situations in a different light and make changes where necessary.

What is a professional intervention?

Often it is difficult to help someone who does not seem to want help. A trained professional knows what to say and do. Having someone there with you and your family when you intervene to help the person, is a great help. The chances of getting through to your loved one are far greater with a professional's help.

Why do professionals in the care-giving field need regu
lar supervision/treatment?

Working in the field of caring for others can lead to burn out, adrenal fatigue syndrome, depression, anxiety, loss of drive, relationship problems, relapse etc.

regular supervision, it is possible to prevent such conditions.  Learning more about therapy/psychology and your own blind spots will teach you how to be a better, more objective therapist and a healthier more grounded person.  Personal experience of supervision has helped me develop into a better, more boundaried, ethical  therapist and individual.

Choosing to practise healthy exercises, is a preventative tool for conditions like burnout. Body work is a tool that can be incorporated into your daily exercise regime. Whether you run, play tennis, walk on the beach or practise creative art hobbies, it is essential to make time for yourself to engage in healthy activities.

Frances Ward:
Registered Addiction /
Trauma Therapist
(B. Psych). (0013668)

082 099 1830  
or email

"It is good to have an end to journey towards, but ultimately it is the journey that matters."