EPASSA Annual Conference

Working with Families in South Africa - A Diverse Context

23 May 2019 - Pre-conference Workshop

Friday 24 May – Saturday 25 May 2019
Garden Court OR Tambo
2 Hulley Road, Isando Ext.3, Kempton, 1619


Workshop Thursday 23 May

The Role of the Educational Psychologist in Medico-Legal Work

The Educational Psychologist forms part of an expert team appointed by a law firm to investigate a particular matter (injuries suffered through accidents, medical negligence cases, loss of support cases etc.). Once appointed, an objective expert opinion is required from the Educational Psychologist on how the injured person has been affected in his / her ability to learn and progress academically. This field of practice requires that an opinion be formed by a specific assessment process and be presented in an accessible manner in a medico-legal report to the legal team who is heading up the pursuit of a specific case. The purpose of the round table discussion is to discuss the knowledge base the Educational Psychologist requires as well as the specific process that needs to be followed when embarking on the forensic path of practice.                  

Elmarie Prinsloo, Educational Psychologist

Workshop Thursday 23 May

Loss of Income in Personal Injury Claims  - the Interplay between the Educational Psychologist and the Industrial and Organisational Psychologist

At present an award for Loss of Income (LOI) in personal injury claims typically represents the largest cash component in the overall award determined, either by means of settlement or the matter proceeding to trial. Inherent in many determinations of pre- and post-injury career progress and commensurate remuneration is the opinion of the Educational Psychologist (EP) with regard to both the highest probable pre-injury level of education of the claimant and also the highest post-injury level of education which is probable. Factors which influence the Industrial & Organisational Psychologist’s (IOP) determinations with respect to the quantification of the probable earnings of the claimant in both the pre- and post-injury phases will be explored. The differences in focus depending on whether the claimant is an infant, child, pupil, student or adult will also be explored. The extent to which both the EP and the IOP are dependent on the opinions of other medical and paramedical experts will also be explored. Finally, the significant influence of the opinion of the EP on the IOP’s ultimate determinations of the claimant’s LOI will be emphasised.

Barbara Donaldson, Industrial Psychologist

Workshop Thursday 23 May

How to prepare for court. What is the role of an expert witness? 

This discussion will deal with the role of the Educational Psychologist as an expert witness in Court proceedings as well as the nature and requirements for expert evidence and opinion in Court.  It will also deal with the formulation of the expert summary required and the way evidential material should be evaluated.  The importance and content of joint minutes prepared by experts of conflicting parties will be emphasised.  Lastly the conduct of the expert witness during testimony in Court will be discussed.   An expert witness should provide independent assistance to the Court by way of objective unbiased opinion in relation to matters within his/her expertise.  An expert witness should always remain objective in order to assist the Court to come to the correct conclusion.  On the other hand, an expert witness should be careful when pressed for concessions during joint meetings with other experts and/or during cross-examination

Advocate Maryke van Rooyen, Advocate

Workshop Thursday 23 May

Traumatic Brain Injuries – What the Educational Psychologist needs to know

Head injuries with TBI (traumatic brain injury) occur with alarming frequency in South African children injured in motor accidents. Failure to recover fully from TBI leaves any such child with an impaired capacity for education. It falls on educational psychologists to assess such children and formulate rational opinions on their pre-accident- and post-accident educational capacity. Educational psychologists who are called on to perform such assessments and report to South African Courts often have to contend with differing opinions in the reports of neurosurgeons and/or neurologists. This presentation serves to explain, and to provide the scientific basis for, certain basic truths regarding the anatomy, pathology, complications, outcomes and prognosis of TBI. Contemporaneous records and particular aspects of TBI in children as opposed to adults will also be addressed.

Dr Herman Edeling, Neurosurgeon, Medico-Legal Examiner and Mediator

Workshop Thursday 23 May

What Does it Actually Mean to be an Effective Educational Psychologist Doing Medico-Legal Work 

This presentation addresses skills and knowledge required to fulfil the role of the educational psychologist doing Medico-legal work. Two areas will be addressed:
1. What extra skills and knowledge are required by an educational psychologist to effectively assess typical referral cases.
2. What does a typical medico-legal assessment entail and how to interpret the strengths and deficits found in the assessment, and the relevance of recommendations. This will be briefly considered in terms of brain injury, psychological trauma, other significant injuries, and pre-existing difficulties.

Eleanor Bubb, Clinical and Educational Psychologist

Presentation Friday 24 May

Scope of Practice and the Future of Educational Psychology in South Africa 

During the last decade or more the profession of educational psychology has been plagued by challenges as a result of conflicting views and discrimination regarding our role in the provision of mental health services, the scope of practice of educational psychologists and our levels of competency to act as psychologists. This has occurred in a climate where South Africa has extremely limited mental health resources, particularly serving children and their families. This presentation will look at the current position of the profession and the scope of practice debate. It will explore ways in which all psychologists and mental health care providers can advocate for improved provision of mental health services in South Africa and how educational psychologists specifically can contribute toward more accessible mental health care for all South Africans. EPASSA argues that our profession must be governed according to democratic and constitutional values and principles. We must protect the generic and varied competencies that educational psychologists, like other psychologists, contribute in a country with limited mental health delivery resources.

Vanessa Gaydon, Educational Psychologist, EPASSA Chairperson

Presentation Friday 24 May

What Are Attachment Researchers up to Now? An Overview of the return to the role of nature in child development.

Attachment theory has long been a central player in assisting those working with children to understand the role of nurture in child development and mental health. But in recent years, the pendulum has swung back, and there is a renewed interest and focus on the role of nature in child outcomes - with attachment researchers often leading the pack. Recent developments in the attachment fields of neuroscience and epigenetics have led to to the discovery of “differential susceptibility”. This paper will present an overview of these latest developments, and the concept of differential susceptibility, alongside the implications for clinical work. In particular, the paper will look at opportunities for clinical work with the much underserved client population - neonates.

Nicole Canin and Nicki Dawson, Counselling Psychologists

Presentation Friday 24 May

“She is now beautiful”, an Ububele Parent-Infant Psychotherapy Case

I will be presenting a case of an Infant Mental Health Intervention at Edenvale Hospital with a mom (Rachel) and her baby (Luthando) with a complex presentation. Baby L was born with a severe cleft palate and a range of chromosomal difficulties. Her prognosis was poor and she very sadly died at 3 months. This case presented the medical staff at the hospital with a tremendous challenge – how do you continue to care for a baby that is going to die, while encouraging a mother to continue parenting her child and who in doing so, continues to hold onto hope. This presentation will illustrate, using case material, how parent-infant psychotherapeutic techniques can be flexibly applied in diverse settings. And how infant subjectivity and parental support with sick and dying babies maintains the rights and dignity of those most vulnerable

Katharine Frost, Educational Psychologist

Presentation Friday 24 May

Psychotherapy in the Age of Technology:  The ethical challenges of online treatments for South African clinicians

As technology is constantly advancing, new developments have filtered into the therapeutic enterprise, affecting the way that many clinicians conduct treatment. New modes of communication introduce a host of clinical concerns, which need careful consideration. To this end, South African psychologists are guided by the HPCSA ethics guidelines on ‘telemedicine’, and additionally, psychoanalytically informed clinicians consult current psychoanalytic recommendations on this topic. This paper deliberates the ethical implications of online treatments, informed by both professional sources. It addresses dilemmas pertaining to: contractual issues, the question of the best interests of the patient, confidentiality, impact on the frame, transference-countertransference dilemmas, and some of the practical problems that may arise. Vignettes are used to illustrate these dilemmas.

Yael Kadish, Clinical Psychologist

Presentation Friday 24 May

A state of Capture of the Mind: Why Therapist and Patient collude in Post-Apartheid South Africa; thoughts on intergenerational transmission of trauma

In this paper we will explore the notion that therapist and patient tacitly agree to keep the shared trauma of our history hidden. How do we receive and process the projections of the real and symbolic ‘perpetrator’, without pushing back the unprocessed projection, leading to ‘repetition’, rather than a ‘working through’?

Jonathan Percale and Anna Schmidt-Ehkcke, Clinical Psychologists

Presentation Friday 24 May

The Soulution Focused Whisperer to clients managing trauma

Solution Focused Therapy is by default hope-filled therapy and therapists become hope whisperers to clients that have experienced trauma. In order to become a skilled hope whisperer one needs to learn the art of Soulution Focused listening. Listening selectively to what the client’s best hopes are and what is important to the client despite the trauma; listening for signs of strengths and resilience regardless of what happened; guiding a client to new possibilities in spite of being overwhelmed and amplifying and whispering the notion of hope no matter how terrible the event was. Traditional trauma debriefing often emphasizes what happened during a traumatic event and debrief the debilitating feelings that occurred during or after the event. However a Soultuion Focused whisperer focuses on the clients hope and rebriefs a client’s strengths which allow the notion of pride to enter the session and the best version of the client to emerge. Come take a tour with me and 2 of my clients, through the process of Soulution Focused listening as I walk you through the four rooms of the Solution Focused process (as proposed by Chris Iveson and colleagues at Brief in the UK) and whisper hope and possibility to clients managing trauma.

Dr Jacqui von Cziffra-Bergs, Educational Psychologist

Presentation Friday 24 May

Experiences of Trauma and the development of violent and aggressive behaviours as seen in clinical work at Khanya Family Centre

The paper aims to examine the effects of trauma and the development of violent and aggressive behaviours as displayed amongst adolescence of different socioeconomic backgrounds. Its impact on the victim; family and community are explored. Through object relations theory Khanya Family Centre tries to gain understanding that inform their psychotherapeutic interventions. 

Key words: object relations theory, traumatic events, violence and risk behaviours; aggression (benign and malignant), victim, family, community.

Tshidi Maseko, Educational Psychologist

Presentation Friday 24 May

Parenting Decoded – the Adult’s Role in Guiding a Child to Adulthood

Every child is born with potential and in order to develop this potential to its fullest, the child has to be guided to adulthood by an adult, be it parent, caregiver, teacher or any other adult who is prepared to accept this responsibility. Parents are viewed as the primary educators and teachers as the secondary educators. The quality of parenting that a child receives is the key factor in their healthy development. The adult-child educative relationship at the core of the Smartchoiceparenting programme (SCPP) is an approach  that focuses on the parent’s role in guiding their child to adulthood. Parents are made aware that the manner in which they parent is the key contributing factor to the healthy development of their child and this includes a wide variety of childhood disorders ranging from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to extreme disorders such as Encopresis and Selected Mutism. The SCPP enlightens the educator to the significant correlation between a child’s dependency on the adult educator and self-esteem.

Research has found that grit and determination are the major indicators of a child’s future success and educators appear to find it difficult to achieve. The SCPP is able to successfully assist the educator in resolving this problem.

Dr Ken Resnick, Educational Psychologist

The validity of population versus demographically based IQ test norming strategies within the culturally diverse South African context

Ann B Shuttleworth-Edwards, Professor - Department of Psychology, Rhodes University

The objective of this paper is to review the methodological underpinnings of population-based norms versus demographically focused within-group norms, with reference to various South African Wechsler IQ test norming initiatives. The South African population-based standardizations for the WAIS-III and WAIS-IV are problematic for clinical use, due to data sets that do not stratify for race, language of origin, or quality of education. Demographically focused within-group norming data derived on the WISC-IV, WAIS-III and WAIS-IV, for African first language individuals, reveal significant differences of up to 25 IQ points in association with disadvantaged versus advantaged quality of education. It is proposed that the traditional notion of a countrywide unitary norming of an IQ test is an unsatisfactory model for valid assessment practices in any setting where there is extreme socio-cultural and socio-economic diversity.  Stratified within-group norms are preferred, serving to reveal rather than obscure cross-cultural disparity in cognitive test performance.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

The Thinking Space Team: Facilitating Thinking Spaces in South African Schools

Pierre Brouard (University of Pretoria), Yvette Esprey (Clinical Psychologist), Phethile Zitha, Zamo Mbele (Clinical Psychologist) Thembi Mashigo

This presentation introduces the work of The Thinking Space Team; a group of psychologists who work with schools in helping them to reinvent the ways in which they think about and manage the challenges of transformation. Guided by a foundational psychoanalytic orientation, and drawing on Melissa Steyn’s notion of Critical Diversity Literacy (CDL), we promote and shape a “reading practice”: a set of insights which facilitate a deep commitment to transforming unequal power relationships which structure our world, including in the school space, and which stimulate transformational thinking about inequality, difference, diversity, systems and power. Specifically we focus on issues of identity; race, gender, sexual orientation and how these are impacted on and shaped by both a broader social narrative and by structures internal to the school system. Our objective is to facilitate the creation of a thinking culture in schools through which staff and learners begin to co-create an environment where they are able to deconstruct, understand and impact on discrimination and prejudice in relation to themselves and their learning context. We partner with schools in a long-term process through which the organisation begins to create thinking spaces within its own environment, fueled by staff and learners, an effective organisational internalization of the TST function. In parallel, as a team we constantly apply this critical lens to ourselves, working with our own subjectivities and the ways in which they shape our work and our relationships with one another. The presentation will focus on one intervention, highlighting the process of thinking space creation, and how that is impacting on a school system.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

Turning Parent “Drama” into Parent “Buy-In”: A Solution Focussed feedback conversation

Merritt Watson, Educational Psychologist

Parent meetings and interviews are hugely challenging at times.  It is very difficult for a parent to hear that their child is encountering difficulty at school either scholastically, behaviourally or socially. Parents often arrive at these meetings defensive, argumentative and on occasions un-cooperative. At school of Merit we utilise a Solution Focused Strategy to work differently with our parents. The Solution Focused strategy includes a conversation that has 4 strategic elements to it that can be compared to visiting a museum with 4 rooms.

1. The first room:  ‘Buying a ticket’; finding a collaborative goal/best hope for the meeting

 2. The second room: ‘Be a strength Searcher’; find the resilience and strengths of the child – what progress the child has made thus far

3.  The third room: Guiding the conversation into  ‘Possibility Talk’; acknowledge where the child was and is currently, and then talk about the tasks that still lie ahead and have not been accomplished YET; using SF techniques of scaling and language of possibility

 4. Ending in the Solution Focused Gift shop:  ‘Gift Room’; complimenting and encouraging parties to do more of what works and to do differently if need be.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

A Hope-Based Future Orientation Intervention

Dr Gloria Marsay, Educational Psychologist

The prevailing difficulties within the economy and the recent #FeesmustFall campaign highlight that institutions of Higher Education and Training in South Africa are presently in crisis, not only regarding funding and fee structure, but also a pedagogic crisis. The prevailing difficulties (poverty, unemployment and inequality) within the economic-socio-political arena contribute to ubiquitous feelings of helplessness and hopelessness among both privileged and disenfranchised people. Hope has been identified as a key element to success in planning one’s future.

An attitude of hope, opposes feelings of despair, and can sustain one through adversity. This paper is based on the premise that everyone needs hope to thrive. Educators can be providers of hope for the future, since they are responsible for building capacity in young people. Furthermore, educators can assist young people towards successful transition from school into tertiary education and then into the world of work by focusing on practical future orientation interventions.

The intention of this case study is to illustrate the use of a Hope-Based Future Orientation Intervention. Participatory Action Research approach was used to gain insight into the experiences of the participant. The analysis was qualitative. The efficacy of this hope-based intervention which targets both external and internal aspects of successful development using the constructs of hope as the unique foundation is discussed.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

A Holistic Approach to Divorce Mediation; the Role of the Psychologist

Melissa Dolphin-Rowland, Family and Divorce Mediator

Melissa Dolphin-Rowland, Founder of Amani Mediation (SAAM accredited Family and Divorce Mediator). The divorce rates globally have dramatically increased over the past fifty years. The statists released in 2018 from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) on divorce confirmed that 25 326 divorces were granted in South Africa in 2016. Disputes during a separation or divorce are highly complex impacting the family emotionally, financially, socially and physically. Therefore, it is of great importance to adopt a holistic approach when mediating a separation or divorce. This entails working with Psychologists, Social Workers, Case Workers, Financial Planners and Attorneys. This presentation will define divorce mediation, evaluate how it differs from litigation, and illustrate the importance and benefits of the psychologist and divorce mediator working together to support families through the divorce process.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

A Holistic View of Auditory Processing, Areas that impact upon it and thus the learning process

Catherine Graham, Speech, Language, Remedial Therapist & Audiologist

Auditory Processing is essentially the taking in of sounds through the ear and having it travel to the language centre of the brain to have it interpreted.  However, when this information arrives at the brain in a jumbled, confused and disorgainsed manner, we identify it as an auditory processing deficit.  With a child who presents with auditory perceptual challenges, how do these ‘scrambled messages’ impact upon the learning process?  How do the different types of memory (short-term memory, working memory and long-term memory) impact upon the child’s ability to perform optimally within the classroom setting? Is effective listening the same as auditory processing? How do we differentiate between attention deficits and auditory perceptual deficits?  Can we assist children with auditory perceptual challenges to achieve within the average mainstream class?  What practical advice can we offer parents to improve effective listening?

This talk aims to provide insight into the challenges facing children presenting with auditory processing deficits and weaker effective listening.

Presentation Saturday 25 May

Cultural concerns in relocation disputes

Martin Strous, Educational Psychologist

This presentation draws attention to ethnocentric attitudes in custody-related and relocation cases. A critical analysis of a relocation judgement made in the High Court demonstrates that cultural encapsulation may affect psychologists and judges and may undermine human rights. I argue that that we need to be more mindful of socio-cultural variables that can influence forensic and legal decisions.

Presentation Saturday 25 May


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