Ask a Psychologist

We invite you to spend some time and meet our psychologists. Ask them that one question that has been bugging you for years. Your question will be answered within 48 hours. Or take some psychology self-test and fun quizzes, identify some symptoms or look up meds. Or read some of our questions and answers left anonymously by other readers. You welcome to post a question, share an idea that worked for you in our Blog. Just choose a section from the tabs at the top of the page to get started.

In our site you will find FAQ section and Q&A’s answered by our professional therapists. Easy-to find and easy-to read section.

Randburg Psychology Practice

Psychologists :

Michael Nel – Clinical Psychologist

Cell:084 868 5270

Kevin Naidu – Clinical Psychologist

Cell:073 500 5399


Q&A Section:

Disclaimer: Information provided in this Q&A is only for educational purposes and guidelines and should not be used as a substitute for psychological therapy. A lot off these questions are specific to individuals with specific life situations and should not be generalized.

30 Responses to “Ask a Psychologist”

  • Gontse:

    I recently found out my husband has been having a relationship with another woman for over a year, and each time I confronted him about it he denied point blank. Once I found an sms on his phone, and he denied even knowing the person who sent it. He now swears its over but how do I trust him again?

    • From your question I am not sure if your husband confessed to having an affair or if he denied it. Complete disclosure is the first necessary step to address doubts, start healing and to rebuild trust. Surviving such infidelity starts by addressing the presenting emotions. Your partner needs to listen and give you the space to properly vent your anger and to express your pain, hurt and disappointment. This process may be difficult for partners’ as they may become defensive, shift blame or denial certain details. Dealing with emotions is a process and hard to put a specific time frame to it. Through this process it’s important for your partner to see your pain. Then he may be less likely to repeat this and you will be one step closer to trust him again. Many couples can recover from infidelity and couples counselling may be critical to address the underlying causes of infidelity. It is important to understand what dynamics contributed to the affair in the first place and to address these. This is an important part of regaining trust again.

  • vaneshrie:

    My husband of 5 years (we have known each other for 10years) recently admitted to me that he has been raped as a child. This was during a telephone conversation. we had had a major fight and were not speaking to each other. i sent him an email detailing all that i found wrong with him and the relationship a few days after when i couldn’t take the stress any longer. that night i was away form home on course and he called me that night to discuss my emial. that night while discussing things telphonically he told me that he was raped as a child and that no one knows. it was done by the neighbours son – he told his mum afterwards but no one else knows and it was not taken any further. the boy was disciplined by his mom and that was the end of it. my husband attributes his lack of confidence and sometimes lose of erection during sex to this incient. since i have been back home though we have never discussed this again. i don’t know how to bring it up and don’t know what to say to him about it. all i keep thinking when i see him is “i was raped as a child”. since his disclosure he wants to have sex all the time and very short-tempered with the kids (both boys aged 2 and half and 8 months). i really don’t know what to do to help him and our relationship. this is causing major strain for me as i feel we are putting up a facade.

    • Hi

      If one has experienced sexual abuse in childhood, it can often have a detrimental impact on your sense of self. If one has not had the opportunity to discuss this and process the feelings and thoughts related to the sexual abuse, the abuse often continues to have an impact on the way one feels about one’s body and sexuality in general. This can often have an impact on a marital relationship. A positive sign is that your husband seemed to have developed enough trust in your relationship to share this very sensitive issue with you. This is a positive sign for the amount of trust and safety you have generated in your relationship with him. I would begin by thanking him for being open about the rape and empathizing with him that it could not have been easy thing for him to talk about.

      I understand your difficulty in speaking about this issue, as you may still be dealing with the shock of hearing about it. It might be important to broach his increased sexual interest in you gently, telling him that you have noticed his increased interest in you sexually and that you do appreciate it, but would like to also know why he has become so sexually expressive with you recently, given your past sexual history it appears out of character for him. Again it’s important to see how he reacts to this and to give him space to express his feelings. If your not sure how to approach the issue rather ask him directly if he would like to discuss the matter further with you and if he would like to discuss it and invite him to discuss whatever aspect of the rape he feels comfortable speaking. It’s important to give him permission to discuss these experiences at his own pace. He may however require further intervention from a professional to help him deal with this particular childhood trauma, if you feel this issue is starting to impact profoundly on your relationship, you might want to consider a marital counselling as an option as well.

      Regards

      Kevin Naidu

  • anonymous:

    Hey a year ago I had an abortion straight after the I found myself over eating n drinking a lot I assume to numb the pain just after the abortion I did c a psychologist but I stopped going thinking I’d cope on my own, I’ve come in contact with many pregnant ladies whom are close to me and I’m happy for them but now it seems like I’ve become more sad, confused and emotional n it feels like I’m slowly slipping into depression and feel like am a failure in my parents eyes and in my relationships (which seems to not go well after the abortion) could you advise me on what to do?

    • Hi there
      Termination of pregnancy may often leave long standing unresolved feelings of guilt, sadness and regret. The intensity of these feelings are often underestimated and hard to identify as belonging to the abortion. They are often experienced as just unidentified sadness and the presentation of depression with no apparent cause. In counselling, one is encouraged to write a letter and to perform a “symbolic funeral” or “ceremony” for the unborn child. We also encourage giving the unborn child a name. This helps to acknowledge the existence and presence of your feelings of loss and sadness. In essence, part of this, are dealt with in a similar way as bereavement, where it’s important to acknowledgement and deal with the feelings of sadness, anger, guilt etc. If you feel however that your depression is getting worse, you should explore seeking medical intervention and perhaps entering into counselling again.
      Regards,

  • Annake:

    Hi,
    I recently broke up with my boyfriend (2 year relationship). He is an alcoholic. He was living with me. His mother had to join us later since he defaulted on the rent.
    On 3 previous occasions I took him back because he promised me that he would stop drinking. The last time I told him it was the last time and it was.
    He has no place to stay, does not have a steady income and his mother is still with me. He arrived this weekend – saying he can’t carry on without me and he was willing to stop drinking for me but if I’m not in his life he does not want to live.
    He grabbed all his things, shoved them into bags and said he was taking everything away so that no one else will have to. I was afraid and still am that he is going to commit suicide. I kept him there all day until he calmed down. How do I handle this – it is draining the life out of me and I cannot concentrate on anything. How do I help him?

    • This is certainly a difficult situation to find yourself in. I think ending the relationship appears to have been in your best interests at this stage. Your ex-boyfriend seems to be using these suicidal gestures as a way of drawing you back into the relationship. Unfortunately his decision or not to end his life rests with him and is essentially not your responsibility, you can only offer to help by directing him to the nearest casualty at your local hospital if he does threaten to kill himself again. They are a variety of shelters available as well for people who are homeless or he could arrange for a friend to take him in temporarily. Beyond assisting him I think you need to set firm limits with him that if he threatens suicide in the future, and if you have clearly told him beforehand that he should go to the nearest casualty centre at a government hospital, this type of threat will not be tolerated and you will not engage in any further communication with him at that point. He needs to take responsibility for himself and I am concerned that if you continue to give in to his threats, this becomes a another manoeuvre which he can use to draw you back into a relationship with him.

      I hope that helps

  • martian:

    Hi there. Im a 21 year old student. My boyfriend and i have been dating for almost four years. Both of us are still living with our parents but we want to move in together at the end of the year. Unfortunately my parents are very against this. When i told them about our plans months ago they were very upset and they now pretend that it is not going to happen. Since i’ve told them my dad and i haven’t spoken about it again, i have spoken to my mother about it and she just said that if we go ahead with it it will taint their relationship with my boyfriend. They keep blaming my boyfriend and saying he is forcing me to do this. The reason why they are so upset about it is because they see it as immoral and they dont want me to bring shame on the family. My boyfriend’s mother has also told us not to go ahead with it because she thinks we are not ready for such a commitment, but i suspect she has other reasons why she does not want us to move away. My boyfriend and i really believe this is the best decision for us. We are both getting increasingly frustrated with living with our parents and only being able to see each other over weekends. We have discussed every aspect of it from money to who will be doing which chores and it seems like the only people who really have a problem with this decision are our parents. His mother seems very attached to him and she said if we dont move far away it will be ok, whereas my parents think it’s an outright scandal to even speak about such things. I dont want to taint my relationships with my parents and future in laws but i refuse to give up important decisions for what seems like the selfish wants of others. Im scared because we aren’t getting any support from anyone, we will have to do it all by ourselves, even though my boyfriend is confident that we’ll make it i am still having sleepless nights about it. I used to have depression as a child and i dont want to fall into it again. I just want everything to work out alright but dont know how to keep my parents from disowning me or resenting my boyfriend for making my own decisions. I dont want to become so stressed out about this that it’s going to cost me my relationship with my boyfriend. We love each other and we always support each other but i need the support of my whole family and im not getting it and because of that i am starting to wonder if we are making the right decision. I know we are capable of moving in and being happy but i just dont know what it’s going to do to my relationship with the rest of my family (and his).

    • It sounds like you have a strong need for autonomy and independents. It also sounds like your parents may have concerns they are not openly discussing with you. They may be trying to protect you from getting hurt or having to deal with this kind of responsibilities or commitment and still being a student. Whatever their concerns are, they need to talk to you openly regarding this. By just telling you its’ immoral is not a discussion. All family members need to openly discuss their concerns and intentions. This should be dealt with in a sensitive manner with all parties respectfully listening and understanding each other’s point of few. It also sounds like you have a different point of few to your parents’ traditional idea of living together before marriage. This also needs to be discussed and taken into consideration. Good luck!

  • Thando:

    My husband and I decided that we would abstain and not engage in pre-mariatal sex for 2yrs prior we got married. After we got married I found that he was not really into having sex with me(I’m 26 and he is 37). I fell pregnant three months after we got married and he withdrew from me sexually for the entire time I was pregnant. He would often come to bed at about 2am just to ensure I was sleeping. after trying to engage him and find out what the issue is, it turns out that he is not physically attracted to me and feels that I am sexualy inexperienced. He is a very spriritual person and he feels that the bond we have on that level is far more important to him than the physical aspect. I am at my sexual prime and am finding it hard to cope wih the lack of sex, and intimacy. We do not touch, cuddle kiss or even hold hands. I had been saving myself for marriage and that seems to have been to my detriment.

    • Hi There

      The scenario you describes seems a difficult and painful one. I can definitely appreciate your frustration and disappointment about the lack of sexual and physical intimacy in your relationship, especially since you waited for such a long time to give yourself to someone you considered special. This must feel like a terrible rejection for you. I don’t think you need to feel that was too your detriment necessarily, I imagine that for you sexual intimacy is the pinnacle of your expression of love for your partner and so it hurts a lot when this is not reciprocated by your husband. I am left with so many questions after reading your post. Firstly was his loss of interest perhaps related to the pregnancy. He clearly knew that you were younger than him and may have been less sexually experienced than him and he still decided to marry you, in a sense I am asking myself why would someone set themselves up to feel disappointed in that way once they have entered into such a commitment. I am not sure what made him lose his interest in you physically (it may be the pregnancy) and I am curious to know what provoked this loss of interest in you (i.e. was it your post pregnancy body).

      Unfortunately a lack of physical intimacy in the marital relationship is a crucial component of an ordinary loving relationship and its total absence is usually a cause of concern. The fact that your husband does not seem to think that it is crucial raises more questions in my mind as sex allows us an opportunity to express our love in a physical form which transcends what we can communicate through words. Your husband may not be seeing your sexual inexperience as an opportunity to help you grow as person and as a couple sexually, by guiding you more and trying to teach you about sex in a way that you both find pleasurable. This may be a good opportunity for him to communicate more clearly what would turns him on and what would make him feel more physically attracted to you.

      There clearly are emotional issues in your relationship which could be addressed in the context of couples and or individual counselling.

      Thank you for your interest in our website

      Good Luck!!

  • Annonymous:

    I’ve been in a long term relationship with someone but we never got married – we did live together for more than 6 years – we used to fight all the time for no major reason and I was unhappy and broke up with him and we moved separately – he didnn’t want the break but I insisted – he wanted to make it work but I pushed him away – 6 months later he met someone & they talking about marriage after knowing her for only four months now – I know I broke up with him and didnn’t want to make it work but now I feel so lost and depressed that he moved on – we still used to keep in contact after the break up and since he met this women his so rude to me all the time I speak to him – I donn’t know if I regret breaking up with him now – maybe he could have been the one for me – I have not met anyone worthy since the break up a year ago – I feel what if I lost someone that was right for me

    • First of all, it’s normal to have doubts after “some” break ups. We often wonder what might have happened if we did not break-up. This fantasy can be very powerful as we tend to fill in the “gaps”. We often only hold on to the good memories and we fail to see the totality of the relationship. You were obviously unhappy and that is why you broke up in the first place. You are now doubting and minimizing your own “unhappiness” you had in the relationship. Now you are comparing all the new possible partners to parts of your idealized relationship with your ex. We often do this when we feel lonely and we “miss” our ex partner. What we often miss is not our “ex” but rather the feeling of having someone there that could help against feeling lonely. You are also taking full responsibility for the break-up. In reality you were unhappy and for that both partners share equal responsibility.

  • Hein Viljoen:

    Hi
    Background. From a previous relationship (short) I learned I have a daughter in 2002. She and mother lived in Vredendal and I had only telecom contact with her then. In 2009 Dec her mother died from cancer and we decided to take her in with us (we live in JHB-Randburg). The 2011 1st school term holiday we send her to her granny in vredendal to visit for 3 weeks. The response from my daughter is that she wants to stay with granny in vredendal and I discuss it with her granny if the remainder of 2011 will be possible and she said yes,because from my view point it can be a emotional healing process for her to be in the surroundings of her family for the next 9 months. It is a short brief but any comments?

    Re
    Hein

    • Thank you very much for sharing this intimate part of your life with us at the Randburg Psychology practice. I commend you on giving your daughter the freedom to stay with her grandmother, she clearly has developed a bond with her and you are absolutely correct that she will benefit from being in familiar surroundings.It is a testament to your unselfishness, although I know it must not have been easy to let her go, to put her needs ahead of yours. You are clearly a thoughtful and loving parent.

  • Bardot:

    i am a 39 year old single mother of two girls – first father got married to someone else whilst I was pregnant.Had a second pregnancy by the same man whilst married and subsequently had an abortion without telling him of pregnancy. Met second father when first child was two -got engaged a year later and had a prem baby at 7 months. He accepted a transfer to another province and left when baby was six months old. We grew apart and he eventually decided to part ways. I have been molested by my father and was raped at age 20. I never seem to be able to keep consistent relationships with men and feel such betrayal when they even do the slightest of small things and eventually belittle them to point of them leaving. I am now back with the father of my first baby after his divorce(was not involved with him at the time), I told him about the pregnancy and abortion and are trying to give it another go. Him and his family have accepted my other child with open arms but is struggling with his mine and his biological 11 year old’s behavioural issues. We have now been together for 15 months and things were great in the first 12. We seem to be growing apart and I seem to tear him apart for everything he does and he is still dealing with ex wife issues. I feel he’s the only man who really is interested in making this relationship work and is willing to come to therapy with me so that we can sort both our individual and couple issues. Is this a good move?

    • Hi

      It sounds as if you realize that you have difficulties in sustaining intimate relationships. You have clearly had a very difficult childhood which may also be contributing to your present difficulities with men. We often transport issues we have not dealt with in our childhood into our adult relationships. Clearly it appears from what you say in your mail that you direct your anger towards your male partners in your life, in fact this anger may also stem from the feelings you may be habouring towards your father.

      Given the nature of your history and your current presenting problems with relationships, I would suggest a course of individual therapy with a male therapist first in order to process your childhood trauma, work through different ways of coping with your anger and developing more adaptive interpersonal relationship strategies. Once this is completed, you could then look at how this has impacted on your current relationship in a course of couples therapy with your partner.

      I hope this helps.

  • Mark:

    Q: How do I become more proactive?

    • A: Very often we try to change had habits all at once. Rather try to focus on one specific habit and try to fix that first then to move on. If you try to make multiple changes to your life all at once, you may become demotivated by this enormous tasks and fail or give up. Once you have conquered this habit then create the next one. Fear of the unknown or failure often holds us back. In counselling we look at your innermost fears.

  • Anonymous:

    Q: I often feel depressed and when I feel like this I reflect back on my life and feel like a failure. I then also become very cynical and pessimistic about life. Life is depressing and stressful enough as it is, I don’t need more of this. Am I going through mid-life crises as I used to turn head and now turn 50?

    • A: It sounds like you never got to be who you wanted to be and that you know a lot about depression, but I am not sure how much you know about yourself. Failure is often an event and not a person. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the two. We often don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are. And that’s like looking at life through the wrong end of the telescope. You may find that if you analyse your thinking in therapy, that you not only cynical and pessimistic but also prematurely disappointed in the future. In therapy we can work with predicting success rather then to predict your own future failure.

  • Anonymous:

    Q: I used to have a very open relationship with my teenager daughter. We could talk about anything. But as she started growing older, she is 16 now and she stopped talking to me? Is there something wrong with her I need to know?

    • A: Your daughter’s needs have changed as she is growing older. This also includes her need for an adult to listen to her differently, compare to when she was 6 years old. Most often teenagers stop talking when parents stopped listening or continue to listen as they did 4 years ago. Teenagers often feel not heard and misunderstood by significant adults in their life. It’s important for teenagers to have this platform to discuss their issues and troubles with a parents or an older trustworthy adult. Try to listen differently. Do not give advice if she is not asking for it! Often children would just like to talk about their day or relationships without being lectured or given advice on what they should do. If a teenager wants advice they will ask for it! If a teenager presents a problem, ask them what they think should be done and respect their solutions. Acknowledge how they feel. If she feels sad after breaking up in relationships, don’t say in time she will get over this or she will have many more relationships. Rather respond with “I can see you really wanted to be in this relationship and it’s hard to loose someone we love” If you expecting any deeper problems like self esteem, depression or adjustment disorders, seek professional help.

  • Anonymous:

    Q: after a random urine test at school, I discovered my 15 year old boy started using drugs. I was horrified and very angry when I found out. I confronted him and he said it was once only and experimental. I grounded him for 3 months. How can I help him?

    • A: Very often when it comes to substance abuse teenagers don’t tell us the whole truth! They feel ashamed to discuss this with their parents and as a result it’s hard to understand the full extend and depth of the problem. So it’s important to keep the trust and communication open with your son. Attack the problem and not him! Don’t label him by telling him he is terrible or irresponsible because he uses drugs, focus on the behaviour and rather ask him how and why he started and if this is acceptable for himself. Then give him a change to explain himself without interrupting, judging or labelling him. This will help to provide the open communication needed to work on this problem together and to find solutions together. Over reacting and being emotional my cause your child to withdraw and shut down. Find agreeable solutions together. Allow your child to own the process by coming up with solutions himself, and try and be flexible to find solutions both can agree on. Avoid lecturing, allow your son time to talk. Listen to his feelings. If you feel unsure how to cope with this situation get professional help as this may be a deeper rooted problem and the extend much more hen you realize.

  • Anonymous:

    Q: I am 32 a female and I always end up being with the wrong guy. How do I manage to always choose the wrong one? Initially I think we are compatible and we end up being completely incompatible. Is there something wrong with me?

    • A: Relationships are one of the biggest sources of referral, so it deserves some discussing here. Initially it’s hard to measure how compatible you will be with someone you just met for the first and feel attracted to. In the beginning couples fall in love and focus on their similarities as this creates a sense of closeness. After a few weeks / months the focus has shifted to the differences or incompatibilities. This often then gets blamed for the break down of the relationship. “We feel we are just so different and this can never work!” At this point we feel our expectations are not met and we react with resentment and anger towards our partner. After all they are the source of our unhappiness.
      We then might try to “fix” the relationship by focussing on all these differences. And by doing this we externalizing all these differences and this provide us with a valuable “reason” as to why the relationship did not work. This externalized valuable “reason” then becomes the tool for holding our loss of the relationship, making it a bit easier to deal with the pain. We tell ourselves: “we were just so different this could never have worked” And the so called differences and incompatibility hen holds our defences against the pain and loss. If we can convince ourselves that we were so different and not meant to be together its easier to deal with the pain of separation. These differences then become and valuable excuse for the pain. This also plays an important part later in our lives of our own internalized reason for the failed relationship.
      In counselling, the differences and similarities I refer to is not just our, interests, hobbies, tolerance, acceptance, dealing with conflict, shared dreams, values, norms or communication styles. Although these compatibilities are very important for a healthy relationship, what is often neglected is our own deeper understanding of our style of love. How do I love and be loved? This understanding of how I “do” love and how I allow other people to love me, provides a valuable understanding for my need to be in a relationship in the first place and a deeper understanding of why I am attracted to some people and not others. Childhood rearing, parental upbringing, parental role models, childhood wounds can all contribute to our style of love. In counselling we explore this deeper understanding of the “self” and this provides a deeper meaning of my need to love rather then to focus on the similarities or differences of my partner.

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