The battle in finding a place: experiences of a Tsonga and a Zulu woman with therapeutic theory

Byrne, Jacqui
Rand Afrikaans University, Johannesburg,
South Africa

South African today is involved in a process of rapid change and transformation and the demands and expectations generated by the prospects of psychological intervention are overwhelming. The Black people of our country have been subjected to the most deprivation, and consequently there is an immense need for sufficient psychological in these communities. Even though the number of trained Black psychologists is rising, the training in psychotherapy at most universities has been characteristically Western in orientation. This paper describes the experiences of two black Educational Psychology students with regard to Western therapeutic theory. A qualitative research design was followed and data was collected by means of observations, documented text, and interviews. Emerging themes and categories revealed that the students experienced the Western theory on three levels namely experiences relating to themselves, to their communities and experiences to the theory itself. Both women experienced personal battles relating to the Western theory, a sense of confusion and an identity crisis. When attempting to apply the theory in their Black communities the students experienced the discrepancy between the two worldviews intensely. The influence of traditional healing practices as well as an ignorance of psychology in general created conflict or a battle in the students. The students kept trying to find a way, a place to conquer their battles and make the learnt knowledge applicable to their working context. This paper concludes with recommendations for research, training and practice in the field of psychology in Africa.