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Thomas Geffen Counselling Psychologist

Life can be full of important, painful and challenging relationships, and therapy is a relationship experience that can lead to insight and positive change. I offer face-to-face therapy at Encompass Health Centre in Gardens, Cape Town in the City Bowl area and provide online counselling via Zoom. I have experience in providing psychotherapy, including play therapy and couples therapy and work with infants, children, teenagers and adults. I have a special interest in trauma, anxiety, depression and more, and I offer short-term or more long-term work as needed. It can be difficult to know how to find a therapist. You can find out more about therapy, see what rates I charge, book a session, contact me, or ask a question.


I am a registered psychologist and have a Master of Arts degree (cum laude) in Community-Based Counselling Psychology from the University of the Witwatersrand. I also completed my undergraduate at Wits, achieving a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, followed by my Honours in Psychology. During my Master's training, I also provided counselling at the Emthonjeni Centre at Wits. I worked as an intern at Ububele, a non-governmental organisation that provides psychological services to those in Alexandra Township and the surrounding areas. Currently, I work as a therapist in private practice in Gardens, Cape Town (City Bowl). I also provide my services to schools and run workshops and groups, as well as corporates services such as trauma debriefing. I also have experience as an undergraduate and postgraduate lecturer, and as a counsellor at an addiction rehab centre.

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  • What is therapy?
    Therapy is a space to form a relationship and explore your world, memories, experiences, emotions and thoughts. It is a conversation that seeks to provide growth, healing, change and new insight. It is a process, something understood when experienced, but complex to describe. You can find out more by taking a look at this blog.
  • How often would we meet?
    Creating a consistent space for connecting is key. Therefore, we would meet at least once a week and agree on a regular slot, meeting at the same day and time each week. I find that this is the most efficient approach, that also works best with the approach that I use for therapy.
  • What are Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs)?
    Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) are the benefits that every medical aid (regardless of your plan) is liable to cover, and extends to specific conditions. For therapy, these include some depressive, bipolar and psychotic disorders. Generally, medical aids will cover 15 therapy sessions for such a condition. After having a few initial sessions, we may discuss a PMB application. If this is authorized it may then be backdated to cover these initial sessions.
  • How much does therapy cost?
    Sessions are 50+ minutes, and cost R1030 each. This is within most medical aid rates.
  • Will my medical aid cover therapy?
    I work on a cash practice basis. This means that you will pay upfront and claim back from your medical aid. This may either come from a specific benefit or from your savings. My rates are covered by most medical aids, but this will depend on your cover and plan. You can find out more in this blog post.
  • How long does therapy take?
    That depends - therapy is not a fixed process. Therapy may last anywhere from a few weeks to a few years. Given my experience and way of working, I find that long-lasting change is created over the long-term. Therapy requires the formation of a working relationship, and it will take some time to be able to create a space where we can explore the challenges you are facing. Ideally, therapy would end when both you and I feel that we have adequately worked towards growth, and have reached a sense of completion. However, therapy may end prematurely due to external factors, where one party decides to end therapy. In this case, it is important to have as much time as possible to prepare for the ending, and to give a notice peiod to work through the impact, and for me to make an appropriate referral and consider the best plan going forward.
  • How does therapy begin?
    Therapy begins with a general exploratory period, to consider what has brought you to therapy and to consider how I may best assist you. This is a flexible process, and may take a few sessions. There are also different processes for children and couples in the FAQs below. You can book an initial session now, or contact me for more information.
  • Are you taking new clients?
    Yes, you are welcome to book a session now where you can see all my available times, or you can contact me for more information
  • If you have another question please ask by contacting me below:
    Contact me here
  • Which online platform do you use?
    Zoom is the platform of choice for several reasons: - Secure, password-protected, excrypted meetings - Stable and high quality audio and video transmission - Easy of access on mobile and desktop devices I also address this in my blog and you can visit Zoom for their privacy policy.
  • What do I need for online therapy?
    Although online therapy is similar to meeting face-to-face, there are some requirements: - A good internet connection. - A capable device with Zoom loaded. A laptop or tablet is best as a phone screen means the video will be very small. It is important to rest your device somewhere (e.g. a desk/table) so the picture is stable. - A private space where you can sit, free of distractions. You should be comfortable, so may like water or tissues with you.
  • What happens if we get disconnected?
    A good wifi connection is ideal, but if the connection is lost, we will attempt to reconnect. If we are not able to after 5 minutes, then you will have the option to continue on the phone or we can attempt to reschedule if possible. I will only charge for the time that we use.
  • What happens if there is an emergency?
    It can be difficult to deal with crisis situations when using online therapy as we are often in separate locations. I will therefore ask you to provide the contact details of a local family member or friend who I can contact in the case of an emergency. If you are in crisis and there is a disruption while we are engaging in online therapy, then you should immediately phone me, or if I cannot be contacted call emergency services if required.
  • If we have online therapy, can we meet in person?"
    It is important to discuss expectations of this at the outset. Online therapy can occur in conjunction with face-to-face therapy. For example, if you are travelling or unable to attend sessions, we may meet online temporarily and then continue face-to-face. What is important is that we agreed on the best way to meet in order to maintain a consistent space for therapy.
  • What if people in my house hear us?
    Having a quiet and private space is essential. Try the following tips, or we can also discuss your concerns: - Find a quiet space. It may be neccessary to even sit in the garden/outside or inside a car in a garage - as long as the wifi reaches. - Choose a time when people are unlikely to be around - Use headphones, which will prevent anything. say being heard. The headphones should ideally have a mic which will mean you will not need to speak loudly - Background noise (e.g. white noise) can also create a sense of privacy
  • Is online therapy safe?
    Zoom provides a high level of security, but no online connection is perfectly secure. Videocall psychotherapy does pose particular risks to confidentiality, and it is the role of both myself and you to ensure that relevant measures are put in place, such as password protection, encryption, anti-virus, headphone usage and restricted access to devices as necessary. Videocalls are not to be recorded for any reason by either party. I address this question further in my blog, or you can also find out more about Zoom's security.
  • Is online therapy for me?
    That depends. Generally, it is a suitable alternative for many people. However, it is not an appropriate medium if you are severely depressed, have a severe substance dependence, or you are experiencing intense suicidal or homicidal thoughts. Seeing a mental health professional face-to-face is recommended in these situations. If you are unsure, it is best to contact me, and we can see if it will be suitable for you.
  • How do I begin online therapy?
    Thank you for your interest - you can book a session online now, or contact me for more information. A good 'fit' is important in therapy, so we may take a few sessions to consider if online therapy is a good option and if we are able to work well together to help you.
  • Do you have another question?
    Please contact me here, or take a look at my blog about online therapy.
  • What is play therapy?
    Play is the natural language of children, and play therapy uses it as a tool for children to express their emotions. The aim of this therapy is to help children make sense of difficult situations and feelings by exploring hidden thoughts and desires. Find out more here.
  • How do I know if my child needs play therapy?
    The best ways is for us to meet, and then we will discuss what is concerning you. I will also be able to provide you with some information about play therapy (or you can read more here). Then, we will decide whether play therapy will help.
  • Who do you meet with?
    It is vital to meet with the primary caregivers and child separately during the initial intake process. Sometimes, it can be helpful to engage with the school, which may include observing the child at school or being in contact with teachers or other professionals. I find that having as much support that works alongside in harmony proves most beneficial.
  • Is my child too old or too young for play therapy?
    I see children of all ages. However, play therapy is especially suited for 5 to 10 year-olds. For children that are younger, I provide a different approach, often this may be parent-infant psychotherapy. Once children begin to enter adolescents, or are teenagers, therapy also takes on a different form.
  • How do I explain play therapy to my child?
    The first step is for me to meet with you, and we will be able to discuss your concerns then. The following guideliness may also be useful: - Say as little as possible. The introduction will happen primarily in the room with me. Try not to give them too much information or cause for concern before hand. - Explain to them that they will be meeting with someone who will be helping them and will spend some time playing them. - If they are anxious that they are in trouble, emphasise that this is to help them - If they have questions about what the place looks like, it may help to give them some information about where it is
  • How does play therapy begin?
    You can book your first session now, or contact me for more information. The first session is meeting with the parents, and we can meet online or in-person, then I will meet with the child for a few sessions. This will allow me to get some further information and then there will be another parent meeting where we will consider the best way forward/
  • What is couples therapy?
    Couples therapy is an open space to explore the relationship, think about patterns of communication and grow the relationship. It can be for couples who are dating, engaged or married. A couple may have a particular problem they are facing, or simply want to work on their relationship together.
  • Who is couple therapy for?
    There are many reasons couples seek counselling. This includes, but is not limited to: pre-marital counselling, separation counselling, and general relationship problems such as communication, infidelity, arguments or conflict.
  • What if my partner does not want to come?
    This is a common challenge that can be faced. Most importantly, begin by discussing couples counselling with your partner, listening to their concerns and sharing your own feelings. It may also help to suggest that they talk to me about their concerns, and that they may give it a try before deciding whether it will help. Ultimately, it will remain their decision and forcing them into coming often does more harm than good. If they are not willing, perhaps individual therapy may be an option for you.
  • How does couple therapy begin?
    I usually begin with a few sessions to get to understand the couple and what problems are occuring. Usually, I will meet with both partners in the first session, but may suggest individual meetings if applicable. Following this, we will look at how therapy may work and what the best way forward will be. You can book an initial session now, or contact me for more information.
  • What is adolescent therapy?
    Adolescence is a time of formation but is often turbulent. Therapy provides a safe space for exploration of an teenager’s identities and relationships. Often adolescents may be facing extreme social pressures, or may experience significant changes in mood. Therapy is a helpful way to explore the internal world beneath this - see more in this blog post.
  • What ages do you see?
    Adolescence is typically defined as beginning from puberty, so adolescent therapy is generally for anyone aged 12 to 18. I do see children younger than 12, but this may be a play therapy approach, whereas individuals older than 18 years are considered adults - I would then see them as an adult for therapy.
  • What if my adolescent does not want to come to therapy?
    Making use of a therapeutic relationship can be challenging, and there may be many reasons why your child is feeling this way that you might explore. If they are willing to try, I am always willing to meet and discuss their concerns, although it will always be their choice whether to continue therapy. Sometimes, fruitful work can also happen in therapy with parents in supporting an adolescent who does not wish to come to therapy.
  • What is the role of parents/guardians?
    Adolescent therapy is foremost about providing a safe space with an adolescent, so unless their is immediate danger or with the adolescent’s consent, all material is confidential. With younger adolescents, it may be useful to engage the parents in feedback sessions, where the adolescent is normally invited, for all to think through together what the adolescent is facing. Concurrently, it can be useful for parents to have their own therapy space with another therapist.
  • How does adolescent therapy begin?
    The first session will be with the adolescent, and I typically suggest having three sessions to see if it will be a good fit, and to determine the best way forward. You can book your first appointment via my website now.

Find out more about psychology, the mind, therapy and you. Visit my blog or click on a blog post to read. 

Read one of my latest articles:  LGBTI+ People Facing Discrimination & GBV in Gender Links and How to Be More Playful, published in Bona Magazine.

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