Nic Hazell M.A.

Clinical Psychologist  in Cape Town                                                                                                        email: nic@nichazell.com   cell: 083 291 7430

About me

I have always been fascinated by the complex factors that make us who we are. Sometimes this means asking questions about why we struggle at times, how suffering might be alleviated, relationships improved, destructive patterns altered, and how general happiness, fulfilment and peace of mind can be achieved.

At the core of my approach, is relationship built on trust and with this in mind, I aim to create a safe space in which my clients can feel supported and understood.

I am inspired, not only by my work, but also by the evolving theory that informs it. I therefore strive  to continually develop my skills and hone my craft. 


Difficulties I work with include, but are not limited to:

  • Low mood, depression/bi-polar mood disorders and/or anxiety and panic attacks
  • Difficult, stressful or challenging life circumstances or changes
  • Problems in relationships, including parental challenges and work related difficulties
  • Trauma - including work with children who have been traumatised - see below
  • Alcohol and substance use problems and addiction – including compulsive behaviors like gambling or sexual behavior - I have many years of experience in the field of addiction and substance abuse.
  • Bereavement and traumatic loss – including work with children
  • Couple's Therapy
  • Palliative Care and Serious or Chronic Illness e.g. cancer, HIV, diabetes -  I have considerable experience working with people living with serious illness and the challenges arising from this. 
  • Personal growth and self exploration

        

Depression 

Depression is not only common, but presents in many ways over and above the obvious feelings of sadness, emptiness or hopelessness that might be expected. For example, depression can involve weight or appetite changes, sleep disturbances or chronic fatigue. People suffering from clinical depression frequently lose interest in previously enjoyable activities like gym, hobbies or socialising.

Therapeutic approaches can be broad, ranging from working with thoughts, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to and maintain depression, to deeper work that explores the relationship between past and present influences that contribute to current difficulties.


Anxiety

Experiencing anxiety from time to time is normal and perfectly healthy. It can be accompanied by varying physical symptoms of discomfort such as difficulty in concentrating and restlessness. Anxiety is often a response to an unknown trigger, which can make it difficult to understand or address. Sometimes anxiety can become excessive and intolerable, undermining one’s ability to effectively cope with daily life. Anxiety disorders are common and include phobias, social or generalised anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behavior and severe separation anxiety in children. Acute anxiety can lead to panic attacks, which although not dangerous, can certainly feel appear so. The causes of anxiety can be diverse and complex. Therapeutic interventions are accordingly varied and can involve medium to long-term therapy or short-term practical interventions.


Bereavement

Emotional pain due to the loss of loved ones is both normal and healthy. However, various factors can complicate grieving, impeding a person from resolving their grief. Although loss is very personal and we grieve in different ways and for different periods of time, bereavement can lead to depression. Feeling intense sadness, loss and preoccupation with the deceased or the circumstances of their death 12 months or more after the loss may indicate complicated bereavement. Bereavement therapy or grief counselling may be helpful in achieving resolution regardless of where you are at with your grief process or loss.


Adjustment

Stressful events like a job loss, relationship break-up, major illness, or even leaving home, can result in pervasive and significant anxiety, depressed mood or behavioural problems like fighting, reckless driving or substance abuse. The stressful event is not always obviously connected to these difficulties as they often only manifest much later. Since these sorts of reactions are often connected to early life experiences, sufferers can emerge from psychotherapy stronger than they were before the precipitating even.

Substance Abuse and Addiction

Substance Abuse can have a devastating effect on not only the individual, but also those around them. Contrary to many assumptions, addiction affects people from all walks of life. Although addiction is often associated with other mental health challenges like depression or anxiety, these difficulties are often secondary to substance use (including alcohol abuse and both legal and illegal drug abuse), and most certainly aggravated by it. Substance use disorders are often poorly understood by health care professionals in general, and interventions can thus be unhelpful. Successful interventions on the other hand can yield dramatic and holistic improvement in wellbeing and general functioning.

Trauma

Traumatic experiences can leave to a deep and enduring impact on us. The effects can be wide-ranging including intrusive thoughts and memories, anxiety, hyper-vigilance, difficulties in personal relationships, nightmares and insomnia, feeling numb or unreal, feeling fearful, angry or ashamed, being unable to experience joy, and being easily startled.

Trauma can result not only from experiencing the threat of death or serious harm directly, but also from witnessing or hearing about others being harmed. Trauma events can be acute, one-off incidents or can occur repeatedly, as is often the case in domestic violence or child abuse. The effects of trauma can be felt immediately but can also take weeks, months or even years to be felt.

Much is now known about trauma, its effects and its treatment, and this knowledge informs evidence-based practice in effective trauma therapy and treatment.

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Trauma Focused Therapy for Children and Adolescents (TF-CBT)

Extensive research has demonstrated this treatment's effectiveness in alleviating symptoms in children and adolescents who have experienced trauma including physical violence, sexual abuse or traumatic loss. I have a particular interest in TF-CBT and am currently involved in local research in this field.

 

Psychologist / Therapist in Harfield Village, Claremont, Mowbray, Southern Suburbs, Cape Town 

References:

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlinton, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Sadock, B.J. & Sadock, A.S. (2007). Kaplan and Sadock's Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioural Sciences/Clinical Psychiatry (10th ed.). New York. Wolters Kluwer and Lippincott, Williams &  Wilkins.