Clinical Psychologist, Leslie Ebben B.A Psych (UJ), B.A. Hons Psych (UJ), M.A Clin Psych (UJ)

Lisa Padfield

Clinical Psychologist

Based in Stellenbosch, my role is to facilitate working through the stuck and painful places in your life and to help you cope with crises, relationship difficulties or emotional struggles, within a safe therapeutic relationship.

As a registered clinical psychologist, I work psychodynamically with adult individuals and am comfortable conducting therapy in either English or Afrikaans. It is a journey that requires energy, emotional investment and commitment from both client and therapist and should not be undertaken lightly.  I take the unconscious seriously; believe that the past influences the present and that we can all benefit from a deeper understanding of what makes us tick and who we are in the world. Not everyone who consults a psychologist has specific problems, though. Some people enter therapy to grow as individuals and, ultimately, to live more fulfilling lives.

Why see a psychologist?

The reasons are many and varied, for example:

  • We work with people to solve personal problems by helping them to discover solutions which often lie within but may be hard to access.
  • We treat people who are experiencing difficulties in their personal lives, families, working life or relationships.
  • We help people cope with and treat serious clinical conditions such as bipolar mood disorder, depression or post-traumatic stress.
  • We help people achieve personal growth through introspection, self-awareness and improved interpersonal skills.

Why can’t I just talk to a friend?

People often ask me why they can’t just talk to a friend. While doing so can be very helpful and bring relief, a therapist offers three things friends and family may not be able to:  total confidentiality in a safe environment, honesty and the benefit of training.  Firstly, knowing that therapy is completely private may help you to speak freely. It can be very difficult to talk about personal things that are embarrassing or that you’ve never told anyone before.  Secondly, friends and family are often unable to be completely honest with you, for fear of hurting your feelings. My job is to be direct in a gentle way, to help you move forward.  And last but not least, therapists are trained: to see patterns, to recognize serious conditions like depression and perhaps most importantly, trained in how to treat people.  You might not be aware of either your good behavioural patterns, or your more self-defeating ones.  For example, many people wonder why they tend to have the same kinds of relationship problems again and again, whether with colleagues, friends or their intimate partner. A therapist can help you understand how you relate to others, help you improve your interpersonal skills and help you choose a partner more wisely.  Therapy is ideal for helping people with relationships, because that’s what it is: a relationship.  So you have an opportunity to try out new ways of being, but in a safe space with someone who can give you valuable feedback.

Therapy areas of interest

Some of my specific areas of clinical interest include but are not limited to:

  • Adjustment issues (coping with life changes such as retirement, retrenchment, a break-up or divorce, a health crisis etc.)
  • Anxiety (including coping with panic attacks)
  • Depression
  • End-of-life issues (aging, death and dying)
  • Loss and bereavement
  • Stress
  • Relationship problems, including same-sex relationships (although I no longer offer couples therapy or marriage counselling, relationship difficulties are common and this often forms a specific focus within an individual therapy process.)

For more about the specific services I offer and my approach in general, please see my website

What I Offer

I offer psychotherapy – or therapy as most people refer to it, to adult individuals on a short, medium or long-term basis. I have a particular interest in working with the life challenges typically faced by middle-aged, older and aged people.

I also offer individual supervision for psychotherapists (registered psychologists and counsellors).  My aim is to provide a safe and non-judgemental space in which we can collaboratively explore the therapeutic processes, specific clinical difficulties and other aspects of case or practice management which form part of your therapeutic work.  Supervisees choose the frequency of sessions (weekly, every two weeks or monthly) and I am happy to make application for CPD accreditation (1 session = 1 CPD point).

My qualifications, experience and therapeutic approach

As a clinical psychologist, my training and experience covers the treatment of a range of psychological problems both on an inpatient (in a hospital) and outpatient basis.  These include serious mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression as well as ordinary life problems such as relationship, emotional or spiritual/existential difficulties.

I think and work psychodynamically. My approach is strongly collaborative where the client and I work together as partners on the journey toward wellbeing.  I work with adults and have experience with brief, focussed therapy as well as longer-term processes. I consult with other health care professionals, where necessary, to ensure the best possible service. I am registered with the Board of Healthcare Funders, so clients can claim from medical aid where they have benefits for psychology.

I feel an ethical responsibility to reserve a portion of my billable hours for probono work.  This I do primarily through volunteer work for LifeLine/Childline Western Cape, a non-profit organization I have been privileged to work with over many years.  I am actively involved in furthering the profession of psychology, in service of all South Africans, through my chosen professional body (see below). As someone in the helping professions, I believe that it is very important to also take care of ourselves. Accordingly, I pay attention to my own personal and professional development on an on-going basis.

I obtained a first-class Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of Stellenbosch and completed my internship at Valkenberg Psychiatric Hospital. I am in private practice in Stellenbosch. Over the past few years I have also taught post-graduate students on a part time basis at Stellenbosch University and facilitated an in-patient support group on the psychiatric ward at a local hospital.

I am a member of the following professional bodies:

  • Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
  • Cape Town Psychoanalytic Self Psychology Group  (CTPSPG)
  • South African Psychoanalytic Confederation (SAPC)

HPCSA registration number: PS0105767
Practice number: 0366951