Perceptions of psychology : the views of key informants and primary health care service users in a peri-urban community in the Western Cape

Fortein, Bianca Euphemia Monique (2009-03)

Thesis (MA (Psychology))--University of Stellenbosch, 2009.


The importance of delivering psychological services, particularly in disadvantaged communities is acknowledged by policy makers. Yet, little information exists about how communities view psychologists and psychological services. This study explores how key informants and primary health care service users in a peri-urban community in the Western Cape perceive psychologists and their profession. Focus groups were conducted with primary health care service users and in-depth interviews were conducted with key informants. Results were content analysed. These results indicate that this community’s conceptualisation of psychology incorporates both Western and indigenous notions and concepts which are utilised simultaneously. Psychology is viewed positively as a profession that can aid individuals and groups in dealing with and resolving intra- and interpersonal problems and conflicts. Those with mental health problems are still subject to a great deal of stigmatisation. The fear of being labelled makes the utilisation of the services of a psychologist or other mental health professional highly unlikely in several instances. This problem is exacerbated by issues related to the availability of and access to such services, as well as the quality of available care. Nonetheless, these participants state that psychologists themselves can make a positive contribution to addressing these issues, starting with active involvement in communities and providing information regarding the nature and value of the work they do. This information is critical if we are to design and implement comprehensive intervention strategies that allow for meaningful and informed participation within communities.

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