The purpose of this study was to explore therapeutic meetings in a South African context. Utilising a qualitative research method, I have examined how South African therapists work in a multicultural context, asking questions regarding challenges the therapists met, what elements existed in the African context that influence healing. I proposed that the concept of Ubuntu could provide an African perspective to balance the western notion of psychotherapy. I also explored what adjustments therapists made in order to make psychotherapy more applicable to the South African context and whether it was possible to create identification and recognition in a cross-cultural therapy, investigating whether there can be created a room for healing, or the psychoanalytic notion of “thirdness” when therapist and client do not share the same cultural background. My sample consisted of 9 South African therapists, and the group was representative of the diversity of South African society.
The findings supported the assumption that South African psychotherapists meet extensive challenges in their practices. These were challenges both to the initiation and sustaining of a therapeutic process, such as poverty, stigma and language, and to the therapeutic work itself. My informants said they made modifications to the psychotherapeutic model, but struggled to define specifically what they did. All my informants felt the need for more African based psychotherapy theory, and believed the notion of Ubuntu could be one way to bring in an African perspective. However, the majority did not believe integrating traditional forms of healing into psychotherapy was the modus operandi to achieve such theory. Findings further supported the assumption that thirdness could be created in a cross-cultural therapeutic meeting provided the opportunity was given to addressing difference and transcend culture through recognising it.