Abortion may be a sensitive and complex matter. The current conversation engulfing our nation on abortion is pivotal and necessary as it widens our perspectives and requires us to question our beliefs, ideologies and values we operate from.
Nevertheless, we explore the role of a therapist in the conversation of abortion. As mental health professionals, therapists can come into contact with persons’ battling with issues of abortion at different intersections. This can occur during the time a person is considering abortion or dealing with the abortion aftermath, or sometimes therapists may have been a witness or aiding and abetting to the act of abortion. Hence, it is crucial that therapists’ can conduct themselves in an ethical, professional and competent manner at all times. In carrying out their duties in a psychological setting, therapists have to reserve their experiences, ideologies, beliefs and values when engaging with a client,
although it is challenging to do so because of our intrinsic nature. The bottom line is to not impose our viewpoints on our clients. Of the many roles we assume, psychologists/therapists professional relationship is first and foremost to ensure that it is the clients’ needs that are met. Our role is simply to guide the client to arrive at their solutions out of their own free will as therapy is an empowering tool. Clients are encouraged to make independent choices and accept the responsibilities and consequences of their choices. It is also our responsibility to guide clients to be educated on the subject matter and explore various psychological implications involved in the process as it has the potential to impact their lives permanently. For example, pre and post counselling would be required regardless of the clients’ choice. This is to help them make conscious decisions. Evaluation of the clients’ current mental health status, financial background, and other support systems providing detailed psycho-education on the process involved in the performance of an abortion, and if necessary, employing a multi-disciplinary approach of other professionals
such as medical doctors, social workers or pastors for further assistance are all things to be discussed. The utmost
importance, in any case, is to assists clients make an informed decision. In addition, our central purpose is to make clients aware of their strengths, realise the resources they have and explore potential limitations which may prevent them from accessing these resources and to clarify what type of life they want to live. In return, therapy requires clients to be open and honest with themselves in their pursuit of change as their quality of life is implicated with every decision they make. At the end of the day, to be mentally healthy, we need to live our lives in a way that is satisfactory to the self otherwise we are at risk of living a continuous whirlwind of imbalance life which will ultimately affect our mental health grossly.
Therefore, in as much as abortion is perceived to be personal, it is also a health and mental concern and inevitably a societal issue which we cannot deny because of our interrelatedness, interconnectedness and interdependency as human beings. Our whole make-up as human
beings is centred on that. No person operates in isolation even when we want to. Human
beings are systemic. Namibia as a country is a family, which comprises of different individuals and perspectives and it is important to be
conscious of that as our choices ultimately affect the whole system which we are part of. Bowen’s systemic (family) theory, explains family as a fundamental unit which responds at an emotional level. It further states that each member assumes a role in the functioning of the other; therefore, what affects one person affects the rest. Hence, it is challenging to unbind an individual from a system and talk about abortion in isolation without including health, mental health and society as a whole.
Let’s stay informed. Justine /Oaës
• Justine /Oaës can be reached at
Justine’s column will appear every second Friday in the New Era newspaper.