Therapeutic Group Programs:

The therapeutic group program runs over two weeks offering you the opportunity to learn a variety of life skills and to learn more about yourself and your relationships. Many groups have workshop-style facilitation, and the focus is on learning and self-development. Groups are presented by a variety of facilitators, including Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, Social Workers, Psychiatrists and Psychologists. The goal of the group therapy program is to arm you with as much knowledge and as many skills as possible, and to enable you to prevent or reduce stressors that may have contributed to the hospitalisation. It is an opportunity to pick the brains of a variety of professionals who have a wide range of expertise.

The day starts with light exercise at the gym and then breakfast. Some individual therapy time is available before the groups start at 10h00. The morning group session runs until lunch time and after lunch another group therapy session is scheduled. Individual consultation time with the treating team is available in the afternoon after the last group session ends.

Camphor and Acacia Wards: General Groups
The general groups present a variety of life skills and information groups that most people could benefit from. These are areas that have been identified as crucial for developing a healthy lifestyle and for maintaining the gains made during your hospitalisation.

Communication Skills
Communication comes in many forms. By listening to the radio, simply reading an SMS, talking to a friend, staring at your lover or arguing with your mother – you are always communicating on some level. Do you find that your relationships are marked by miscommunication or a so-called lack of communication? Are you clear about what you communicate as well as how you communicate it?

Learn about:

  • The importance of effective communication in various situations.
  • Communication as a multi-faceted process.
  • How communication involves problem solving and decision making.
  • How language is an important tool for thinking, learning, and communication.
  • Listening as an active, constructive process.

Emotional Intelligence
EI is the ability to recognise your and other people's emotions in time to not be hi-jacked by those feelings. Developing your EI means that you gain more control over your emotions (this is different to bottling up feelings) so that you can have more decision making power in situations (as opposed to reacting). Studies have shown that people with high EI have greater mental health, are more successful at work, and have more effective leadership skills. The good news is that unlike intelligence, Emotional Intelligence is actually a skill that can be learnt and developed.

Learn about:

  • Using emotions.
  • Understanding emotions.
  • Managing emotions.

Positive Psychology
Positive psychology is the study of happiness, and about a life worth living. It examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled. It builds on your personal strengths and resilience by understanding what has enabled you to survive all you have for this long.

Learn about:

  • How to identify your existing coping resources and character strengths.
  • What coping strengths can be implemented in your current situation.
  • How positive emotions can be amplified and be utilised to facilitate healing.

Self-responsibility represents your ability to make choices about your thoughts and, subsequently, to make changes in your life that will positively affect your health, relationships and well-being. And when you make these kinds of positive changes, you are taking responsibility for yourself and tapping into your own personal power in a way no one else can.

Learn about:

  • Understanding true nature of self-responsibility.
  • The crucial role self-deception plays.
  • The true meaning of power.
  • The ABC of Self-Empowerment.
  • Defining Learned Helplessness and the Holistic Treatment model.
  • How to clarify personal affirmations as the foundation of self-management.

Love Languages
“Your emotional love language and the language of your spouse may be as different as Chinese from English. No matter how hard you try to express love in English, if your spouse understands only Chinese, you will never understand how to love each other. We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.” (Gary Chapman)

Learn about:

  • The 5 Love languages.
  • Why people attract the people they do.
  • How to improve your relationships.

Interactional Styles
We affect and are affected by the people around us. Sometimes we get caught up in predictable life patterns and communication styles that seem to repeat across generations. Knowing your interaction style helps you locate interpersonal conflicts and situational energy drains. It gives you a map for greater flexibility in your interactions with others.

Learn about:

  • Improving your understanding and conceptualisation of relationships and interactional styles.
  • Introducing ways to manage relationships.
  • Improved identification and ownership of problems.
  • How to identify pathological relationships.
  • Finding a workable model to generate solutions.

Simply put, boundaries draw a line to indicate where your ‘enough’ is situated. It is about where you end and the other person begins. Many people assume that having boundaries means not having loving feelings toward their partner. But it’s actually the opposite. One of the most vital components to creating a happy, healthy and fulfilling relationship is to become a master at setting boundaries.

Learn about:

  • What healthy behaviour and acceptable interaction dynamics look like.
  • Being emotionally honest.
  • How to start owning feelings.
  • How to communicate in a direct and honest manner.

You may find yourself in difficult situations where you say “yes” even though it somehow feels wrong, and you wish later that you hadn’t. Over time, you may start to feel misused and become resentful. This may cause you to withdraw from your relationships. Assertiveness is the ability to speak up for yourself or others in a way that is honest and respectful. When you are in an assertive state, you are self-assured and confident without being aggressive. You get your point across without upsetting others and without becoming upset yourself.

Learn about:

  • Your moral rights.
  • The difference between aggression, passivity and assertiveness.
  • Verbal and non-verbal assertiveness skills.

Emotional Blackmail
Emotional Blackmail (EB) is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten (either directly or indirectly) to ‘punish’ us if we don’t do what they want. Emotional Blackmailers know how much you value your relationship with them, they know your vulnerabilities. Often they know your deepest secrets. And no matter how much they care about you, when they fear they won’t get their way, they use this intimate knowledge to shape the threats that give them the payoff they want: your compliance.

Learn about:

  • How emotional independence is a safe option.
  • How to recognise typical scenarios.
  • What the effects of emotional blackmail are.
  • How to create solutions and find your voice.
  • How to develop self-awareness.

Survival Skills
In a moment of crisis, our bodies are programmed to respond with adrenalin. We react with responses where we just want to run and hide or become defensive and aggressive. Living on moments like these is simply crisis management, and depletes us. What about life in-between? It is possible to develop a way of life that protects, strengthens and replenishes you emotionally. You can cultivate a set of activities and choices that allow you to live a full life beyond just surviving the crisis moments.

Learn about:

  • Self-awareness and self-expression.
  • How to manage social awareness and interpersonal relationships.
  • Emotional management and emotional regulation.
  • How to manage change.
  • How to create a workable model for self-motivation.

Managing Anxiety
Occasional anxiety is a normal part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or making an important decision. However, Anxiety Disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear. For a person with an Anxiety Disorder, the anxiety does not go away and can get worse over time. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships.

Learn about:

  • What anxiety is?
  • How to manage anxiety using a CBT approach.
  • How our thoughts and perceptions of situations result in how we feel and act.

Stress management
Stress is a natural and necessary part of life. When you are faced with a challenge and feel capable of meeting the challenge, you feel rewarded at the end and growth may take place. However, when you are overwhelmed by the stress it can lead to exhaustion and a sense of helplessness. To avoid getting to the point of burnout, you need to know the signs, and have healthy coping strategies. Practicing these strategies gives you the sense being capable and in turn enables you to manage the bigger challenges.

Learn about:

  • What is the difference between good and bad stress.
  • Identify the effects of stress.
  • Identifying various ways to manage the effects of stress.
  • Practicing skills in identifying stress effects.

Relaxation techniques counter the effects of stress and offer you an opportunity to gain a sense of control and physical release. The regular, daily practice of some form of deep relaxation can make a difference in dealing with emotions, such as anxiety as well as sleeplessness. Deep relaxation refers to a specific physiological state that is the direct opposite of the way your body reacts under stress or during a panic attack.

The relaxation response involves a number of physiological changes including:

  • decrease in heart rate
  • decrease in respiration rate
  • decrease in blood pressure
  • increase in muscle relaxation
  • decrease in analytical thinking
  • decrease in metabolic rate and oxygen consumption

Expressive Therapy
Expressive Therapy is the use of the creative arts as a form of therapy. Creativity is used so you can heal through the use of your imagination. This can help bring about symptom relief, emotional and physical integration, and personal growth. It is an active approach that helps strengthen your ability to observe different roles while increasing the flexibility between these roles.

Learn about:

  • How you can promote emotional growth and psychological integration.
  • What your inner experiences are.
  • How to enhance interpersonal relationship skills.
  • How you can expand your repertoire of dramatic roles.
  • Your artistic and creative skills (left brain – right brain balancing).
  • How to improve self-image and confidence.
  • Communications skills (verbal and non-verbal).

Texture Collage
Some people find it easier to express themselves creatively rather than talking about their inner experiences. Through the collage you get the opportunity to explore and express your innermost feelings in a safe way. You can identify your inner resources and strengthen them to overcome obstacles and reach toward your greatest potential.   Previous arts experience is not required, and the emphasis is on the creative process rather than the product.

Learn about:

  • Identifying and expressing current feeling and emotions in a non-threating, creative manner.

Beading is a form of therapy that starts with one bead and its unique beauty, strength and it's potential to be created into whatever the mind can imagine. We all have the ability to be creative and here you can channel this creativity into making a necklace for yourself or for somebody else. Beading is one form of leisure activity. If you haven’t tried it before, it’s an opportunity to try something new. Although it may initially seem that this does not interest you, it is often the activity that is enjoyed most.

Learn about:

  • How to use beading as a leisure activity and as a way to relax.
  • How beading can help you regain focused attention.
  • How to develop psychological endurance.
  • How to develop frustration tolerance.
  • Planning and problem solving.
  • Decision making.

Rose Bush
This is a creative activity that allows you to explore different aspects of yourself and your relationships with others.

Learn about:

  • Enhancing awareness and insight into relationships, existence, joys and suffering.
  • Discovering yourself.
  • Taking responsibility for authentic living with acceptance of reality and opportunities.
  • Relief of dread, anxiety and guilt while developing meaning.

Exercise is an effective but underused treatment for mild to moderate Depression and other psychiatric disorders. Get the feel-good factor when you increase both your endorphins and serotonin levels in this fun class. The exercises combine Pilates-type and cardio exercises which are manageable no matter what your fitness level is. The exercise group runs daily and lasts about 30 minutes.

Preparation for Discharge
Many persons comment on how safe it feels being in hospital. However, the time comes when the butterfly has to emerge from the cocoon. Going back into the world is an opportunity to test your new wings by applying all the newly learnt skills and all the psychological gains. In this group you are prepared for possible obstacles you may face after discharge to reduce the chances of an unplanned re-admission and to bridge the gap between the hospital and where you are discharged to.

Learn about:

  • The importance of follow up with your treating team after discharge.
  • Identifying outside sources of help.
  • Taking responsibility for your own psychiatric health.

It can be confusing or daunting to start psychiatric medication, and there are many myths around the dangers of taking medication. This group aims to demystify the various medications that may have been prescribed. It offers the opportunity to learn about your prescribed medication and the effect it has on mood, sensation, thinking, and behaviour, as well as the interaction with other medications and substances. You can ask questions regarding the medication thereby preserving your power regarding your treatment.

Learn about:

  • The importance of taking responsibility for their own treatment.
  • To know what medicine you’re taking and the mechanisms of action.
  • Differentiate between acute and chronic medication.
  • Identify side-effects and drug-drug interactions.
  • How to respond to possible side-effects.

Camphor and Acacia wards: Specialised Groups
Within the group program there is opportunity on two mornings to tailor make the program to meet more specific needs. Several groups run concurrently. These groups are smaller and give you the opportunity, in conjunction with your treating team, to choose from a variety of groups to address specific problems.

These groups include:

Work Related Stress
Work related stress is often a large contributing factor to hospitalisation. This is an opportunity to discuss your work related stress and find ways to cope with it.

Learn about:

  • How to identify the causes of stress at work.
  • How the stress affects your body, mind, emotions and effectiveness in the workplace.
  • What coping strategies you could apply in a stressful work environment.

We value many different things in our lives, not least of all the people who we have relationships with. When we stand to lose, or have lost something of value, we may enter a period of grief. Sometimes the grief is unrecognised because we do not recognise the loss (such as loss of hope or security) or sometimes we may become stuck in the grief, finding it hard to let go.

Learn about:

  • What kinds of things we can grieve for.
  • What grief looks like.
  • What it looks like when we get stuck.
  • What reasonable expectations are and how to manage expectations.
  • How we can help the grieving process so that we may once again lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.

Parenting Skills
Almost every parent has at one time complained that raising children does not come with a manual. Although it is not as simple as having a recipe for raising children, certain things are universal. For example, consistency is important. Consistency brings feelings of security for children and also a clear knowledge of what is expected from them. Another universally important thing is for parents to take a team approach. This means the adults involved with raising a child should work together. Each parent also has a unique style that feels more natural, but regardless of style, balance can be attained to accommodate the needs of most children. The emphasis in this group is on the emotional development of children and how the different role of each parent contributes to an emotionally healthy child. All parents (married, single, divorced and even grandparents) can benefit from attending parenting skills.

Learn about:

  • The basic needs of children.
  • Different parenting styles.
  • How you were affected by a particular style as a child.
  • What changes you could make for more successful parenting.

Mind Body Connection
Today, we accept that there is a powerful mind-body connection through which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect our health. Mind-body medicine has provided evidence that psychological factors can play a major role in such illnesses as heart disease, and that mind-body techniques can aid in their treatment. Clinical trials have indicated mind-body therapies to be helpful in managing arthritis and other chronic pain conditions. There is also evidence they can help to improve psychological functioning and quality of life, and may help to ease symptoms of disease.

Learn about:

  • The link between mind and body.
  • The impact of thoughts and feelings on the body.
  • Psycho-immunology.
  • The benefits of relaxation, meditation and visualisation.

Anxiety or stress can bring about hyperventilation, especially in panic disorders. It can cause dizziness, lightheadedness, a sense of unsteadiness, and tingling around the mouth and fingertips. The symptoms may be so severe that they mimic the onset of a heart attack, and can be very distressing. It is often the cause for visits to the emergency room. Fortunately, you can learn to manage hyperventilation by learning proper breathing techniques.

Learn about:

  • The symptoms of hyperventilation.
  • How to purposefully bring it on, and therefore learn to take control.
  • How the body interprets and reacts to hyperventilation.
  • How to breathe correctly.

It may be difficult to know when a relationship is worth investing in and when it is time to leave. There are times when, due to our own fears, we leave a relationship too soon, and perpetually repeat patterns in our relationships, or go from one extreme to another. However, sometimes we end up in toxic relationships and stay past the expiry date.

Learn about:

  • The Imago principle.
  • What a toxic relationship looks like.
  • What a healthy relationship looks like.
  • Who carries responsibility in a relationship.
  • How to make up your own mind about what is right for you.

More Conscious Boundaries with Self and Others
We are constantly in various roles in our lives. Boundaries have an unconscious origin in our childhoods, and as children we used to take on a certain role within our families. If you have boundary issues, you may battle to stay in your role or stick too rigidly to a role. You may feel stuck, or transfer roles inappropriately to other contexts. This can be very limiting. Having more conscious boundaries may enable you to feel more free and spontaneous, maintain your self-esteem, explore your creativity, allow for more intimacy in your relationships and give you a sense of autonomy.

Learn about:

  • The roles you may find yourself in and how these developed.
  • The power differences between roles.
  • The four main boundary problems.
  • What can you change and how could it be changed.

Camphor and Acacia wards: Specialised Streams
Some situations may require more comprehensive learning, or it may take more time to explore completely. Topics that require more time, such as substance abuse, are given special consideration in these streams. Multiple classes are scheduled around these themes.

Dual Diagnosis
If you have both a chemical dependence (substance abuse) and a secondary psychiatric disorder, such as Depression or Anxiety, this group aims to help you understand and manage both disorders. Substance abuse can complicate the recovery from a mood disorder and may contribute to relapse. A mood disorder can in turn complicate the recovery from substance abuse. It is important to recognise and treat both diagnoses in order for the best possible outcome to be attained.

Learn about:

  • The impact of the illness on self and others.
  • How the two diagnoses interact.
  • What the risk factors are.
  • What the road to recovery looks like.

Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD)
Bipolar Mood Disorder (BMD), also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. The shifts in mood are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time, and can have a severe impact on life. BMD can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. The good news is that BMD can be treated, and it is possible to live a full and productive life (NIMH).

Learn about:

  • What BMD is
  • What the difference is between Bipolar I and Bipolar II
  • Why medication is necessary
  • How substance abuse may be related
  • How to detect a new episode in good time
  • How to manage stress and make a regular life

Dialectical Behaviour Therapy
Some people tend to experience difficulty in close relationships because of being more emotionally reactive or because their feelings are experienced as very intense or may take longer than usual to return to the point of departure. Numbness may be a substitute for a baseline emotional level, and the person may engage in unhelpful behaviours such as self-harm or suicidal thinking. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is designed to help people change patterns of behavior that are not helpful. DBT focuses on both emotional and cognitive regulation by teaching about the triggers, and learning how to apply the relevant and more helpful coping strategy. DBT assumes that people are doing the best they can but are either lacking the skills or influenced by positive or negative reinforcement that interfere with their ability to function appropriately.

Learn about:

  • How to find your wise/balanced mind
  • Mindfulness practice
  • How to tolerate distress
  • How to improve a difficult moment.
  • How to regulate your emotions more effectively.

Bushwillow Ward
The groups in Bushwillow, our assisted ward, are generally task centred which involves the patients being engaged in meaningful activities.  These include movement and exercise, constructive free time activities, and making chocolates, cards and photo frames.

The aims of these groups are:

  • To activate the patients
  • To improve the patients' awareness of their immediate environment
  • To improve level of participation and social interaction
  • To facilitate and consolidate task concept
  • To promote constructive use of leisure time
  • To improve active concentration
  • To improve decision making
  • To improve following of instructions
  • To improve listening skills
The course content was well-structured and easy to follow.


The staff are friendly and helpful.


Interesting and informative!


I consider trying again now that I know what is involved in relationships.


I wish other people in my life could be here and learn this stuff!


It was like someone talking about my life.


The content related exactly to my situation.


Something you can definitely use.


One can feel really capable of choosing how you want your life to be.


The program was very helpful and very motivating. Thank you very much.


The content was talking to our everyday life and situations we find ourselves in. I feel more equipped for the outside.


Gave me hope.


*Pseudonyms used to respect privacy