Natalie Smith-Chandler

Natalie Smith-Chandler
Educational Psychologist

Natalie is an Educational Psychologist who has been in private practice since January 2013. She is particularly interested in supporting children and young adults with learning and developmental difficulties, including Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is passionate about disentangling complex presenting comorbidities through the assessment process to reveal the individual’s core strength and authentic self. Natalie works therapeutically with children and young adults to enhance self-understanding, healthy relationships and resilience. She believes that all children can learn – with the right support.

Natalie graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2011 (Cum Laude) and received Rector’s Award for the Best Masters Student (Department of Education). She also holds a teaching degree and is an experienced educator, musician and writer. She has worked in a variety of eclectic contexts including schools; tertiary institutions and hospital settings. She also worked as Educational Psychologist at Tygerberg Medical School from 2013 where she offered academic and career support to the Health Sciences Students. She currently combines her practice with a research position at Stellenbosch University (Tygerberg Hospital) where she is working toward a PhD in the field of HIV related neurocognitive disorders. Natalie has presented three papers at international conferences in Paris, Milan and Cape Town and has published her research findings.

Other interesting information about Natalie

Natalie is a creative individual whose interest in art, music and literature has always guided her practice. She also engages daily mindful meditation practice which influences all that she does. Natalie has a passion for uplifting individuals who have suffered injustice or discrimination due to disability. Her Master’s thesis focused on the Professional Identity Formation of Individuals with Disabilities and included a Lacanian Psychoanalytic perspective of narrative disability research. The purpose of the research sought to redress the way in which disability is theorized and included an integrated theoretical approach to address the construct of internalized oppression at the level of the individual.

Natalie services include:  psycho-educational assessment; career assessment, counselling and development; metacognitive training; academic counselling and development (including study skills); psychotherapy and play therapy for children and adolescents. She works within a systemic framework which includes liaison with school professionals when indicated. She is available for professional presentations and workshops on a variety of topics aimed at supporting parents, teens and professionals in the field.

 

Working with Natalie

Psycho-educational Assessments:

Natalie conducts psycho-educational assessments following the recommendations of schools; universities or professional practitioners (such as teachers, doctors, paediatricians, neurologists), in cases where there would be merit in investigating a learner’s innate learning potential, including strengths and areas of difficulty along certain domains of development.  A psycho-educational assessment may be conducted if parents/teachers/professionals observe areas that may be less-developed relative to a child’s learning and / or development.  It can also be used for school readiness; application for examination accommodations; assessment of giftedness; screening for specific learning difficulties such as reading; mathematics; diagnosis of attention related disorders. The assessment process includes a full battery evaluation of the learner’s potentialities on the followings domains: cognitive; scholastic; perceptual; behavioural; emotional; social and perceptual. The goal of the assessment is to provide practical recommendations to guide the child’s future learning and developmental needs.

Psychotherapy:

Natalie is committed to developing relationships with children and young adults. She believes that the most important component in the psychotherapeutic process, is the relationship which develops between herself and the client. Working predominantly with young people, Natalie seeks to provide a safe and nurturing space where each individual is affirmed not just for who they are; but for their innate potential to grow and develop into the finest possible version of self. Natalie’s therapeutic approach is integrative although her personal paradigm is grounded in a psychodynamic therapeutic approach. This means that her focus is to reveal the unconscious content of individual’s psyche to increase their awareness as to how these processes manifest in their current behaviours and relationships. Natalie also provides play therapy to younger children who have not yet integrated the appropriate expressive language skills to be able to engage formal talk therapy. Her play therapy approach is guided by the non-directive principles of Virginia Axline’s approach. Natalie believes that play is a child’s natural mode of expression and her focus is to develop a warm and accepting relationship with the child, where the fundamental principle is to provide a comfortable, safe environment which encourages the child to freely express his or her feelings without censorship. In this way, the child leads and the therapist follows. Natalie’s core approach is based on nurturing and understanding, where each young person feels valued, understood and safe enough to express what is sometimes impossible to articulate in the normal course of their lives.

Natalie’s particular areas of interest include:

 Complex comorbid cognitive and developmental presentations

 Learning and developmental difficulties (e.g. Dyslexia; Dyscalculia)

 Autism Spectrum Disorders

 Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

 Epilepsy

 Neurocognitive disorders in children and adolescents

 Anxiety related difficulties

 Eating disorders and substance abuse

 Grief and Loss

 Adjustment difficulties

 Parent counselling

Natalie also provides professional supervision to colleagues and peers.

Workshops and presentations are facilitated in school and professional settings. Popular topics include:

 Understanding Learning Disabilities.

 Study Skills workshops (Grades 7 -9 and 10 – 12)

 ADHD: Practical Strategies for Teachers and Professionals

 Eating Disorders (presentation for teenagers)

 Understanding Anxiety Related Difficulties in your Teenager (presentation for parents)

 Enhancing Working Memory – Practical Strategies (presentation for teachers)

 Substance Related Disorders (presentation for psychologists and counsellors)

 Self-Esteem workshop (presentation for teenagers)

 Dealing with Disappointment (a workshop for teenagers)

 An Introduction to Psycho-Educational Assessment (presentation for teachers and counsellors)

 

“An unexamined life is not worth living” Socrates

Contact Natalie on: 082 305 2221

E-Mail: natsmith@mweb.co.za