Deborah Ashdown

Clinical Psychologist and Director at Mindful Psychology Practice

Deborah has been practicing for over ten years and her approach has developed and been shaped by her experience and those she has worked with. Currently Deborah has a mixed practice and works with teens, families, parents, couples and adults. Deborah also does parent-infant psychotherapy, where she focuses on attachment and bonding, and parent-child relationships. Deborah believes that the power of therapy lies in the client’s ability to find their own sense of direction, when given the space and frame in which to do so.

Deborah works psychoanalytically, and is interested in mechanisms of psychotherapeutic change from a perspective of how our brains evolve to learn, unlearn, and relearn. Although neurobiology plays a significant role in psychotherapeutic change there are many other subtleties and complexities as far as human behavior is concerned. Therapists have to look beyond words, diagnoses, and presenting problems to the inner and outer histories of their clients. There are various paths towards “wholeness” and preferred change. This shift embraces both verbal and non verbal processes, and takes place in an integrated mind-body space.

Other interesting information about Deborah…

Deborah completed her Honours cum laude at WITS and obtained her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology cum laude from UNISA. Deborah enjoys setting up mindful spaces that create collaboration between those who seek help and the passion of the professionals who dedicate themselves to creating a space in which healing can take place.

Her training as a Clinical Psychologist involved working in various township and community settings within the South African context as well as government hospitals. Her passion and professional development in her early years of practice tended towards working with children, adolescents and their parents. She played a significant role in developing adolescent intervention programmes for youth at risk in various areas such as teen depression and suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and other emotional and behavioural problems.

In 2008 Deborah took over the management of Youthworx Wellness Centre, and developed a programme aimed at Adolescent Wellness. She spent 6 years building The Youthworx Adolescent Programme, which incorporated individual therapy, family therapy, parent enrichment groups, and group therapy. She managed a multi-disciplinary team made up of Psychologists, Social Workers, and Psychiatrists who worked together to help teens and their families find their preferred way of being in the world.

Deborah’s Master’s thesis was submitted to the American Evaluation Association, and as a result she received a travel award in 2006 to the United States to present her research, which involved a Substance Awareness Intervention Programme for Youth In South Africa. Deborah received very valuable feedback and she used this feedback to grow the interventions and programmes she has been involved with.

Deborah has also been interviewed on Carte Blanche and on SABC 3 about her therapeutic  interventions aimed at teenagers who are at risk and about areas such as teen addiction, self-harm and depression. She has also presented on these issues at various schools in Johannesburg. Deborah also runs Peer Mentorship Programmes at schools in Johannesburg, which have been very successful in empowering young adults to help and guide each other.

She is a member of the South African Psychoanalytic Initiative (SAPI), is a group representative for the South African Psychoanalytic Confederation (SAPC), and is a member of GRASP reading group.

Work with Deborah…

In my life and work I am constantly made aware of the awe of the human spirit in the face of pain. How we put ourselves together around these early experiences of attachment sets up for life as an adult. We move backwards and forwards and in a circular way around these experiences, using our past to navigate our future and vice versa. We undo, we redo, and undo again.

As a therapist my hope of therapy is; that you become interested in how you have put yourself together; that you continue to discover and surprise yourself; that you find vitality in the way you work, play, and love.

Special Interests:

Working with teens


Adult therapy

Couples therapy

Parent/infant psychotherapy

Peer mentor training


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

Contact Deborah