Trainees

Deirdre Pieterse

Deirdre Pieterse attended the Tirisano programme as a Track A scholar in 2017. In 2018 she graduated with a MPhil in Consultation Liaison Psychiatry from the University of Cape Town. In June 2018 her MPhil research project was selected for oral and poster presentation at the annual European Association Psychosomatic Medicine conference in Verona, Italy. Deirdre was appointed as a permanent psychiatrist at Valkenberg Hospital and a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town in February 2018. Her current research interest stems from her MPhil and continues local work in the field of suicide prevention and research. She continues to collaborate with UCLA scholars on a paper examining parental and youth Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Khonzanani Mbatha

Mr Mbatha’s research aims to investigate the discursive patterns related to how individuals talk about sex, sex workers and their profession, and the extent to which sex workers’ constructions of their careers impact the overall understanding and policing that leads to criminalizing legislation regarding sex work. Mr. Mbatha is currently a lecturer in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Africa and editor of the department’s peer-reviewed academic journal, New Voices in Psychology. While at UCLA, he intends to acquire more knowledge and skills regarding applied qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. In particular, Mr. Mbatha hopes that his involvement in the UCLA/Tirisano Program will facilitate and strengthen collaborative efforts between UCLA and Northern psychologies.

Miriam Moagi

Ms. Moagi is currently a lecturer and a registered Ph.D. student within the Department of Nursing Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Her research aims to develop a comprehensive support programme for the management of substance abuse among students at Higher Education Institutions (Universities) in South Africa. She will attend and present paper in workshops and seminars, write papers for publications, attend classes and network with other students at UCLA. Her involvement in the UCLA / Tirisano Program will encourage future collaborations between UCLA and the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and to build research capacity and promote the culture of research and publication of papers.

Walter Thabelo

Mr. Thabelo's research aims to investigate chronic stress, trauma, cumulative adversities, and mental health of adolescent suicide attempters in the Limpopo province. As a Ph.D. student with the Northwest University (Mafikeng Campus), Mr. Thabelo's research will be comprised of moderation studies to demonstrate his interests as a student of the Department of Human and Social Sciences.

Khethelo Xulu

Dr Khethelo Xulu is part of the first cohort of the Tirisano programme Track A scholars who visited UCLA for their research training in 2016. His research interest is centred on discovering molecular markers (epigenetic and genetic variations) associated with stress and trauma exposure, which may be essential for prognosis, diagnosis and therapeutic response predictions. He is a registered Medical Scientist trainee with both the Health Profession Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and the South African Council for Natural Scientist Profession (SACNASP). He is a Clinical Scientist Trainee at National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)/Groote Schuur Hospital (GSH), Cape Town, South Africa. Khethelo seeks to foster collaborative work with fellow scientists, clinicians and psychologists for better understanding of psychoneuroendocrinology and psychiatric genetics pathways, particularly for African populations and historically underserved communities.

Lameze Abrahams

Ms Abrahams’ research aims to determine the acceptability and feasibility of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention for patients presenting to a tertiary psychiatric facility with co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorders. She is currently Chair of the Division of Psychotherapy and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Town, and the Principal Psychologist at Lentegeur Psychiatric Hospital. She has developed and expanded the research capacity at Lenteguer with collaborations with the HSRC and Yale University.

Isaac Mokgaola

Mr. Isaac O Mokgaola's research aims at developing a psycho-educational programme for management of substance abuse among adolescents in a Primary Health Care setting. He will also attend and present his paper in workshops and seminars, write papers for publications, attend classes and network with students at the UCLA Globalization Research Centre, HIV Global Network, African American Centre, etc. Mr. Mokgaola assisted in the continuity of the collaboration of UCLA and North West University by participating in recruiting postgraduate students into mental health training. The classes that he attended at UCLA are Epidemiology 200, Research Methodology and Statistics, Trauma and stress prevention: psychology of emotion and stress and others.

Nombulelo Sepeng (Zulwayo)

Ms Sepeng’s research aims to develop a programme of integrated psychological management of PTSD and depression for sexual assault survivors. She will also present seminar/workshop papers, write papers for publication, attend workshops and classes and network with other students at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA), Social epidemiology of trauma, stress, mental health and trauma training etc. She is now permanently employed in University of Pretoria as a laboratory lecturer and is awaiting PhD results for possible graduation in October 2019.

Vhuhwavho Nekhavhambe

Ms. Nekhavhambe’s research aims at exploring the lived experiences of abused men in heterosexual relationships in order to develop guidelines for support to male survivors of Intimate Partner Violence in Gauteng, South Africa. While in UCLA she will analyze data and co-author a manuscript, attend workshops and classes such as use of Qualitative software to analyze data, network with other students, attend health and trauma training. She will also present at international and local (South Africa) conference, write papers for publication. Her involvement in the UCLA/ Tirisano Program will encourage future collaborations between UCLA and University of South Africa.

Deborah Isobell

Ms Isobell's research aims to explore relapse and substitute addictions in inpatient service users in substance use treatment facilities in the Western Cape, South Africa. Deborah is a PhD student in the Department of Psychology at the University of the Western Cape.

Thabile Manengela

Mr. Manengela’s current research aims focuses on the biopsychosocial predictors of recidivism among offenders in North West prison settings to determine what it is that makes offenders to go back to jail within a few years of being released. He/she will be expanding research skills in publication of papers, while contributing to the research program of this unit .

Lina Sebolaisi Takalo

Ms Takalo is currently conducting a research with the aim of developing a support programme for the parents of youth abusing substances in Limpopo Province, South Africa. She is working as a lecturer at Limpopo College of Nursing and also registered as a PhD student at University of Limpopo. She believes that her collaboration with Tirisano Project will equip her with more research knowledge and that she will be able to publish more articles working with her Tirisano advisors.

Mmathabo Mashego

Ms Mashego is currently working as a Community Services and Linkages Manager at HIVSA. She is responsible for ensuring that participants are linked to appropriate care and treatment. She holds a MPH degree with research on on “the Influence of Burnout Amongst Healthcare Professionals in Enhlanzeni District“ and aspires to pursue her PhD soon.

Qunita Brown

The primary aim of Ms. Brown's study is to explore the relational dynamics of Non Injection Drug Using couples (NIDU) from the perspectives of female non-injection users and how this influences their recovery. The following objectives have been developed to guide the study: a) To explore female heroin users’ understandings of the experiences underlying their use of heroin; b) To explore the nature, dynamics and characteristics of female heroin users’ intimate relationships with male partner NIDU users; and c) To investigate female heroin users’ perceptions of the barriers and facilitators that influence their treatment and recovery processes.

Petunia Tsheole

Ms Petunia Tsheole’s research aims is to investigate possible psychosocial factors, legal problems and the prevalence of substance abuse in early adulthood. Research will look at the current treatment for this age group, co-mobirt/ co-occurring mental health problems and assist to increase access to and coordinate services between mental health and substance use treatments. Ms Petunia Tsheole is a Clinical Psychologist in the department of Psychiatry at the Free State psychiatric Hospital/Senior lecturer at the University of the Free State.

Faith Leinaeng

Ms Faith Leinaeng's research aim is to explore the relationship between explosive aggressive behaviors towards teachers and/or fellow learners and Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (DMDD) / Severe Mood Dysregulation in middle school learners in the Free State. Post-Doctrate, she would like to develop a measure that would assist clinicians in diagnosing DMDD. Miss Faith Leinaeng is currently a Clinical Psychologist working in the Child and Adolescent Unit of a psychiatric complex.