What is a clinical psychologist?

The New Zealand College of Clinical Psychologists defines clinical psychology as “the practical application of psychological knowledge to help people with many types of problems that occur in their lives, including mental or physical health difficulties, difficulties in relationships with others, or other issues that create distress or unhappiness.”

In addition to specialised training in ‘talk therapy’ for many kinds of emotional or behavioural problems people experience, they are also trained to administer and interpret a number of tests that can help diagnose a condition or provide information about the way someone thinks, feels and behaves. These tests may evaluate intellectual skills, cognitive strengths and weaknesses, personality characteristics, and so on.

Psychologists’ training entails around seven years of university study, and includes theoretical and practical training as well as conducting research.

Clinical psychologists are not medical practitioners and do not prescribe medication, although they may work closely with medical practitioners such as GPs and psychiatrists if medication is indicated to support your treatment.

All psychologists practising in New Zealand must hold a current practising certificate with the New Zealand Psychologists Board. To check if your therapist is registered and licensed to practise, search for their name on the Board’s register here.


How does therapy work?

At your first appointment, you and your therapist will get to know each other and decide if you are able to work together. Your therapist will ask questions to explore and understand more about your life, your difficulties, your personality, coping strategies and ways of thinking. They may give you questionnaires to complete to help this process.

As therapy progresses, you and your therapist will work together to help you develop alternative ways of thinking, behaving and managing your feelings. As you go along, you and your therapist will assess your progress in terms of the goals you set earlier on.

Psychological therapy can only work if you are active and engaged, if you attend appointments regularly and practise new tools and strategies between appointments.

Evidence from the field of neuroscience shows that psychological therapy is able to actually influence the structure and functioning of the brain. Of course, this is a slow process, and one that requires plenty of practice - but it is also a process that is powerful and long-lasting.

Psychological therapy is an evidence-based approach that has been found to be an effective treatment for a wide range of emotional, relationship and behavioural difficulties.

Psychological therapy is also called talk therapy. It is a conversation that occurs in a specific way, with a trained specialist, and is based on a trusting, respectful therapeutic relationship. Hundreds of studies have shown that a very important part of what makes therapy work is the collaborative relationship between psychologist and client.




We consider your privacy to be extremely important. Maintaining confidentiality is part of our Code of Ethics. The only exception to keeping your information private this is where we are legally and ethically obliged to share necessary information in extreme situations, such as if you are at risk of causing serious harm to yourself or others. However, even then we will strive to share only necessary information with services or individuals who can help keep you or others safe, and we will always try to discuss this with you first if possible. Psychologists (like other professionals) must also report concerns of abuse of children. You can give your psychologist permission to share information with others, for example, where you have requested a report, or wish your psychologist to discuss your case with another health professional, family member, teacher or anyone else.

Our commitment to confidentiality means that we will never be offended if you don't say hello if we bump into each other at the supermarket!

For more information

  • NZ College of Clinical Psychologists
  • Psychology Website
  • CALM - Practical help and audio guides for stress, anxiety and depression
  • Depression & Anxiety
  • Information on Mental Health
  • Ministry of Health Helpline
  • The New Zealand Psychologists Board
  • The Low Down
    Depression & anxiety

Get in touch with us

Contact Information

For an appointment or to discuss if our service is the right one for you please contact:

Penny Kokot Louw
Highland Park Medical Centre 
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 021 141 9276
Email: penny@eastaucklandpsychology.co.nz

Dr. Willem Louw
Highland Park Medical Centre (Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons)
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 021 138 7602
Email: willem@eastaucklandpsychology.co.nz

Anneline Mordaunt
Pakuranga Medical Centre (Monday – Thursday 1:00pm – 6:00pm)
Highland Park Medical Centre (Friday 9:30am – 4:30pm)
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 021 039 6702
Email: annie@eastaucklandpsychology.co.nz

Dr. Manish Parswani
Pakuranga Medical Centre (Wednesday and Thursday 2:00pm – 6:00pm, Saturday 10:00am – 1:00pm)
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 021 068 6040
Email: manish@eastaucklandpsychology.co.nz

Claire Runtzler
Highland Park Medical Centre (Mondays and Tuesdays 8:30am – 1:30pm)
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 027 505 6450
Email: claire@eastaucklandpsychology.co.nz

Kahn Higgs
Highland Park Medical Centre (Thursday 5:00pm – 8:00pm)
Eastern Beach (appointments by arrangement)
Clinical Psychologist
Mobile: 027 602 3530 /  021 203 5439
Email: kahnhiggs@gmail.com