Panda How a Counsellor on a Free App Helped This South African Regain Her Inner Strength!
Photo Cred: Panda App

But, working with Dr Anne Govender, a psychologist and life coach for the Panda app, Khety learnt how to reframe the incident so that she felt more empowered – and thus moved from a powerless victim to someone who has agency over their own life.


Johannesburg, South Africa (23 June 2022) – From trauma victim to hero of her own story…Khety*, a Johannesburg domestic worker, is one of the thousands of South Africans who have been able to transform their lives thanks to Panda, an app offering free mental health advice.

Khety was walking to her usual taxi rank when she was attacked at gunpoint by a group of men. The experience left her feeling emotionally crippled: unable to stop seeing the attack playing out in her mind daily, she was afraid whenever she saw a group of people, especially men.

“At times, I felt like I couldn’t bring myself to cross the road. I was so scared that the same thing would happen.”

Realising that the trauma had impacted Khety’s quality of life to the point where every day felt like an enormous battle, her employer recommended she consult a counsellor on the Panda app.

“At first, I didn’t want to try – I didn’t think anything could help me,” Khety says.

But, working with Dr Anne Govender, a psychologist and life coach for the Panda app, Khety learnt how to reframe the incident so that she felt more empowered – and thus moved from a powerless victim to someone who has agency over their own life.

“Dr Anne told me to imagine the scene as a movie. I saw all of us as characters in this movie, but when I imagined myself, I saw that I am not as helpless as I thought. I have control over my life. Yes, what happened to me was terrible, but I am alive – and that in itself is a triumph.”

Dr Govender says that it was essential for Khety to regain control.

“Khety has no option but to take the same route to the taxi rank every day – otherwise, she can’t get to work. If she hadn’t been able to see her experience from a different perspective, one which put her in a place of control, she would have been consumed by anxiety to the point where the thought of taking a taxi may have left her incapacitated. The ripple effects are unthinkable – if she couldn’t muster the courage to get transport, she wouldn’t have been able to go to work. The loss of income would have terribly impacted her family.”

Dr Govender’s main concern was to empower Khety. She says that her approach while consulting via the Join Panda app hinges on helping people harness their inner strength so that they are able to take charge of their lives once more.

“I believe that the most effective way of breaking a trauma ‘loop’ – the phenomenon where you find yourself unable to stop replaying the trauma in your mind – is by creating a new loop. Change your narrative to create a new story, where your different thoughts, different feelings and different actions result in more empowering consequences.”

Khety says that her experience with the Panda app – which she says was very easy to use – has helped her so much that she intends to use the app whenever she next feels in need of a little help, whether it’s looking for relationship advice or general insight into how to move forward in life. And she would certainly recommend the app to other people who may need assistance in dealing with a difficult situation, working through depression, or simply finding support from a like-minded community.

Sadly, Khety’s experience is far from exceptional – every day, hundreds of South Africans become victims of (often violent) crime. Allan Sweidan, clinical psychologist, co-CEO, and founder of Panda, says it is critical for people who have found themselves in traumatic situations to talk to someone they can trust.

“Describing the event once you are in a safe space can help you get some distance from it. If, however, your symptoms of trauma don’t settle after a week or two, you may find it useful to do a PTSD screen assessment within the Panda app. You’ll receive a score in real-time and some guidance as to what help you may need,” he says.

Typical trauma symptoms include flashbacks, sleep disturbances, a reluctance to return to the place where the trauma occurred or to speak to people who remind you of the incident, even if they weren’t directly involved.

Even South Africans who have not been affected by crime may battle to deal with the stress of living in a traumatised society. Sweidan says that the following steps may help:

  • Limit your social media and news intake each day, as exposure to negative news can impact your mood.
  • Do something for others, even if you’re feeling stressed.
  • Find a way to clear your mind each day: perhaps with meditation, a walk in the park, or prayer
  • Take care of things you can control, like your sleep, diet and exercise habits.

Panda is a free-to-download digital app that is designed to put mental health information, community support and expert help literally in the palm of your hand.

*full name not disclosed for privacy

Sources: SA Department of Health | COVID Regulations 
Don’t ever miss the Good Things. Download the Good Things Guy App now on Apple or Google
Have something to add to this story? Please share it in the comments or follow GoodThingsGuy on Facebook & Twitter to keep up to date with good news as it happens, or share your good news with us by clicking here or click the link below to listen to the Good Things Guy Podcast with Brent Lindeque – South Africa’s very own Good Things Guy. He’s on a mission to change what the world pays attention to, and he truly believes there’s good news around us. In the Good Things Guy podcast, you’ll meet these everyday heroes & hear their incredible stories:

Or watch an episode of Good Things TV below, a show created to offer South Africans balance in a world with what feels like constant bad news. We’re here to remind you that there are still so many good things happening in South Africa & we’ll leave you feeling a little more proudly South African.

Facebook Comments

About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *