Trauma Treatment Counsellor Cape Town

Private practice counselling for depression, anxiety, addictions and burnout stress issues in Cape Town or Online / Whatsapp.



For over forty years now I have been assisting people to overcome addictions and come to terms with the past trauma that they have suffered. I initially trained to be a private crisis intervention counsellor, then a private addictions counsellor and finally specialist in the field of overcoming past trauma.



The course of my career led me into founding roles in some of Cape Town's most prestigious private addiction treatment centres and projects, yet, my real passion is in being a personal patient counselling change catalyst that helps individuals meaningfully resolve their past trauma experiences and lead a whole life again.


The Link Between Trauma & Addiction


There are two different kinds of trauma that frequently result in addiction based behaviours, depression, anxiety and chronic stress.

  1. The first is simplex trauma or more commonly called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and this generally relates to a one-time or singular traumatic event such as a severe car accident, robbery, hijacking and sexual violation.
  2. The other is complex Trauma (CPTSD) is also called developmental trauma and describes exposure to multiple traumatic events - often of an invasive, interpersonal nature and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure that can even last over a lifetime.

These traumatic events frequently cause severe and often highly pervasive after-effects that emerge in later life in the form of "disorders" or "responses" that can potentially result in disruptive or destructive behaviours that require personal counselling and care to resolve.


Is Past Trauma Still Holding You Back?


Many people in South Africa grow up in homes where their caretakers' struggle with addiction, depression, anxiety, personality disorders or were bullied, verbally or sexually abused or were the victim of many childhood situations where they were not safe, cared for, validated, supported and / or made to feel outcasts in their family or society.

The list of adverse childhood experiences and circumstances is virtually endless, the point is that disturbing events can all leave permanent memories that may continue to disrupt emotional stability in through adult life.

What I have found over the years is that trauma survivors still have a remarkable ability to re-stabilise their emotional wellbeing provided they receive appropriate counselling guidance.

Those seemingly "long-forgotten" events, leave deep emotional scars, while the threat of the event may be gone, people living with trauma re-play those moments over and over to present actions and needlessly re-live their damaged past.

The incredible part of my work as a counsellor in Cape Town is in simply helping people break through those destructive cycles and finally find their states of peace again. Acknowledge and moving forward with new and realistic purpose.

Thankfully once you know and understand what is going on, you are also able to stop, assess and heal.


No magic formula to trauma recovery

How we each deal with, adapt and heal our lives from emotional trauma is as absolutely unique as each person who walks this earth.

Yet when you start working on and solving your trauma, the rest of life's puzzle pieces will start to fall back into place.


How Complex Trauma May Feature in Your Life


In complex trauma there is an ongoing feeling that something bad is going to happen. The goal of counselling and therapy in these situations is to help you to re-connect with your emotions and to learn better ways to deal with upsetting events.

Addiction based disorders are in a great many cases directly attributable to the inability to cope with complex and often sub-conscious emotional disparity coupled with a sense of loss, something missing. These emotional disparities further fuel the need to self soothe using substances that provide an effective temporary relief.

The latest research is showing that symptoms of CPTSD are amongst others stress (hypervigilance), low self-esteem, excessive co-dependent behaviours, relationship issues, depression, ADHD, anxiety disorders, Borderline and Narcissistic personality disorders as well as the development of addictions or Substance Use Disorders.

If you feel that your life is out of control because of the excessive use of alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling or shopping, you are most likely struggling with the compounding effects of complex trauma and I would sincerely like to help you. My private counselling practice based in Cape Town is an informal and centres around you as an individual.

I work with both heterosexuals as well as gay individuals. Where necessary I also host couples and family therapy and focused group sessions.



Vaughan Pankhurst

Private Counsellor in Cape Town


083 415 7804


Take the first step on your path to recovery and I will safely guide you the rest of your way.



I operate a private practice based in Cape Town directly tailored to your needs in overcoming past trauma and the many associated behaviours such as substance addictions, depression, anxiety and chronic stress.


"Don’t ask why the addiction - ask why the pain?”. Gabor Mate MD


Please feel free to get in touch with me on 083 415 7804 for a free telephonic assessment.


Video Guide To Complex Trauma


Complex Truma