Dr. Georgette Savvides: on Psychology, Parenting and Step-parenting
By Dr. Georgette Savvides Psy.D, Consultant Clinical & Business Psychologist
1. Can you tell us about your background and what got you interested in the field of psychology?
I am a Greek Italian who was raised in Egypt. I completed my GCE’s at the age of 15 and joined AUC at the age of 16, deciding to major in Psychology. I have worked in the field since I was a young adolescent every summer while doing my undergraduate bachelor degree. I left to the UK in 1999 to continue my education and have been practicing professionally for 25 years now.
I began my interest in Psychology before my bachelor degree. I always knew I wanted to be a doctor and help people. When my parents refused that I join Medical School, I was forced to go to AUC and found psychology the closest field to my heart. As I grew in knowledge and learned more and more about my field, I fell in love with the human mind and personality. I fell in love even more with the therapeutic techniques that can offer people relief from psychological difficulties and make them happier people.
2. How did you turn your passion into a business?
When I arrived in Egypt in 2009, I wanted to open a private center to offer individuals the options of receiving psychological support in every area. Psychealth was born and instead of having a medical center, we now have a psychological center to cater to children, adults, addictions and many other difficulties.
3. How long have you been a step mom and how old were the children when you got married?
I have been a step mother for almost 6 years now. The children were 12 and 4 at the time.
4. What were the biggest challenges you faced when you first assumed the role of the new mom? From the children and their maternal family?
I have not really received any challenges from the young one. As for the older one, he was refusing the idea that his father would marry and thought I would be like Cinderella’s stepmother, simply a wicked witch… he had the same myths everyone has about step-motherhood. He used to be distant, untrusting and defiant. It took time until he realized that I love both of them and that I’m not here to take their father away or to mistreat them.
As for the maternal family, it took time for them to accept my new position as the new wife and that I would be a primary care giver to those children. There were lots of talks and arguments back and forth until they accepted me at the end and were sure I have the children’s best interest at heart.
5. How did you deal with each obstacle based on your background in the field?
Before psychology, I had some time to think and be honest with myself to see whether I was ready to fight the fight and tolerate the challenges until they were resolved. Once I was certain, I wanted for sure to be part of this family, I became patient. I started looking at each child individually giving them lots of quality time. I assumed all motherhood roles, in terms of basic needs as well as educational needs. I allowed the children to vent and let out their insecurities when it came to my presence. I told them constantly that I loved them and not for a moment did I doubt they would too someday soon. I decided to befriend the adolescent and not resort to a lot of parental control and guidance that was left to my husband. I decided I will offer him care and love as well as support. As for the small one it was mummy from day one all the way.
6. How has your relationship with your husband and the children developed over the years?
We went from I was not allowed to be with the children alone to traveling to Europe with the children anytime I please. It took time and effort but now we are a regular family that functions like any other family.
7. Would you do it all over again, if given the chance?
I would do it one hundred times again, simply for one hug from those boys who fill my heart with warmth and smiles.
8. Can children facing trauma or distressed parents/step parents come to your office?
Yes they can. We offer a lot of support to both the parents and the children going through transitional phases.
9. How long should families need to wait before expecting positive results?
Time really depends on the age of the children. In my personal experience, because there were too many elements and challenges from various directions, it all settled within a year. Generally, it’s easier with young children and pre-adolescents, but harder with older children. It should take about six months minimum to settle. However, therapy can be wrapped in a few sessions and the rest is up to the parents to practice at home.
10. How do you help children cope with the sudden passing of either parent?
Once again, it depends on the age of the child. The younger they are, the easier it is for sure. With older children, it will take time. It’s important to use age appropriate language with the children to explain honestly what happened. Hiding it from the children is not wise and will create mistrust later between parents and children. Allow the children to act out, be angry or sad for a while. Try and talk about the parent only when the children need to, not out of guilt because they have to remember the parent under all circumstances. Allow the children to ask clarifying questions if they need and mostly be strong for them.
Take care of you, as a parent. This will definitely offer them a good example on how to best deal with loss. A good thing to always tell a sad child, is that their parents want them to be happy whether they are here or not. They can talk to their missing parent anytime they like, but make sure they know that the missing parents would want to see them happy. It works every time….
Since its founding in 2009, Psychealth , a mental health center for services and training with headquarters in Cairo, Egypt strives to provide the highest quality of services ranging from individual therapy sessions, group therapy sessions, couples therapy, family therapy, training seminars and workshops, counseling to schools, in addition to business / training and professional counseling with its diverse experiences and a wide range of knowledge in science. The modern psyche and its applications, Psychealth is dedicated to using personal, interpersonal, and systemic styles with a broad sensitivity to individual and cultural differences.