Original Research

All eyes on Sudan: The journey of female psychologists in the theatre of operation

Didi Zungu, Nicolette Visagie
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 46 | a1739 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v46i0.1739 | © 2020 Didi Zungu, Nicolette Visagie | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 September 2019 | Published: 09 March 2020

About the author(s)

Didi Zungu, Human Factor Combat Readiness, Military Psychological Institute, Pretoria, South Africa
Nicolette Visagie, Human Factor Combat Readiness, Military Psychological Institute, Pretoria, South Africa

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Orientation: South African National Defence Force (SANDF) psychologists fulfil one of the most challenging roles within the psychological profession when deployed in peacekeeping operations (PKOs).

Research purpose: This study aimed at gaining an in-depth understanding of the experiences of female military psychologists during deployment in a PKO in the Darfur region.

Motivation for the study: The study aimed to gain an insight into the unique experiences of female SANDF psychologists in the theatre of operation (deployment area) and to create a body of knowledge regarding SANDF psychologists’ deployment experiences, with specific reference to female psychologists.

Research design/approach and method: A case study approach informed the framework for the study set against the backdrop of a qualitative, constructivist, hermeneutic research paradigm. Written personal accounts were evoked through visuals or photographic materials, obtained during in-depth interviews. Researchers used content analysis, and developed themes and subthemes with the use of an open-coding approach.

Main findings: Three main themes were elicited: deployment experiences, peacekeeping deployment experiences and experiences of female psychologists. Each theme was supported by four subthemes.

Practical/managerial implications: The study facilitated an increased understanding of the personal impact of PKO experiences on the journey of female psychologists serving in the SANDF in Darfur.

Contribution/value-add: This research provides a platform for the sharing and understanding of the unique experiences of health care workers of the SANDF deployed in the mission area, with specific reference to female psychologists. This co-created understanding acts as a space where psychologists can share a community for support if required post-deployment.


female psychologists; SANDF; peacekeeping; qualitative; Darfur.


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