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South Africa: PRC0016837 & PR #0538396
Postgraduate (Honors) Degree: B. Social Sciences (Psychology); University of Cape Town (2007)
BA Social Sciences (Psychology); University of South Africa (2006)
Completion of Defusing Depression by the Institute of Brain Working Recursive Therapy
Completion of Working with Men taught by Terry Real, LICSW
Professional Life Coach Certification & Guide (accredited) by Transformation Academy
Completion of: Mastering the Essentials: Your Couples Therapy Training Bundle with Dr Peter Pearson
Health Professions Counsel of South Africa (HPCSA)
Psychological Society of South Africa (PYSSA)
Board of Health Care Funders (BHF)
Association of Registered Counsellors of South Africa (ARCSA)
Founding Executive Committee Member of ARCSA
-Professional Development and Ethics Committee
Cape Town to Hermanus: 1 hour 30 minutes
From Johannesburg/Pretoria/Durban: 2 hours
I was born and raised in South Africa.
South Africa is my home.
Despite the shame of the past, I’m proud to be a child of hers. It is a land rich with culture and flavour. I was young when the government officially abolished Apartheid, but I do remember the incredible awe of Madiba’s (Nelson Mandela’s) forgiveness and grace after his release.
I am the second eldest of four children (I have three brothers). My parents were pastors at one of the only multi-racial churches in South Africa in the 1980’s and have been in ministry for many years. They've also run various businesses. No venture was too big or small for them, and they did what they needed to do to get their four children through school (and beyond). Their generosity knows no bounds; I’ve seen my Dad give away our only car because he believed someone else needed it more. We’ve fostered children and been raised rich in awareness and love. I have seen much of the good and bad of religion and the power of love and faith. I was born in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga near the Kruger National Park. My family has always been adventure-driven, and growing up near the Kruger National Park meant lots of camping and safaris. I learned from a young age to track lions and other amazing animals and identify some of our fantastic bird and plant varieties.
I appreciated that so much.
Being a family is hard work. Each member has a unique and powerful influence on how the family operates. I see the family like a gearbox and each member a cog: when one stops working, no matter how small he/she is – it creates friction and harder work for the other members.
Also, when one does all the work and doesn’t allow the others to find their groove, it speeds up the inevitable process of wear and tear. But when everyone does their part, the family becomes a unique and powerful mechanism, working smoothly together in a propelling way! And everyone relaxes and starts to enjoy themselves.
I'm fortunate to be married to an amazing person, who has an uncanny ability to just be. He is so comfortable in his own skin and with who he is. I’ve really never seen someone so genuinely secure in himself (yet without any arrogance or pride).
Being married is the intricate merging of two whole people, and it takes delicate dedication to create this tapestry (a living tapestry that keeps being woven)...and then, adding two more people in the picture whilst on hormones, sleep deprivation and different expectations definitely adds depth and color to the picture. I am so grateful for Pieter's support and for him being him.
We have two toddlers. The most amazing little beings. Both so alike yet polar opposites (I think couples are often like that too). I'm constantly learning from them and growing as much as they are I'm sure!
Life is such a gift, and it’s been amazing to see how it unfolds through the eyes of our children. Innocence, unwavering curiosity, unconditional love and stubborn determination make them larger than life role models for me! I feel so honoured to be his wife and their mother and for the impact I have on our family system as well.
When I look at someone I see their worth and priceless value hidden behind all the lies, fears and disappointments. When my client doesn’t need to pretend, they can relax and exchange pretence for vulnerability, comfort and hope. Building a marital house with blindfolds on is much harder than building one with clear eyes and pure intent.
I believe we all have something unique we bring the world. That's what makes couples therapy so much more intense and fulfilling - two unique incredible beings each with their own past, their own thoughts, and their own dreams originally brought together because of a likeness and liked-ness. Unfortunately, they often get lost in the weaving together process, the merging and selection of dreams, desires, and expectations, that they forget the bigger picture, the incredible tapestry that is being made – the unique picture that no one else can make!
Growing up with adventure and unconditional love allowed me the privilege of having my eyes wide open and a heart with room for everyone! I see the difference between behaviour and character and believe in an innate goodness in all people. When a couple walk into my doors my loving welcome shocks them! They are often so blinded by their shame or anger.
They have become so accustomed to seeing their flaws when looking in the mirror (or at each other), that they have forgotten the simple yet powerful story of The Ugly Duckling! I help them understand that one might have the symptoms of the flu but you never become the flu! A doctor doesn’t slap his patient and command him to stop coughing! You might be affected by the flu (and some more than others), but it never becomes who you are. Just like a thief never owns the stolen goods, a virus never becomes the host. In the same way our bad decisions never really define who we are. It is important to me to create a relaxing, judgment free space to fix what makes them feel most vulnerable.
I rent an office in an office block with 3 other professionals (they are physiotherapists but also registered with the same ethics board as us, so abide by the strict confidentiality and professionalism too).
It’s a beautiful, recently renovated stylish office block with a well lit reception room at the end of town (so away from the buzz of people). What people have told me they like about me renting with the other physiotherapists is that if anyone happened to spot them, no one would know if they were coming for counselling or physiotherapy and so their privacy is even more protected.
While you cannot see the sea from there, it is about a 2 minutes drive from our blue flag beach, Grotto beach. It’s got miles of white sandy beaches to walk on (passing a beautiful lagoon) and there is also a nice little restaurant for lunch. My office is about 7 minutes drive out of town, so close enough to enjoy various other restaurants if wanted.
I love my office space as it’s welcoming, out of town centre, has private parking, a nice reception area, and it’s modern without fuss.
My heart is spurred on by a burning passion to help others, and I feel so ‘at home’ in helping couples revive their relationships.
I am a qualified and experienced private practice counselor, specialising in couples and family counseling. I believe that in today's world not only are children confused and without boundaries; but their parents are exposed, and put into situations of uncertainty as they often cannot raise the child(ren) as they themselves were raised.
Media, violence, divorce, and medication puts additional pressure, ambiguity, and insecurity on the families.
I have worked with children and families since the age of 19. I au paired whilst studying, and this gave me an incredible perspective into different family structures and dynamics – right from within the family! I was in awe at how even small adjustments made such large differences to all the members of the family. And I saw firsthand how, by stabilizing the family, one created a safe harbor for each member!
I saw how this safe harbor was a platform that could give rise to individuals who had stronger resilience, better relationships, and performed more effectively. I realized then how truly important the family was, and also how hard it is to achieve smooth functioning.
In my practice I started out working mostly with children and focused a lot on play therapy. I also designed numerous emotional intelligence workshops that were quite popular. There were a lot of children with pent up anger (usually from fear and confusion at home or school). I soon, however, realized the significant impact that working with the parents had on the children's mental and emotional well-being.
~ Parenting and Parenting Skills (Positive Discipline)
~ Divorce: A New Paradigm for Practitioners
Later in my career when working with children in private practice, my awareness of the importance of the parental relationship on children was confirmed. I realised I had a much greater impact by addressing the family system and especially by working with the parents – the foundation of the family (regardless of their marital status), than my work with the children alone. By working with the parents, positive changes were more sustainable and effective.
After completing my studies, I took a ‘gap’ year to travel, study other passions and find my ‘me’ as a budding therapist. This gap turned out to be three years long, and allowed me time to dig out and unpack some old boxes in my mind: to process what I’ve learned theoretically, and apply it to who I am in the web of life and all its dynamics! I also spent a lot of time just being in the “now,” and this was an important gift for me to learn.
In 2010 I then packed my things literally, and moved from my quaint, comfortable little green garden flat in Cape Town to a block of flats in a city far away (Pretoria) and started my internship at a very elite private school (Southdown’s College). This was an incredible opportunity. I worked with a wonderful team (a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist and an educational psychologist).
From them I learned the impact of the body and its workings to the mind, and the impact of the mind on the body! This reminded me that I am my body too. My body is not just a vessel (like a car or jersey) but as much part of me as my mind is. And that one cannot successfully fuel, fix or change the mind without the body (and vice versa).
In that elite, private school I worked with children who, by all appearances had everything. But some also experienced a disrupted family (through a bad divorce, neglect, abuse, un-communicated needs, anger, etc.). The effects of this outweighed any financial or material advantages a child could ever have.
Following this, my supervision brought me closer to Cape Town, so I moved to my hometown Hermanus. There I could also establish my relationship with now husband who was living in Hermanus. (I met him about 1000 miles away, in a remote little village whilst exploring the wild coast – but that’s a story for another day).
Here my clinical work was at three of our most impoverished schools. This was intensive training working with children with dire needs, lacking basic necessities such as food, water, shelter, and safety. I will forever be grateful for each child showing me how much compassion and care matters. They truly showed me how far a little kindness can go.
I spent over a thousand supervision hours in these two areas, first in the affluent society of a city and then amongst the poorest of the poor near Hermanus, and I was able to experience two extremely different worlds. But I saw that abuse, emotional neglect, and withholding of love tasted the same and did the same damage. Differences in recovery didn’t come from title, status or income but from resilience, expectations and the way you spoke to yourself about things (survivor or victim mentality).
What struck me the most was how ‘easy’ it was to connect with even the most broken human being, through acknowledgment, softness, love, and respect. Most of this was achieved without speaking a word.
In my couples work, I found that once the parents' relationship settled/strengthened, the children's moods and behavior automatically improved too. I also love how, giving relationships the tools to make them stronger, creates a safe harbor against the strong storms of life. Life can be so hard, and there are so many unexpected challenges along the way. A haven to go home to can make such a difference.
Having safety and support at home (a refuge) is what we all need and deserve. I now specialise in couples counselling. I also help divorced parents work on their relationship (‘your ex is not your child's ex'), and their self-esteem (as divorce generally affects one's self-perception), to help them parent better together.
Being married and a mother of two divine toddlers I am acutely aware of the stressors affecting relationships and how important the right tools are for families. Becoming a parent has certainly deepened my compassion and empathy even more! It has shown me how hard it is to ‘practice what I preach’ but how incredibly useful these teachable tools are, and also the difference it makes when your partner is your ‘team-mate’ or your ‘enemy’.
Over the years I have seen a massive turn-around in the families I have worked with. I love being a counselor and the privilege I have to help people with their most precious possession – their family. And I feel like I have the greatest job in the world – I help people find true love in their relationships! It is an honor for me to be let into people’s lives at its most vulnerable and I take my responsibilities here very seriously.
Grace is such an amazing discovery! To be convinced of another’s inherent value regardless of what’s happened. I often see partners expecting grace, but not ready to give it back so easily. Relationships thrive on grace.
My couples counseling approach is based primarily on the principles of the Gottman Institute training, which I incorporate with my clinical foundations of Gestalt therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and various elements of psychodynamic, developmental and humanistic approaches. I also use theories from Dr. Sue Johnson: (Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy), Transactional Analysis, Attachment Theory, Narrative Psychology and Brain-Working Recursive Therapy. Brene Brown’s insights into shame and vulnerability is also at the essence of a lot of my sessions. My extensive work with children and Play Therapy has also given me a creative edge to couples counselling, giving me ideas to bring a little lightness and fun into our sessions. The latest training I completed has had great results in helping couples dealing with non-medical related infertility problems!!
BWRT is a new but incredible model of psychotherapy focusing on Neuroplasticity and has been incredibly successful at creating fast change with many dire mental challenges and trauma. BWRT is used to help quickly and permanently deflate previous hurts and trauma that usually bring such a sting in most couple’s relationships.
The way I choose my methods, as well as formulate and shape my approach is based on who I am as an individual and as a therapist. My life experiences, both personal and professional have a profound impact on how I counsel. I continue to learn daily too, not just from my past – but because every couple and their individual situation has something I can learn from. And, as families are dynamic and constantly changing / growing - my family teaches me an enormous amount too. All my experiences feed my approach, empathy, and passion for couples counselling!
I’ve worked with the richest of rich and poorest of poor. I’ve been poor and rich too. I’ve travelled Europe, South America and Africa (thirteen countries, excluding North America – I was only two when I was there, so too little to remember it;) thirstily drinking in the different experiences and appreciating the different cultures. I have studied hard and worked harder and I continue to learn daily. I’ve been happy and sad, in love and broken, safe and lost. I’ve been ‘on top of the world’ and felt an irritated ‘What now!’ on numerous occasions. I’ve seen destruction and hate but most importantly I’ve seen grace and love. No matter my financial status ever, I know I am rich beyond my wildest dreams.
Gratitude is my currency.
Travel down from Johannesburg, Pretoria or Durban. Drive over from Cape Town. Take a luxury train from Pretoria to Cape Town. Take the exotic trek from Europe or the USA. However you make it, come to South Africa's beautiful Hermanus in Western Cape and watch the Southern Right Whale (before Mid-December!) and enjoy our Blue Flag beaches.
Full of quaint boutiques, markets and galleries, the town is a scenic 90 minute drive from Cape Town. Hermanus is surrounded by geographic beauty – the Atlantic Ocean, endless beaches and undulating mountains.
Hermanus is hands-down the best place to view whales on the planet. Its wild beauty, artisanal foods and its proximity to wine route. The town was originally called Hermanuspietersfontein, but the name was shortened because it was too long for the postal service.
Hermanus enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate, earning the seaside town its reputation as the "Capital of Happy Holidaying." June, July and August are the winter season in South Africa. October warms, until it reaches a high of 25-26 C (77 - 78 Fahrenheit) December through March.
Summer: December - February
During summer time Hermanus is dry and sunny. With the ocean bordering most of the town however, the sea breeze helps to temper the extreme heat and temperatures never seem to rise above the mid twenties. Now and again, when the ocean breeze stands still, the seaside town does experience the odd day of extreme heat, however it has never been recorded to last for more than a day or two. On average, January is the warmest and driest month of the year when the beaches are bustling with life and the surrounding area is alive with fynbos.
Autumn: March - May
Hermanus’ most pleasant and popular time of year, and many describe it as ‘simply idyllic’. The temperatures aren’t that much lower than during summer but while the days are mostly sunny, the air is slightly balmier than in summer months. Every so often mist starts drifting in around late afternoon, bringing with it the fragrance of the ocean. Locals refer to this phenomenon as the ‘champagne air’ of Hermanus.
Winter: June - August
While the town has been known to experience torrential rainfall during the winter season, the temperature generally remains quite mild, never dipping below seven or eight degrees Celsius even in the midst of the winter chill. At times the ocean breeze can become quite strong and violent and waves have been known to reach incredible heights, however the average winter is quite tame.
Even though Hermanus is characterised by its beaches and considered a beach-front holiday destination, it offers ample activities that are suitable for winter, giving the town its status as all-year holiday destination.
Spring: September - November
Springtime is a magical time when greenery takes over the bare sand dunes and the fragrance of fynbos mingles with the ocean breeze to flavour the Hermanus air. Temperatures are mild to warm, very much like autumn yet not quite as balmy. With the water having reached just the right temperature, springtime is the best time for whale watching. If you’re also hoping to visit a wine estate or two, this is the prime time to do just that as the vineyards are lush green – a breathtaking sight. (Credit)