“…was both a challenge as well as a big adventure to practice in another country whose culture and language is different to my own…”

It is difficult to describe in so few words how much I enjoyed the internship during my stay in South Africa. It was both a challenge as well as a big adventure to practice in another country whose culture and language is different to my own.

This was a great opportunity to learn a lot about counseling and specific life situations encountered by South Africans. We were able to work with many different topics and events such as exam-related stress to more major cases concerning traumatic events. I was fortunate enough to work with such a lovely team at the school and at the TraumaClinic – which made this experience even more enjoyable. And of course, being in a beautiful city like Cape Town, so close to mountains and beaches was something that made it even more worthwhile.

If you are searching for a great experience that you would like to remember all your life, the TraumaClinic is a good place to start!

– Elisa Tanner, University of Fribourg, Switzerland 2019

“…discovered a new, wonderful face of the psychology that I have never learned about at university…”

I had been hesitant for a long time when it came to deciding whether or not I should apply for the TraumaClinic internship. I was afraid to live abroad for six months where I would be within a different culture which required me to speak English and where I would have my own clients.

However, I can now say that I don’t regret the decision I made. 

I don’t have enough space to talk about how wonderful was this experience for me and how much I have learned. I have experienced many different cases, from friends or school issues to trauma cases as abuse, family or gang violence. Some were definitely more emotional and challenging than others but all of them had taught me something valuable in the end.

The group supervisions were really beneficial and they helped me to see difficult situations from a different perspective. I discovered a new, wonderful face of the psychology that I have never learned about at university and found out that the field is not only about theory and technical frameworks but also about curiosity and creativity. I learned that it is okay to not have all the answers to my client’s problems and that I only have the capacity to show them that there are different ways to deal with their troubles and to help them through the process.

I can’t say that it was always easy to listen to so many different stories but I was surrounded by constant support and I was never alone with any difficult situations. At the end of this internship, I realized that there is still a lot to do in the trauma field, not only in South Africa but also in my own country. I was already fascinated by this field before this internship and the internship allowed me to confirm my interest. I’m now looking for a postgraduate formation in the psycho-trauma field so that I may one day work within migrant populations or in childhood protection.

– Joanne Horisberger, University of Fribourg, Switzerland 2019

“…seeing some of the students’ development, their improvement and ability to be hopeful and optimistic again, encouraged me in the work I did…”

Before coming to Cape Town, I did not really know what to expect and I was quite excited about the opportunity to do psychological work in a completely different country and culture. In the beginning I was overwhelmed by the huge responsibility I faced as a Highschool counselor. I had never worked in a counselor-client-setting before and was now confronted with a broad range of issues such as depression, violence and abuse. I gradually felt more confident in my position especially due to the constant exchange and reflection with the other interns as well as the provided supervision. Some workshops we were able to participate in such as “sexual abuse”, “basic counseling skills” or “depression and anxiety in adolescents” turned out to be very helpful for the daily work.

Seeing students on a regular basis, listening to their stories and backgrounds and trying to support them was a highly intense and not always successful work. However, seeing some of the students’ development, their improvement and ability to be hopeful and optimistic again, encouraged me in the work I did. The students’ gratitude and appreciation in our termination sessions was probably the most rewarding experience. During the internship I realized that I must find an appropriate way of coping with the intensity of my work – therefore I used my free time and weekends to explore Cape Town and surroundings, I went hiking, discovered the winelands and got to know locals.

For me, South Africa is a beautiful country of great diversity in nature but nonetheless still a country of enormous contrasts between rich and poor. Never in my life I was so aware about my privilege as a white European.

Overall, I am extremely grateful for the experience I made with TraumaClinic, it broadened my mind and contributed very much to my personal as well as professional growth.

– Johannes Hauck, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany, 2019

“… challenges I am now able to comfortably confront…”

“My time at TraumaClinic has shaped me both personally and professionally. It allowed me with a space where I could develop my counselling skills through attending workshops and leading group and individual counselling sessions. Here I learnt how to build a relationship with my clients, how to put boundaries in place, address crises situations and how to work collectively with other professions to aid an individual in need. This experience put me face to face with challenges I am now able to comfortably confront. I would recommend this internship for anyone who wants to put what they have learnt into practice and at the same time be of service to individuals who need the support.”

Lauren Fourie,
University of Cape Town, 2018

“… completely instrumental to both my professional and personal growth…”

“My time at the TraumaClinic was invaluable, to say the least. This internship allowed me to not only refine my counselling skills but also helped me immensely in expanding my knowledge and expertise in the psychology field. I can honestly say that the internship was utterly and completely instrumental to both my professional and personal growth.”

Kate Solomons,
Rhodes University, 2018

“… I learned so much…”

“The internship opportunity offered at the TraumaClinic Foundation has been one of the rewarding experiences I have had. As a Psychology student in South Africa, it is rare to find an opportunity for us to gain such valuable experiences in the field. I learned so much from Gerrit, our supervisor, and Sofia who has been so supportive throughout the internship year. I would highly recommend TraumaClinic to anyone who wants to gain experience in the field of psychology as well as to learn more about the mental health industry in South Africa. As a bonus, you can be sure to meet interesting and lifelong friendships with the local and international interns!”

Julia Ndebe,
University of the Western Cape, 2018

“… there is no better, real experience…”

“As someone who has been fortunate enough to have quite a sheltered and privileged upbringing, I knew that I needed an internship that would expose me to the lived realities of the majority of my country. TraumaClinic’s internship did exactly that. There is no better, real experience than to work in a high school within the previously disadvantaged community. This internship is exactly what every Psychology student in South Africa needs.”

Sofia Gilli,
University of Cape Town, 2017

“… my counselling skills were tested and scrutinised, enhanced and honed…”

“My internship through TraumaClinic and CASE gave me a vast amount of experience. It showed me how to develop relationships that are vitally important for helping a community through counselling. My counselling skills and techniques were tested and scrutinised but ultimately enhanced and honed by frequent group counselling for the interns as well as the constant assistance provided in supervision. My year was somewhat of an emotional roller coaster, at times tiresome and at other times, exciting and inspirational. I highly recommend this internship to anyone who wants to get a taste of a counsellor’s role and responsibilities.”

Brett Pentland-Smith,
University of South Africa, 2011

“… emphasis on being a team and constant support…”

“One of my favourite things about working at TraumaClinic was the emphasis on being a team and constant support from everyone in the office as well as at our respective schools… No one was a hero, we were all always working in the best interest of our clients and the team as a whole.”

Kelly Hunt,
University of South Africa, 2011

“… excellent supervision and guidance…”

“I would recommend an internship, through the TraumaClinic, to anyone who is looking to broaden their practical and theoretical knowledge of trauma. The internship offers excellent supervision and guidance. The year internship equipped me for my career as a trauma counsellor, specialising in play therapy. I completed my BPsych equivalence through UNISA, while completing a year part-time internship.”

Jody Lord,
University of South Africa, 2011

“… enabled me to grow in leaps and bounds…”

“It was a thoroughly enjoyable, challenging and rewarding experience working with a variety of cultures, religions and value systems. It was challenging which enabled me to grow in leaps and bounds both personally and professionally. I would definitely recommend it as a worthwhile experience to anyone wanting to work within the mental health field who is interested to explore some challenging and complex dynamics at play in South Africa.”

Megan Barber,
University of Liverpool, 2011

“… balance between practical and theory…”

“I studied via correspondence through the University of South Africa (UNISA). This can be a lonely way of doing things and one can feel very isolated. There are 2 reasons that stand out when describing how/why I enjoyed the TraumaClinic experience. Firstly, the balance between practical and theory, with the opportunity to get real, community-based experience while having access and exposure to the latest literature & the opportunity to contribute to that. Secondly, being in a “team” of interns was valuable for peer support, supervision and shared learning. I felt well supported and cared for by my supervisors, both professionally and personally.”

Kerrin Lewey,
University of South Africa, 2010

"… exposed me to big thinkers in the field both in South Africa and abroad…”

“The year I spent at TraumaClinic was key in my development as a counsellor, under the guidance of Gerrit van Wyk, I was able to expand my theoretical knowledge of trauma theories and therapies as related to both an international and local South African context. My internship at TraumaClinic exposed me to big thinkers in the field, both in South Africa and abroad, who have offered invaluable guidance with regards to my Research Masters Thesis.”

Bernice du Plessis,
University of Cape Town, 2009

“… learning from you has been inspiring for me…”

“But most important of all: I cannot say enough times how lucky me and Ørjan was to end up at TraumaClinic. Learning from you, and having you as a supervisor has been inspiring to me, and especially for my interest in psychology, which was about to die when I arrived SA. You have a relaxing, and pragmatic way of dealing with both persons and issues that we bring up. You must also know that the experiences I gained in SA has made me even more tolerant to people that oppose me or are different from me (something I have been struggling with for a long time). I’m not just referring to working with the teachers and the kids, but also working with Charmel, the other interns, and yourself. I think I also have learned to see the value of reading more, and being open to the knowledge that is given to me. Trying to “change the glasses” that Im wearing, and being “all ears” to the ones who are having something to say. Also trying to get out of my comfort zone.

Ørjan and me attended a meeting the other day to present our internship for Kjersti Aarefjord, the lady in charge for the external practice. We told her that we really hoped the University of Bergen could work with you on a regular basis. We believe it is valuable for us and for you.”

Simon Thorsell,
University of Bergen

“… you’ve put my life on track…”

“Gerrit, I would like you to know again the huge effect you have had on my life… you’ve put my life on track.” 

Yusuf Salie,
South Africa

South African and International Internships details here

Speak less, listen more. TraumaClinic motto, Gerrit van Wyk

TraumaClinic Counselling Cape Town, South Africa, 1 Hiddingh Avenue, Gardens 8001

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