Ally Franken is one of our psychological counsellors at Good Hope Psychological Service who works four days a week at our branch in Paarl.
She is from the Eastern Cape – born and bred in Stutterheim where she also completed her school career. She has a soft spot for the countryside and tries to avoid the busy city life.
She realized early in her high school years that she would like to pursue a career in which she could help people. After school she went on to study at the Stellenbosch University and obtained her BEd (Psych); Educational Psychology, in 2007.
From 2008 she started working in the Overberg District for Enlighten Education Trust, an NGO that provided counseling services to schools in the area. Ally was the school counsellor for ten of the schools.
From 2010 to 2015, Ally started working as a private tutor for disabled children of a few families and home-schooled them.
Since 2015 (with a break in 2019) she has started working as a counsellor at GHPS. Her work mainly involves emotional support to clients. “You quickly realize that no textbook is going to help you here,” Ally explains, “you need to be able to think on your feet and instinctively know how to create a safe space for people. They often have to face disturbing realities, process traumas and express their emotions, frustrations and pain. And that’s where I need to assist them. If my client feels someone has heard them, that they matter, and they have a little hope for tomorrow, then I feel I have done my job.”
But how does one go about handling these matters practically? Ally replies, “I handle referrals from adults and children from various organizations, and in a series of sessions try to walk a path with individuals in a way where ethics, theory and my personal intuition meet.”
It is important for Ally that she encourages her clients to realize that they have a voice. She explains, “I want my clients to reclaim their agency. I want the people sitting in front of me at the end of our process to be in a place where they no longer ask, ‘Why me?’ But ‘What now? What can I do with where I am and what I have?’
“I want to help people take ownership of their thoughts and actions, and in this way gradually regain control of their emotional well-being.”
One of the biggest challenges her clients face is the degree of discouragement due to really bad circumstances that people have to live with. There is a shortage of resources and this, together with deep-rooted core beliefs about the world and how people live with each other, sometimes makes one feel as if you are speaking a language other than the person sitting in front of you.
“I would like to see people in the community start to stand up and realize that there is power within themselves and that they do not have to wait for someone else to come and save them. I think what is very important for change to take place is that people need to be motivated to change and that organizations like GHPS need to assist these people.
“However, the key people who stand up and say ‘enough is enough, things need to change, and these are the changes we want to see, and this is how we are going to try to achieve them’, must be the community itself.
“At this stage I find that most of my clients are sent to me, because someone else thinks they should come, someone thinks there is something wrong that needs to be fixed.
“There is often little motivation for change, and also often little need to take responsibility for choices and actions. As I said before, I believe the beginning of change lies in the paradigm shift of ‘Why me? to ‘What now?'”
Ally is a big animal lover, especially horses and cats make her heart beat faster. She also loves reading – both fiction and non-fiction. As a child from a farm she also loves nature.
Contact Ally at mailto:[email protected] for more information.