When I met Carien de Klerk (46), director of GHPS (Good Hope Psychological Service) for the first time it was at Tiger’s Milk in Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. I was immediately touched by her sense of loyal responsibility toward GHPS.

Carien was born in Kuruman Northern Cape. Her family moved to Johannesburg when she was still a toddler and at the age of ten they moved to Bloemfontein where she stayed until she finished her tertiary studies.

She obtained a BA in Languages, an Honeurs in Psychology, a Diploma in Education and a Master in Counseling Psychology at the University of the Free State.

She gained a lot of educational experience at various schools and during her and her husband, Leon’s stay in Canada, she acquired also a lot of knowledge at a community mental health clinic. 

She was also a full time mum while attending to the upbringing of their three boys now 17, 15 and 12 years old.

Since 2013 Carien became involved with GHPS (Good Hope Psychological Services). She started as a voluteer and after six months she became a staff member in January 2014.

Carien took over from Elsabe Broekman in March 2017 as the director of GHPS. Her first love is therapy, but because of her position in this organisation her major responsibilities are staff and financial management, fundraising, the supervision of interns and a little bit of therapy, for which she hasn’t so much time at the moment.

She is inspired by the courageous and successful stories of their clients but at the same time she is challenged by the many stories of hopelessness and despair.

Her major challenges at GHPS is that the community’s needs are overwhelmingly more that they can address at the moment.

Because of overburdened government systems and the consequential shortage of various resources, their clients are often powerless to improve their circumstances.

Another challenge is to address the stigma of mental health in communities.

Carien would like to ensure the ongoing development of GHPS’s organizational structure in order for it to continue rendering their indispensable services. She hopes that the mental health and emotional well-being of our communities will become a high priority for all relevant role players. She would also like to work with other NGOs to address the bigger picture regarding social change.

Contact Carin de Klerk at [email protected]  for more information.

Words: Mariëtte Odendaal