Claire was born in Johannesburg where she attended primary school. They then moved to Somerset West, Cape Town when she started high school and has been living in Cape Town ever since.
“I have always known that I wanted to work with children,” says Claire. “This lead me on a journey that took me to different universities and countries, working with children of different ages, cultures and languages. I completed my undergrad in psychology, followed by an honours degree in psychology at Stellenbosch University.
“Taking some time off after my honours degree, I went to live in Taiwan for 3 years where my passion for working with children grew. I taught English to children between the ages of one and a half to 18 years. I was also the NST (Head Native Speaking Teacher) at two branches where I managed other NSTs, created curriculum and worked closely with the Chinese teachers.
“I returned to Cape Town to complete a PGCE in foundation phase through UNISA, as I wanted to continue working within the education system.
“Teaching at a primary school in Cape Town for 7 years, I gained invaluable experience and insight into the school system and the impact it has on children. It was during this time that my passion for child psychology was reignited, as I wanted to be able to provide support on a therapeutic level to those children who were struggling emotionally.
“As such, I completed a master’s degree in play therapy while continuing to teach. Play therapy provides an amazing way of meeting children on their level where I can enter their world and help them to gain a better understanding of themselves and their emotions in a fun and playful way.
Claire explains, “I realized that I wanted to be able to do more to help learners experiencing barriers to learning, so I continued my studies and completed a master’s degree in educational psychology, also part-time. I worked at a high school and primary school where I completed my internship. This degree enables me to provide holistic support to learners by identifying their strengths and areas of development, as well as providing ways in which they can be supported. In addition, I work therapeutically with learners needing emotional support. My experience gained from working in the education system provides an understanding of how this support can be provided within the school, as well as in the home.
“Since completing my internship, I have worked at a high school & primary school in Rondebosch. I went into private practice after giving birth to my daughter. I then worked for the Western Cape Department of Education as an educational psychologist.
“I have been employed as an educational psychologist at GHPS since January 2019. I work at two primary schools (Simondium Primary and Pniel Primary), as well as at the Stellenbosch office.
“I use play therapy, as well as sand tray therapy and solution focused therapy when working with children. I also complete psycho-educational assessments with children, in order to gain a better understanding of their strengths and the areas in which they need support.
“We have a tremendous amount of people (adults and children) who are exposed to trauma, most of whom experience trauma on a daily basis. Such traumatic experiences impact on the ability to learn and can have lasting effects on physical, mental and emotional health.
“Our greatest challenge is being able to provide therapeutic support to everyone who needs it, as many do not have the resources or the access to mental health support.
“My hope at GHPS is to help children of all ages reach their potential, to understand themselves and their emotions better, and to realize their own unique strengths and abilities, so that they are able to live their best life.”
Claire is married to Stuart and they have an 18-month-old daughter.