PROFESSIONAL TRAINING & CONSULTATION
( Family Counselling Agency, South Trondelag, Trondheim, Norway, 19 – 23 June 2006 )
I visited Norway in June where I was the guest of the Norwegian Churches Family Counselling Agency, South Trondelag in Trondheim. The invitation to offer training and consult with the team of therapists who work in this office was a follow-up to the training I did during their visit to Cape Town in 2005. The group came to South Africa under the leadership of ex-South African psychologist, Anthony Hawke, and director of the office, Stig Winsnes.
I was asked to focus my training and consultation on working with couples. I gave a theoretical over-view of my approach to couple therapy on the first morning. For the rest of the week my time at the Family Counselling office was spent consulting with couples while two staff groups took turns to observe the therapeutic work from behind a one-way-mirror. Tony Hawke acted as interpreter while I worked with the Norwegian clients. Afterwards the team did reflections and discussions on the sessions and I had the opportunity to refer to my theoretical framework in discussing the therapeutic work that they witnessed. The feedback from clients and colleagues was very encouraging and I realised that the years of doing “live” supervision and interviewing in South Africa has paid off. I loved the opportunity to DO the work instead of just talking about it.
I was also invited to do a one day workshop with the theme “Witnessing trauma, political action and sustaining hope” at the City Mission of the Lutheran Church in Trondheim. This workshop was attended by priests of the Lutheran Church who minister to people who are affected by a diversity of problems such as HIV, drug and alcohol dependency, sexual offenders etc. This meeting was organised by Siv Lindstrand, a priest who runs a day care centre and programme for people affected by HIV.
During my visit an open day was organised by the Family Counselling Agency in collaboration with City Mission to share some of the impressions that the group brought with them after their visit to South Africa in October 2005. This meeting was attended by a larger audience of therapists, academics, theologians and judges from the family court. We gathered in an old church in the centre of the city for a moving liturgical ceremony of organ music, lighting of candles and prayer. In her message Siv Lindstrand reminded the audience of the plight of the poor and people living with HIV/AIDS, thus setting the tone for the day. I was asked to give a talk on “Conflict, oppression and restitution” and shared some examples of work that I am involved in South Africa. The team that visited South Africa used a power-point presentation of Drakenstein Hospice to share some of their experience during their visit to the Hospice as well as to the community where people are dying of AIDS. Upon their return from South Africa the staff of the Family Counselling Agency started sharing the dream of the Drakenstein Hospice staff to build a Day Care Centre for AIDS patients and their children in the community. They managed to collect money for this project and presented me with a cheque for NK 500 000 (R500 000+) ! What an emotional day for me! While the King of Norway and the Royal Family were walking outside in the street towards the Cathedral to celebrate their golden jubilee, people from Trondheim presented me with this generous gift through which they join us in our efforts to care for people in South Africa.