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Community Engagement History

Local Schools Partnership

The Psychology Clinic has developed a formal partnership with 5 local schools, and a further contact reaching out as far as Riebeeck East and Alicedale. Trainee psychologists spend one morning a week during term 2 and 3 in their respective placements addressing the needs of the particular school community. This usually involves doing workshops with learners and teachers, group work with learners – both in class groups and smaller theme centred groups, and assisting the parents and broader school community with whatever needs may arise. Following an in-depth needs analysis during 2008, we have successfully built on our relationship with Life Orientation classes in schools who invited us to participate in their programmes. Unfortunately lack of funding hinders continuous contact with schools in areas outside of Grahamstown and we had to focus recent activities on in-town schools.

Riebeeck East Combined Public School and Rhodes Psychology Clinic Concert

Three students (Ronald, Candice and Noluvuyo) from the 2010 M1 Counselling and Clinical Psychology group, are currently involved with Riebeeck East Combined Public School as a part of the Rhodes Psychology Clinic Community Engagement programme, currently in its third year.

They held a planned a concert at which the learners explored through drama, song and dance, some of the issues they have discussed during the year (mental health, bullying, violence, abuse, trauma, hope). In attendance were their parents, other community members, department of education officials, members of the Rhodes Psychology Department and members of the public.

Child Community Project

The Child Community Project has been running from the Psychology Clinic for the past 12 years. Its focus has been on working with children in the community with developmental delays and also with diagnoses on the autistic spectrum. This year the project has expanded to also work with carers of children with disabilities.

Khanya Special Care Unit: The Khanya Special Care Unit caters for children between 3 and 11 years of age with a variety of developmental delays. This year, the carers (Ms Gqotolo and Ms Papu) requested interventions for the children that focused on social skills and communication skills. Psychology third year and Honours students visit the Unit at least once a week to engage the children in various structured activities. The student volunteers attend a weekly supervision group with intern clinical psychologists from Fort England Hospital in order to encourage a service learning attitude.

Carer Support Group: From April this year, mothers and carers of children with a variety of developmental delays have been attending monthly support group sessions at the Joza Clinic. This group is a community engagement initiative partnered by the Psychology Clinic, Fort England Hospital and Child Welfare.

Mark Hipper-Tower Hospital Art Project

The Art Project was initiated and conceptualised by the late Mark Hipper, Artist and Senior Lecturer in the Department of Fine Art. The Department of Psychology became a partner in this project this year and will continue, together with the Tower Hospital, to develop the project in line with Mark’s vision and plans. Six to twenty patients participate in a weekly art group where the focus is on expressive art and free flowing artistry.


• To reduce stigma around mental health issues;

• Highlight skills in those considered mentally unwell;

• Support the construction of an alternative identity for the patients as ‘artists’ through participation in the group and showing their work in an exhibition which will showcase their work to the general public.

Phelophepa Health Care Train

The Phelophepha Healthcare Train, also fondly known as the ‘miracle train’, is a Transnet Foundation initiative that the RU Psychology Department joined in 2008. The train operates for 9 months of the year, travelling around the country and offering health services to impoverished areas in South Africa. The RU psychology department sends Honours and Masters students as well as interns to the Psychology Clinic on the train. Services from the Psychology Clinic include:

• Individual counselling

• School outreach programmes

• Outreach programmes for adults

Students benefit from working on the train through…

• Practical experiences in the clinic

• Learning to see and treat clients in a holistic manner

• Working and learning in a multi-disciplinary health environment, therefore sharing ideas and working as a team with different professions.

• Learning to take responsibility and to work independently under the guidance of qualified psychologists.

• Appreciating and adapting to the differences between urban and rural living.

• Exposure to lives and living conditions of the underprivileged and rural communities of South Africa.

Comment from one of the students in her reflection report:

“I feel that I have grown professionally in one-on-one sessions with clients – whereby I learn to use only what’s available and achieve the results of making the client feel heard, listened to and valued”

Other Projects

Last year the Psychology Department was contracted by the World Health Organisation and the national Department of Health to develop a national strategy document: 'Reproductive health among adolescents: comprehensive prevention and promotion strategies'. This project is undertaken under the leadership of Prof Macleod. The final document will lead to shifts in services provided to young sexually active and pregnant young women.


Last Modified: Mon, 29 May 2017 12:51:34 SAST