Community Psychology Practice

Community psychology is central to my psychological praxis. I collaborate with those who share the desire for cognitive, social and environmental justice. My psychology skills are diverse and include: expert report writing; critical assessments; project planning and coordination; advocacy; training and governance.

My experience ranges from contributing to the team that rehabilitated a 140-bed hospital in Somaliland; responding to the 2011 Horn of Africa drought; accompanying medical colleagues during the Syria conflict through ongoing provision of medical supplies; and health advocacy directed at overcoming barriers to accessing essential care for survivors of sexual violence in South Africa’s mine-affected communities.

More recently, I have been working on documenting histories of land dispossession and environmental injustice together with the significance of place and epistemic territories for grassroots community struggles who are engaged in restitutive processes in South Africa.

Over the years, I have also conducted several expert assessments, including on the mental healthcare system and services in Lesotho, migrant access to healthcare in Pretoria, which subsequently led to opening MSF’s migration project, and assessed and led the co-authorship of the Office of Health Standards Compliance complaint on inhumane healthcare conditions in Lindela Repatriation facility for MSF with Lawyers for Human Rights and the Treatment Action Campaign. Additionally, I was involved in writing up standards promoting health care access during #FMF protests with students and colleagues from Wits University, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, SAPS and ICRC in the aims of safeguarding access to care for students.

My approach is participatory and have trained members of EarthLore Foundation and the Networking HIV & AIDS Community of Southern Africa (NACOSA), who I also co-authored the standards of care for counselling survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.

At a governance level, I coordinated MSF’s Southern Africa’s vision process for the board of directors, prior to which I served as the president of MSF in Southern Africa.

This diverse and meaningful clinical and critical experience that is situated in participatory and principled action has helped bring a unique value to teams. If this style resonates with you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Here are some examples of recent expert reports:

The Psychological and Mental Health Consequences of Climate Change in South Africa

The expert report The Psychological and Mental Health Consequences of Climate Change in South Africa was commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Rights for the African Climate Alliance, groundWork, the Vukani Environmental Movement in Action.

My expert opinion was that the government’s decision to not adequately avert the mental health impacts of climate change contribute to the psychological experience of institutional betrayal and secondary trauma for current and future generations. The institutions that are supposed to safeguard communities make decisions that will have irreversible and profound consequences for their mental health and wellbeing. We cannot escape the fact that climate change impacts pose an existential threat to individuals, families, and communities that are psychologically – and otherwise – harmful.

Community Psychological Report Concerning the Development of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone

The report has been submitted as part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report Public Participation Process for the Proposed Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) within Musina-Makhado local municipalities in the Vhembe District of Limpopo Province. The report is based on the People’s Eco-Mapping Hearings that was organised and supported by Earthlife African and Natural Justice. This submission summarises concerns about the SEZ based on my clinical and community psychology experience, research, and observations of the People’s Eco-Mapping Hearings. My expert opinion is that:

  1. Mulambwane community residents and others in the Musina-Makhado area’s historical dispossession from ancestral land and political oppression under colonial administrations, including apartheid, contributed to significant epistemic violence. Today, this epistemic violence continues contributing to profound intergenerational psychological distress.
  2. Mulambwane community residents and others in the Musina-Makhado area experience considerable distress resulting from anticipated harms associated with the project’s cumulative impacts. 
  3. The project threatens to disrupt intergenerational identities and psychological wellbeing by further endangering specific knowledge, customary practices, ways of being in the world and relating as a community with ancestral land, sacred sites, and other places of importance. 
  4. The process is placing considerable psychosocial pressure on affected residents who have raised concerns about perceived exclusions, and the devaluing of their concerns, as well as community tensions. 
  5. There are profound adverse psychological and mental health consequences related to climate change.