Cape Town is known as the Mother City – a place of comfort and safety. But what happens when the Mother City herself is needing comforting? The Lay Counsellors and trainers at Hope House are dedicated to offering comfort, encouraging hope and helping clients form all over Cape Town find direction.

So, how does Hope House bring ‘hope’ to Cape Town? How does Hope House make sure that the name is a fitting one and people who come to Hope House Counselling Centres leave with a sense of hope, comfort and purpose?

I’m glad you asked, here are Five Reasons Hope House hugely impacts Cape Town

1. We stop substance abuse before it starts

Hope House meets with and trains children and teens from 16 schools around Cape Town. From Bothasig in the north, to Lotus River in the south, in 2015 we impacted 790 young lives in schools across the city. Our courses develop life skills, self knowledge and help train youth in how to make good choices. Our prevention programmes run for 7 weeks and involve one class at a time until we have spoken to the whole grade. Our intervention programmes focus on teens who have already begun to experiment with substances. We spend 16 weeks with 10 children (an afternoon at least once a week) – in fact our programme is often part of corrective action taken if youth are discovered with drugs.

2. We listened (and counselled) Capetonians for 11 000 hours in 2015

That’s a LOT of listening…but not just listening, listening full of empathy, non-judgment and care. A counsellor steps in and stands in the gap when a person does not know how to cope. Hope House Counsellors welcome clients who struggle with anything from substance abuse to a parent’s divorce, rape, child abuse and trauma linked to crime, to the death of a loved one and depression.

3. We offer Cape Town an excellent counselling service… and all we ask for is a Donation

Hope House is an NGO that offers counselling (for about 8 sessions per client) and only asks for a donation of your choice in return. We know that generally, people who need care the most are not able to pay the usual rates for counselling or psychological care. So that’s why we started Hope House.

Who’s who and How much? 

Most qualified counsellors charge between R350 and R500 per hour session to support through life’s trauma challenges. Hope House offers this service, our volunteers are all trained lay counsellors. A psychologist (who deals more with mental illness like depression, bipolar and schizophrenia and offers a ‘talking cure’) costs between R650 and R1000 per hour session. They have a doctorate in Psychology, so six or seven years of study. A Psychiatrist only prescribes medication and is a qualified medical doctor with an extra specialisation in prescribing medication for mental illness. Their care can cost between R650 and R1000 for a half hour in private care. Ideally, anyone who suffers from a mental illness should see a psychologist every week or every 2 weeks and a psychiatrist every 3 to 6 months once initial treatment has been set. Government hospitals do offer free medication and free psychology and medication in some severe cases.

Of course the experienced professionals offer an excellent, life-saving service that is well worth it. However, counselling works best when the client and counsellor can form a relationship over at least a few sessions before the true challenges are tackled. Its the relationship with a counsellor that is most important, not just the words shared. But that can get pricey! Hope House realised that people in great need of counselling were missing out because of the cost (and not recognising the value until they tried it!) Hope House set out to make this valuable, life-changing experience that we want no person to sit out, when they are truly needing counselling, so that’s why we started Hope House as a Not for Profit, offering counselling in return for a donation.

3. We offer counselling in every language of Cape Town – even sign language

We know that discussing difficult memories and emotions is far easier in your home language, so we counsel in Xhosa, Afrikaans and English. Of course, people with disability are also in need of counselling – especially as they work through the challenges and emotions of living in an able-bodied world. The Kuilsrivier Hope House Counselling Centre has a counsellor who is able to communicate in sign language as well as a seeing-eye dog on the premises, reminding of our commitment to people with disabilities. Our counsellor listens to the stories of deaf people in Cape Town and counsels them through their challenges and struggles.

Counselling people who are deaf is not as straight-forward as simply bringing an interpreter into the counselling room. The extra person in the counsellor-client relationship is very likely to disrupt the feeling of confidentiality and close relationship, so it works best if the counsellor themselves is trained in sign language.

4. We train Cape Town’s counsellors and send them out, equipped. 

Hope House is one of the few centres that offers quality, low-cost training and education for lay counsellors. Our course offering starts with Basic Counselling Skills (a course that all inexperienced people should start with). Lay counsellors can then move onto courses like Children and Bereavement (from death and divorce) and Play Therapy for Counselling Adolescents.

5. We offer a drug counselling centre, in a city with too few substance abuse solutions.

Although not a drug rehab facility, Hope House Kuilsrivier is focused on offering people with a substance abuse problem a 16 week programme. The substance abuse counselling programme tackles the very core issues that were at the root of the drug abuse. Our counsellors speak through issues of past hurts, self esteem and peer pressure as well as educating clients on the many dangers of addiction (physical, mental, relational damage and facing the law). Substance abuse is not always easily conquered in a few months, so many of our clients return for more care and counselling.

There you have it, just five ways that Hope House changes Cape Town and brings hope to many. Excellent low-cost counselling is an essential service in a city with social ills like divorce, drug addiction, gangs, poverty,a high rate of rape and violent crime. Whether your challenges are mountain-sized or just everyday, Hope House offers counselling to you – for any donation you can manage to give.