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In 1949 The Johannesburg Marriage Guidance Society was established in response to the increase in marital and family breakdown. All reliable research showed that children growing up in a stable environment were more likely to live productive lives this research is relevant today.
In 1978 The Johannesburg Marriage Guidance Society amalgamated with The Youth Advice Bureau and in 1979 the name was changed to: Family Life Centre.
The dynamic courage and vision of The Family Life Centre’s founders (which included Mr David Murray from the Johannesburg City Council and Joan Philips, Psychologist) has had its impact on The South African Society today.
- Joan was appointed as South Africa's first school psychologist at Johannesburg Preparatory School for Girls (BARNATO PARK). Many schools followed the lead.
- Joan's courage and persistence resulted in her giving talks to children and teenagers about sex - after school hours. Society has adapted this to our schools today. This courageous step is the beginning of the work we do with our Education for Living programme in the schools.
- Family Life Centre was one of the first to introduce Trauma Counselling in South Africa
- Family Life Centre was the first NPO to introduce Employee Support Services to companies.
The Family Life Centre is affiliated to The National office Families South Africa. Each of the 27 offices in South Africa are autonomous with their own Executive Committees and Directors. Each are responsible for their own funding.
The Mission of Family Life Centre
Is to promote and maintain stable, satisfying relationships within individuals, families, marriages and community life for all people of South Africa. Work is carried out throughout Soweto, Diepsloot, Coronationville, Noordgesig, Westbury, Riverlea, Lenasia South, Newclare, Bosmont, Ennerdale, Alexandra and Ivory Park. Training courses and counselling services are offered to these communities as well as the City Centre and those reached by the Parkwood offices.
The range of services is designed to enhance the personal skills of individuals assisting them to:
- Manage their lives,
- Enrich their relationships
- Make a contribution towards developing their communities and ultimately, society.
The Philosophy of Family Life Centre
Numerous community-based programmes, ranging from support groups for teenage mothers and HIV/Aids positive people, to self help and income generating groups, rape, child abuse and violence awareness, student and adult education programmes, counselling and training, are offered by volunteers or social workers employed by The Family Life Centre.
Training and the Grounding of our Expertise
From International Experts
Family Life Centre invited many experts in their fields to hold workshops at regular intervals they included:
- In the 1950s world renowned authorities on marriages and marriage enrichment; Dr David Mace and his wife Vera Mace assisted with establishing the Johannesburg Marriage Guidence Society.
- Dr. Florence W. Kaslow, a World Renowned expert in the field of psychotherapy, visited twice and proved a good friend and wonderful teacher.
- Gianfranco Cecchin (Milan): Co-founder of the Milan School of Therapy
- Tom Andersen (Norway) introduced the reflective team into Family Therapy at Family Life Centre.
- In 1974 World Renowned Anthropologist Dr. Mead to came to South Africa and gave impetus to the growth and banish the stigma attached to marriage counselling.
- In 1974 Family Life Centre attended the first conference on Family Therapy ever to be held in South Africa.
- In 1987 Professor Wilma Hoffman – Head of Social Work at University of Witwatersrand, attended Divorce Mediation Training by the authority John Haynes in The United States. Upon her return she provided 40 hour training to The Staff at The Family Life Centre.
Services offered by Family Life Centre which address current issues in South Africa
- Community development programmes: Youth Community Development and adult capacity-building programmes reached 60 696 people over past year.
- Education for Living in the Schools: Learners participated in a variety of life skills programmes. An Anti-Bullying campaign was rolled out over past years in community schools
- Facilitators in ARV Clinic at Helen Joseph Hospital.
- Holiday Programmes, to empower the youth
- Parenting Groups
- Individual / Couple Counselling
- Trauma counselling
- Family therapy
- Play Therapy
- Support groups, e.g. HIV/Aids.
- Divorce and family mediation including maintenance issues – kept abreast of the New Children’s Act. Trained over 60 new Mediators over the past year in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.
- Training: we have been accredited by Health and Welfare SETA as a Training Centre. Trained 30 Volunteers serving 4 000 patients a month and other interested community members.
- Marriage Preparation and Marriage Enrichment Programmes
We have Satellite offices in :
City Centre, Soweto, Lenasia South, Westbury, Ennerdale, Diepsloot, Alexandra
The Family Life Centre’s Executives
Athol Williams is a Senior Advisor at global strategy consulting firm, Bain & Company, where he was a Partner in their global private equity and financial services practises until recently; he worked in Bain’s Boston, New York, London and Johannesburg offices. He is the former Strategy Director for Old Mutual. He is an Adjunct Professor at Wits University in the Public & Development Management School where he specialises in strategic planning in the public sector and non-profit organisations.
Athol has a strong commitment to social and economic development evidenced by his service on numerous non-profit organisation boards and the development initiatives that he drives. Athol holds an MBA from M.I.T, an MSc (Finance) from London Business School and a BSc (Mechanical Engineering) from Wits.
Colin Smuts (Executive Director) did his O Levels at the Henry Compton Secondary School in London (UK) in 1963. Coming from a commercial management background in the '70's, his desire and drive for development led him to start his career as Co-ordinator for the African Music & Drama Association in his spare time. He followed his passion and became the Director of The Open School from 1974 to 1998, a Cultural Education Programme.
In July 1998, because of his expertise in organisational development and a heartfelt need to uplift communities and reduce poverty he became the Executive Director of CBDP.
As author, poet and columnist, certain of his poetry works were taught as part of the University of Witwatersrand first Year English Literature curriculum. Colin’s affinity with community and cultural activities has kept him active as Chairman of Spaza Art and The Bag Factory and member of the Family Life Centre Board.
Some of the Accomplishments are:
- Initiated and organised a Welcome Home delegation and official reception for Nadine Gordimer on her being awarded Nobel Prize for Literature.
- He worked in partnership with the ANC Department of Arts & Culture to organise the conference that formulated post-apartheid cultural policy in Amsterdam: "Culture in Another South Africa".
- Formation of and National Treasurer of the Congress of South African Writers, COSAW.
- Assisted with the launching of SAYCO (South African Youth Congress)
- Organiser of African Arts the Trust Fund (New York) responsible for the final selection of candidates for the Benjamin Moloise Scholarship.
- Consultant in the formation of the Learn and Teach Community Literacy Programme in Johannesburg.
Mbulelo Dili started his career in the financial services as an assistant marketing manager. He has since been in the fundraising sector for more than eight years. He has worked with local and international NGO's focusing on fundraising and media management.
The Family Life Centre' Management
Manager of Student Affairs
Ann Rennie joined The Family Life Centre 27 years ago. Shortly after joining she took over The Education for Living Department. This involved; selecting educators – training and supervising the team.
Ann ran various Training Courses and Groups, supervised social work students during their final year’s practical work. This lead to Ann taking over the Management of the Psychology Masters students for their internship at The Family Life Centre.
Over the past 27 years Ann has always counseled individuals and couples focusing on relationships, emotional and parenting issues. Ann has enjoyed working with couples on The Marriage Preparation and Enrichment courses.
Head of Divorce Mediation
Claire is legally trained with: BA (Hons in Psych) LLB from Wits. She joined The Family Life Centre in Jan 2000. Claire is the Divorce and Family Mediation lead trainer at Family Life Centre.
Claire sits on the board for NABFAM (National Accreditation Board of Family Mediators) The Family Life Centre is a founding member of this board - setting standards for mediators and training for SA.
Thuli Bottoman: Joined The Family Life Centre in October 1989 she has brought a richness of experience to the organization. Prior to joining Family Life Centre she headed up an education programme teaching Life Skills in hospitals and Family Planning Centres.
Thuli has initiated and facilitated HIV/Aids support groups. These have been successful by empowering and creating a positive attitude amongst those who attend. Other workshops facilitated by Thuli include: Stress Management, Self Awareness, Self Esteem, Communication, workshops in Conjunction with True Love Love Magazine and The Foschini Group
Head of Communities
Dalene joined Family Life Centre’s City Office 10 years ago as a counseller and community developer. She progressed in the organization and become our key EAP (Employer Assistant Programmes) coordinator. In 2004 Dalene and her family moved to The UK where she worked for the Solihull Child and Family Services, counseling children and families.
Dalene returned to South Africa in 2006 when she rejoined The Family Life Centre. Dalene continued working with EAPs (Employer Assistant Programmes), counseling, training and became a valuable part of our Westbury Team. Dalene is an accredited HWSETA (Health and Welfare) Trainer and Assessor.
At the beginning of 2011 Dalene was appointed manager of The Community Work Team.
Pam has worked as a Social Worker since 1993. She worked extensively with community development programmes that targeted both adults and youth.
Pam spearheaded specialized services in the filed of gender-based violence and sexual harassment at Wits University.
Pam headed up the Training Department at The Family Life Centre FAMSA Johannesburg which involved; coordinating, developing and updating the organisation’s training programmes, as well as facilitating courses. She also does individual and couple therapy.
Pam was appointed Director and took over the helm on 1st December, 2012.
Ridwana has two degrees in Arts and Law, along with a Certificate in Industrial Relations, which provided the basis for a comprehensive understanding of legal processes and business in South Africa, in particular labour law and human rights law. This was consolidated with a qualification to practice law obtained in 1999, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) at the Gordon Institute of Business Science in 2006. She is the Director and owner of her company Being a Woman People Development, and the Founder Member Director of a BEE rating agency, Honeycomb BEE Ratings. Her vision: "An Awakened, Empowered and Transformed People of the World. I want to spend my life being part of a movement that causes a revolution in consciousness."
Dr Esther Price
Dr Esther Price is a Clinical Psychologist who received her PhD in 2008 from the University of Houston. She is currently a lecturer at the Dept of Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. She has also taught various courses at the postgraduate level in the greater areas of traumatization, working with HIV and AIDS, working with teenagers, family therapy, systems theory and self–care. Dr Price has also worked as a trainer with the South African Institute for Traumatic Stress (SAITS) and conducted training workshops for mental health professionals in the areas of “working with trauma” “working with children and adolescents” and “working with people living with HIV/ AIDS”. Dr Price has received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Research (Wits University) as well as Teaching Excellence Award (Psychology- Wits University)