An analysis of the development of a lay relationship counselling training programme in Gugulethu

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

The principles and policies of primary mental health care and developmental social welfare in South Africa have in common a comprehensive, people-centred, equitable approach to addressing the discriminatory practices of the past in a transforming South Africa (Freeman & Pillay, 1997, White Paper for Social Welfare, 1997). The training and utilization of community members to render front-line services in historically disadvantaged communities has been envisaged as one of the strategies which can help alleviate the situation. The Department of Social Welfare sees a particular role for specialist human service organisations in assisting with the development of appropriate capacity-building programmes for this purpose. This study analyses a training programme in action of one such organisation, FAMSA (Family and Marriage Society of South Africa) W.Cape. The programme involved the initiation of the "Family Foundation", a lay, community-based, volunteer, relationship-counselling service. It is part of FAMSA W.Cape's project to extend its services in Cape Town's townships. It used an adult-learner, experiential training model developed by FAMSA's National Council (1990), which is based on Western therapeutic traditions, into which local training materials and an international developmental perspective were introduced. The chief aims of the study were to examine the appropriateness and effectiveness of the model in the township context, and to draw out of the process of implementation and the participants, new information and theory, to enrich and improve the model. The study therefore falls under the umbrella of community psychology and action research. The researcher held the combined roles of trainer and participant observer during the research period from July 1996 -- July 1998. A qualitative, "grounded theory" methodology was employed (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), in which audiotaped, transcribed data collected from the first group of trainees in group training sessions and semi- structured individual interviews was thematically analysed. The dominant theme related to the crossing and maintaining or creating of boundaries and structures during the implementation process. The role of support in community developmental work which is widely acknowledged as important (Holdsworth, 1994, Sterling & Lazarus, 1995), was another key theme of the study. A third major theme was that of identity construction. Subsidiary themes of culture, language, gender, power, and participation were interwoven with these. Various theoretical perspectives, predominantly the psychodynamic one of the training model, were used to examine them, assess effectiveness of implementation and make recommendations for future practice and policy-making in this area.

Bibliography : p. 253-267.