About this workshop:

In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest and devastating flooding in South Africa has meant that experiences of traumatic grief and loss are not new to our nation.  COVID-19 illuminated the difficulties often facing South Africans who are grieving.  Factors that complicate bereavement came to the fore:  economic fallout, the instability of job security, and the monumental increase in dependency of debt to keep households running.  Funerals became a staple in our public spaces. Such loss of life: Gita Ramjee, Clarence Mini, Kenneth Mthiyane, to name a few of the 101,000 deaths due to Covid-19. 

This workshop aims to assist healthcare practitioners think about traumatic grief through a lens that accounts for South Africa’s complex socio-political and cultural milieu. 

  • Using the recent student protests as a case study, Mr Vhugala Nthakeni will provide a practitioner’s reflection on how prior traumatic experiences and a sense of loss have contributed to how we currently engage with student protests in higher education. 
  • Dr Cornelia Drenth will provide diagnostic considerations for grief as well as some proposals for intervention at an individual level. 
  • Ms Phillipa Haine will engage with how practitioners may can work with children experiencing traumatic grief within the clinical setting. 

The workshop, chaired by Mr Danial Den Hollander,  hopes to provide guidelines for practitioners who are faced with complex traumatic grief cases that arise from the specific historical and contemporary features of South African society.

PsySSA Workshop Series 2023: Workshop 3: Untangling trauma after grief and loss: Diagnostic considerations and treatment guidelines for practitioners

Meet our Presenters

Daniel den Hollander is a clinical psychologist who has worked in specialised mental health care, both in the public and private sectors. His expertise lies in voluntary, involuntary, and forensic treatment care, Complex PTSD and co-occuring addiction work. He has chaired the Psychology Professionals in Public Service Division of PsySSA from 2016-2021. During his term, PiPS became an established voice within parliamental NHI discussions and building key stakeholder relationships with other government departments (e.g. DBE, SARS). He is an activist for mental health care in South Africa. He is passionate about cultivating and promoting empowerment and change: may it be in the therapy room, on radio, at governmental stakeholder meetings, or at conferences. He is a regular feature on SAFM Living Redefined, and contributor for the Mail & Guardian.

Dr Nelia Drenth obtained her MA Degree (Social Work in Health) from the UP and her PhD from NWU. The title of her PhD thesis is Complicated grief in the South African context – A therapeutic intervention programme. 

Dr Drenth is a peer reviewer for International Social Work, British Journal of Social Work, and has also peer reviewed articles for Health SA Gesondheid, a local online professional health care publication.

Dr Drenth is the author and/or co-author of 9 peer reviewed articles with titles related to loss, grief, and bereavement. Two of these articles have been accepted in international peer reviewed social work journals. She authored and co-authored 2 chapters in A. Herbst & G Reitman (Eds). 2016. Trauma counselling. Principles and practice in South Africa today. Cape Town: Juta and Company (Pty) Ltd.

Phillipa Haine is a registered Counselling Psychologist. Phillipa has successfully completed the degrees, BSc (Genetics, Psychology & Human Physiology) and Hons (Psychology) (Cum Laude) at Stellenbosch University, as well as the degree MA (Counselling Psychology) at Rhodes University; she completed her internship at the Rhodes University Student Counselling Centre. She is currently a PhD candidate at Rhodes University. She has a special interest in public mental health, health psychology and community based psychological interventions. Phillipa has a drive to contribute towards improving the accessibility, relevance and credibility of mental healthcare services in South Africa. Phillipa is also a part-time lecturer at Rhodes University teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and currently supervising research at a Masters level. She has published research in various peer-reviewed academic journals. Phillipa also manages a part time private practice where she predominantly works with children, adolescents and young adults.

Vhugala Nthakheni holds BCom Law and LLB qualifications from the University of the Free State and is currently the Manager: Student Life and Governance at the University of Cape Town. Vhugala has worked in the Student Affairs and services sub-sector for over 10 years.

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