Kate Solomons is the internship co-ordinator at the Trauma Clinic Foundation, an organisation that provides counselling for adolescents in underprivileged government high schools in Cape Town.
Her proudest moments are when she can help individuals in her community. “I will truly never forget when [a] mother hugged me ever so tightly after our last session and told me that not only had I helped her daughter with regaining her confidence, but somehow returned her zest for life,” she says.
Recently, Solomons has also developed a pro-bono counselling initiative through the clinic, offering individuals across South Africa access to virtual counselling and support during the national lockdown. Her own life journey has helped Solomons in her counselling practice, specifically when it comes to addressing traumatic stress and how to develop healthy coping mechanisms and self-care routines. A particularly important lesson is that it is okay to ask for help.
“Leadership is not about maintaining your pride or hiding behind the façade of faultlessness — it is about mutual support and learning,” she says. “You cannot help others if you cannot help yourself.”
Solomons is pursuing her master’s in clinical psychology; her research is conducted in a decolonial framework, and aims to produce a collaborative relationship between traditional health practitioners and primary healthcare workers in treating mental disorders.
“I truly believe we should use local psychological knowledge in South Africa in our current mental health systems,” she says. “For too long, our diagnoses, assessments, psychological tools and interventions have been dominated by international discourses, especially by [those from] Western countries.”