I am Nidhi Amanda Chaitow, a multi-faceted and experienced psychosocial therapist; drumming and rhythm therapist, and group facilitator. With many years' experience as a conscious therapist, therapeutic drumming facilitator and spiritual teacher. I work with many different clients and organisations in South Africa and around the world. Based in the Garden Route of South Africa, I run a psychosocial online practice and offer a wide range of therapeutic services, packages, workshops and programmes. (Conscious Counselling Psychosocial Online Practice)
Having run the Drum Cafe on the Garden Route for several years, I discovered first-hand the remarkable healing power of individual and collective rhythm. I have taught transformational drumming, life skills and spiritual awareness to individuals, groups, institutions, non-profit organisations and NGOs across South Africa and Internationally.
Some of these include Lifeline Garden Route, Hospice Knysna, Oasis Addiction Centre in Plettenberg Bay, Eco Ed in Harkerville, Minnesota State University, Afrika Tikkun, Nechama, Jewish Seniors Cape Town, and currently KILT (Knysna Integrated Learning and Teaching).
In 2005 I was one of the co-founders of Eden Campus (now called Tsiba Eden), near George in the Garden Route. The campus officially opened in February 2006 with 80 students from various local communities and I held the position of Campus Director and Lifeskills Educator.
In 2007 I began participating in Knysna Hospice's Caring for Carers research programme, for which I created a modality called "Finding your Rhythm". This programme continued until 2010.
In 2008 I was the Facilitator for a group of students from Minnesota State University who were conducting a service learning programme with students from Eden Campus. Thereupon, I was invited to co-author a paper for the Psychological Journal of USA. Subsequently, I wrote, developed and facilitated various empowerment, drumming and life skills programmes.
In 2016 I completed a Bachelor of Applied Social Sciences Degree at The South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP) in Claremont, Cape Town (www.sacap.edu.za) with additional modules in Grief and Loss and Somatic Counselling Thereafter, I worked as a volunteer bereavement counsellor for Nechama (a Jewish bereavement counselling service) and began my own counselling practice (Conscious Counselling).
In 2015, while studying, I had been contracted to run a programme for Afrika Tikkun in Mfuleni, Cape Town. In this programme, for which my contract was renewed in 2016, I taught Drumming and Lifeskills to groups of learners and their facilitators. This was the forerunner to my "Rhythms of You" Empowerment Programme, which I later ran in Knysna in association with KILT.
To add to my basket of skills, I have completed certificate training in Music in Creative Detoxification and Rehabilitation, in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with Older People, and in Palliative Care with St. Lukes Hospice. In May 2020 I qualified as an End of Life (Death) Doula with Sacred Dying South Africa – Embracing The End Of Life (NPO Registration 2019/365205/08). Some of my other areas of research include :
the psychosocial aspects of trauma
the precursors for addiction and abuse
psycho-sexual health and wellbeing
Psychosocial Practice: I opened Conscious Counselling in 2016, in Cape Town and run my practice Hoekwil, on the Garden Route, seeing clients daily both in person and on-line. I have been working with some of my clients for over a year, dealing with trauma; bereavement, loss and grief; addiction and eating disorders; PTSD; emotional wellbeing; life-cycle transitions; and honouring the rhythms and challenges in life. I worked as a Care Coordinator for Temple Israel Progressive Jewish Congregation at the Temple in Wynberg, until June 2018 where I was working with the psychosocial needs of the diverse community that makes up the congregation. Vision & Mission: Conscious Counselling, creates a safe, gentle, holding space of authenticity and truth, which offers you the opportunity to explore what feels BROKEN or OUT OF BALANCE in your life. I provide a sacred space and time to consciously go into yourself and have an honest conversation. My aim is to allow you to take a step into the unknown and to learn what is there to be explored. By discovering and honouring the rhythm of the stillness within, we find the space where transformation begins.
My personal journey to wholeness The first quarter of my life set the context for me to start to grow and develop my own authenticity and healing. I have had a challenging life and journey, and it is because of this that I am able to really walk with my clients in the open-hearted and grounded way that I do. I survived an alcoholic father, a dysfunctional and hypercritical mother, and stepped into an abusive and violent marriage at the age of 20. By the age of 24 was struggling single mother. Through my deep spiritual connection with the Divine, I started to rebuild and recreate myself based on my own set of rules and code of ethics.
Context and inspiration From a very young age, growing up in the 1960’s & 1970’s, I started to notice human rights abuses and the levels of inequality and abuse within the society I was living. When I was 5 or 6, I remember seeing policemen beating an older black man and when I asked my father to stop it, I was told to be quiet and stop looking out of the car window. This broke my heart. I remember screaming inside, not being able to express how this had affected me. Other memories were of police coming to the white, privileged neighbourhood, and removing visiting spouses or boyfriends and children from the domestic workers’ shacks at the back of affluent houses - what hurt me the most was that children could not live with their mothers, and were removed. How those women held this inside, put on their starched overalls and come into our homes to clean and take care of us children was something that I could never understand. I did not have the words to express how this affected me, but I knew in every cell of my being that this was wrong.
Internal Resilience One thing that I have always possessed is a strong internal resilience and the ability to rise above adversity, to be one with anyone in a non-judgemental and loving way, and to accept others exactly as they are. I believe that this has come from my deep resonance with God and the divinity of Mother Nature and have always felt supported and loved, even in the darkest and most frightening experiences of my life. This contributes to the innate wisdom I hold and to my ability to be empathetic and real with whomever I work and connect with, irrespective of their diversity or socio-economic status.
Meeting drumming During the second quarter of my life, whilst bringing up my daughter, I had the privilege of meeting drumming as a healing and supportive tool. In 1994, as South Africa reemerged and we experienced the birth of our rainbow nation, I discovered something that has given me medicine and healing - the djembe drum. Drumming with people from diverse backgrounds, connecting through music and rhythms, discovering and trusting my own rhythm and ability to be part of something so real, honest, and connecting, helped me to find my voice trapped inside behind self-doubt, feelings of inadequacy, lack of self confidence, and immense shame and humiliation. Drumming gave me my voice and connected me with the rhythms that emerged from my own wisdom and internal connections with the Divine.
From drumming and facilitating workshops, my sacred work started to emerge and I linked this with therapeutic practice and wisdom, where I could see that incredible power of both drumming and my own abilities to reach and touch people,and make them feel safe. As my authentic voice and work unfolded, I started witnessing how I was making a difference, and making people see their own beauty. I started working with organisations such as Lifeline, Oasis Rehabilitation, Serenity Care, Hospice and was able to use my drumming and facilitation skills, together with my person-centred approach and deep spirituality to reach and transform.
Growing theoretical knowledge In the third quarter of my life, so as to give a theoretical and therapeutic basis to the transformational work I was doing, I felt motivated to undertake further study. In 2013, at the age of 52, I began a degree in Applied Psychology which I completed in May 2016. As I recreated myself academically, the inspiration that held me was my transformation work with communities, assisting people to regain their beauty and self-confidence.
By adding the modules of grief and loss and somatic psychology, to my degree, my skills as a counsellor started to shine through. Because of this, I completed my degree with a year of student counselling at SACAP, seeing clients diverse in age, gender, challenges, and socioeconomic status. Their response to my therapeutic style and presence confirmed my path in becoming the psychosocial therapist and facilitator that I am today.
On 20th May 2020 I qualified as an End-of-Life (Death) Doula and have added the art of dying consciously to my list of skills and offerings. Within my Transitions to Eldership Programme, the last module Letting go Gracefully works with how we can integrate how we choose to die into our living and thriving in our life. This is sacred work that I feel deeply connected with.
Transitions to Eldership: In 2017, after years of researching conscious ageing and being focused on becoming an inspired Elder, I developed a body of work which I have named Transitions to Eldership. This work embraces the developmental stages in life in which there is a change of status or role. In order to honour and support these transitions in a conscious way, I facilitate several processes. These explore the inner child, the free spirited younger-self, the creative adult-self, the graceful elder-self and the various rites of passage around these developmental stages in our lives.
How Transitions to Eldership began: I have always had a yearning to be a light and inspiration to younger people, sharing the wisdom of eldership and leading by example. The energy and aliveness of young people and how they interact with technology has created a world that, although easily accessible, feels to be so disconnected.
Stepping into the role of Elder gives us the chance to slow down, and grow interconnectedness that is not technological or on the internet. This interconnection seems to be what is missing in the world right now. Personally, I feel that it is an honour to go through the transition of releasing the role of mother, caretaker, participator, and facilitator and becoming more graceful, peaceful, patient and kind, having more time to inter-connect. In 2016, I started researching the concept of conscious ageing and connecting and having conversations with the older generation. I discovered how people over 70, who I was privileged to encounter, all spoke about the need to ‘give back’ in order to find meaning in their lives. This really touched my heart and what was clear to me is how they often didn’t acknowledge their own contribution in their role in partnership and families, as well as bringing up their children. They didn’t see how integral this is in creating a purpose and making them inspired members of society.
People often experience a disconnect between where they are in the present and the experiences from their past. There are many aspects that we pack away and forget about because of trauma, pain or just trying to get through our daily lives. By identifying and understanding these we can gain insight into how function and make the choices that affect our lives.
We seem to have lost our connection to our ancestors and seem to have forgotten that we are in fact ancestors in the making for future generations. In the process of exploring our life experiences, we discover gems that may be trapped behind trauma or painful memories. If we can bring these gems from our past stories into our present, as valued aspects of ourselves, and place them respectively into our ‘eldership crown’, we will have the opportunity to leave an inspired legacy for the next generations. Based on my own life experience, my work with drumming and rhythm, my psychology training, as well as research and many conversations, Transitions to Eldership was born.
#healingsouthafrica is a campaign I began in December 2015. It aims to heal our beautiful land, and bring light into the darkness. If we collectively pray to fill our consciousness with grace, peace and love; if we stay mindful of our thoughts and our language; if we treat each other and our Mother Earth with respect - then we can grow a healing revolution and be the change we want to see in our country.