NAADAC; UKPCBADC – Co-Founder and Director
“If you want to stop using, you are going to have to stop using”
Alex Hamlyn is co-founder and director at the Houghton House Group of addiction treatment centres in Johannesburg and is a nationally recognised expert in addiction rehabilitation.
As a certified member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellors (NAADAC) and an accredited additions counsellor in the United Kingdom Professional Certification Board of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellors (UKPCBADC) since 2000 Alex is well qualified to handle virtually any substance abuse case.
Since 1995 Alex has been involved with several prominent addiction recovery practices and participated in numerous road-shows, seminars, training programmes, authorships and advisories on the field of addiction rehabilitation.
He specialises in the field of groupwork with addicted populations, maintaining that groupwork is the most powerful dynamic available in psychotherapy. Alex has been running groups for over 20 years.
He currently provides counselling and group treatment services from the recovery facilities where he supervises and coaches numerous addiction counsellors both inside and outside of the Houghton House Group.
Alex also trains counsellors, human resources departments, medical professionals, student counsellors and a number other professionals including doctors studying at the University of the Witwatersrand school of family medicine, through a series of specialised courses namely 12 Core Functions of Addiction Counselling and Counselling the Addicted Communities.
Alex has walked the harrowing road of heroin and crack cocaine addiction into recovery and has remained clean and motivated since 1994 and continues to be active both inside the and out of the substance abuse community.
Or go to his website @ http://alexhamlyn.co.za
MA Psych – Director
“The first step is always the most difficult, but also the most rewarding, to take…”
Dan Wolf, director of Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres, is a registered psychologist who specialises in dealing with addictive disorders. He graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand and completed his internship at Phoenix House.
Dan has had extensive exposure to the major drug rehabilitation centres in South Africa and is recognized as a national expert on addiction treatment.
In 2000, Dan established the First Step Drug and Alcohol Outpatient Recovery Centre, which pioneered as the first intensive outpatient program established in Johannesburg.
In addition to being involved in assessments and individual and group therapies, Dan also supervises lay-counsellors, facilitates family support and aftercare groups, and is well equipped to assess substance abuse and dual diagnosis cases in order to advise on treatment options and a suitable way forward.
In 2006, Dan, together with Dr Charles Perkel and psychologist, Allan Sweiden, established the General Addiction Programme, known as the GAP. The GAP is a residential treatment facility, which, merged with Houghton House in 2009 to form the Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres, offering the full spectrum of addiction treatment options.
Dr Hashendra Ramjee
MBBCh – GP with an interest in addiction treatment
“A multidisciplinary approach gives people in recovery the best chance of staying clean”
Dr Ramjee completed his medical degree at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1997. He worked and trained for two years in the United Kingdom in the field of specialised addiction medicine.
He returned to South Africa in 2005 with this specialist knowledge and skill-set and joined the GAP, a residential treatment centre established by Dan Wolf, Dr Charles Perkel and Allan Sweiden.
Dr Ramjee was also instrumental in the establishment of SANCA Nishtara, a non-profit inpatient treatment programme in Lenasia, and he serves as an executive member on the board of the South African Addictions Medicine Society.
Dr Ramjee focuses on the physical and medical progress of patients as they move through treatment. He conducts an initial physical and a mental health assessment and then oversees a patient’s progress from detoxification and stablisation to medication management and relapse prevention.
In order to maintain a continuity of care Dr Ramjee communicates with Houghton House staff and each patient’s own psychiatrists and physicians. When patients are discharged a relapse prevention and aftercare strategy is discussed and this is communicated to relevant practitioners enabling them to participate in the ongoing recovery of their patients.
“Act as if”
M.A. Psych. (Natal)
Director of Outpatient Services
Kenneth is a registered Counselling Psychologist and Executive Coach.
His work has included child, adult, couples and group psychotherapy, psychological assessments, and supervision of intern psychologists and lay counsellors. He has specific interests in Addictive Disorders, Chronic Pain and Executive Coaching. In 2007, he established Pathfinder, a sexual addictions treatment programme which has allowed numerous clients over the years to overcome compulsive sexual behaviour. He has consulted to numerous organisations including Investec, Anglo-American and 3M. Over the past five years he has developed an executive coaching practice.
After qualifying, he went on to establish the Masters in Community-based Counselling Psychology Programme at the University of the Witwatersrand. He taught in the areas of Health Psychology, Counselling Psychology, Psychopathology and Research Design.
He has published in the areas of Community Psychology, Psychopathology, Health Psychology and Addiction.
In 2005 he left academia and established Cleanstart, an outpatient programme for the treatment of addictive disorders. In 2013, Cleanstart merged with the Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres to create a larger and more focused Outpatient Programme. Kenneth is currently the Director of Outpatient Services, where he is responsible for clinical and operational aspects of the group’s Outpatient and Continuing Care Programmes.
Dr David Webb
BSc(Hons), MBBCh (Wits), N Cert Ex Sc (HFPA)
Recovery from addiction means learning to live differently
Stopping drinking and using drugs is easy. Many of us have done that several times! What, for most of us, is very difficult is to stay stopped. In active addiction, using is not a choice. Partly, this is because the symptoms of addiction that we generally don’t talk about – hopelessness, depression, anxiety, fear, feelings of aloneness and isolation, and very importantly, anhedonia (never looking forward to anything or finding enjoyment in daily life and activities) – tend to trap us in a vicious cycle of using and drinking.
Recovery from addiction is so much more than just not using drugs. It means living a life in which we can grow and flourish, live contentedly and become the person we can be.
Rehab won’t cure you. But it will set you off on a wonderful journey of learning to live a life in which you don’t need to take drugs and alcohol. And because it is learned, recovery is available to everyone.
Through his own experiences, David has a deep commitment to teaching and guiding addicts in how to recover from addiction and live a life with purpose and meaning. He has a special interest in the role of the five pillars of wellness: mindfulness, healthy eating, exercise, sleep and socialisation.
David is registered with the HPCSA as a general practitioner. He has an honours degree in zoology and qualified as a personal fitness coach through the Health and Fitness Professionals Association (HFPA). He is a member of the South African Addictions Medicine Society, Board of Addiction Professionals South Africa and PAINSA.
SANC – Staff Nurse
Franca is a South African Council registered nurse with a qualification from Epiweni Nursing College in Johannesburg. She has completed courses in auxillary nursing, enrolled nursing and caregiving. During the course of her practical training she worked at MediClinic and has also worked at Lenmed Hospital.
Franca joined Houghton House in 2013 and is responsible for monitoring each patient on a daily basis. Working closely with Dr Ramjee, Franca dispenses medication, carries out assessments, manages medical appointments with external practitioners, and compiles daily reports.
Franca is now studying to further her education in the nursing field.
SANC – Professional Nurse
“Don’t be hard on yourself… You have taken the first step towards a better life.”
Zippy is a South African Council registered professional nurse with over ten years experience in psychiatry and substance abuse nursing. She trained and qualified in 1987 at the George Sterkman Hospital in the former Boputhatswana. She has also completed a course in community nursing.
Prior to joining Houghton House in 2006, Zippy worked in the substance abuse ward of two psychiatric facilities. She is responsible for attending to patients, dispensing medication, carrying out assessments, screening patients and reporting on progress.
Debbie van der Merwe
Trauma and Addictions Counsellor Child Therapist
BA Honours (Ecomomics), University of the Witwatersrand
BPsych , Unisa
“Serenity, courage and wisdom…”
After graduating with a degree in Economics, Debbie spent the fist ten years of her working life in a successful career in Banking. She later decided to return to University to enable her to follow her passion in Psychology. She served an internship at Johannesburg Parent and Child Counselling Centre where she counselled children and teenagers. She has been with Houghton House since 2014 as an addiction counsellor, while still continuing her therapeutic work with children.. Debbie is registered with the HPCSA.
Having had some personal experience of substance abuse through the addiction of a close family member and friends, Debbie believes that education and involvement of family members in the recovery process is one of the reasons that Houghton House’s treatment program is so successful:
“Recovery is a process – as much for the addict as for the family. It is so much more than giving up the substance – it is about changing behaviour. And going into rehab is often the first step of this journey.
Mirelle Wong Cardoso
“It’s difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you.” – Russell Brand
Mirelle joined Houghton House in 2015 as an Addiction and Trauma Counsellor with 2 years experience in the field.
Mirelle graduated from Midrand Graduate Institution with a BPsych(hons) focusing on Psychological Counselling and Trauma. In addition to Addiction Counseling, Mirelle has experience in Child Therapy and has worked at a University lecturing Social Psychology.
Mirelle’s passion for working with addicts came from her experience with loved ones battling with the disease, but also this developed while completing an internship a Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre.
Astrid Bleazby Hodgetts
“Happiness is not ready made-it comes from our own actions”.
Astrid completed her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology at the University of the Witwatersrand. After completing her community service year in the psychiatric ward at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, she joined the Houghton House team in 2015.
Astrid’s interest and dedication to Addiction Recovery is influenced by the personal experience of friends and family who have been confronted by their own addictions. At Houghton House, she has worked at both the inpatient facility and the outpatient treatment center, where her roles have included individual therapy, group therapy and lecturing. Currently, Astrid works primarily at the outpatient center.
Counselling Psychologist (MACC- Wits)
“The first step towards getting somewhere, is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are”- Unknown.
I started my 8 year journey in Cape Town, where I completed my Bachelor of Social Sciences degree at UCT, majoring in Sociology and Psychology. I then decided to do my honours, which I completed through UNISA. After that, I decided to follow my dream and complete my master’s degree. I was fortunate enough to enrol at WITS and complete a 2 year master’s degree, with its main focus on community development and enrichment. I pursued my passion for children and did a year’s work at a children’s home in Germiston. Here, I worked with children that were removed from their homes due to substance abuse and unhealthy living environments. Additionally, I was exposed to group and individual therapy, couples therapy as well as child and adult assessments. In 2016 I found myself pursuing a completely different path in psychology and discovered a passion for addiction treatment. This is where my journey at Houghton House began.
The boy bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea.
“I made a huge difference to that one!”
Ashley is a trainee counsellor who has worked at Houghton House for over two years. Prior to her appointment as admissions co-ordinator she was responsible for the oversight of the nurses and patients during the weekends.
Ashley has completed two of the Alex Hamlyn Counselling Courses.
It has been five years since she herself was dragged into Houghton kicking and screaming, but it worked for her. Since then she has been eager to stay close to the treatment centre that gave her back her life.
Initially she volunteered her time here by doing lifts. She then co-ordinated the arts and crafts programme at the GAP for two years and starting running the Sunday night meetings. These acts of service are what keep her clean and how she works her recovery. She still brings her counsellors flowers on her sober anniversary.
Recovery is easy if you are just guided how to do it. I love recovery. I have never had so much fun and laughed so much. It upsets me that I’m only five years clean in October. It breaks my heart that it is so short. I tell this to our youngest patients, saying that if they don’t use this opportunity to clean up now their life could pass them by in a blur.
Ashley is passionate about cats. When she was still using, she applied this mantra to saving stray cats. Now she relates it to saving individuals from a life of addiction:
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, “I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach. You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy looked down, frowning for a moment; then bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. He replied, ”I made a huge difference to that one!”
“If you keep going where you are going, you will end up where you are heading”
Victoria completed her Masters degree in Clinical Psychology through the University of Witwatersrand. Victoria has also completed a Masters degree in research psychology at the University of Cape Town. Prior to joining Houghton House in 2015, Victoria has worked in a rehabilitation centre in Cape Town specialising in alcohol, drug and sugar addiction. She has also worked in several government psychiatric institutions, including Tara Hospital where she worked in the eating disorder unit. Aside from addiction, Victoria is interested in eating disorders and personality disorders. She also has a passion for physical well-being and the impact that eating and exercise has on emotional functioning.
At Houghton House her roles include individual therapy, group therapy, family consulting, lecturing and running workshops. These workshops focus on identifying emotions in order to effectively deal with them. They also focus on coping mechanisms and skills for everyday functioning.
Victoria has published work in the journal of Neurovirology in 2002 as well as presenter at the Psychological Society of South Africa Conference in 2009. Although Victoria has a diverse range of experience, she has found her passion lies in addiction and the behavioural and emotional difficulties that overlap with this disease.
BSc. Occupational Therapy (Hons.)
“Every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.” -Viktor Frankl
Jacqui completed her honours degree through the University of Cape Town in 2007 and is currently registered as an Occupational Therapist with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
Prior to joining the Houghton House team, Jacqui worked as an Occupational Therapist at two large private psychiatric clinics in Cape Town, working with adults and adolescents and their families. Her work included individual, group and family therapy in the addiction, general psychiatric and eating disorder units. Jacqui worked at a private addiction treatment centre prior to relocating to Johannesburg in 2017.
She completed her certification as a TRE (Trauma Release Exercises) facilitator, doing both individual and group sessions. She completed a two-year intermediate group analysis course through the Institute of Group Analysis in the United Kingdom.
Jacqui has completed her Post Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (PDBA) through the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in 2014.
Jacqui works within a comprehensive and inclusive framework, focusing on the individual, their environment as well as their available support networks, looking at the “larger picture”.
She sat on the committee of a Non-Profit Organisation, called the Underdog Project, who work with youth at risk of which substance abuse is a prominent issue, pairing the youth with sheltered dogs. This highlights Jacqui’s love for animals and passion for working with struggling young adults.
A registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in community-based counselling psychology from WITS University.
“Only once you are honest with yourself, can things begin to change”
Vicky stayed on at Wits University to work with students at the Counselling and Careers Development Unit. Here she carried out group and individual psychotherapy, psychological assessment and psychoeducation for school and university students.
Over the past six years, she has engaged in community interventions in multiple setting with diverse groups of people. It became evident to Vicky that a recurring issue for many communities was that of substance abuse and it’s far reaching effects on individuals, families and friends, and the communities as a whole. This initiated an interest in working with addiction.
Vicky is an advocate for holistic approaches to wellbeing; these encompassing a focus on emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. A dysfunction in one area can create difficulties in the others for an individual, which in turn can impact the people around them – at home, at work and socially. She enjoys taking an integrated approach in her work.
“If nothing changes, nothing changes”
Unisa Social Work Honours
“It’s your road and yours alone others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you”
I completed my honours degree at the University of South Africa (Unisa), majoring in social work and criminology. My internship was spent at Sparrow Schools. These schools focuses on enhancing the lives of children with special needs. Thereafter I joined a community outpatient drug rehabilitation centre. Here I witnessed the great struggle of substance and alcohol abuse and the willingness of people to surrender for a better life. I also worked closely with family members in order to provide support and education on the disease of addiction. I then joined Houghton House group to experience an environment governed by different dynamics to treatment.
One of my greatest lesson learnt whilst working in a drug rehabilitation centre is that for the very first time I was able to understand the challenges my loved ones faced in addiction, from their perspective. Healing lives is in my nature and I am very passionate and dedicated to helping others.