Nurturing Communities

How Authentic Families is using therapy gardens to uplift communities...

Authentic Family is a social empowerment project that believes that healthy communities begin with healthy families and individuals. 

Since its inception in 1968, the organisation has evolved from a youth programme and prison ministry to offer family counselling centres, men’s programmes and therapy gardens. 

In partnership with various organisations that bring specific healing to communities using the Integral Approach to community building that is endorsed by various government organisations and UNISA, the Authentic Family team has taken what they have learned over the past 50 years to apply this new model to community development.

From research and working with academics and applying this to communities, they aim to tackle the root causes of the challenges we now face in communities, namely high crime, suicide and other dysfunctional behaviours. 

Their current focus projects include: 

Authentic Families

Building the authentic family through establishing resource centres mostly in rural areas using the Integral Approach 


Redefining the role of the man in today’s society and building great fathers 

Therapy Gardens

Food security, ecology awareness and nutritional education within a therapeutic context 

In 2013, their Authentic Manhood programme was incorporated into a broader outreach programme to tackle the socioeconomic complexities of rural South Africa. The course material was combined with other initiatives, including vegetable gardening, economic empowerment skills training and fetal alcohol educational interventions. Men@Work was the resulting programme, which today extends the practices of gardening (towards food security) into metaphor for psychotherapy. For example, while preparing the soil for planting, they discuss how to nurture healthy foundations in life, while dealing with simultaneously dealing with challenges or ‘pests’. 

Authentic families invites anyone in the Western Cape wanting to contribute their time, skills or resources, through anything from art therapy and IT skills to gardening, life coaching, donations and more.

For more information or to help out, contact Kevin Johansson at [email protected].

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