Counselling and Social Work Volunteer project in the NPO sector with social workers, psychologists, counsellors and community workers who provide counselling services, training and workshops to people and groups in need of various types of support. These can include marital and family stress, depression, grief, suicide, sexual abuse., domestic violence, substance abuse, mid-life crisis, divorce counselling, HIV-related counselling, conflict management and parenting skills, women and men’s programs.

Starting daysStarting days are Monday to Friday from February to November
Minimum Requirements4 weeks and longer subject to visa requirements. A minimum age of 21 years old and studying a related subject or qualified
Cost£1700 for 4 weeks and £350 for each additional week
What is includedFood, accommodation, meeting you at the airport, airport collection and drop-off, welcome braai (BBQ), Saturday tour, donation to the project, t-shirt, pre-departure support, in-country staff, 24- emergency help and more
What is not includedFlights, visas, travel insurance, spending money
Best forStudents, post-retirement gappers, Social Workers, Counsellors, Fundraisers, Psychologists, recently qualified, honours students, retirees, career breakers
  • Counselling and Social Work volunteer
  • Fundraising
  • Counselling and Social Work reception
  • Counselling and Social Work office

Project Description

Your role on our Counselling and Social Work volunteer project and the types of work/activities you are given may vary and may depend on certain factors such as what’s required at the time that you’re there. You’ll work as part of the team and may spend various periods of time during the day attending community networking activities, assisting in the preparation of and attending community workshops, attending case study groups, data capturing and reporting, administration, attending the Family Foundation counselling courses that run throughout the year (aside from South African school holidays) amongst other things.

Mainly adults are counselled. You will not be doing one-on-one counselling..

You will assist in some or all of the following services while on our Counselling and Social Work volunteer project:

You could attend small case study discussion groups which meet monthly covering marriage preparation and enrichment, relationships, individual, family, re-marriage, divorce, trauma and mediation counselling. You may assist the Counsellors in group sessions (no counselling). Due to the nature of the work, counsellors themselves must undergo compulsory monthly supervision.

Trauma Support
This take place at the FAMSA offices. FAMSA provides a trauma counselling program to victims of crime and violence. Other forms of trauma support are sickness, suicide watch, accident, rape, death/loss, family violence, abuse, and HIV/AIDS. With the client’s permission, sessions may be observed.

FAMSA offers various forms of training that you can get involved with, from basic counselling skills, trauma support, group work training, stress management, life skills, personal growth and intimate partner violence throughout the year as part of  their Family Foundation counselling course. Training does not run during the South African school holidays. These are aimed at local volunteers, international volunteers, professionals and the public to provide them with the tools to be able to assist with counselling, support and effective listening skills.

Parenting support
Community workshops are given to parents to help them gain skills to be better equipped parents, assisting them with effective parenting skills and addressing specific problems in groups and individual counselling.

FAMSA runs various programs giving support and assistance to groups of mainly women and men. These include the Men Care and the “Women of Worth’ program. These are programs for men and women which are aimed at equipping them with knowledge and skills to cope with daily situations they find themselves in.

Occasionally an “Anger-in, Anger-out” workshop takes place at the local Knysna Correctional Services Facility where they impart life skills and information to the Inmates, thus assisting in rehabilitating and empowering them.

Fundraising and Marketing
If you have any skills in fundraising and marketing, you will be welcomed with even wider arms! As with any work of this type in the NPO sector, funds to support it are always difficult to come by, so any help that can be enlisted is always very deeply appreciated. You could also be involved with fundraising and marketing projects while you are on the placement.


As this is a Counselling and Social Work volunteer skills experience you will also be involved with the daily activities that take place in a Non-Profit Organisation in South Africa which can include administration, data capturing, minuting team meetings, report writing, client intake and attending stakeholder meetings and engagements, for example with the Community Policing Forum and other community networking forums in the NPO sector. Sexual Offences forum is also attended monthly. 

A typical day
07:30 Breakfast
07:50 Leave for project
08:00 Arrive at project
13:00 Lunch break(this can differ day to day)
13:30 Back to work
15:00 Finish for the day at your project (unless a program is being run)
15:30 Enjoy the rest of the day

Fridays you finish early at 13.30

If you are qualified and have experience, our Counselling and Social Work volunteer project would be especially delighted to have you as you could share your expertise, skills and experience, so your assistance would be very valuable indeed! Please stipulate in your cover letter your field of expertise and how you would like to share your knowledge during your placement.

  • Knysna
  • Counselling and Social Work volunteer
  • Elephants
  • Thesen Island
  • Knysna township


The volunteer accommodation is shared and self-catering in the town of Knysna close to shopping malls, restaurants, take-aways, gyms, nightlife, entertainment areas and essential services. There is security and the area is safe to walk around. Bedrooms are either shared with another volunteer or single depending on volunteer numbers, a satellite TV, a shared bathroom with a shower, basin and toilet and a washing machine. There is a braai facility and kitchen for meals. There is also WIFI. Couples, friends, and families can be accommodated.


You will also receive a food allowance for your basic food essentials for your breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will be taken for a grocery shop as part of your induction on your arrival. This means that you can choose the specific food if you have set dietary requirements. There is a kitchen for cooking


You will need to fly into George Airport for your airport collection where you will be met by your Volunteer International Adventures representative and driven to your volunteer accommodation in Knysna.

Knysna is one of South Africa’s favourite towns based around the beautiful Knysna estuary with views of the iconic headlands. It is not known as the jewel of the Garden Route for nothing and is surrounded by magical forests, farmlands and a breath-taking coastline dotted with blue flag beaches which are great for swimming, barbequing or just simply watching dolphins surfing in the waves. It is also home to the famous elusive Knysna elephant which are the most southern free roaming elephants in the world and there are still hot debates about the numbers with some saying there is only one left and others a small herd of about 4.

The area that Knysna is situated is the Garden Route of the province of the Western Cape and it is a dream for animal lovers and extreme sports enthusiasts as there are numerous private wildlife reserves, national parks, whale watching, predator sanctuaries, primate sanctuaries, elephant sanctuaries, wolf sanctuaries, skydiving, paragliding, sandboarding, numerous interesting markets and so much more so boredom is not an option.

Our projects take place mainly in the local townships in the poorer areas where we do our best to try and lighten the load for the teachers, schools and NPOs assisting in the area with hands on help and financial support

For more information or to book, either fill in the contact form or please email

“I knew I was in safe hands from my very first contact with Sharon. She provided me with all the information I needed and answered all my questions. Sharon met me at the local airport and safely transported me to the volunteers’ accommodation, chatting all the way, giving me a flavour of what was to come. Sharon was always available and nothing was too much trouble, we saw her at least every day when she arrived at the volunteer house to take us to our respective placements. There were also plenty opportunities for social activities and trips to nature reserves and markets at the weekends, all of which Sharon arranged. The placement provided me with lots of opportunities to participate in projects, supporting staff and deliver training. My choice of this programme was primarily based on the placement itself rather than the country but I soon fell in love with the warmth of the people of South Africa and the amazing countryside and wildlife. I have been a regular visitor since that first visit and meeting up with Sharon each time is always a highlight. I would have no hesitation in recommending this programme to anyone who wants a fully immersive experience of life in South Africa”

Sue Sutton, United Kingdom

“I flew to SA, two days after I graduated with my MSW degree. I worked in Social work, psychology, and counseling part of the program and it was life changing!! Sharon was beyond amazing; she went above and beyond for me. One my favorite memories with Sharon was collecting money in the community outside of a coffee shop for a couple of hours. Let’s just say that we reached our donation quota. The night before I left to go back to America, Sharon took me out, and we saw the supermoon coming up from the water. It was incredible. The experience, people I met, and what I learned was incredibly rewarding as a social worker. I would go back in a heartbeat. I highly recommended this program. If it wasn’t for Sharon , I wouldn’t have had the life changing experience that I did. I am eternally grateful for this trip and the friends that I made

-Anna Bauer, USA

For similar projects in Knysna, South Africa, take a look at our Youth Development and Social Work volunteer project.