About Me

Hélène Smit


Hélène Smit is a specialist in depth facilitation, psychological conflict resolution and psychological literacy in individuals and groups in organisational settings.  Specifically, she is skilled in helping small and large groups deal with seemingly intractable and chronic conflicts.

Hélène was originally trained as an English and Mathematics teacher for high school pupils.   She taught for a year in Johannesburg in 1988, before joining an adult training company called Don Gray Training (Pty) Ltd, which specialised in management training for the Information Technology industry.  In 1989, she began a part-time post-graduate diploma in Human Resource Management at Wits Business School, but converted to and completed an MBA early in 1991. After completion of her MBA (with a place on the Dean’s List), Hélène left Johannesburg and joined a strategy consulting firm in Cape Town called the Corporate Consulting Group. She worked as a strategy consultant for two years, and was involved in a variety of corporate strategic projects. In 1993, she left to start her own firm, now called Feather Associates (Pty) Ltd, an organisation that offers primarily facilitation services. For the past 20 years, Feather Associates has offered a variety of training courses including psychological literacy, facilitation, leadership and business thinking skills training.

Through Feather Associates, Hélène facilitates a variety of processes, including team building, strategic planning, stakeholder involvement and conflict resolution in a range of contexts and sectors. She has worked with NGO’s, Local and Provincial and National Government, and many large and small business organisations. Hélène is a trained Executive Coach and holds a Certificate in Executive Coaching from the Tavistock Institute. She uses a variety of methodologies in her coaching approach, depending on what is appropriate for the client’s development requirements. She has coached executives from a range of industries and organisations.

In addition to running Feather and working as a facilitator and coach, Hélène was a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the UCT Graduate School of Business in the areas of psychological literacy, systems thinking, people skills, change management, diversity management and facilitation for 17 years. She lectured on the MBA, Executive MBA, AIM and other executive programmes since 1996. Hélène now teaches at the Henley Business School. Together with South African College of Applied Psychology, Hélène launched the (first of its kind) National Diploma in Facilitation and was the Programme Director for five years.

In 2013, Hélène established The Depth Leadership Trust, a non-profit organisation that aims to develop and promote understanding of depth psychology amongst leaders, organisations and civil society. The Trust is also involved in a variety of small community projects that help people find their voice, and develop their leadership capacity.

Hélène’s main interest is the application of depth psychology principles to organisational contexts. This involves working with unconscious processes in organisations, in order both to unleash greater creativity and to minimise the negative organisational impact of under-the-surface conflict. Hélène has published three books, the first called The Depth Facilitator’s Handbook which describes facilitation skills in detail and the second called Beneath – Exploring the Unconscious in Individuals, a book for the general public that helps readers explore the functioning of the unconscious mind in order to unleash their potential. Her third book, called Depth Leadership, was published in December 2013 and teaches the theory and practice of depth psychology to leaders. Hélène has just completed the making of a feature film called Eerstewater, which illustrates the ideas in Beneath, and which will be publicly screened in 2017.

Hélène lives in Prince Albert in the Karoo and in Cape Town, but travels nationally and internationally to do her work.

7 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. Hi Helene

    Your book is like manna from heaven for me. I work with teams on a daily bais and sometimes the dynamics require various approaches and I think your approach of depth facilitation is powerful. Thanks so much for the labour of this book.

  2. Hi Helene,

    Long, long time no see or speak!! So good to hear from you again after all this time. Congrats on your books. Will be purchasing one soon.
    Hope you are keeping well?

  3. I would so much like to understand what is meant by Yannis Ritsos’s “This face looks at you between two columns of still water.”? I relate to the previous part of “A face” that is quoted in Beneath.

    Please help.
    Meyer Scheepers

    1. Hi Meyer

      I am sure this quote means different things to different people, but for me it is about the face we have that integrates the conscious and unconscious minds.

  4. Dear Helen, I was so delighted to read your blog about starting a transition town. Here in the Western Cape, in Greyton, we’ve been going for around six months and already there is so much happening. We’d love to share experiences with you, maybe even arrange visits so we can share our journey. My email is nicolavernon@kingsley.co.za, telephone number 082 558 7752. We should have our website up and running soon – I’ll let you know. Kind regards, Nicky

  5. Dear Helene,
    I’d very much like to know if you are running any short courses on change management? Friends of mine who’ve attend your lectures at business school only have good things to say.
    I am struggling to get onto the feather website to get further info.
    Kind regards

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