Studying psychology helps students paint a theoretical picture of mental health but many university programs do little to prepare students with the practical skills needed to interact with the cultural diversity we find in South Africa. Volunteering is an excellent means of using one’s time to help others while gaining a much needed understanding of the practical aspects involved in some areas of psychology and mental health.

Use the links below to navigate to the different volunteering organisations. Cognition & Co will continually update this information, so please continue to check back for more details.

If students do use this list to find any volunteering opportunities, please let Cognition & Co know by using this contact form.


Reach for a Dream is offering volunteering positions to psychology students and graduates. With branches nationwide, the Reach for a Dream Foundation can help psychology students’ gain some much needed in-hospital experience with children aged between 3 and 18.

Reach for a Dream believe in the power of dreams; they encourage children to use their dreams to fight life-threatening illnesses and the foundation try, as far as possible, to make these dreams come true. Over the past 10 years, Reach for a Dream have made 12,971 dreams come true and touched more than 239,279 lives!

They are looking for dedicated psychology students and graduates to get involved by volunteering their time in the hospital setting; interacting with the children and families, doing assessments, and other dream related facilitation.

Get involved:

Website: https://reachforadream.org.za/get-involved/become-a-volunteer/

Contact number: 011 880 1743

Contact email address: sandy@reachforadream.org.za or contact Cognition & Co

The Santa Shoebox Project originated in Cape Town(2006) with a humble 180 shoeboxes; 13 years later a total of 858 673 underprivileged children have received a Santa Shoebox.
The success of the Project can largely be attributed to its personal nature – donors give gifts to children whose names, ages and genders are known. With the support of an extensive network of Volunteers, Donors and Sponsors the Project is able to reach children across South Africa and Namibia.
Each year Volunteers sign up, creating or joining teams to run the Project in their towns. Register on the website and get ready to ‘share in the joy of giving’.
From Jan – March each year volunteers signup and establish teams across most major cities and towns in South Africa.

Get involved:

Website: https://santashoebox.org.za/volunteer-my-time/

Contact number: 076 491 2407

Contact email address: info@santashoebox.org.za 

Help2Read are a group of passionate, fun-loving bookworms erasing illiteracy in South Africa’s disadvantaged communities, one literacy lesson at a time. Since our first one-on-one reading session in 2006, we’ve worked in over 223 schools and reached 17,500 children through our literacy programmes.

help2read places volunteers at schools to assist learners with one-on-one reading. The minimum requirements for volunteers are:

  • Be fluent in English (speak, write and read)
  • Be in possession of Grade 12 Certificate or an equivalent accreditation
  • Have a clear criminal record
  • Be available to assist children with one-on-one reading twice a week
  • Be available for at least two hours per week
  • Able to commit to being a volunteer  for a minimum of 1 year
  • Be willing to adhere to and sign the help2read code of practice
  • Be able to attend a one day training

Get involved:

Website: https://help2read.org/volunteer

Contact number: 079 615 1633

Contact email address: info@help2read.org



The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) is a registered Non-Profit Organisation who is at the forefront of patient advocacy, education and the destigmatisation of mental illness in South Africa.  SADAG’s expertise lies in assisting callers throughout the country with mental health issues. SADAG manages a 22 Counselling Helpline Call Centre across all 9 provinces in South Africa. The call centre receives up to 600 calls per day from people needing help and referrals for various mental health issues such as Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Trauma, Teen Pregnancy, Substance Abuse and Suicide. SADAG also runs the national Suicide Crisis Helpline offering crisis intervention and help for people who are at risk. The helplines are manned by over 100 volunteers, seven days a week from 8 am to 8 pm, 365 days a year.  

There are various ways to contact SADAG  – by telephone, sms, email or online. Our online platforms include the CIPLA Whatsapp counselling chat (076 882 2775) and the Kemoja daily online chat that can be accessed via our website.

Get involved:

Website: http://www.sadag.org/

Contact number: 076 882 2775

Contact email address: office@anxiety.org.za

Volunteer Application Form: 2019 Volunteer Form

The idea of Look Forward Creativity Centre was to start a family where the children who are hurt by being abandoned, neglected, abused and orphaned received all the love any good family can give.The Centre gives the children a home – their home. Each and every child deserves a second chance in life no matter what experiences they have gone through. If they fail to know a family now then unfortunately they will never know .

The Look Forward Creativity Centre has numerous volunteer opprotunities from Administrative Support and Special Events, to Fundraising and Peer Volunteers. Click here for a complete list of volunteering opportunities.

Get involved:

Website: http://www.lookforwardcreativitycentre.org.za/

Contact number: 011 613 3867

Contact email address: info@lookforwardcreativitycentre.org.za

The Couch is a private psychology practice based in Rivonia, Gauteng, South Africa. The Couch provides a wide range of psychological services.

We would like volunteers to assist with admin, answering the phones, media, and organizing workshops.

Get involved:

Website: www.thepsychologycouch.com

Contact number: 011 234 0741 / 071 682 7107

Contact email address: admin@thepsychologycouch.com

Eastern Cape:
Port Elizabeth:

Do you want to do an internship or volunteer in Port Elizabeth, South Africa? Are you ready for a challenging period in which you contribute to projects for education, healthcare, technology and ICT? Then you’re at the right place at Ready4Life!

The Ready4Life Foundation aims to help the underprivileged children and young people in the Port Elizabeth area and offer a future. This is done by supporting local projects and setting up projects yourself.

Get involved:

Website: https://ready4life.org/home/

Contact number: 041 58 11 516

Contact email address: avril.hobson@ready4life.org

REVIVE – Empowering Emotional Change previously known as the Port Elizabeth branch of LIFELINE (LIFELINE PE). Three years ago we re-branded and changed our Name to REVIVE – Empowering Emotional Change. We wanted a positive spin or connation attached to our name (Bringing back to life, from darkness to light). REVIVE offers individual face-to-face sessions or counselling in a group setting for example; Trauma Support. REVIVE is actively in involved in designated schools and offer Personal Growth Courses – Vutha Ignite the Fire to grade 11 Learners. REVIVE does many self-development courses as well as trainings. We work closely with Psychology students either as volunteers or interns. REVIVES’ focus is community that where our heart is.

Volunteering opportunities are only open to Psychology Students who have done our Courses and completed role plays and the selection process. It is pre-requisite, that our volunteers do both our Personal Growth Course and Basic Counselling Skills Course. It is vital that all volunteers are assessed and interviewed.

Get involved:

Website: http://www.revive.org.za/

Contact number: 041 373 8882

Contact email address: director@revive.org.za

Western Cape:
Cape Town:

St. Michael’s Child Care & Youth Center is an innovative center for young women from the Cape Metropole. It houses up to 25 girls ages 13-18 who are protected under the Child Care Act. St. Michael’s aims to create an environment that allows girls to connect with the essence of womanhood, to develop strength, and to grow and flourish. Focused on developing responsible, strong, and inspired women, St. Michael’s CYCC is a place for girls to overcome adversity and to tap into their richest potential, all within a supportive and nurturing environment.

St. Michael’s CYCC is looking for volunteers to teach and lead workshops in any field, and providing coping mechanisms for mental health illnesses. Volunteers are immensely appreciated, and are an integral part of the St. Michael’s community. To volunteer, go to our website and click on the ‘Get Involved’ tab. This will direct you towards the volunteer application form.

Get involved:

Website: https://stmichaelschildandyouthcarecenter.wordpress.com/

Contact number: 082 737 3561

Contact email address: programcoordinator@stmikesct.org.za

iKhaya le themba – Home of Hope – is a registered NPO in the heart of the township of Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay. We began our work in 2003 and have built capacity to a point where we now serve 100 orphaned and vulnerable children between the ages of 6 and 12 years old who attend our after-school care program, Monday to Friday, 1:30pm to 5:30pm. These children are orphaned and vulnerable due to poverty, HIV/AIDS, learning difficulties and emotional trauma.  iKhaya le themba offers holistic care and support to these children, their families and carers in the local community of Imizamo Yethu situated in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa.

We are eager to have you join the team at iKhaya le themba and hope that you will find this a meaningful time where you connect culturally, use your skills to impact the community, and develop your experience and passions for this work. The iKhaya team looks forward to welcoming you.

Get involved:

Website: http://ikhayalethemba.org.za/

Contact number: 083 471 2828

Contact email address: molonix@gmail.com

Volunteer Application Form: 2019 Volunteer Form

Free State:

Free State Care in Action is a registered NPO. It is a Christian based well positioned organisation. Our core business is child and family care, care for the aged and development and empowerment. The organisation was established in 1908 by volunteers and is operating in the Free State Province. We have 100 service points across the province which include 17 social work offices, 20 old age homes and 20 ECD centres.

There is indeed a need for professional psychological services especially with regard to children with emotional problems as result of loss, bullying, abuse, addiction, divorce, etc. We also have a need for assistance with the assessment of children with difficult behaviour. Even the elder residents in our facilities have numerous problems and are in need of counselling.

The organisation is very dependent on volunteers who work with passion and manage projects such as handcrafts, bakeries and giving people life skills. We also rely very much on our professional volunteers for sharing knowledge and expertise. We can offer psychology students a lot of opportunities such as the facilitation of different supporting groups and help counselling of children, adults and elderly.

Get involved:

Website: http://www.freestatecare.co.za/

Contact number: 083 254 3764

Contact email address: direct@freestatecare.org.za

Volunteer Application Form: Volunteer Application


The Durban Child & Youth Care Centre is dedicated to providing substitute care to orphans, destitute children and children with parents who are unable to care for them. This has ensured that the children, youth and their families referred to our programme receive an effective, efficient and relevant service. DCYCC believes in family preservation and thus family reunification is given focused attention, with the importance of early intervention and preventative work being recognized. Our programmes and services are accessed by children from all over Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Get involved:

Website: http://www.dch.org.za/

Contact number: 031 201 1301

Contact email address: mandy@dch.org.za

Volunteer Application Form: Volunteer Application Form

St. Philomena’s was established 1895 at the location of the now existing St. Augustine’s Hospital on the Berea just outside the city of Durban, KZN; with the aim of providing developmental care for orphaned and vulnerable children (OVCs) and youth. Starting off as a Children’s Home, St. Philomena’s is now a Community Development Centre & Children’s Home, whose beneficial reach to children, youth, and families, has compounded through updating our projects and social development activities.

St. Philomena’s works with all members of the community and has projects with special emphasis on:
• Children between the ages of 7 to 13 years old
• Primary care givers of children and their family members
• Orphans & vulnerable children 6 – 18 years old

St. Philomena’s Community Development Centre, provides developmental services and opportunities for personal and group empowerment. This is achieved through social service projects; which respond to poverty, abuse, dysfunctional family life and trauma. Our services are provided in working together with partners and stakeholders. We aim for services that are relevant to developmental needs and goals, have continued impact; guided by principles of democracy, equality and non-discrimination. St. Philomena’s projects and the Children’s Home utilizes over 100 years of social development services provided to communities in need.

St. Philomena’s Community Development Centre are interested in female volunteers that can help with children from the age of 6 years to 18 years old.

Get involved:

Website: https://stphils.org.za/ 

Contact number: 061 086 5943

Contact email address: director@stphils.org.za