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Inspiring resilience and autonomy

Life is problematic.

Especially during the teenage years, which are often confusing and complicated. That’s why we have a dedicated team of professional psychologists, whose job is to help enable Hilton College boys to overcome their personal and educational obstacles.

A melting pot of identity-forming teenagers in a boarding environment can bring a lot of chaos to the surface.

The pre-frontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control, judgement, organisation and executive function, typically only matures in our early 20s. So during their years at Hilton, we invest time and effort in enabling boys to make astute decisions for themselves and cultivate in every boy the ability to cope with adversity, adjust to shifting contexts, and emotionally self-regulate.

We don’t solve boys’ problems.

Rather, we help them problem-solve without imparting our own values or judgements. We believe all people are innately capable of making good decisions in their own best interests. We just help boys unlock this ability to develop their own best strategies on how to function and adjust.

It’s not all about you: relationships are critical.

Our full-time Clinical Psychologist and Educational Psychologist agree that every boy’s understanding of who he is is closely interwoven with his understanding of the effect he has on those around him. The African concept of uBuntu – the belief that you are only as well as your community, and vice versa – holds strong at Hilton. Boys need to learn to help each other to get through life’s challenges. By participating in orientation programmes, collaborating in buddy systems and mentoring younger students, adolescents can experience and deal with a shared burden, work out for themselves what makes their lives worth living (despite ongoing risk and adversity) and develop autonomy as they become more connected.

Our staff pay attention.

Our academic, sporting and house staff are tuned in to every boy and will refer those in need of help to the right school psychologist. They are watching out for your boy.

Access to our team of psychologists is a complimentary service.

Educational Psychology and Clinical Psychology services, including one on one sessions, are included in the school fees at Hilton College.

We enable more sophisticated ways of engaging with life.

Children develop rudimentary strategies of their own to cope with life, but we work intentionally to develop skills to navigate the world with maturity.


Educational Psychologist

Our Academic Support team screens all of our applicants for grade 8 and contacts families who have indicated to us that their son may require some form of learning support. Our full-time Educational Psychologist Dr Janna de Gouveia may create an individualised support profile (shared with the relevant teachers, Housemaster and tutor) for each of these boys so that when he starts grade 8, he has the necessary support already in place.

If needed, Janna conducts psycho-educational assessments of boys once they have settled in at Hilton, usually in the second half of the grade 8 year.

Janna is involved in transitioning and integrating grade 8 boys into school life. One on one, she helps boys of all ages, from those facing challenges to high-functioning achievers, build on the study skills and time management tools she teaches in grade 8.

During the grade 9 year, she offers hands-on, ongoing guidance to boys as they contemplate their subject choices for the coming three years at school, and comprehensive career guidance for grade 11 and 12 boys.

Our academic support team refers boys to Janna for psycho-educational assessments to determine barriers to learning linked to his performance. In certain cases, she may use the reports of these assessments to apply to the IEB for certain accommodations for their final examinations. Hilton is one of one of only a handful of schools to offer this service inhouse and for free.

As well individual assessments, Janna performs baseline assessments to understand the overall needs of every grade to allow for early intervention as needed.

Clinical Psychologist

Adolescent years are a confusing and distressing period of development. Boys’ bodies are changing rapidly while they’re reshaping their identity in a world of new risks and opportunities. All while surrounded by peers who are struggling to do the same thing! Our childhood coping skills, regulatory functions and core beliefs don’t fully prepare us for adolescence and adulthood.

Many teenagers face situations, thoughts and feelings that they’re unable to navigate successfully on their own. Trying to cope, they can turn to unhelpful or unhealthy behaviours, which can become entrenched. Michael Pitchford aims to help Hilton College boys in two ways:

  1. Healthy strategies for life
    Michael works to proactively prepare boys for teenage challenges by helping them learn ways to identify, avoid and cope with unhealthy or risky situations – building on the foundations parents have set for their sons in childhood. The focus is on adjustment and mood regulation skills./li>
  2. One on one therapy
    Even the best-prepared people are not always able to cope with some of the difficulties life is bound to throw at them. Teenagers face complicated novel circumstances their families won’t understand or have ever had to ever deal with. Michael identifies areas that can be worked on and helps boys access healthy coping skills to navigate tough situations./li>

Any boy can book an online appointment to see Michael and as his parents aren’t charged for the service, they won’t need to know about it. Therapy is completely confidential.

Watch how our Clinical Psychologist helps enable boys with preventative mental health support and therapy