Helen was born in Johannesburg, South Africa where she grew up speaking Afrikaans and English as a second language. Her parents were first generation immigrants from Europe. Her mother was Hollands and grew up in Indonesia. Her father was Italian and grew up in Austria. All of her extended family members still reside in various cities in South Africa. She tries to go back and visit every two years but finds the 26 hour flights less appealing as time goes by. After graduating high school, she earned a DPharm. from Witwatersrand Technicon and worked as a retail pharmacist for twelve years. In preparation to eventually leave the political uncertainty in South Africa, she earned an MBA from the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, in 1985.
Helen moved to the United States in 1989 on an H1 visa, and with her background in pharmacy and an MBA, she did business development and marketing for pharmaceutical and biotech companies in Florida for one year and then California for twelve years. Tired of all the political BS she left the corporate world in 2000 to go back to school and become a psychotherapist to find a more meaningful way to make a living. During her internship she worked in substance abuse programs for women and incarcerated teenage girls.
After getting her MFT license, she switched careers and built a private practice teaching Dialectical Behavior Therapy in Redwood City. The program is designed to help clients with severe emotional vulnerabilities learn coping skills to manage their lives more effectively. After 14 years she sold her practice and moved to Oakmont where she continues to work part time as a psychotherapist and life coach.
Living in Oakmont has been the highlight of her life – finally, being able to focus on rest and recreation in the beautiful, peaceful Valley of the Moon. She loves all the available activities and in particular loves playing Pickleball. Meeting so many terrific people and enjoying the new friendships has made her move to Oakmont even more rewarding. Helen’s favorite hobby is traveling, and her favorite trip is to go on a safari in Africa. She has traveled the globe, visiting Europe, Asia, South America, Australia, New Zealand, and many countries in Africa. She has found that the best thing about travelling is coming home to the places she loves the most in California.