After retiring to Plettenburg Bay with her husband, former SAA pilot Stewart, Kathy Lithgow found that she needed to fill her time with something interesting, mentally challenging and potentially useful to others.
Kathy explains, “In order to gain a better insight into myself and what I should focus on, I completed a short on-line assessment called StrengthsFinder. This psychometric assessment tool enables people to uncover their top five talents. In my case, ‘Thinking’ came out first, followed by ‘Learning’. This was not surprising as I had always enjoyed the learning process and saw no reason for this to diminish just because I was retired.”
Kathy also wanted to marry this learning process with an element of service, so she enrolled for a counselling course via correspondence through the South African Theological College, an accredited institution with varied courses on offer. “This course taught practical psychology linked to a scriptural foundation. I qualified with a Higher Certificate in Christian Counselling,” she says.
The door was now open for Kathy to start serving as a counsellor. “Under the auspices of the Plett Evangelical Fellowship, our home church, I now receive referrals from all over. I have a small office at home where I see people. There is no payment involved as it is effectively a part of the church ministry. I act as a support for people with a variety of needs and problems. I see myself as a kind of useful friend.”
An important aspect of Kathy’s work, for her, is to continue learning. “Learning was the starting point for this process and it continues to be a cornerstone now. In my niche area of expertise, Christian counselling, there is so much that I don’t know. And because there is a wealth of information out there, plus I am challenged by the variety of situations that my clients present to me, I am always learning and growing.
“Stewart and I count our blessing daily,” she says. “I have plenty of time to spend with my clients and also to learn and become more skilled at what I do. It is now my passion –to facilitate change in people’s lives, in a small way.”
Legendary American industrialist Henry Ford once said, ““Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” In her little office in Plett, Kathy Lithgow, on a continuous cycle of counselling, learning, becoming more skilful and counselling some more, is living proof of those words.