In the realm of psychology, Sherlinka Naidoo stands out. Her unique name, derived from Sanskrit, holds profound meaning: to inspire all that is positive in life. As a counselling psychologist based in Johannesburg, she lives up to the essence of her name, weaving a tapestry of inspiration and positivity through her work.
Raised in a close-knit family of strong female leaders, Naidoo’s early childhood was marked by athleticism, and an insatiable curiosity, a trait that still defines her today. When asked about key experiences or people who shaped her into the proud Indian woman she is, Naidoo reflects on the “plethora of women” to choose from in her family.
“I have my mothers’ sisters; my aunt, who started a school. Another aunt, a marine biologist working as an environmental behaviour change practitioner. My mom has been in corporate for 28 years. I think it was just about testament, to having the ability, to be driven and have a vision. But also, to put that into action was probably the biggest lesson, from the woman in my life,” she adds.
Learning tough lessons
Naidoo candidly shares her experiences, emphasising that the path to becoming a psychologist is not a straightforward one.
She navigated the competitive landscape of academic requirements, facing the challenges head-on. “I had a little bit of imposter syndrome going into my internships. I had the practical knowledge, the theoretical understanding, and I’m working with real people. This is not a case study,” she adds.
Her achievements include lecturing at the age of 22, internships with the South African Navy and Air Force headquarters, and creating impactful psychoeducation programmes. These experiences diversified her skill set and clientele, contributing to her growth as a psychologist.
“Working with diverse populations including couples, children and veterans, broadened my skill set and laid the foundation for my future endeavours, she states.
A good support system
Reflecting on mentors, Naidoo credits lecturer Inkateko Ndala Magoro for nurturing her potential and guiding her through various processes. Her mother, Shan Naidoo, emerges as a central figure, offering unwavering support through failures and successes.
Looking ahead, Naidoo envisions completing her doctorate with a focus on a project that brings a positive impact to the field of psychology. She also strives to balance her professional aspirations with a commitment to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
As she continues her journey, Naidoo emphasises the importance of sustainable practices in the mental health profession. “Being able to inspire sustainable practices, accessible practices for each of our professions is how we leave a legacy that leaves our country in a better state,” she concludes.
Listen to the full interview on the Health For Mzansi podcast:
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