Growing up in a troubled family nurtured my passion to set up rehab centres

Professor Catherine Gachutha, in her 50’s is the director of Kenya Institute of Business of Counselling Studies (KIBCO) that aims at ensuring that every individual, couple, and family attain healing and innovative life solutions. Photo | Pool

What you need to know:

Professor Catherine Gachutha, is the Director of Kenya Institute of Business of Counselling Studies (KIBCO) which offers psychological support and healing to families on matters of marriage, mental illness, alcohol, and drugs

“My entry into Marriage and family counselling started with an observation. I remember growing up in Gatanga, Muranga and I saw my parents struggling to make their marriage work and as the years went by, I would say to myself, ‘If only they had mentors’ interventions, they would sort their conflicts amicably’. 

My father struggled with alcoholism growing up and got no help. Many said mean things about his behaviour but somehow in my heart, I kept feeling something better could have been done. Then, in the 1990s, professional counsellors were rare and alcoholism was deemed a moral problem and not a chronic disease with genetic, psychological and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation.  

Losing my mother from cancer in 1995 and my father in 2000 was heart-wrenching and the losses were more painful because we had no other person to look up to. I watched as my father became more dependent on alcohol and looking back, I always wish that he had a support system to deal with the addiction. 

This birthed my passion of starting a rehabilitation centre someday to walk with couples towards having functional families. I achieved this when I was 28. 

With no one to take care of our siblings, I took on the role of a mother and though life was not easy stepping in as a parent, God’s grace was sufficient. I was always ready to listen and I always figured out that it’s not money that my siblings needed most, but a support system. 

Looking back, I am grateful that we have a strong bond with my siblings and we have always worked as a team.

My parents valued education which has propelled me to where I am today. I performed well in high school and in 1998 I obtained a higher diploma in psychological counselling from the Kenya Institute of Professional Counselling and went on to obtain a Master degree from Durham university in the UK, and in 2007, obtained my PhD from the University of South Africa. 

Currently, I am pursuing my second PhD in marriage and family at PAC University since that was my childhood longing. I want to offer expert care for families. I also hold several certificates in teaching, counselling, and marriage therapy.

I am proud that my mess became a message of hope and a lesson that one can make it in life irrespective of life’s challenges. It was devastating to lose my father from alcoholism which has a remedy today and observe my parents’ marriage disintegrate without aid. Because of this, I love to give hope, encourage, and give counsel to those suffering, and assure them that it is possible to have thriving healthy marriages and families.

I’m a former Chairperson of Kenya Counselling and Psychological Association (KCPA), the umbrella body of Counselling and Psychology standards in Kenya. 

In 2004, I established Kenya Institute of Business and Counselling Studies (KIBCo) with an aim of ensuring that every individual, couple, and family attain healing and innovative life solutions in a compassionate and caring environment. KIBCo provides counselling services to children, adolescents, adults, couples, families, and corporates with varied psychological conditions. We offer a non-judgmental and confidential environment through which clients can engage with life’s difficulties in a meaningful connection. 

The school also runs regular, school-based and Open and Distance Learning (ODL) programs. KIBCo also offers other courses including Sign language, Business and Social Work and Community Development, but we have excelled in counselling psychology, addiction counselling and marriage and family therapy. We offer government programs and certificates which makes our courses reputable and credible.

Currently, we have 35 counsellors who are highly competent and have grounded experience. With 21 full-time staff members and more than 20-part time trainers, the school prides itself in having competency and capacity to deliver its services in our three main branches in Nairobi, Thika, and Kiambu. We run our courses through core values of integrity, care and support, innovation, and professionalism.

With the need to expand our services and reach out to addiction and mental illness cases, in 2020, my spouse Gilbert Gachutha and I established Maranatha Restoration Homes (MRH), a NACADA accredited facility which records high success rate in sustained sobriety. We offer treatment for chemical and behavioural addictions, detoxification, and teenagers support, and treatment for mental illness like depression, anxiety, bipolar among others. 

With Sh60, 000 and we offer inpatient and outpatient services to our clients depending on their needs. 

I am grateful for having a supportive husband who has tirelessly ensured that we are achieving our goals of transforming the society. Am an author of, Managing the Counsellor Burnout: Handbook for Supervisors available at Amazon which explores various causes of burnout and approaches of dealing with it. It teaches on how to balance personal life, family, and business. Am also passionate about parenting and I have documented a book on effective parenting which provides provocative case studies, which are accompanied by practical solutions of parenting challenges.

Looking back at my life, I am glad I am living my purpose. I have success stories. For example, there is this young man who started by leading strikes at high school and eventually got hooked on drugs after his studies. 

I reached out to the mother and we got him to our rehab and he is now fully recovered from the addiction. Later, he pursued a Diploma in counselling with KIBCo and now owns Ahadi Rehab Kiambu which is highly successful. 

I am happy to see the fruits of my labour. Now, in my 50s I hope to impact more lives.”