Bettina Marais – Partner/ Marketing & Operations / Social Emotional Learning Specialist

B Soc. Sc. (Rhodes) Psych. Honours (Rhodes) MA Psych. (NWU) - current

Bettina Marais

My Background

For the past 6 years I have specialised in the field of Social and Emotional Learning and Social Skills Development. For the past 3 years I have project managed a large research study assessing Social and Emotional Skills Development at foundation phase level using the strength based DESSA (Devereux Students Strengths Assessment) tool. This study was based on 400 students in Cape Town.

In schools I work with teachers to develop their insights and learnings on social and emotional learning and social skills development, and I also work with children in classroom settings to teach them about these topics. The purpose of this work is to encourage school leaders to take ownership of the social and emotional development of their teaching staff and students.

I have also focused in the past on individual and group children’s play therapy.

Stemming from this I was inspired to found Foundations for Life along with my two partners; Kirsten and Melanie. Here we have create a multi-disciplinary holistic centre where families and individuals can grow.

I  hold the role of Operations and Marketing Director at Foundations for Life managing the daily business operations and the full marketing function.

My Interests

Importance of Social and Emotional Learning

Global research, as well as my own research in South Africa, mentioned previously proves that teaching social and emotional competency skills to adults and children changes classroom dynamics and schooling communities. Through developed self regulation, children and adults are able to make healthy choices when faced with life’s challenges. Social skills training in classrooms decreases disruptive or aggressive behaviour, reduces levels of anxiety and makes the classroom environment more conducive to learning.

My Services


I offer schools the opportunity to use the unique DESSA (Devereux Students Strengths Assessment) social and emotional competencies tool. This assessment tool enables teachers to teach and provide social and emotional learning in their classrooms. So how does it work?

  1. I will provide user-friendly, practical tools that meet the highest professional standards.
  2. I will meet with teachers and explain to them the process of the DESSA tool
  3. Teachers will then receive the DESSA package to which they have a full database on all assessment tools and further information on the tools within their package
  4. I then provide the back up support to teachers and answer any questions they may have

With the DESSA, parents, teachers, and out-of-school-time staff can assess a child’s social and emotional skills and promote healthy outcomes.

Foundations for Life

At Foundations for Life I am your point of contact where we can discuss using our facilities for workshops and also discuss the services we offer. You can also contact me with any queries you may have.

At Foundations for Life I will be conducting group ceramic making where you can explore your creative side and invest some time in you in a relaxed and friendly environment. I offer this to children too for them to have fun whilst expressing themselves creatively.

This next phase at Foundations for Life is very exciting and I look forward to welcoming you here and sharing learnings and insights.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any queries and you can follow me on Linkedin here.