Cynthia Linde is the author of the Soetlief program. She married Willem Linde, a teacher, in 2002. They have two girls, Mikela born in 2002 and Bea born in 2011.
She has completed an Honours Degree in Psychology and has been involved with youth work since 1998. She has led numerous camps, written different prevention programs and saw approximately 2 500 young people in her office between the period of 1998 - 2002. She has a Diploma in Theology and has completed several courses including: Certificate for facilitation of drug dependence – Drug Education Council, Certificate for handling serious sexual offences – Rape Wise, Advanced certificate in intensive training in play therapy – Centre of play therapy training (Dr Hannie Schoeman).
Cynthia's encounter with youth was the spark that initiated Soetlief. She found many young people either unable to identify their emotions or unable to express it appropriately. There are many emotional skills programs available for adults, but in her search to find a program to equip children emotionally she found nothing.
Cynthia started working on an emotional development program. From the case studies of all the children she saw she identified the areas in which they should have been equipped with regards to emotions. During her studies Cynthia came across a definition of emotional development that shaped the path of Soetlief: by the age of 5 a child should be able to identify, control and express in an appropriate way the four basic emotions. By the age of 12 a child should be able to identify, control and express appropriately the more complex emotions. This definition is the main goal that Soetlief strives to accomplish in children.
Emotions are abstract concepts. They are difficult for children and sometimes even for adults to understand. Soetlief has found ways to make these abstract concepts concrete and understandable to children. Children learn an emotional language which enables them to communicate their feelings. Parents are given guidance through letters and non-compulsory parental guidance workshops in order to understand this language and to better provide in the emotional need of children.
Children often experience frustration because they are unable to express their emotions because of the lack of an emotional vocabulary. When they do express their feelings, often inappropriately, they are reprimanded for wrong behaviour but never taught correct behaviour.
Children need to express their emotions and their thinking. Soetlief groups offer a non-threatening environment to express feelings and thoughts.