Dr. Pieter Strauss’s life story bridges two continents in opposite hemispheres. Born and raised in the vibrant and ethnically diverse landscapes of South Africa, Pieter, nestled fourth in a lineup of six brothers, swiftly mastered the art of mediation and diplomacy – a skill, he humorously notes, essential for navigating the lively dynamics of his siblings. These skills would become the cornerstone of his ethos, later bolstered by his sharp intellect, professional dedication, and profound passion for improving human well-being.
Academic excellence was an innate quality for him. In his final year of high school, Pieter achieved second place in the Math Olympiad and was one of three students to jointly secure the top position in the province-wide standardized Grade 12 examinations. Additionally, he attained the highest scores in both official languages at that time, Afrikaans and English. During his undergraduate studies, he was awarded the Psychiatry prize, and throughout his psychiatry residency, he achieved honors in Neuroanatomy, Psychology, Neurology, and Internal Medicine rotations. In his final year, he secured second place in the inaugural Academic and Research Day at the Faculty of Medicine.
After that, a diverse and rich array of experiences marks Dr. Strauss’s medical career. Beginning with his early days in family practice in a town devoid of medical specialists, where he and his colleagues handled everything from administering anesthesias and performing cesarean sections to draining pilonidal abscesses, to his comprehensive residency in Psychiatry in a country that then had only 300 trained psychiatrists for a population of 40 million, Dr. Strauss has consistently demonstrated leadership and deep care for those around him. His roles as the National Student Representative on the SA Psychiatry Council, Chief Resident at the Department of Psychiatry, and subsequently of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of the Free State testify to his steadfast commitment.
In addition to his clinical pursuits, he had completed extensive research for a Ph.D. dissertation to follow his specialist psychiatry degree. This involved conducting research interviews with every identifiable schizophrenia patient in his province. However, a new opportunity and a twist of fate led him to immigrate to Canada in 1995, diverting him from completing this academic endeavor. In 1994, he published original research and presented a poster on a community model for managing schizophrenia at the Third International Conference on Schizophrenia in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Dr. Strauss’s tenure as a forensic psychiatrist in a maximum-security prison hospital equipped him with a profound understanding of complex psychopathological personalities. This expertise later proved invaluable in his private practice and various life aspects.
He conducted and led numerous workshops on various topics, addressing audiences that included psychiatrists, physicians, allied healthcare professionals, and community members. As the Head of the Department of Psychiatry at Abbotsford Regional Hospital, he oversaw the establishment of a full-time Emergency Room Psychiatric service, markedly improving patient care.
Central to Dr. Strauss’s profession is his private psychiatry practice in Abbotsford, where his work in individual, family, and conjoint psychotherapy has significantly impacted thousands of lives. His creation of an online assessment tool highlights his innovative approach to psychiatric care, seamlessly integrating technology with a profound understanding of human psychology.
However, what truly distinguishes Dr. Strauss is his profound fascination with the human condition, his unwavering belief in the enduring nature of relationships, and his firm conviction in the inherent goodness of humanity.
These three core principles – his deep connection with the human condition, belief in lasting relationships, and faith in human goodness – were instrumental in his collaboration with Sparkling Hill, an institution dedicated to fostering body and mind wellness.
In his own words, Dr. Strauss shares, “My deepest passion lies in helping others to love profoundly and to achieve their greatest potential, particularly in an environment as tranquil, beautiful, and luxurious as Sparkling Hill. This journey is a source of bliss for me. I am committed to pursuing this rewarding path for the rest of my life, continually embracing wisdom as time progresses.”