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Community based sociotherapy in Rwanda: healing a post-violent conflict society

September 7, 2014

….The effectiveness of the sociotherapy in Byumba relies on the following principles which are considered as the backbone of the approach:  Interest in people, Equality, Democracy, Here and Now, Responsibility, Participation, and Learning by Doing. In addition, sociotherapy is defined by its practitioners using six conditions or phases (Richters, 2008:36):

Safety: it is necessary to know that the people you look after are safe.

Trust: it is necessary for the people in need to trust the individual who can help, because when there is no trust, those in need cannot move forward.

Care: people who need help need to understand that there are individuals within the socio-group who are able to take care of them.

Respect: people need to know that even after they have shared their problems with the socio-group, they will still have the respect of its members.

New rules: these are the rules set up and agreed upon by group members, thus providing a new start for living in harmony.

Memory of emotions: the participants have the right to remember what happened to them and to be able to live with these memories, developing what is good, and dejecting the bad  and wrongs that took place in the past.

Many testimonies relating the healing impact among the beneficiaries have emerged. Participants have been able to alleviate trauma by finding a space for sharing their hurting memories and wounded emotions. Raped women have been given the opportunity to talk about what has happened to them with individuals who care. Through this approach, affected Rwandans have been able to move forward and give pardon to their abusers. They have learned to trust others and, as a result, realize that their lives can continue with meaning.  

The program leaders are making efforts to expand this approach to the entire territory of Rwanda. Currently they are working in the four Provinces of the country in a consortium with two other organizations.  They hope to expand this program throughout the complete Districts of the country.

Read the whole article.


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