Rwanda Protestant Council awards over 20 therapists trained in new techniques for treating mental illnes

On Friday, May 26, a total of 26 therapists from 18 local public institutions, private and faith-based Organisations completed courses on new methods and techniques for successfully coping with mental conditions.

Trainees include staff who provide counselling-related services at their respective institutions, and each is assigned to a team of other five people to share knowledge, coach and supervise the application of the acquired knowledge.

The training, which began in October 2021 and runs until May 2023, was organised by the Rwanda Protestant Council in partnership with TraumAid Germany and funded by Bread for the World.

According to Pastor Samuel Rugambage, Secretary General of the Rwanda Protestant Council, participants have gained new skills to advance service delivery while dealing with the increasing number of cases of depression.

“We still have cases of trauma as consequences of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Again, the Covid 19 pandemic and domestic conflicts also caused depression among the people,” he said, adding that they expect positive changes in tackling depression cases in the country.

To help young people tackle this problem, CPR has established clubs in high schools and youth unions in the community.

Olive Umutoni, a therapist at Masaka Hospital, said the training was very productive as they discussed trauma, its symptoms and consequences in depth and learned new ways to deal with the issue.

“We had a lot of practice on how to counsel trauma patients. It is our responsibility to share the knowledge gained with other groups including community health workers.”

Pascal Bavugirije, Director of DNA Unity at the Rwanda Forensic Laboratory ( RFL), believes that trained therapists will help his institution to provide counselling to the victims of rape seeking services at the RFL.

“There are rape cases in the country. Victims always seek services at the RFL, especially DNA test. When the results do not meet their expectations, it can affect their psychology. Therefore, the intervention of the trainees is needed for counselling,” Bavugirije added.

One of the trainers, psychiatrist and psychotherapist Dr. Wolfgang Woeller, said they equipped the trainees with a new approach known as resource activation, which he believes is suitable for reducing the number of cases of depression.

“ Over the years, wherever this approach has been applied, it has yielded results as it has helped to improve patients’ self-esteem and mood.”

Valborg Edert is a consultant of psycho social support systems for Bread for the world. She said she found  a huge need to deal with trauma cases. “Dealing with trauma requires expertise, not only just to give drugs. Realizing a shortage of people, Bread for the world decided to look for facilitators who are skilled to equip people in Rwanda,” Valborg said.

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