Uncovering the power of narrative therapy in healing trauma

By Yvette Balinda
On 12 août 2022 at 02:38

Narrative therapy is defined as a form of psychotherapy that seeks to help patients identify their values and the skills associated with them. The latter provides the patient with knowledge of their ability to live these values so that they can effectively confront current and future problems.

Considering its unique approach, this form of therapy has been given much attention through various events meant to raise awareness on it and eventually extend support to trauma victims in different societies.

A case in point is the International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference which is also a fruit of the great relevance attached to this noble approach. The latest conference took place in Rwanda this week bringing together participants from over 30 countries.

It was hosted by the Center for Mental Health under the UR-College of Medicine and Health Sciences in partnership with Dulwich Center Foundation, SOS Children’s Villages Rwanda and Geruka Healing Centre.

The conference sought to share experiences in responding to Mental Health hardships using narrative ideas which have continued to be used by practitioners from several countries across the world and also share research findings on narrative therapy.

Under the Narrative therapy, participating practitioners said, people who need psychological support, tell their own stories in order to get their hearts soothed. This is often done by assigning that person the role of narrator in his/her own story.

This is type of therapy is strongly believed to help people overcome their problems and encourages people to rely on own ability or other sources of strength to minimize the effect of horrendous experiences they went through.

Besides, narrative therapy uses the power of these stories to help people determine the purpose of life.

According to practitioners of narrative therapy, telling one’s story plays a significant role to the process of recovery.

Speaking at the conference held recently ; the Director of the Centre for Mental Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Rwanda, Prof. Vincent Sezibera highlighted that this type of therapy is unique as it helps affected individuals to develop positive mindsets.

“When we deal with people who may require mental and psychological support, we tend to focus on problems but narrative therapy promotes the approach that focuses on a different story, the alternative story. Where you do not have to see the person from the perspective of hardships,” he noted.

While mental disorders are prevalent among 20% of Rwanda’s general population, most of the people with mental health problems have depression as a consequence of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

This approach is hailed for having contributed to the healing journey in no smaller part.

Martha Mukagihana is a survivor of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi who lives in Imena Village sheltering Genocide widows. She is among beneficiaries of the type of therapy.

She attested that telling their stories and sharing experiences helped them in the process of overcoming traumas.

“We used to live in loneliness and haunted by bad memories that we were very depressed. After coming together in Imena village, we have been meeting every Tuesday for social interactions to share our stories, dance and discuss how best we can improve our welfare through different projects like mushrooms’ farming, and handicrafts among others,” she said.

At least more than 60 practitioners who completed a Postgraduate Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Training Program in Narrative Therapy are currently assisting patients at different hospitals across the country.

The program was introduced at UR- College of Medicine and Health Sciences four years ago.

Telling stories and sharing experiences helps in the process of overcoming trauma.
Practitioners of narrative therapy attest that telling one’s story plays a significant role to the process of recovery.
The International Narrative Therapy and Community Work Conference brought together participants from over 30 countries.