All the attendees and our training team!
In July 2023, I had the great privilege to travel to Uganda with fellow volunteer mental health practitioners to support an initiative led by Ugandan native, Dr. Ronald Asiimwe. Project Uganda embarked on the goal to strengthen Ugandan communities through relationship transformation. In East Africa, relational violence affects almost half the population. Due to the communal culture, relationship violence not only impacts the partners but also the children and the greater community.
In partnership with the Uganda Counseling Association, our therapist team of 12 (from the US, South Africa, and Canada) held the first ever Externship in Emotionally Focused Therapy in Kampala, Uganda. This was a 4 day training with over 80 therapists, therapist students, and pastoral counselors attending from all over Uganda and Kenya. Thanks to generous donations we were able to provide full and partial scholarships for them to attend.
As a facilitator of discussions and role plays, I learned so much from these counselors about attachment and emotions within their East African context. I learned:
- it’s not relevant to talk about attachment in terms of love, rather attachment needs to be seen as a safe haven and secure base because many of the marriages are functional
- women cannot show anger except to their children (and in fact transfer their anger to the children)
- the more power a man has, the more anger he can show
- and some clans believe, “If he beats you, it means he loves you.”
And sharing some cultural beauty here, what do you do at the end of a 4 day training in Uganda? Dance, of course!
Our team visited the counseling program at Makerere University (the one and only college counseling program in Uganda!) and provided some consultation to the student counselors. We also had the opportunity to visit an addictions rehabilitation program (most residents recovering from alcohol or marijuana abuse) and connected with residents and provided supervision support to the therapists working there.
Posted at Makerere University and a big reason we came to Uganda- to try to shift the tides of relational violence.
We will continue to support the work we started in Uganda and I know I will forever feel connected to this special place and people.
A Whats App message I received from one of the participants.
Facilitating an experiential exercise with couples attending the couples workshop.