- Psychotrauma, healing and reconciliation in Rwanda: the contribution of community-based sociotherapy
- African Journal of Traumatic Stress
- Volume | Issue number
- 1 | 2
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
Introduction: In post-genocide Rwanda, many different kind of interventions have been implemented on different levels of society focusing on the healing of psychological problems and reconciliation between victims and perpetrators of the previous political violence. This article presents the practice of community-based sociotherapy and its impact in terms of healing and reconciliation as well as its specificity compared to other interventions.
Methodology: A variety of qualitative research methods were used with an emphasis on the most significant-change-stories method.
Results: Sociotherapy was introduced in Rwanda in 2005. Sociotherapy groups of 10-12 people living in the same neighborhood meet once a week during 2-3 hours for a period of 15 weeks. The most significant problems people suffer from due to the political violence is the destruction of social relations.
It is in the phase of care that is usually reached during the 4th of 5th session that a change in people’s
behavior and interaction with others, including former enemies, takes place. This change results in a rerouting of their personal, family and community life which is experienced as a release of problems previously buried in people’s hearts. While many of the interventions in Rwanda which are specifically aimed at reconciliation result at most, in ‘thin’ reconciliation, sociotherapy resulted, in many cases, in ‘thick’ reconciliation.
Conclusion: Justice and care should complement each other when the aim is healing from the wounds of a violent past and reconciliation along ethnic lines.
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