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Peer-to-Peer Counselling

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Members of GRACE secured funding to support a peer-to-peer counselling training programme for Children Born of War in Northern Uganda. Using Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) the group were engaged in a two week course learning how to offer psychosocial support to victims of war, children born in captivity, and abductee mothers within their communities. GRACE is now fundraising to support a programme of peer-to-peer counselling, which will take place over a period of four to five weeks.

Peer Counselling

 

Peer counselling involves the provision of support and assistance from people with similar backgrounds. Peer counsellors draw on shared experiences to provide their peers with a safe space to talk openly. Peer support is uniquely beneficial as it can be less intimidating and enable a more comfortable setting for the sharing of knowledge, as well as fresh insight into situations and coping mechanisms. Peer counsellors provide valuable guidance on how to overcome specific challenges affecting themselves and their peers.

Participants during a group work session peer to peer counselling

Participants during a group work session

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Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET)

 

NET is a trauma-focused intervention for the treatment of survivors of multiple and severe traumatic events, such as organized violence, torture, war, rape, and childhood abuse. Treatment guidelines from the American Psychological Association and National Institute for Health Care Institute recommend trauma-focused psychological treatment - such as NET, but also others - for the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many people living in fragile post-conflict settings, especially survivors of sexual exploitation, abduction, forced recruitment into rebel forces, forced migrants, and witnesses to violence against family display symptoms of PTSD. PTSD and depression frequently co-occur. Field tests in contexts of ongoing adversity and disaster areas, as well as controlled trials in various countries, have shown how NET can provide significant relief for PTSD sufferers.

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Participants during peer to peer experience sharing
Participants demonstrating role play of giving peer to peer support

Training Process

Training was provided by clinical psychologist, Toneva Peace Otuku and co-facilitator, Mr Ebong Bernard in the summer of 2022. The programme covered a number of modules, including Recovery, Peer Support, Communication, Community and New Perspectives, Rights and Advocacy, Trauma and Dealing with Catastrophe, and Conflict Resolution.

Participants demonstrating role play of giving peer to peer support

Such training is valuable because access to mental health services is limited for young people and local communities in Northern Uganda. The individuals who took part in training were children fathered during the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in Northern Uganda (1986-2006) and the cattle-rustling conflicts in the Karamoja area. In the Lango region, which is one of the most severely affected areas of the LRA conflict and one of the poorest parts of Uganda, medical facilities are limited and mental health neglected. This training provides children born of war with skills and knowledge that could lead to them supporting not only themselves, but also their communities and other children born of war.

Trainees shared their knowledge, ideas and perspectives with the group and gave one another important feedback on their concerns. Each participant was linked to a mentor who was available to support them throughout the course. According to trainees, this type of training supported participants to feel understood and accepted. Some participants have written in more detail about their reflections on the peer-to-peer counselling training programme.

Participants during peer to peer experience sharing

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