GABORONE, Botswana, December 2019 — The first group of psychologists and psychiatrists in Botswana have graduated on the psychological trauma therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). This evidence-based therapy enables people to heal from symptoms that are the result of psychological trauma, such as an accident, theft or any kind of violence. It is the first time that this training has been offered in Botswana.
The training was an initiative by a coalition of Stepping Stones International (SSI), University of Botswana, private psychologists from the Netherlands, and Trauma Aid Netherlands who co-funded the training.
Jeldau Rieff, Program Manager at Stepping Stones International stated, “EMDR is an excellent methodology for Botswana with limited resources and a limited number of psychologists and psychiatrists. It is a welcome addition to address the mental health problems that are caused by traumatic life events, such as gender-based violence, suicide, traffic accidents, and rape. They can cause nightmares, flashbacks, depression or anxiety. When victims are not treated, they may suffer from the aftermath for the rest of their lives.”
Based on research, SSI addressed the urgent need to improve professionals’ skills in trauma counselling and at the same time the need to treat more victims that suffer from trauma.
“After conducting mapping and interviews we found that professionals were very interested in mastering this innovative methodology, but there were no existing training initiatives. We decided to reach out to experienced EMDR trainers in the Netherlands, who embraced the idea and have voluntarily provided all the training days and supervision sessions over the year.”
The course was demanding, however the trainees had positive experiences with the methodology. Petunia Mogotsi, clinical psychologist from University of Botswana, stated: “EMDR has provided me with the necessary skills to provide trauma focused treatment to clients in dire need of services following traumatic events ranging from sexual assault and rape, road traffic accidents and grief. My clients have expressed great satisfaction with EMDR and they highly appreciate that it does not require them to narrate traumatic experiences over and over again. EMDR has proven to be a useful tool for trauma-focused treatment.”
The coalition’s long-term vision is to build a strong foundation of trained EMDR-professionals in Botswana. Looking at the need, expanding the group of professionals trained on EMDR is critical. Therefore, a second EMDR training will be offered early 2020, as well as an advanced training for the current group of graduates. Interested candidates with relevant qualifications and extensive experience in counselling can send an expression of interest through Stepping Stones International or through our Facebook page ‘EMDR Botswana’