Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Energy Therapy in DRC

My friend Gunilla Hamne is a Swedish trauma therapist who has worked with genocide victims in Rwanda and Uganda for several years. She has perfected the use of energy therapy to treat trauma in war suvivors. When we met last March in Bukavu, I asked if she would work with the women at Ushindi Center, who continue to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms years after the traumatic events occurred.

 Gunilla treating woman at Ushindi Center with Roger translating, March 2009.

I was trained in energy psychology before my first trip to Africa, but I didn’t take it seriously: I didn’t believe a process so simple could have much effect on profound trauma.  How could I ask women who’ve been raped, tortured and abandoned to believe that tapping their faces would make all that horror somehow disappear?

And yet it does. A month after treating several women at Ushindi Center last year, Gunilla did a follow-up visit and found that two women who had had insomnia for 4-5 years after being raped had been sleeping regularly since the treatment. And now they are happy to tell you they’re still sleeping well after nine months!
Women learn energy therapy in Sud Kivu Province, DRC.

Since then, other women have reported that 1) headache pain feeling like an arrow shot in the head disappeared, 2) overwhelming worries dissipated and floated away, to stay gone, 3)mistrust of others has been replaced with a feeling of belonging to the group, 4) distorted vision is gone, and 5) love instead of irritation guides them in caring for their children. The most often cited improvement is return of normal sleep patterns, but for the therapist, the most obvious change is a lightness of being that shines through in their brilliant smiles.

How can this be? We don’t really know. Gunilla believes that tapping acupressure points allows blocked traumatic ideas and emotions to loosen and move out of the body. It does seem as if something has been dislodged and released.

Gunilla and I teaching energy therapy to psychosocial caregivers in Goma, DRC.

In the meantime, I have dropped my skepticism and now practice energy therapy whenever I can here in Congo. We have begun administering pre- and post-tests to measure behavioral change, and we have videotaped a few of our therapy sessions. Look for us at the next Energy Therapy Conference!

With love and gratitude,

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