I’ve just finished my second week of delivering a training of Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET) for healthcare professionals in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
NET is a short term treatment for individuals suffering trauma after surviving physical and / or sexual violence. NET helps traumatised survivors who have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intrusive memories. The treatment helps to ‘process’ the fragmented memories so they are stored in a coherent way, as with other autobiographical memories.
The participants have expressed how helpful they think NET will for their clients, many of whom have suffered extreme sexual violence.
This week has focused on teaching participants the practical skills for delivering NET. This included supporting participants to share some of their own upsetting or traumatic experiences in order to practice the therapeutic techniques of NET.
The photograph above is of a NET lifeline the participants created during one of the first sessions this week. The lifeline exercise is a central element of NET; the therapist lays out a piece of rope or ribbon representing the client’s lifeline and stones and flowers are used to represent periods of time / events. Flowers represent positive events and stones represent traumatic events, losses or other negative events. Taking this ‘birds eye view’ of their life to date helps survivors place events in a chronological order. The lifeline is then used to plan future sessions and help the survivor process painful memories.
It has been very moving to hear terrible traumatic events that the participants themselves have experienced or witnessed, but in equal measure, it has been inspiring to hear how their own difficulties have motivated them to help other vulnerable individuals in their community.