This dramatic improvement for traumatized youth in one of the worst places for children on the planet, Congo, is testimony to the power of psychotherapy to help someone heal from abuse and neglect. I can’t tell you how much this cheers me to read. Think about what it might mean for trauma exposed children here in the U.S. and everywhere to receive such concerted mental health care.
“This is the first time that such a therapy has been used in this way. Although Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy has the greatest evidence for its effectiveness in treating child victims of sexual violence in the West, to date no study has ever adapted it for use in developing countries affected by the twin evils of war and sexual violence,” O’Callaghan said.
The research team along with Congolese counselors encouraged girls to draw out pictures of their most traumatic events. The sessions also included relaxation techniques, mental imagery techniques and tips to cope with bad memories.
“The dramatic reduction in trauma, depression and anxiety, conduct problems and anti-social behavior shows that this kind of therapy is very effective in treating war-affected children who have been exposed to rape and sexual violence. In addition to the statistical results of the therapy many of the girls attested to how the intervention helped reduced their terrible nightmares, disturbing flashbacks and suicidal thinking. For me, that was the most rewarding part of our work in the DRC,” O’Callaghan said.
The research team also helped 50 boys reduce stress and anti-social behavior by psychological intervention program.
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast and an NGO World Vision were behind this intervention method.