A few more days until the World refugee day, in the mild weather of Nyamata sociotherapists from Mugombwa and Kigeme refugee camps are back in Bugesera for a refresher training. This is a space for them to mainly rewind and through games and sharing sessions revisiting a few places within the program where they need guidance from the trainers. Together they revisit the steps of sociotherapy to find a clear path to apply in their groups.
The refresher training is also a time for them to let out and share their own stories and their day to day joys and struggles. As one of them pointed out: “This is like a normal sociotherapy session, it is what we do with the participants.” Emmanuel the trainer pointed out that the sociotherapists need a psychological supervision, to lessen the mental burden caused by all the stories they get from the groups, since it hints closer to home. Quoting one of them he said: “Sometimes we are afraid to go deep in someone’s problem fearing the emotions it might bring in us because our life history are similar.” But when there are in that close knit they feel more like a family and sharing become easy.
They are reminded that a sociotherapy group session is not a problem-solution group but a sharing group. Whether bad or good the person get a safe space to share their news. And a good sociotherapist must also be a good listener, to hear what is said and understand what is not said and guide the group accordingly. To which Muhire one of the sociotherapists added: “ As a sociotherapist, I have learned how to manage people’s emotional response, I know when to stop and introduce a game to loosen the tension within the group and when to let someone go on in his sharing. Body signs become clear language when you learn to listen with your eyes and ears.”
They share our hope that with the knowledge and experiences from sociotherapy, they will be able to help many other to cope with their lives in refugee camps.