Mar 2015 31

GRG expands counseling programs with partner vivo’s support

Posted in News

In 2014, GRG and Victim’s Voice (vivo) have been partnering to expand and strengthen GRG’s counseling program.  vivo mentored GRG’s counselor Okidi Richard Owor from August 2014 to Jan 2015.  Richard worked closely with vivo’s senior counsellors and psychological experts to learn about case development and supervision, field support, and self-care for counsellors and secondary traumatization.  Through this partnership, Richard had the chance to share and reflect on his work and experiences with fellow experts and learn about the best treatments for survivors of trauma and war.

vivo has worked with survivors of war and torture in northern Uganda for many years.  Using Narrative Exposure Therapy and other methods, vivo works with those suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), helping survivors deal with symptoms such as depression and suicidal thoughts so that they can better live their everyday lives.  vivo’s focus on and experience with PTSD makes them an ideal mentor for Richard.  Richard is gaining insight into many trauma coping strategies, including breathing meditation, body scan and progressive muscle relaxation.  These strategies have been useful in helping GRG’s group members understand and manage trauma symptoms as well as for Richard’s own personal care.

During his mentorship, Richard has been working to build GRG’s new group counseling modules.  During the long war with the LRA members of northern Uganda’s communities lived life with rebels in the bush or pushed into camps for displaced persons; local culture and society was disrupted and the long-lasting mental health consequences remain.  GRG’s groups identify the modules/topics to address according to the community needs, such as domestic violence, living positively with HIV/AIDS, and harmonious family life.

One of vivo’s senior counselors, Mr. Benard Obong joined Richard in the field for the launch group counseling in December.  He also has supervised the needs assessments and trauma workshops, providing Richard with feedback and an opportunity for professional exchanges.  GRG is truly appreciative of Mr. Ebong and his contribution to expanding GRG’s counseling programs.

GRG’s group counseling goals are to encourage reconciliation and help communities to rebuild, strengthen local peace-building, and reintegrate former child soldiers who have now returned home. The expanded counseling program is already making a powerful impact towards achieving these goals.

As planned our partnership with vivo changed shape at the end of January 2015 when Richard began a ten month training with the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT).  CVT’s work in northern Uganda to provide training and capacity building to counsellors and organizations is funded by the International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims.  With vivo and CVT’s support Richard is gaining further skills to help our groups and group members overcome the effects of more than two decades of LRA violence.  GRG and vivo have agreed that for clients suffering specifically with PTSD can be referred to vivo.  Similarly CVT has agreed to work with some of our group members for individual and couples counselling, as with over 800 clients the workload is too much for Richard alone.

In 2015 GRG continues to expand our psycho-social and trauma programs to foster reconciliation and re-integration of former LRA combatants and abducted child soldiers.  GRG recognizes that helping people overcome the psychological impact of the war is crucial to building peace and encouraging economic recovery.  GRG group members are not able to work together effectively if they cannot understand how the war has affected their colleagues.

Our next counselling expansion planned for this year is to support our groups to become peer-counsellors to their wider communities. To support GRG’s continuing expansion of our counselling program please donate online.  To learn more about vivo and its work, please visit  To learn more about CVT and its work, please check out their website.

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