Inaugural issue of AIR Thoughts: Breaking the Walls of Trauma Counselling

The inaugural edition of AIR Thoughts is out!

The AIR Thoughts series profiles fresh analysis by African practitioners around how to tackle the interrelated issues of violence against women and girls, HIV/AIDS and emotional wellbeing and mental health.

In Issue 1, Breaking the Walls of Trauma Counselling, South African social worker Mpumi Zondi explores the complexities of working on trauma. Drawing on experiences and case studies from the work of Sophiatown Community Clinical Psychological Services (SCPS) in Johannesburg, Mpumi Zondi argues for a critical rethinking of the ways in which clinicians conceptualise and deliver trauma counselling. She outlines the core principles and methods that SCPS use to respond to clients’ needs in the context of contemporary urban South Africa. The approach acknowledges layers
 of discrimination that clients face; realities of social, economic and political marginalisation that contribute to lack of psychological wellbeing and also require attention; and the importance of journeying with clients over the long-term as partners in a healing process.

…the goal of mainstream models of trauma counselling is typically to help the clients regain  “control of their lives” and regain mastery. This is an illusion for us. How does one regain control when they have never felt in control for as long as they remember, and when the horror continues and is so much part of their daily lives? The complexities of our clients’ life narratives are impossible to neatly place in a step-by-step brief time limited model of counselling. We have found that we need to stay the journey

– Mpumi Zondi, excerpt from Breaking Down the Walls of Trauma Counselling

Download AIR Thoughts Issue 1 from the AIR Resource Library here.