10 years of Mental Health Projects in Ethiopia – commitment to mental health Promotion of a sustainable training project for qualified psychosocial counseling and psychotherapy

“Those who have completed their training are training themselves”

The International Academy for Positive and Transcultural Psychotherapy – Prof. Peseschkian Foundation has been involved in a mental health project in Ethiopia since 2006. By establishing personal contact with the country’s leading psychiatrists and university lecturers, cooperation with three important universities has been made possible: University of Addis Ababa, Jimma University and Bahir Dar University. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education in Addis Ababa were fully informed about our training project.

Through basic and master courses in positive and transcultural psychotherapy, healthcare professionals in Ethiopia (for a symbolic fee) learn a resource-oriented, short-term therapeutic procedure that enables them to treat patients effectively in psychotherapy.

The Ethiopian specialists trained in positive and transcultural psychotherapy are trained in the long term as international trainers of PPT and are then able to train their countrymen independently. After completing their training, they can join the World Association of Positive and Transcultural Psychotherapy (WAPP) and are thus integrated into the international network of positive psychotherapists. This ensures professional exchange and long-term preservation of methodological quality.

A representative of the foundation in Ethiopia has been volunteering for the project from the beginning and ensures that the courses are successfully carried out on site. Many international lecturers of positive and transcultural psychotherapy (specialists and qualified psychologists) also support the mental health project. They teach their Ethiopian colleagues pro bono in block seminars. Since the trainers come from different countries around the world, they know about transcultural peculiarities and challenges based on their own experience.

In the thirteen years of the project, more than 250 participants have already completed the basic course and over 40 graduates of the master’s course have received their final certificate and can call themselves a “Certified Positive Psychotherapist”. They are paving the way for entering a new era of mental health qualification in Ethiopia.

The positive psychotherapy method is particularly suitable for countries that are characterized by both poverty and change. The concept and practice of the method make it possible to reach the population in countries such as Ethiopia – regardless of their level of education or belief. The inclusion of stories and proverbs in the therapeutic process is beneficial to narrative cultures and also reaches people on an emotional level. The humanistic worldview on which the method is based and the easy comprehensibility of the interventions have a positive effect on civil society beyond the therapeutic process.

Young skilled workers in particular benefit from their qualifications and are therefore given an incentive to stay in the country (preventing brain drain).

The work of our foundation is particularly effective and innovative because it is based on a scientifically recognized method of psychotherapy (with quality assurance). We also cooperate with the World Association for Positive and Transcultural Psychotherapy so that course participants in Ethiopia can join an international network. In order to promote international exchange, the Foundation has already awarded several grants to participants in courses in Ethiopia so that they could take part in congresses on positive and transcultural psychotherapy.

Three books on positive psychotherapy were published in Ethiopia in English and Amharic at the expense of the foundation, in order to give the course participants access to the required specialist literature.

With the training of Ethiopian colleagues in Addis Ababa, Jimma and Bahir Dar, the Peseschkian Foundation, with the help of the university cooperation partners, is making an important contribution to alleviating the shortage of psychotherapists trained in Ethiopia so that the partially traumatized population can get help. The promotion of sustainable development, especially in the health sector, is an important building block to address causes to fight against flight and terror.