Studies increasingly show that the treatment of traumatized societies is necessary to break the cycle of trauma and violence.  Victims of violence are more likely to become perpetrators later on. At the same time, treatment of traumatized survivors can facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation within the society.

Feminenza’s 5 day trauma healing workshop equips participants to:

  • Understand the biology of fear, how it affects behaviour and encourages a cycle of violence
  • Manage their own fears more effectively
  • Build their self-esteem and resilience
  • Understand the pathways of forgiveness and its role in PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) reduction
  • Leave the past behind


It has been highly effective with diverse groups from all ages, genders and backgrounds, including:

  • Vocationally driven local community leaders from vulnerable communities who are also dealing with their own trauma
  • Ex-gang members, and youths who have been vulnerable to radicalisation
  • Young women and girls who have been victims of gender-based violence

The 5 day programme of this consultancy

Participants are introduced to a quiet, reflective, inner transformation together, learning how to: understand and manage fear; identify their strengths and qualities; develop understanding and empathy for ‘the other’; choose to forgive.  Using a multi-faceted approach, including practical exercises, story-telling and theatre, the process provides the opportunity and support for the participants to express and heal their unresolved trauma.


The 2 day process on Understanding and Managing Fear: a self-directed, reflective, practical process – first teaches the participants how to face, understand and manage their fears and, crucially, identify their strengths and qualities, usually for the first time in their lives. This new sense of self-worth and empowerment helps them to build a new resolve about their lives. It is their first step towards healing, and has proven to reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress considerably.

The 3 day process on the 7 Pillars of Forgiveness: from a new place of empowerment, this then teaches the participants how to come to terms with their past, let go, choose to forgive, heal and move on. They learn how to move themselves and others away from the cycle of victimhood/violence, by ‘re-humanizing the other’, fostering empathy and mutual understanding, building trust. In cases of severe violence, sexual abuse, trauma, it is the invisible mental and emotional wounds that are often the hardest to heal. Without the balm of forgiveness, lives can be traumatised, frozen, functioning for years, but not really living.

The whole process delivers an internationally proven system, previously tested and evidenced in Kenya, that can address trauma, reduce the clinical symptoms associated with trauma, lower community risk and enable young women and youths to be rehabilitated, to thrive and to restart their lives. The approach has been validated by independent psycho-social surveys of primary and secondary participants. It also enhances the capacity of trauma counsellors and other community workers to help people move on with their lives.

The USAID Theory of Change that this 5 day programme is based on is Inside Out Peace Building – helping to cause a fundamental shift in consciousness. In the longer term, it also helps to create lasting relationships – firstly between the participants themselves and then extending these to their families and communities, to ‘re-weave the social fabric at the grassroots level in support of long-lasting peace’.

It has also been effective in helping adolescent girls and young women who have been victims of gender based violence, are engaged in commercial sex or generally lack a supportive environment, to overcome isolation, a serious issue for all of them, but particularly for young married women. As the girls’ sense of possibility and self-worth grows, others in the community may start to view them differently, reshaping broader assumptions about girls. They feel they can now start to accept and integrate their past history and trauma into the narrative of their life, rather than 1) trying to consistently bury it and 2) repeat the same cycle of pain over and over again. They begin to see their traumatic experiences not just as bad and painful things, but as their story of resistance, survival, and thus future resilience.

A very common outcome of this workshop in participants is a potent sense of renewed hope and optimism, and the strongly enunciated desire to take some of these new understandings and insights back into their communities.

This sense of empowerment and renewed energy also reflects the fact that healing of trauma/PTSD empowers survivors (both ex-victims and ex-perpetrators) to live more self determined lives in all aspects of their lives, including taking new initiatives to improve their circumstances. Contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, suggesting that treatment for psychological problems not be addressed as long as the basic needs of nutrition and safety are pressing, the evidence, also from our previous pilot in 2010-2011, is that survivors see their mental health as having the highest priority and their mental functioning is the pre-requisite for self–efficacy and meeting one’s basic needs.

For further information about this programme, please contact: monique.weber@feminenza.org


[1] UNICEF (2001). The state of the world’s children 2001. New York, NY.

[2] Feminenza’s 5 day Trauma Counselling/Healing Workshop, for USAID’s Kenya Tuna Uwezo Program, 8-12 and 15-19 June 2015, and Feminenza's 5 day Trauma Counselling/Healing Workshop for Global Communities DREAMS Initiative, 13-17 June 2016

[3] USAID (2010). Theories of Change and Indicator Development in Conflict Management and Mitigation.

[4] Glover, J.A., (2011) Rebuilding Lives

[5] Schauer, M., Neuner, F., Elbert, T.( 2011). Narrative Exposure Therapy. New York, NY: Hogreffe Publishing.