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Development and field testing of action-based psychosocial reconciliation approach in post-genocide Rwanda Minami, Masahiro

Abstract

The 1994 Rwandan genocide and subsequent 2003 government release of genocide prisoners (perpetrators) created a situation where returning prisoners now live side-by- side with survivors in rural villages of Rwanda. While political and economical efforts have been made to facilitate unity and reconciliation, interpersonal reconciliation support is critically scarce in present-day Rwanda. The purpose of this research is to develop and conduct field-testing of a new action-based psychosocial reconciliation approach (ABPRA). The ABPRA is conceptually and empirically founded on Japanese Morita therapy and contact theory. The ABPRA is a practical synthesis of Moritian therapeutic principles and contact conditions empirically supported to facilitate positive attitude change aimed at fostering an interpersonal reconciliation process between the survivors and ex-prisoners. Four reconciliation dyads consisting of survivors and ex-prisoners of the 1994 Rwandan genocide living in the same village were recruited on voluntary bases to participate in two weekly hours of the ABPRA session. This lasted for eight weeks over two months in two remote villages in Rwanda. A post-session, semi-structured interview method was combined with the interpersonal process recall method to explore participant experiences. Thematic content analysis (Krippendorff, 2014) of data revealed five beneficial properties of the ABPRA: (a) healing, (b) attitude change, (c) reconciliation, (d) relationship building, and (e) psychosocial development. Despite its limitations, current evidence not only supported two theoretical foundations of the ABPRA but also generated descriptive information to enhance them. Implications and applications to counselling psychology, ecology and medium of healing and change, conflict mediation and resolution, war prevention, and peace building will be discussed.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada

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