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Successful group therapy for young women in Uganda

When the social workers and psychological counselors from Midwife-Led Community Transformation (MILCOT) organization did an assessment of the young women in their community of Nansana Municipality, Uganda, they found an alarming number of girls who were in violent relationships and experiencing forms of sexual coercion. MILCOT is a SIA partner and community-based organization with the mission to take midwifery services out of the clinic setting and bring it direct to the community. Even during COVID lockdowns, the MILCOT team answered texts and phone calls from girls aged 10-24 about sexual and reproductive health issues.

One of the MILCOT team members interviews household members to identify the needs in the community.

Last year, MILCOT used funding for SIA to form two support groups for these girls living in dangerous situations and experiencing depression. Each group of eight members got together for a series of eight workshops using the Social Emotional Economic Empowerment through Knowledge of Group Support Psychotherapy (SEEK-GSP) Model. This model aims to treat mild or moderate depression and anxiety among those stuck in inter-generational cycles of poverty. (Those with severe depression were referred to psychiatrists for professional care.)

The SEEK-GSP model aims to educate group members about depression, provide them with a supportive environment for exploring trauma, and developing positive coping and problem-solving skills. After sharing their traumatic experiences, the group members offered suggestions and encouragement, to help each young woman know she is not alone in her struggles.

“We have seen that the SEEK-GSP model brought smiles on the faces of two groups of women and girls,” writes Caroline Nakanyike and Harriet Nayiga, MILCOT leaders. “Also, by coming up with income generating projects they have boosted their individual and family economic status.” Each girl was given $10 in start-up capital to start businesses selling fish, vegetables, or tea and baked goods along the roadside. (Pictured above is a group starting a frying business.) The groups also are joint savings clubs. “Team No Stress” has collectively saved USD$20!

Harriet Nayiga was recognized as a Young Midwife Leader by the International Confederation of Midwives. Read her interview here:

After completing the therapy sessions in September, the MILCOT team conducted a post-therapy assessment. They noted the following successes:

  • Improved emotional wellbeing of members and their families;

  • Reduced dependence and intimate partner violence, with enhanced creative and problem solving skills;

  • Increased interest and task commitment;

  • Increased trust amongst themselves that enabled support for each other;

  • Enhanced patience, persistent of effort, self-assurance, determination, and responsibility;

  • Improved individual and family income;

  • Gratitude for acquired free knowledge in self-care, record and book keeping and saving culture.

The outcome of these sessions is a general improvement of well-being, including renewed energy for activities that allow them to express their talents. One member resurrected her childhood interest in basketry, which has contributed to her household income with less stress!


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