By Joe Oliver
– I recently travelled to Kampala, Uganda to carry out a series of ACT workshops for trainee psychologists and mental health staff. These workshops built on previous work by other ACT trainers, including Roscoe Kasujja (in the photo on the right), Ross White, Igor Krnetić and Cerdic Hall. The aim was to take forward the development of ACT in Uganda. With Roscoe’s help, I ran a 2 day ‘Introduction to ACT’ workshop, then ran 2 day ‘Intermediate Skills’ workshop for trainees who were currently using ACT in their practice. Trainees were using ACT in a wide range of areas, including with children, refugees/people recovering from trauma and also people with psychosis. I found it inspiring to hear the ways in which trainees had adapted the model to fit with local needs and understandings. For example, the modification of the ‘passengers on the bus’ metaphor to ‘canoeing down the river with a snake in your boat’ was one that stood out to me.
While I was there, I also met with the Butabika Hospital Recovery College and peer supporters group and heard about the amazing and very important work they do. This is a set of projects supported by the Butabika – East London Link, which is a collaboration between East London NHS Foundation Trust and Butabika Hospital, initiated in 2003. Although this was a time of significant change for the group, the energy and commitment to the work very much shone through. You can find out more about this project here: www.butabikaeastlondon.com
I also had the opportunity to work with Dr Rachael Nuwagaba to undertake a stress and resilience workshop with a group of nurses from Butabika Hospital. It was a real privilege to work with such a dedicated, hard working group for whom the value of making a real difference in the lives of the people they worked with was a strong guiding principle.
A special thanks to the Ugandan ACT Special Interest Group and Butabika – East London Link for their support in my time in Kampala.
Lastly, I was very fortunate to be able to travel to the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park rain forest in the south of Uganda. This is a special part of the world with incredible scenery and dense forest that is home to an amazing biodiversity, which also includes mountain gorillas. I was lucky to be able to trek to see them. In the photo you can see a big silverback in the background, enjoying his afternoon snack of fern fronds.