What is Psychology ?
Psychology is the scientific study of the behavior and mental behaviors. The behavior encomposses outward or overt actions and rections while mental processes include internal, covert activity of the mind.
Topics in Psychology
Psychology is a multifaceted discipline and includes the following branches, to list a few :
- Clinical Psychology,
- Cognitive psychology, Developmental psychology,
- Forensic psychology,
- Health Psychology,
- Social Psychology,
- Occupational Psychology,
- Educational Psychology,
- Counselling Psychology
Psychology in Rwanda
Psychology in Rwanda is a discipline that exists since 1987 with the creation of the departement of School Psychology within the former National Universtiy of Rwanda. This department was replaced in 1998 by the Department of Clinical Psychology, which is the only one in the public higher learning institutions in Rwanda. To date, the University of Kibungo offers also a bachelor’s deggree training in Clinical Psychology, a private university in the Eastern Province. As a backgroung of the department of clinical psychology, and following the 1994 genocide perpetrated against Tutsi in Rwanda, the government resolved in 1998 to start the training of clinical psychologists as a response to the mass traumas from the genocide. The first clinical psychologists graduated from the then National University of Rwanda, and immediately the graduates were absorbed in the community to start assisting those requiring psychological help.
Psychologists in Rwanda are contributing to the development of the country and playing a very vital role raising awareness around mental health and psychotrauma in particular. However, an imminent need concerns the large gap between demand and supply in the domain of healing from psychological trauma. As in other post-war societies, the pervasive impact of psychological trauma is damaging for the social development and growth of the country. Severe attachment trauma, for instance in the large group of genocide orphans and widows survivors of the 1994 genocide perpetrated against the Tutsi, and other trauma related problems have a massive impact on families and lead to trans-generational trauma.
In addition to trauma experienced by surviving victims and perpetrators, families who have to live as neighbours of perpetrators as well as families being stigmatized because of murders perpetrated by one of them are other examples for the many impacts of trauma on the Rwandan society. While after the genocide some initiatives have been taken aiming to heal or at least reduce the burden of trauma, most of them remained at a surface and helped to survive rather to be healed. For example, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals in Rwanda that could assume this task currently receive only a general training, without a focus on trauma-specific approaches.
With the time being, it became evident that, plus the general training get from universities, psychologists at work require more opportunities for contuining professional development (CPD) training and supervision. Moreover, psychologists can volunteer and contribute to the country development through community engagement and outreach activities. Psychologists therefore gathered on August 1st 2015 and resolved to create the Rwanda Psychological Society (RPS), a professional organization, a response to both the training gap and the community involvement.