Counselors as victims of Post Election Violence (2007-2008)
The focus of this thesis is on the effects of violence and disaster on Trauma counselors. This research of counselors experience in the Kenya's Post Election Violence. Working constantly with people in pain, who feel suicidal or are grieving over the loss of loved ones, property or those severely traumatized, often takes a heavy toll on practitioners. The psychotherapist can easily be affected with a patient's sadness. Violence has been a part of Kenya's electoral processes since the restoration of multi party politics in 1991. The violence that shook Kenya after the 2007 general elections was by far the most deadly and most destructive violence ever experienced in Kenya. The 2007-2008 post-election violence was also more widespread than in the past. It affected most provinces and was felt in both urban and rural parts of the country. Kenyans from across the board heavily invested their trust in the December 2th 2007 General Elections as a great opportunity to cement their power and create a legacy of peaceful change as well as to farther the democratic change in their lives and in Kenya. Following the Electorate Commission of Kenya (ECK) Chairman's declaration of Hon. Mwai Kibaki on the 29th December 2007, various acts of violence took place in different parts of the country. Thousands of people were hurt physically and others were psychologically affected. It is for this reason that the researcher got concerned with the medical aspect of PEV survivors. Most of the victims were counseled. Questions arose about the counselors who counseled the PEV victims and how this affected them. If they were, in what way could they have been affected? What was their experience of working with people who were in pain and others traumatized? The research looked into different ways of how the counselors were psychosocially given support upon return to their work stations. This research utilized both primary and secondary data in order to capture the effects of violence on counselors during of PEV. The tools of data collected included the use of a detailed interview guide which was related to objectives of the study. Since it was impossible to measure trauma and the psychological effects in a person, Questionnaires were designed to solicit responses ranging from mild, severe, less severe to very severe. Case studies approach was employed to collect detailed accounts to amplify the general observations about how counselors were affected by PEV and how they received help and the kind of help. This was done with permission from the respondents. Primary data was collected by consulting Counselors working at the Nairobi Women's hospital's GVRC, who counseled victims of PEV. They were interviewed together with volunteer and professional counselors from other registered Organizations who worked at Kenya Red Cross Society. The researcher identified the counselors by Snowballing technique. The researcher used books, journals, theses, reports and newspaper articles. These were accessed from Libraries, Resource Centers and Archives in media houses such as the Nation and Standard Media. Tools for data collection included the use of a detailed interview guide, which was related to the objectives of the study and directed at the discussion between the researcher and the Counselors. It was observed that helpers should recognize the warning signs and be flexible to visit their personal therapists in order to be helped on how to cope with vicarious trauma and prevent from ruining their career or damaging their life. The study also noted that Traumatic experiences can produce emotional, cognitive and physical repercussions. In some cases, the of trauma can manifest months or years after the event of crisis. Therefore, any symptoms of trauma should be taken seriously by the counselors. The research found out that emergency workers and crisis counselors are often affected by seeing pain in others and listening to sad stories.' They are also affected psychologically, emotionally and spiritually after counseling certain cases of humanity. The study concludes that counselors should rate themselves on how they experience Compassion fatigue and burnout, and take the initiative to seek Supervision or visit their personal therapists on a regular basis especially when they attend to trauma related cases. This can make them be more efficient and competent to achieve their goal at work.