Wandsworth Cognitive Behavioural Therapist To Share Knowledge In South Africa

With group of leading psychiatrists about her groundbreaking work with Tamil refugees

South West London and St George's Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) Cognitive Behavioural Therapist Meera Bahu will address the 21st World Congress of the International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) in August. She will then take part in workshops to discuss how to expand her work to other cultures and age groups across the world.

The Tamil Depression Management Group was started by SWLSTG four years ago in response to a need raised by members of the Shree Ghanapathy Temple in Wimbledon.

Members of the Tamil community from Sri Lanka were arriving in south west London fleeing the horrors of war such as shelling, bombing, the deaths of friends and family and a range of physical, psychological and sexual tortures.

Meera said:
“These people experienced appallingly traumatic experiences which resulted in problems including self-harm, anxiety, depression, panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. This is in addition to ongoing physical disabilities caused by what they suffered in Sri Lanka and the problems associated with being an asylum-seeker in London such as housing, employment and isolation.”

Therapists at the NHS Trust realised that in order for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to meet the refugees’ needs, it had to be adapted to suit their culture and expectations. So they worked with Tamils to create a course that combined traditional CBT with Tamil culture, religion and spirituality.

Meera added:
“It was co-produced in a very real sense. SWLSTG therapists sat down with members of the community to discuss the issues and devise therapies to meet the needs of the people who use them.”

So far around 100Tamils have gone through the 12-week course of therapy which is designed for adults. During the Conference in South Africa.

July 28, 2014