Thought Field Therapy Goes Viral in Rwanda: The Power of Training Paraprofessionals

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(by Suzanne M Connolly, LCSW, LMFT, LISAC)

We get astounding results we get when we teach others to use energy psychology methods for humanitarian purposes. But the number of energy psychology therapists throughout the world is limited; and there are only so many individuals and families that one energy psychology practitioner can treat. It is imperative that we train more energy psychology professionals to teach others. Many of us have done this in Rwanda since 2006. It has been effective in ways we could never have imagined.

Recently, we received an email from one of our top Thought Field Therapy (TFT) practitioners in Rwanda, Rev. Celestin Mitabu. (TFT is one of many energy psychology methods.) We first met Rev. Celestin Mitabu as an interpreter in 2006, when we treated over four hundred street children at a temporary shelter in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali. In 2008, Rev. Mitabu took a formal TFT training in Kigali. Later, he received several advanced trainings in TFT, even attending one in Seattle, Washington.

Since his early TFT training, Rev. Mitabu has devoted much of his life to training others in this technique. He accomplishes all this while being the pastor of a church and heading a successful center for former street children. Rev. Mitabu works tirelessly for the greater good of all people. He has trained university students at the major universities in Rwanda and every year he is asked to bring his team of trained TFT practitioners to the genocide memorial ceremonies held throughout April. Rev. Mitabu is asked by the International Red Cross to assist at the commemorative events, and he has put the directions for doing simple TFT treatments on the radio every year during the commemoration. He has taken these techniques to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Burundi, and South Sudan and has treated and trained over 10,000 persons.

Recently, during April, the month of mourning in Rwanda, Rev. Mitabu was asked (as usual) to form teams of practitioners to assist the International Red Cross at commemoration genocide memorial ceremonies throughout Rwanda. He was surprised to see how many people attending also knew how to do TFT. When he asked where they had learned this technique, they mentioned names of others he had trained. Rev. Mitabu met a group of nurses who worked with AVEGA, a group that provides counseling and basic medical services to women who were raped during the genocide. He explained that AVEGA is” a public institution with branches across Rwanda”. He did what he called a “reminding training” (a refresher course) for the AVEGA nurses and others who would be assisting at the memorial ceremonies this April.

Rev. Mitabu wrote,

One thing which has amazed me is that TFT is rapidly spreading in Rwanda, and this has surprised me. Wherever we attend any commemoration event organized in different places far from Kigali, we always find people using TFT. Some of them I don’t know. And whenever I ask them where they have learned these techniques, they refer me to people I have trained in different institutions. Some of them have just mastered the algorithm for trauma and some reversals; nothing else. At the end of treatment sometimes I ask them ‘why do you apply these techniques for treating people?’ They tell me, because they heal people very quickly.

Rev. Mitabu mentioned that people who become re-traumatized at the commemoration events are no longer taken to the hospital, but instead are brought to the TFT practitioners. However, one ceremony continued into the night. The TFT practitioners left, thinking they were only to work during the day. A severely traumatized young man was taken to the hospital that night; completely unconscious. However, Red Cross workers brought him to the TFT practitioners the next morning. The young man fully recovered and thanked them.

April is over, and the TFT practitioners can finally get some well-deserved rest. However, Rev. Mitabu will be teaching TFT to some group somewhere in the Great Lake Region of Africa, and the world will be better for it, you can be sure.

Energy psychology has made a positive impact on the lives of many suffering from trauma in Rwanda, and some Rwandans, like Rev. Mitabu are reaching out, not only to their neighboring communities, but to their neighboring countries in the Great Lake Region. However, the problem is global; at any one time one out of twenty men and one out of ten women are suffering from posttraumatic stress, often following large scale or man-made or natural disasters. The WHO met in 2009 and addressed the problem of what to do after man-made and natural disasters. They concluded that, in a world of high need and few trained professionals, para-professionals must be trained to fill the gap, so that only those who couldn’t be helped by the para-professionals are referred to available professionals.

The ACEP Humanitarian Committee is launching an initiative that will train energy psychology practitioners to use a method of using TFT in humanitarian efforts. This is the same method used in Rwanda. It has also been tested and refined throughout the years in Haiti, Tanzania, Mexico, Kuwait, Japan, Uganda, Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The method has been researched, and three randomized control studies have been published.

You can learn this method and its protocol during a one-day intensive before the 2016 International Energy Psychology Conference. Persons receiving this one-day training will learn to train professionals and para-professionals in humanitarian outreach settings and will receive a certification and further support from a very active ACEP Humanitarian Committee. Please join us on June 2nd. To quote Helen Keller, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.” Be part of the solution and join us in Santa Clara.


Suzanne Connolly, LCSW, LMFT, has trained over 2,000 people worldwide to use TFT and to integrate TFT in clinical settings. Her presentation venues include Rwanda, Israel and Kuwait. ( She is on ACEP’s board of directors.

Would you like to get trained in helping communities heal after disaster? Would you like to learn more about energy psychology? Join us for the 18th International Energy Psychology Conference in Santa Clara, CA from June 2-5. Learn more.

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