A book serving as a guide to streamline the practice of psychotherapy and counselling practice in Ghana, has been launched by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Counselling Centre (KCC), in Kumasi.
Co-authored by multiple experts and professionals, including clinical and counselling psychologists, the document, entitled, “Becoming a Skilled Helper: A Guide to Psychotherapy and Counselling Practice in Ghana,” contains 12 chapters based on sound scientific ideas on psychology.
Launched under the auspices of the Ghana Psychology Council (GPC), the content reflects what has worked for practitioners and clients in the Ghanaian setting, and deals with topics such as ‘Depression,’ ‘Suicide: A Cry for Help,’ ‘Stress Management and Resilience.’
The rest are ‘Anxiety,’ ‘Ethical Issues in Counselling,’ ‘Working with Persons with Serious Mental Illnesses,’ ‘Contemporary Challenges for the Youth’, ‘Sexuality Issues in Counselling’ and ‘Relationships Distress and Wellbeing of the Youth.’
It is meant for practitioners, students, and interns in the helping professions, especially those who struggle to apply their theoretical knowledge into culturally appropriate approaches and practice.
Professor Sister Frances Emily Owusu-Ansah, Head of the KNUST Department of Behavioural Sciences, addressing the ceremony, said the perception of etiology of illness (physical and mental) “expands beyond the biological to include moral, social and spiritual dimensions.”
This explains the intimate link between cultural constructions of etiology of mental illness and treatment seeking behaviours, she argues.
“Use of traditional and faith healers is popular and widespread not only because of their availability and affordability, but also because people think mental illness or psychological conditions are not physical,” the clinical psychologist noted.
Prof Sister Owusu-Ansah, who edited the book, said, in effect, within the Ghanaian cultural context ‘westernised’ conceptualisations of health and wellbeing, and psychotherapeutic interventions arising out of them seemed inadequate when used solely for responding to treatment of Ghanaian mental health conditions.
According to her, “the perception is that there is and should be some spiritually remote reason or answer to just about any happening where physical explanations cannot be fathomed.”
Genuine respect for and validation of a patient’s cultural orientation, indigenous beliefs, and practices, as well as attentiveness to significant differences helped to facilitate the development of a therapeutic alliance, which was important to treatment outcome, she observed.
“Validating a patient’s experience or belief does not necessarily mean agreement.
“It means, however, that a patient is respected enough to ascribe the same valence to what deems real or important to the self,” says the clinical psychologist.
Dr. Dinah Baah Oddoom, the Registrar, Ghana Psychology Council, lauded all the contributors for the book concepts, saying the launch was timely.
“It has come at a time when many newly-qualified psychologists and contributors are looking for a resource that will help them apply western theoretical concepts of psychology to our Ghanaian cultural context and worldviews,” the Registrar observed.
Prof. Mrs. Rita Akosua Dickson, the KNUST Vice-Chancellor, in a message delivered on her behalf, acknowledged the good work of the authors and other contributors.
She said the book was also relevant within the University’s setting since mental and emotional health were important for a productive engagement and realisation of the institution’s own mandate.
Ms Akua Afriyie Addae, a co-author, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA), on the sidelines of the programme, said the idea to come out with the book was informed by the foundation works of the Skilled Helper Training Programme instituted by the KCC.
“We hope the book becomes a reference text for students and lecturers in the field of psychology and social work and other mental health workers,” she says.