Pre election Anxiety Trauma Conference 21072017 093
The Deputy Vice Chancellor - Academic Affairs Ambassador Prof. Ruthie Rono (front row, second left) poses for a photo with the speakers and guests of the Pre-Election Anxiety and Trauma Conference held on Saturday, July 15 in the auditorium.

Photo: Office of Alumni Affairs

USIU-Africa Psychology alumni organized a Pre-Election Anxiety and Trauma Conference on Saturday, July 15 at the auditorium. The conference which was attended by about 150 alumni and other psychology professionals aimed at managing anxiety and trauma ahead of the forthcoming Kenyan General Elections scheduled for August 8.

A panel of experts comprising of Dr. Joseph Nasongo (Commissioner, National Cohesion and Integration Commission), Major (Rtd.)Wairimu Mukuria (for Kenya Defense Forces military psychologist), Sandra Twinomugisha (Founder, Kaitesi Psychology Services), Arthur Muriuki (Director of Clinical Services, Brain Initiative) and Dr. Oscar Githua (Assistant Professor of Psychology, School of Humanities & Social Sciences) came together to talk about complex trauma and historical injustices, surviving and coping after trauma, impact of armed violence, perpetrators and disciplined forces as well as the history and trajectory of psychological responses to traumatic events in Kenya.

In his keynote address titled “How politically-themed statements can lead to anxiety in individuals”, Dr. Nasongo admitted that tension was high in the country  a fact he attributed to hate speech and provocative statements being posted across social media platforms.

He confirmed the government’s preparedness to counter any tension that arises and urged the general public to be responsible especially with what they post on social media. “We have devised a mechanism that tracks perpetrators of this offense,” he said.

Dr. Nasongo also applauded the university’s efforts to offer counseling services during previous crises.

Dr. Githua was keen to highlight the Psychology programs commitment to providing counseling to trauma survivors and their families. He gave an example of the Westgate Mall attack where USIU-Africa psychology professionals and students offered counseling services to victims of the attack.

In his parting shot, Dr. Githua encouraged young psychologists to be focused and empathetic even as they involve themselves in offering counseling services to calm down pre-election tensions that are already on the rise. He also emphasized the need for them to further their studies and form professional psychology groupings.

Major (Rtd.) Wairimu Mukuria spoke about the trauma that soldiers go through while handling casualties during terror attacks reiterating that it was important for psychologists to offer counseling services to such groups. She said that it was easy for people to judge soldiers during crisis but the public should also realize that they too get traumatized.

On her part, Ms. Twinomugisha asserted that there is need to constitute an entity that deals with pre-and post-crises trauma., while Mr. Muriuki shed light on how the brain functions when dealing with complex trauma and historical injustices.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza, applauded the organizers of the conference for such an informative forum and urged alumni to continue supporting and participating in their alma mater’s activities.

The alumni of USIU-Africa’s various psychology programs are awaiting approval from the Alumni Association’s Executive Committee to form a Chapter. Moving forward, they plan to hold additional conferences to address national issues, offer mentoring services to current students and engage in psychological research activities.