Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Lord's Resistance Army, Acholi (African people), Children and war-Psychological aspects, Kidnapping victims-Counseling of, Cross-cultural counseling, Cultural psychiatry, Acholi culture, Children in conflict, Colonization, Culturally sensitive reintegration


The focus of this study was to explore the historical underpinnings of culturally specific "healing" strategies associated with returning formerly abducted children in northern Uganda, post captivity in the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group. Although studies exist that examined both individualistic and collective approaches to aid in the reintegration process for youth who escape the war, there is minimal literature focusing on the cultural implications of Western therapeutic interventions for former child combatants in northern Uganda. Are Western mental health practitioners culturally aware of the distinctions between the Western world and that of Acholi youth? Are traditional Acholi values maintained in the reintegration process of formerly abducted youth? The study uses cross-cultural psychological and anthropological research to examine whether Western-based "combat-related trauma theory" can align with the traditional collective values and healing practices of the Acholi people in northern Uganda. Although researched from a theoretical lens, cultural leaders, clan elders, religious leaders, witchdoctors, formerly abducted youth, and local social workers all contributed valuable information to the study. The two main reception centers in northern Uganda – World Vision and GUSCO – were used as major case studies in this research. The findings suggest that Western influences such as Christianity and "talk therapy" are given precedence over "traditional" ways in which the Acholi culture has collectively "healed" from war. Researchers and clinicians were encouraged to explore the complexities of international social work in non-Western societies.




iii, 117 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 105-117)