Page 24 - IU Southeast Summer 2012 Mag

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IU Southeast alumna Katie Kavanaugh (B.S. ‘10) is surrounded by children from the Abra village in Ghana.
the program,” Lekpyee said through an
e-mail from Liberia.
Lekpyee filled out the PTSD survey and
went home. Shortly after, he received
a letter fromWoodward offering
participation in 10 free group therapy
sessions. Eventually, they began
meeting one-on-one to help Lekpyee
work through his trauma.
“It was through her research that I got
to know that all my fears, nightmares,
anxiety, etc., were the result of what I
had experienced during the 15 years of
civil war in Liberia,” he said. “With her
help, I got healed successfully.”
“After my treatment with her, my
negative perceptions about my future
changed to positive, giving me hope
for the future,” he continued. “Since
then, my whole life has been learning
and learning to make the future good
because the past is past and the future
depends on what I will do now.”
When his initial counseling with
Woodward was complete, Lekpyee
participated in an 18-week intensive
training with the Pan African Center
for Peace that helped him learn how
to assist others suffering from trauma.
Woodward’s influence played a big role
in his life, even encouraging him to
study psychology in college in his home
country of Liberia.
“From her work with me, I noticed that
there is a serious need for psychological
research and treatment in Africa,
especially war-affected countries,”
Lekpyee said. “If you take a close look
around Africa, mainly West Africa, there
is a big vacuum in this field of work.”
That vacuum is what Woodward hopes
to fill with her research. It began with
former child soldiers and war refugees,
but it has continued into long-peaceful
countries, such as Ghana, with patients
who experience the same kind of
trauma as anywhere else in the world –
car accidents, deaths of family and close
friends, rape.
Research evidence indicates that in
areas of trauma counseling, African
nations show the greatest need.
“In terms of my work in Liberia, we’ve
only just started,” Woodward said.
“The next step is to train mental health
providers. The goal is to establish a
training program with the University of
Liberia to enable them to have the skills
necessary to deal with mental health.”