Humanitarian Work in DR Congo

Al with the Minister of Gender, GTZ area Director, and members of the Congo resource training group in Kinshasa in 2009

In 2009 Al Pesso, PBSP Co-Founder, was invited by the German humanitarian agency, GTZ, to come to the Democratic Republic of Congo to adapt PBSP therapy techniques to help victims of the ravages of the war there to recover from years of traumatic stress disorder. Al worked closely with government ministers and health care professionals in both Kinshasa and later in Boston to develop the adaptations of PBSP techniques for use in this war torn nation and culture. In 2010, 20 government ministers and healing professionals came to Boston to work with Al to continue developing the new therapy adaptations and develop a training program for helping professionals. In 2010, the noted documentary film maker, Djo Tunda Wa Munga, completed a film, “State of Mind – Healing Traumam” on Al’s humanitarian work in the DR Congo.


“Introduction to humanitarian work in the DR Congo and PBSP theory with clips from a PBSP therapy session.” (2009)

This short video provides a brief introduction to Al Pesso’s humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, reviews some core concepts in the PBSP theory of “Holes In Roles,” and offers a few clips of a PBSP therapy session.



Trailer for “State of Mind – Healing Trauma” a documentary on PBSP’s humanitarian work in the Democratic Republic of Congo (2009)

State of Mind – Healing Trauma,”  Democratic Republic of Congo 2010, 52 min. A SUKA! Production by Djo Tunda Wa Munga.  “In war torn countries people will not be able to be productive and development will fail until they overcome their trauma. Yet, Is it even possible for a country overwhelmed by the legacy of five million deaths to successfully heal and move on?  That is the underlying question in Congolese documentary filmmaker Djo Munga’s powerful film STATE OF MIND, about the use of psychotherapy to talk about loss, forgiving, and finding new memories to overlay the traumatic older ones. Pioneering therapist Albert Pesso is invited to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where many people suffer from years of post traumatic stress disorder. Pesso is there to train health practitioners in symbolic interaction, a form of relatively short-term, group-session based, psychotherapy. In the training sessions the health care workers themselves, many of whom are also survivors of horrendous violence, work through the therapeutic process with Pesso.  STATE OF MIND: HEALING TRAUMA captures the sessions in a series of fly-on-the-wall scenes, and candid, heartbreaking interviews with the participants put the effort in a larger context. A layered, engrossing and intriguing look at a national collective trauma and one ambitious initiative to try and heal wounds.

“Al Pesso, a Master therapist from the U.S. demonstrates how the language of trauma and recovery transcends language and culture, and that it is possible to install a sense of safety and protection in even the most traumatized individuals. A remarkable achievement.” —Bessel van der Kolk, MD, Director, National Complex Trauma Treatment Network

2010 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam / 2010 Dokfest Munich / 2011 Western Psychological Association Conference

To order the DVD click here.


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