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Teaching communities to cure each other's mental traumas

What we do

We teach communities, that have little or no access to mental health services, how to do peer counselling so they can reduce or eliminate traumatic memories and panic attacks, as well as anxiety and depression. We particularly are interested in addressing the trauma of Gender-Based-Violence, and the mental health problems associated with it. This is triage: millions of people in the developing countries desparately need help and no one has been providing it, so we are teaching people to help each other.


Aarushi lives in a small town in India. She was traumatised by her husband, who thankfully has now left her. Her friend Halima had years of abusive criticism from her mother-in-law, and now has depression. Her friend Megha gets panic attacks. Their friend Pooja has been raped several times during her short lifetime. They get together for two weekends to take an online course, run by our experts.

Within two months, these women have all made life-changing improvements in their mental health.

Here we explain how this works.

Our approach

Our experts have spent many years delivering effective therapy to those in need, but now they have come to realise that there is no reason clients cannot deliver these services to each other. It really isn't rocket science!

This approach solves the problem of cost and the insurmountable problem that there will never be enough formally trained clinical psychologists to deal with even a fraction of the world's mental health problems.

Not all conditions are amenable to this approach, but mental trauma, depression, anxiety and panic attacks are very amenable to peer counselling.

We train our students to carry out full assessments before and after giving sessions to their friends and colleagues, so everyone has an objective view of the improvements that have been made.

Where these techniques come from

Around the beginning of the 20th century, Sigmund Freud changed the course of psychology by suggesting that our unconscious is responsible for the condition of our mental health. Then after World War 1, huge numbers of soldiers came back with a debilitating and chronic set of mental conditions which were called 'Shell Shock' or 'Battle Fatigue'. We now call this PTSD - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

During the Vietnam War, a huge number of American soldiers were coming back to civilian life in no fit shape to function in it, and committing suicide in frightening numbers. In the early 80s, a group of psychologists and psychiatrists in California (and England) put together a technique for alleviating PTSD called TIR - Traumatic Incident Reduction. It worked in nearly all cases, which is something you can't say about most therapeutic techniques.

These techniques have since been used all over the world, for war victims, terrorist attack victims (including 9/11 and the London police), firemen, paramedics, rape victims, bereavements, accidents and a whole gamut of other traumatic incidents.

Recently, a California NGO called Ardicare Foundation adapted these techniques so that community groups in developing countries and other places with no effective mental health services can be trained to give each other sessions to alleviate PTSD and panic attacks, with consequent reduction in depression, anxiety and phobias.

ReadingWise International uses these techniques to train communities in Asia and Africa. Our founders have a long track record of working in the field of women's empowerment and GBV (Gender Based Violence).

We call these techniques Co-Care

What Co-Care does and how it works

Our main technique is a rapid life-coaching method of educating people to reduce traumatic stress from emotionally and/or physically painful events in the past. It involves re-experiencing past traumas in a completely safe environment, free of distractions, judgments, or interpretations.

The technique is deceptively simple. The teller (client) locates a traumatic incident in their mind, and they address the incident like a video in their head. They watch the video, and then tell the Listener (therapist) what happened. After repeating this multiple times, the emotional charge dissipates, as the teller recovers memories that were previously hidden. Sometimes there will be an earlier incident that was similar and also needs attention in order to achieve full resolution.

Typically addressing the main traumatic incidents in someone's life will take less than 20 hours of session time, and usually far less.

Other techniques

We also have lighter techniques that help people who are not yet ready to confront repressed memories. We also have techniques to address situations rather than incidents, such as the state of a current relationship.

What happens during a session?

Co-Care sessions are one-to-one. The client is called a teller and the practitioner is called a Listener. Sessions do not have a fixed time; they last until the Listener has finished the topics he/she intended to address that day, and only if the teller is also happy that those topics are complete.

Here are some examples of what we might discuss:

Whilst the listener advises the teller what to do, they will never tell the Teller what to think or interpret information for them, and this is key to the techniques that we use. The Listener will always allow the teller to achieve their own insights, and provide them with the tools to do so.