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  • Psychotherapy In Nigeria

    Psychotherapy In Nigeria


    There is no exact word for psychotherapy in many Nigerian languages, numbering over 250.
    But equivalent words exist for expression such as counselling and cognitive behaviour
    therapy. The practice of these arts predated the advent of the Europeans. When modern
    psychology arrived in our shores, we naturally adopted the Euro-American models of
    psychotherapy. All that makes psychotherapy necessary can be found in our country: trauma
    due to child abuse, and neglect, abuse of human dignity, tribal wars, political conflict,
    poverty, migration and stress-provoking lifestyles, among others. The Aro village system
    developed by Lambo is an attestation to the usefulness of some of our native approaches and
    to the efficacy of social support that is inherent in the African traditional system. The
    introduction of a bilingual group psychotherapy at Aro in the early 1990 was a natural
    follow-up to this development. Group therapy is the most popular form of psychotherapy as it
    is practised in most teaching hospitals and psychiatric establishments. Meseron therapy and
    harmony restoration therapy are the two foremost indigenous approaches to psychotherapy
    in Nigeria. Meseron therapy is cognitive-behavioural in orientation while harmony
    restoration therapy is existential-phenomenological. Other therapies commonly taught and
    practised include: Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy;
    Behaviour Therapy; The Psychodynamic Therapies, etc. Modern psychotherapy services are
    available in private clinics/consultations, schools, hospitals and medical centres. The
    services are offered by a wide variety of professionals ranging from clinical psychologists
    and psychiatrist, to social workers, nurses and pastors. At present, focused training in
    psychotherapy is inadequate, in spite of the efforts by the universities and the Nigerian
    Association of Clinical Psychologists. This is an important lacuna that the School of
    Psychotherapy and Health Sciences, Okija, has come to fill.


    Alfred Awaritefe

    Department of Mental Health, School of Medicine,

    College of Medical Sciences,

    University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.