FAITH-BASED COUNSELLING TO STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS IN UGANDA
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Becoming One, a faith-based counselling intervention, is designed to strengthen relationships and reduce levels of intimate partner violence among couples in Uganda. The programme leverages the influence and role of faith leaders to support couples and promote more equitable, violence-free relationships. Faith leaders engage couples in skill-building to develop healthy communication, shared control over finances, and sexual consent and pleasure within their relationships.
Faith leaders in Uganda facilitated the 12-session participatory training curriculum for couples, using 90-minute weekly meetings at a church or a couple’s home. The sessions integrated biblical teachings and verses, including reinterpretations of biblical passages commonly used to justify women’s subservience to men. A WhatsApp group connected facilitators with one another, and other support included videos on the content and facilitation tips for each session.
A randomised controlled trial showed that Becoming One led to a reduction in both women’s experience and men’s perpetration of violence, among other positive outcomes.
Becoming One was implemented by World Vision with support from the International Rescue Committee’s Airbel Impact Lab. If you want to adapt the programme, we strongly recommend that you contact them first.
- As respected community leaders, faith leaders can have an impact in reducing intimate partner violence and relationship conflict.
- Conversely, faith leaders with regressive attitudes can reinforce perspectives that perpetuate harmful gender norms and undermine women’s role in society.
- Using religious texts, resources, and services can be a powerful motivator for participants and an effective way to increase positive behaviours; however, the skill and gender attitudes of the leaders facilitating the session are critical.
- Focusing on men and women as couples was key to the intervention’s success: for example, in addressing sources of conflict and communication.
- Interventions can benefit from using human-centred design to prototype and pre-test each curriculum element before it is finalised; this helps ensure that concepts are understood and that exercises elicit the intended response.
“YESTERDAY, WHEN I LEARNT THAT MY ACTIONS MAKE ME LOSE RESPECT AND I AM SOMEONE WHO LOVES TO BE RESPECTED, THIS WAS A CHECK FOR ME. I DECIDED THAT I WILL NOT ACT IN ANGER ANYMORE.”