Women who have survived female genital mutilation (FGM) need specialist support to address the psychological and physical legacies that affect their daily lives. Manor Gardens’ Dahlia Project has been instrumental in bringing together expertise from leading pyschotherapists to develop new guidelines, published on 2nd December, to assist all professionals when supporting survivors of FGM.
The authors of Female Genital Trauma: Guidelines for Working Therapeutically with Survivors of Female Genital Mutilation are Cabby Laffy, Roxana Parra Sepúlveda, Christie Coho and Leyla Hussein, with many years’ experience of psychotherapy in this field.
‘This guide will not just ensure psychotherapists are educated on how they support and work with FGM survivors in therapy,’ says Dr Leyla Hussein, one of the authors and founder of the Dahlia Project. ‘It will also safeguard women and children from all forms of harm and help women to reclaim their bodies without judgment or shame.’
As the leading specialist counselling service for Survivors of FGM, The Dahlia Project has played a significant part in bringing these ground-breaking guidelines to fruition. ‘We’ve been able to share our experience of running specialist groups and individual therapy sessions for women who have survived FGM,’ says Rosalind Jerram, Manager of Manor Gardens’ FGM service. ‘We will now be able to use these guidelines when training counsellors to ensure that survivors of FGM receive the specialist support that they need.’
The Dahlia Project has been running an international campaign for several years to raise awareness of FGM, train professionals in identifying risk and tackling FGM, and to work with communities to end the practice. Through our campaign and community-based work we reassure women that more psychotherapists and health professionals now have an understanding of FGM and how it affects women who have undergone the practice.
As the authors state: ‘While finding ourselves working with women who had experienced FGM we discovered a gap in the literature and training, namely a lack of good practice guidance for working therapeutically with survivors of FGM. Through this shared dilemma, we ultimately decided to write the much needed guidelines ourselves, readily agreeing that we would put them online so they would be accessible to other practitioners finding themselves in the same situation … We believe the therapeutic interventions you will find in these guidelines will be best placed coming from a culturally sensitive approach that will lead you to not only think about what you do but how you do it.’