This essay brings together complementary insights from transpersonal psychology, experiential learning, and neuroscience to develop an integrated framework of psychosocial healing in societies affected by conflict and trauma. While transpersonal psychology examines the spiritual and transcendental aspects of psychosocial wellbeing, research on experiential learning examines how people learn from direct experience. Recognizing that both are useful for psychosocial healing, the first part of the essay explores how the two sets of activities can complement each other. Of particular interest is the role of transpersonal exercises such as yoga and meditation, as well as the purposeful use of experiential learning techniques such as storytelling, rituals, and metaphors. To examine the scientific foundations of these activities for psychosocial healing, findings from neuroscientific studies supported by the latest technology of neuroimaging will be discussed. The final section of the essay introduces a brief case study of the Ubuntu Center for Peace, a Rwanda-based nongovernmental organization dedicated to community-based psychosocial support. The case study illustrates how the proposed integrative framework can be used to tackle a real-world context of conflict and trauma. It includes preliminary findings from a program evaluation of the community-based social healing initiative that the Ubuntu Center carried out in Rwanda.

Author Bio(s)

Tatsushi Arai, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Kent State University in Ohio, USA.

Jean Bosco Niyonzima, M.D., M.A., is a Global Clinical Governance Advisor of Save the Children International in London and the Executive Director of the Ubuntu Center for Peace, a US-registered nonprofit for social healing in Rwanda and Africa.


reconciliation; trauma; healing; experiential learning; neuroscience; transpersonal psychology; Rwanda; Africa

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