Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy (EFCT) is one of very few relationship therapy models with evidence of effectiveness in diverse cultural contexts. However, most of this research has been conducted in North American and European contexts. Only one small pilot implementation of the model has been done on the African continent. In this study, Prof. Elmien Lesch and colleagues explored if and how a group of South African couples related to, and experienced, a relationship psychoeducation program based on the EFCT model. We found that the couples could relate to the EFCT principles, and they reported that the program helped them deepen their relationships. More work, however, needs to be done to investigate the model’s effectiveness and cultural relevance in the various cultural contexts in Africa. To address this gap, the Uganda EFT project team organised and supported the training of 80 Ugandan mental health professionals in EFCT. The training was led by Prof Elmien Lesch and took place in Kampala from 4 – 7 July 2023.

The participants and training team in front of the training venue in Kampala

Many of the participants said in the feedback throughout the training that they found it personally “life changing”. We are now in the process of further investigating these professionals’ experience of the training, their perceptions of the relevance of the model in their working contexts, and needs for further training and support.

Training in process – Participants in small group exercise

The EFT Uganda training and research project is the result of various collaborators which include, amongst others, Ronald Asiimwe from Uganda, a doctoral candidate in the Couple and Family Therapy program, Michigan State University, USA; Prof. Elmien Lesch, associate professor and certified EFT trainer, Psychology Department at Stellenbosch University; Dr. Mark Maxwell, San Diego State University, USA; the Uganda Counselling Association which is the local professional body that oversees professional counseling in Uganda; and Dr Rosco Kasujja, Department of Mental Health and Community Psychology, Makere University, Uganda.

Dr Paul Guillory (2nd from left), Prof Elmien Lesch (3rd from right, Ronald Asiimwe (2nd from right), Dr Mark Maxwell (1st from right)