Translation by Ms. Haruka Osada (Simon Fraser University)
“Mwaramutse” (Good morning). I said to the pair of “teachers” of reconciliation. The “teachers” said back “Mwaramutse ho” (G’morning), and welcomed me at the public square. We greeted in a traditional Rwandan way: holding each other’s upper arms, touched right and then left cheeks. Since I have been living in Canada for 14 years, where we have a culture of “hugging”, the Rwandan greeting did not appear strange to me. My body reacted naturally. I wanted to show my appreciation, and in my heart, I was saying “thank you” to them many times.
“The new action and collaborative work based psychosocial reconciliation approach integrating Morita Therapy”. This long and mouthful title is rather an “armchair” name that is trying to explain the theory “academically”. However, it is not an “armchair theory”. This approach is becoming real. The two people in front of me, Ms. L (the survivor) and Mr. S (the perpetrator) who murdered Ms. L’s mother and four siblings with a hatchet, will experience this new reconciliation method as the “research participants”.
The first day of the trial of the reconciliation method with Wisdom of the East, Morita Therapy, finally came around. I tried to simplified the reconciliation process as much as possible. All academic theories and ideas are established based on the people’s own life and everyday experience, so I promised myself not to ask or tell them to do something intentionally. I told the participants what I have learned from my past researches, the essence of Morita Therapy and the rules for this approach in simple words.
“I have only one thing to ask you. For two hours, I want you two to work on a task that Ms. L prepared, together. After the work, please spend your time as you want”.
“Yego, yego” (yes, yes). They understood my simple instruction right away.
Ms. L started walking, leading Mr. S (the perpetrator) behind her. I started the video recorder and followed them, leaving my assistant, translator and security guard. Ms. L and Mr. S lined up beside each other and walked toward somewhere. As they started walking, they started talking; it sounded like a casual conversation. Mr. S said something back to her. Ms. L’s high-pitched laugh echoed over the village. Mr. S probably told her a joke.
The survivor and the perpetrator together, work for the survivor in atonement as a part of the reconciliation method. The perpetrator shows his sense of guilt in actions, instead of words. The survivor accepts it and makes a choice – to start the collaborative work.
What will the experience create? I wanted to know from bottom of my heart.
I found out the answer within the first 2 minutes; it is their casual and friendly conversations, jokes, and laughs.
I was startled. I was educated and trained as a clinical psychologist. Usually, I hear what the practice resulted from my clients, in a form of “words” – no, they teach me in the simple verbal form. They “acknowledged” what has been changed in them, filtered with “emotions” and then converted into a verbal description for me.
What is happening in front me, is the real and raw “actions” without any filter. My heart felt warm when I witnessed the real and raw “phenomenon”. I was deeply touched. It was the moment when I finally reached what I had believed in, and what I was seeking the answer for. I was tearing up.
I kept videotaping them quietly for two hours. Their conversation never stopped during the activity.
After the collaborative work, I finally started interviewing them.
A Clinical Psychologist and also a Researcher
My research can be divided into two parts: the clinical practice that delivers the new reconciliation method with collaborative work, and the data collection of any psychological change through a series of interviews. In the latter part, my role changes from a clinical psychologist to a researcher – I have to, otherwise there will be some difficulty. For example, if I observe the participants while I collect data as a researcher, I “observe” only what I want to see. If I want to “observe” what they feel, I have to interrupt them during their collaborative work and ask them, since their feeling changes during the activity.
By interrupting their activity, I also interrupt their natural change in emotion. This has to be avoided. This means that it is impossible to “observe” the moment when there is some kind of change in their hearts. Much less, if I was going after only things what I want to hear, I would never reach a new discovery, an unexpected discovery or a joy from witnessing them. As a clinical psychologist and a human, I watched their activity quietly.
I remembered the first period of Morita Therapy, the “Absolute Bedrest” when the Morita Therapist “watches” the patient quietly, without any “interference” or “egoism of the therapist”. I told myself, with a video camera in my hand, the importance of “watching” the natural healing process.
On the other hand, you cannot be just a “guest” when you interview. You have to be a researcher who can collect the data of “change” logically and actively.
Since I have been interviewing my clients with an intention of “healing” for a long time, it was difficult at first not to give any of my comment and facilitate the interview with the “teachers”. However, I was afraid that my comment may affect their value or thoughts (in clinical therapy, this would be a good thing). For example, say the “teachers” agreed what I said, such as “that is great” or “I think it’s natural to feel that way”. Those comment can easily direct their thoughts, whether they have thought of it before or not.
Things became easy when I realized that I can give “neutral”, “ambiguous” comments. It may not be appropriate to say ambiguous, but it was the best word to describe at the site of research. At the same time, I strongly felt the power of comments and its clinical impact when it is used for therapy.
I learned again that words can be very influential, whether it is “ambiguous” or with an intention of “healing” someone.
The interview finally started.