State of Mind: Healing Trauma – A film about Albert Pesso’s work in Africa


Directed by Djo Tunda Wa Munga (2010)


In war torn countries people will not be able to be productive and development will fail until they overcome their trauma. Yet, Is it even possible for a country overwhelmed by the legacy of five million deaths to successfully heal and move on?

That is the underlying question in Congolese documentary filmmaker Djo Munga’s powerful film STATE OF MIND, about the use of psychotherapy to talk about loss, forgiving, and finding new memories to overlay the traumatic older ones.

In 2009 Albert Pesso was invited to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, where many people suffer from years of post traumatic stress disorder. Pesso has been asked to train health practitioners in symbolic interaction, a form of relatively short-term, group-session based, psychotherapy. This film about his experiences was funded by the German government’s international aid agency GTZ.

In the training sessions the health care workers themselves, many of whom are also survivors of horrendous violence, work through the therapeutic process with Pesso.

STATE OF MIND: HEALING TRAUMA captures the sessions in a series of fly-on-the-wall scenes, and candid, heartbreaking interviews with the participants put the effort in a larger context. A layered, engrossing and intriguing look at a national collective trauma and one ambitious initiative to try and heal wounds.

“Al Pesso, a Master therapist from the U.S. demonstrates how the language of trauma and recovery transcends language and culture, and that it is possible to install a sense of safety and protection in even the most traumatized individuals. A remarkable achievement.”—Bessel van der Kolk, National Complex Trauma Treatment Network & Boston University School of Medicine.

Albert Pesso, co-founder with his wife, Diane Boyden-Pesso, of PBSP (Pesso Boyden System Psychomotor) and President of the Psychomotor Institute, Inc. was formerly Associate Professor and Director of the Dance Division at Emerson College, Supervisor of Psychomotor Therapy at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts and Consultant in Psychiatric Research at the Boston VA Hospital. He has conducted training programs in PBSP in the US, Brazil, Israel and in many countries in Europe, and is an acknowledged authority on somatic therapy. In 2012 he was chosen to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award by the United States Association for Body Psychotherapy.

The film is available on DVD from Icarus Films in the US

PBAUK has a copy which is available for showing at ebets, group meetings etc. Contact Jon Chapman for further information.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s