Saturday, 25 January 2014

Female genital mutilation and clinicians

Awareness of FGM and its consequences should be increased amongst staff working in all service areas as women who have undergone the procedure are likely to present in a range of services.

  • Training should be specifically focused to the subject of FGM. The training encountered so far appears to have been adjunct to training in other areas, such as child protection. As a result little time is dedicated to the topic. Training should provide a background to FGM, with information about the reasons for the practice and the contexts within which it occurs as well as raising awareness of the range of views that may be present in communities/families. It should highlight the range of ways in which FGM can impact upon a woman‟s life and encourage professionals to take a holistic approach to working with clients. Furthermore, training should help professionals to feel confident in sensitively raising the topic of FGM with clients and explore ways of talking about it.


  • In order to address the training needs described above a formal training package is needed. This should involve service users and circumcised women in its development. The importance of this can be seen in the current research where women have provided invaluable information about how professionals can provide better services for women who have experienced this practice.


  • Professionals working with women who have experienced FGM should be offered support in managing their personal responses to the stories they hear within their clinical work. Awareness amongst those who supervise others is therefore crucial. This further highlights the need for all clinicians to be informed about FGM, not only those who might be working directly with the issue.


  • Clinical psychologists should involve themselves in working with communities within which FGM is commonly practiced. This work should aim to reduce barriers to psychological therapy through increasing knowledge about what services are available, by addressing issues of stigma associated with seeking help from mental health professionals and by ensuring that the language needs of clients are met.


  • Whilst the current research only interviewed English speaking participants training interpreters about FGM would be important as many women who have undergone the procedure would require an interpreter during clinical sessions.


  • Clinical psychologists using interpreters with clients referred for FGM related difficulties should consider the gender of interpreters and their cultural background and consider the impact this might have on the client. They should also brief and debrief interpreters prior to and following sessions and consider that the interpreter themselves might have undergone FGM.

FGM needs tackling on all levels and at the end of the day we all want the same-to end this evil practice.

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