During 3 months of full-scale war against Ukraine, more than 900 children and 600 adults have learned to cope with the traumatic psychological consequences of war thanks to the methodology “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques”. Also, more than 600 trainers have been trained and started using these effective techniques, developed by Norwegian and British scientists, while working with internally displaced people and refugees all over Ukraine and abroad. The project is implemented by the “HOPE worldwide Ukraine” Charity Foundation with the support of American and Canadian partners, HOPE worldwide and HOPE worldwide Canada.
The methodology “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” is an effective tool of psychological self-help for people with traumatic consequences of war, natural disasters, and other cataclysms. It works well with both children and adults, as it is a result of the combined years of direct experience of working with child survivors of war and disaster.
The methodology was developed in 1998 by professionals from the Institute of Psychiatry in London, UK, and the Center for Crisis Psychology in Bergen, Norway, and has been used after earthquakes in Iran, India, Chile, and China, the tsunami in South East Asia in 2000, as well as war conflicts in Africa, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Iraq, Syria, and Ukraine. The manual “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” has been translated and adapted by experts from the Ukrainian Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (Lviv, Ukraine). Since 2015, it has been successfully used to teach trainers and to conduct therapy courses in Ukraine within the framework of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project, implemented by “HOPE worldwide Ukraine” Charity Foundation.
“When the whole countries and communities are affected, it is often a priority to provide assistance for large numbers of people as quickly as possible, – says Volodymyr Yermakov, President of the “HOPE worldwide Ukraine” Charity Foundation. – Our aim is to do just that. The manual “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” is designed to teach children and adults a set of practical way skills and techniques which are helpful in coping with the psychological effects of disastrous events. This is not a treatment manual; yet the program is designed to prevent the need of children with war trauma for a professional treatment later. It has been proved that children who have learned and practiced these self-help and relaxation techniques will be less likely to need specialist treatment in the future. Nevertheless, some will still need further help”.
To become a trainer in the methodology “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” one doesn’t need to have a psychological education. Teachers, youth workers, pedagogues, psychologists, counsellors, community leaders, volunteers, and other childcare professionals can take a 3-day training and become program trainers who can conduct therapy session with groups. This innovative methodology promotes the development of special skills in children and adults for reducing the psychological after-effects of trauma through self-help, relaxation and healing techniques in the face of intense war-related stress. In addition, it is designed to reduce anxiety and prevent post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other complications in the future.
“From the beginning of the project in May 2015 and till February 2022, 636 people mostly from the eastern regions of Ukraine have been trained in the “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” program, – says the Project’s chief psychologist Iryna Sukhova. – However, after russia started a full-scale war against Ukraine, many of our trainers have been affected by the war and forced to leave their homes. We had to teach new trainers urgently, as the demand for psychological help increased a lot. Luckily, our partners and donors have supported us in this effort, and in three months (March-May) we were able to train more than 600 new trainers who immediately started working with children and their parents. The effectiveness of the therapy is impressive – children become less anxious, they sleep better, their nightmares, obsessive thoughts and panic attacks lose intensity or disappear, and they more often start to feel safe”.
The team of the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project of the “HOPE worldwide Ukraine” Charity Foundation intends to continue its work as long as there are people who need psychological help. With extensive experience in dealing with war trauma, the Project team is ready to share experience and expertise, in particular, to contribute to the creation of the National Program of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support.
The project continues to work in summer – the plan is to teach new trainers and conduct therapy sessions for children and adults. During July-August, it is planned to conduct rehabilitation “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” programs in the summer camps of partner organizations.
International Charity Project “Helping Hand for Ukraine” exists since 2015. The Project aims to improve the socio-emotional and psychological state and wellbeing of children with war trauma and their families who witnessed and suffered from the war against Ukraine. The Project trains the trainers to work with the “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques” methodology; provides psychological assistance to children and their parents with war trauma, teaching them skills of psychological self-regulation and self-assistance and techniques of relaxation; fosters cooperation with state social services in order to ensure immediate attention from professionals to cases of mild and severe mental problems as well as constant aftercare and social support.