On May 3-5, 2023, the “Helping Hand for Ukraine” project trainers took part in a specialized online workshop “Children and Grief: Teaching Life Skills”. The workshop was held as part of professional development program for trainers in cooperation with the “Children and War” foundation with the support of Canadian partners. It was conducted by the international trainers David Trickey and Melinda Edwards.

This workshop is focused on teaching trainers working with children and adults who have survived traumatic experiences related to the war against Ukraine to help them cope with the grief of losing loved ones. Many children and adults are currently experiencing the loss of their loved ones due to the war against Ukraine, many of them have witnessed death. The workshop, along with a specially designed manual, offers skills to help cope with traumatic reactions after the loss of loved ones.

Loss trauma usually includes intrusive thoughts and feelings such as bad memories, nightmares, and flashbacks related to the death. They often interfere with the normal grieving process and are so painful that children try to avoid them. With the help of the “Children and Grief: Teaching Life Skills” manual and training, children and adults can gain skills to control these memories and learn to relax the tense body and release the sadness they feel in their body. In addition, they learn coping skills that can help them to cope with the loss over time. It is especially effective to conduct therapy sessions in small groups in the atmosphere of trust and empathy. This allows children to see that their reactions to grief are common, and group techniques provide mutual support.

Feedback from trainers-participants:

In general, the new program is a breakthrough in design (as it is constructed), modern terms and design. It is important that work on the identification of emotions and their regulation appeared. In my opinion, it is a very important tool for Ukrainians at this time. It was also nice to see and get to know my colleagues better, hearing their experience is also very valuable.

I am very grateful for the invitation and opportunity to participate in such thorough workshop. Indeed, the program resonates with the program “Children and War. Teaching Recovery Techniques”, which we are working on in the project. However, it is different. I hope my personal experience will be useful in mastering the new program. Interactive exercises were great. It is very valuable that we are not only being taught, but the trainers also were learning from us. I am waiting for the opportunity to use my new knowledge in practice.

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