“Nobody was ready to work with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in need of psychological support”


29.04.2015, Kolomyia
Vasyl (name is changed to observe rights of beneficiaries and confidentiality) is one of those who was affected by EuroMaidan events. For some months he lived at Kyiv streets trying to fight tyranny of acting authorities and stood for rights of Ukrainians. During the severest clashes he was wounded by a percussion grenade, afterwards he went through a medical treatment in Kolomyia central regional hospital. For a long time Vasyl suffered from nightmares, again and again he experienced beatings and murders. He couldn’t get rid of tension, haunting replay of that traumatic events in his consciousness.

During almost a year workers of Caritas in Kolomyia have been taking care of Vasyl. At the beginning he thought that he didn’t need to work with a psychologist and he would cope with own emotions and difficulties without any help. But very soon Vasyl understood that during events on Maidan in Kyiv he received not only some bodily injuries, but also a psychological trauma that influenced his behavior, his relatives and other people who surrounded him.

Andrij Babushchak, psychologist in Caritas of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy, says that the key objective in work with such victims is to assist a person in coping with own feelings, desires, visions, attitudes; help to systemize these new pieces of knowledge and understanding; provide beneficiary with positive resources and self-confidence – while using communication as a tool.

Psychological assistance to victims of mass protests, their family members and also witnesses of EuroMaidan events was initiated by Caritas Ukraine almost a year ago. Vasyl is one of 700 persons that are seized by a project of psychological and psycho-therapeutic assistance. Such help includes, first of all, psychological aid, crisis intervention and long-lasting therapy for people who need psychological follow up. Provision of assistance is being arranged in form of face-to-face and group activities that are being implemented by qualified specialists in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Kolomyia and Drohobych.

After work with a psychologist in Caritas of Kolomyia-Chernivtsi Eparchy Vasyl almost completely freed from nightmares and an alarming reaction to loud noises, moreover, he managed to better understand himself. This gave him a chance to see the world from a different perspective, improve relationships with his relatives and better organize own life.

“After the horrible events at EuroMaidan tens of thousands of people who participated in the protests or witnessed these events received trauma, then they had a post-traumatic syndrome. And we are now talking not about tens of thousands of Ukrainians, but about hundreds of thousands of people who live in endless fear, anxiety, despair and emotional exhaustion.

Ukrainian crisis psychology and therapy of trauma are relatively new areas in psychological support and psycho-therapeutic assistance. They are being actively developed these days in our country. Even a year ago not many psychologists were ready to work with victims of events that involved mass murder and violence. That’s why from the beginning of our project we foresaw preparatory activities for trainers on crisis intervention and further dissemination of knowledge for national experts.

Special trainings for crisis psychologists-volunteers from 7 regions of Ukraine were already held; together with Ukrainian Catholic University there is a program of professional development for social workers, students of psychology/social work faculties and specialists of psychological services,” retells Lyudmyla Sukhareva, coordinator of a project of psychological assistance to victims, their family members, witnesses of mass protests in Ukraine.


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