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The Ukraine Project

supervisory support for Ukrainian psychologists – volunteers who work with war trauma.

supervisory support for Ukrainian psychologists – volunteers who work with war trauma.

As a global association, IAGP is uniquely positioned to mobilize and work with communities in many countries which are adversely affected by natural disasters, acts of war and other large-scale crises. It is the only world-wide organization of professionals devoted to working with groups. It has a fifty-year track record of helping various communities, and can work with war refugees and earthquake victims effectively.

The Benefits of Group Psychotherapy in dealing with trauma and disaster

World-renowned psychologist, Irvin Yalom is known as a pioneer of group psychotherapy and a prolific writer. His formulation of the healing elements of group work was developed after years of actual sessions and research. These “therapeutic factors,” distilled below, essentially recount the reasons why group therapy is both potent and helpful to individuals, groups, and by extension, to entire communities.
Yalom's therapeutic factors are summarized as follows: altruism, cohesion, universality, interpersonal learning input and output, guidance, catharsis, identification, family re-enactment, self-understanding, instillation of hope, and existential factors.

Judith Herman on Trauma and Recovery

Since 1977, when her book Trauma and Recovery was published, Dr. Herman has become the foremost authority in understanding trauma and working with it. She unequivocally advocated for group therapy as a healing method for trauma, stating that:

“The solidarity of a group provides the strongest protection against terror and despair, and the strongest antidote to traumatic experience.”

Bessel van der Kolk and others

Judith Herman is not the only trauma specialist who advocates for group psychotherapy. Other researchers (Bison et al., 2013; Burlingame, Strauss & Joyce,2012; Schwartze et al., 2019) present evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of group therapy in dealing with trauma. Bessel van der Kolk, the best-known Trauma expert goes even further to recommend group psychodrama as the treatment of choice for those suffering from the long-term effects of trauma. With the loss of the sense of self, there is often an inability to describe verbally what has happened to the traumatized person. They do feel, however, and somatize as well. Thus, psychological and emotional pain finds its expression in the body, usually in maladaptive ways.

Group and peer support promote a shared organizational response to reduce: isolation, shame about personal distress, collective trauma and injuries to one’s professionalism; and promote both reflection and agency.

The Ukrainian Project started March, 2022 and is still ongoing.

The staff:

47 supervisory online groups from 10 meetings once per week to 14 ongoing groups (about 70 meetings each – once per week)

Languages: Ukrainian and English

The supervisors speak English, and the Ukrainian translators translate for the group and back.

Licensed psychologists from many different countries (US, UK, Japan, Italy, Spain, Israel, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, India).

Ukrainian psychologists: about 550 psychologists who got long-term supervision.

Translators: more than 60 translators – volunteers

All have worked on this project as volunteers. As it expands its reach, we seek financial support to partially compensate the workers and translators.

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