Humanitarian Training Interventions
The 21st century is seeing a flourishing of psychosocial interventions in the world. Boaz’s approach, based on bio-psychosocial principles, is a contribution to this existing movement.
The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support guidelines by the World Health Organisation (MHPSS-WHO), the Sphere Project as well as the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) have developed comprehensive guidelines upon which these training interventions are based.
The biological dimension of the training informs participants of psychosomatic influences in diseases and well-being. Other expertise such as psychoanalysis, trauma resolution, psycho-spiritual practices and community development enable a diversity of approaches to best suit the local cultural framework.
- Bio-Psychosocial Support – Training of Trainers – IASC Level I & II
For local and national staff: various backgrounds
- Lay/Professional Counselling – Training of Counsellors – IASC Level III & IV
For local & national staff: strong background and experience in a health profession
- Mindfulness-Based Counselling – Training of Trainers – IASC Level III & IV
For psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses
- Staff Burnout Prevention & Resilience – Training for Professional Helpers
For psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, MD’s, psychiatric nurses
- Gender-Based Violence (prevention and response)
- Child Protection (with holistic considerations, inclusive of parents, caretakers and educators)
- Integrated Bio-Psychosocial Support Focus (for WASH, health care & livelihood programs)
Humanitarian training interventions follow a rigorous methodology which can be summarized by the following principles:
- Focus on Experiential Learning
Trainee participation in all stages of the training process is highly encouraged. The co-creation of training materials and discussions enables participants to feel more confident and secure in sharing personal experiences. In this way, participants can deepen their understanding of the training approach and implement it more effectively.
The development of resilience is done through a bottom-up approach of identifying the resources and positive coping mechanisms of the trainees and building upon these. Last, the formation of groups and subgroups in the training helps build a peer-supported environment. Social coherence and harmony actualized within the training itself are a key foundation for bio-psychosocial health practices.
“The beneficiaries know best what they need for their healing process.”
The trainings promote the development of resilience in trainees by experiencing for themselves the benefits of the practices which they bring to the beneficiaries. The trainees’ experiential processes are given more importance than the accomplishment of specific objectives. In this way, each step of the trainees’ learning process is valued, respecting their difficulties and pace of learning.
Long-term perspectives are considered in various ways. First, the participative and community-based approach encourages participants to bring in their existing resources and import personal meaning to training materials. Secondly, since burnout and compassion fatigue occur often in the helping professions, the training brings as emphasis on self-care of carers: participants learn to regulate their own stress reactions and difficulties. A third measure is to implement the training in phases – training done at regular intervals over extended periods of time, including regular group supervision and individual coaching.
“Addressing the underlying determinants of health through intersectoral efforts is key to ensuring sustained health improvements
and ecologically sustainable development.”
World Health Organisation – Geneva, Switzerland
Before any intervention is implemented, a series of research and analysis of local conditions is conducted. Culturally-specific bio-psychosocial stressors and coping mechanisms are determined, and the training materials are tailored accordingly. Concepts are thus meaningful and appropriate for the trainees. Moreover, often there are existing programs and technical expertise available on site.
As a central component of the training methodology, participants are encouraged to build upon their own knowledge and wisdom, making the impact of the training more long-lasting.
In summary, preliminary assessments for each training are composed of:
- Pre-intervention research of history and nature of problems, local perceptions of distress and illness, coping mechanisms, setting, culture, community resources;
- Pre-intervention analysis of existing expertise and programs;
- Adaptations of training materials tailored to cultural considerations.
The training quality and effectiveness is monitored and supervised with adequate systems to meet programme requirements. To do this, specific quality indicators for each program are tailored. Each project is thoroughly assessed in three possible ways:
- Internal monitoring of the local/national organisation;
- External monitoring via a professional monitoring unit;
- External monitoring via clinical research methods (in collaboration with the University of Yale).
October 2014: Northern Shan & Southern Kachin States, Myanmar (Burma)
After 17 years of increasingly fragile ceasefire between the Kachin and the Myanmar government, the conflict in Kachin State resumed on June 9th 2011 leading to a war declaration. With both parties to the conflict failing to agree to a sustained ceasefire and reach a peaceful settlement, the current scenario, whereby a large number of IDPs are relying on humanitarian assistance.
Due to the protracted encampment situation, there has been an increasing vulnerability for IDPs who can no longer rely on their traditional coping mechanisms. This project aimed at facilitating community self-help and psychosocial support for the IDPs population in Kachin and Northern Shan States. By reducing the risk of further psycho-social distress through the re-establishment of culturally appropriate community activities and support structures, their pathway to healing is reinforced.
- Reduce the risk of further bio-psychosocial distress through the re-establishment of community activities and support structures;
- Strengthen existing support systems to ensure further development and sustainability of bio-psychosocial activities;
- Promotion and implementation of more active and effective coping mechanism for both immediate and long term stressors through community-based resilience building activities.
For more photos of the Myanmar 2014 Bio-Psychosocial Support training, please click here.