Side event on “Psycho-social support

meeting room in geneve with the Ban Advocates

Experiences drawn from working with the Ban Advocates” 28th June 2011, Geneva

On 28th June, Handicap International (HI) organized a side event on “Psycho-social support: experiences drawn from working with the Ban Advocates”. The side event was a success. It was attended by around 50 participants from both civil society organizations as well as delegates.

Based on HI experience of providing Ban Advocates with psycho-social support, the three objectives of this event were: a) to provide an overview of psychological stress factors experienced by cluster munition victims; b) share lessons learned to develop psycho-social support projects with cluster munition victims; and c) raise awareness on the crucial need to respect the Victim Assistance provisions, especially on psycho-social support.

The speakers were: Firoz Alizada as the ICBL Campaign Manager; Norbert Häberlin as the psycho-social worker who worked with HI to provide to the Ban Advocates several training on basics of psycho-traumatology as well as individual counseling sessions; as well as Ban Advocates such as Sladjan and Dusica from Serbia, Thoummy from Lao PDR and Lynn from the United States. Their presentations were followed by an interesting exchange of comments and questions from the audience.

Please find below some lessons learned and recommendations presented during this side event for developing further psycho-social projects:

1. Create a platform for discussion amongst victims to share their common feelings and experiences after the accident as well as the communities’ perception towards them

2. These sessions should be ideally lead by a professional trained in psycho-traumatology, in order to find ways to improve the daily lives of victims

3. These sessions can result in an increase in both consciousness and self-esteem of the victims, in turn bringing positive impact in their behavior and perception of themselves and their future

4. Following the sessions on psycho-traumatology, the victims could explore ways of creating further structures for long term support tailored to their needs:

  • peer to peer and peer group support (the supporter should be selected and trained by a professional)
  • individual counselling sessions
  • couple or family counselling sessions