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Boosting Trauma Resiliency for Syrian Refugees

May 5, 2015

This past January, as the refugee crisis in Syria continued, UUSC partnered once again with the Trauma Resource Institute (TRI) to conduct a weeklong train-the-trainers workshop in body-based skills to promote healing from trauma. In Istanbul, Turkey, UUSC and TRI successfully trained 25 providers who will put these skills to use in their work with Syrian refugees.

Participants, who included psychologists and staff from nongovernmental organizations in southeast Turkey as well as individuals from Kurdish communities, reported in their evaluations that 100% felt that they were likely or very likely to use the Community Resiliency Model skills they learned again in the future. “We can directly train the Syrians and our colleagues from the field and share what we have learned here,” wrote one participant. At the same time, 67% of participants felt that their helping skills were very improved (in addition to 33% who felt they were somewhat improved). Several participants expressed a desire to teach the skills to Syrian children that they are working with.

Elaine Miller-Karas, executive director and cofounder of TRI, observed firsthand how the training in Turkey was different from other past trainings, many of which have taken place after natural disasters. “This training was dynamic as the political undercurrents were very evident and there was some strain and burnout being experienced by some of the participants,” Miller-Karas reported. She also added, “We learned that creating community within a training group like this — where we’re addressing human-created trauma vs. natural disaster — is even more important early on.” TRI and UUSC will apply that knowledge in designing future trainings.

This training in Turkey builds on a growing collection of successful UUSC-TRI trainings in Haiti, Kenya, and the Philippines over the past five years. TRI is currently working with UUSC to explore the possibility of follow-up trainings in Turkey to support proficiency and further skills development as the Syrian refugee crisis continues.

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