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The FOURTH UUP AND EAP Joint Symposium

This is an article prepared for The Guardian Newspaper, March 2024 (“Standing Beside Ukrainians in Their Dark Hour”)

 

Amidst the chaos and fog of war, the Ukrainian and European Psychotherapy Alliance - a group of a dozen senior Psychotherapists from Ukraine and the European Association for Psychotherapy - are resourcing Ukrainian Psychotherapists through presenting a series of online Symposia.



The first one, focusing on Ethics, was held on the first anniversary of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2023. It was Carl Jung who said that for Psychotherapists it is our first task to understand the psychological situation of our time, and to see clearly the problems and challenges which people are facing. The psychological situation and major events of our time, including the war in Ukraine, is of social devastation, displacement and a refugee crisis. The existential challenges manifested by these social realities present us with dilemmas challenging our established basic principles and ethical norms. Ethics are particularly important for Ukrainian Psychotherapists in helping individuals to live in their new and rapidly changing conditions.


The theme for the Fourth Symposium, marking the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion, was “The Tragedy of Childhood in the Time of War.” Our focus on the children of Ukraine – both children soon to be born, and children in their infancy and adolescence – united everyone involved. It united us in compassion for them; in anger and outrage at the horrors they are facing which we wish with all our hearts would stop; in anguish for the children separated from their families and their Fathers and their homeland; in tears for those children who have lost their lives in the war; and in despair for children who have suffered psychological, emotional and physical injury as a result of the war.


And also we were united in joy for the miracles that have happened to children. Like Roman, a young boy badly burned by a Russian missile. His Mother died in the blast and he suffered 80% burns, but miraculously he is recovering. Before the war he loved ballroom dancing, and now he has begun to dance again, he dances beautifully, and he has returned to school. He has not given up, just as the entire Ukrainian people have not given up. Their spirit is incredibly strong.


The Symposia unite us and connect us. This is so important during the war where there is disconnectedness, isolation, fear and uncertainty. Through the Symposia and through our speakers we are creating a body of wisdom, inspiration, and primary research. Everything is available in English and Ukrainian on our website (https://uasymposium.online). We organise discussion groups to give the opportunity for dialogue between Ukrainian and European Psychotherapists, to share experience and emotions, to support and have empathy for each other, and to help each other. Hope is such a precious thing especially in the current trauma of the Ukraine War. From the feedback we get it seems that the Symposia give the participants renewed hope. The light of hope can so easily go out, and yet we can help each other by re-kindling the light.


We are supporting Ukrainians to be strong in the face of aggression. They find that the aggression they are facing evokes hate, but ways can be found not to give in to hate. Hate can become internally negative and destructive, and it is better to use the same energy to stay on the high ground, and hold dignity and integrity. Ukrainians are teaching us and modelling this for us at the moment.


We have been surprised how successful the Symposia are: each one has attracted more than one thousand Ukrainian and European Psychotherapists to register, and the second Symposium attracted the patronage of President Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic. It seems that we are reaching a wide audience, and this is very powerful.


No-one knows how long the war will go on for, but the Alliance are committed in their work together to continue to support Ukrainian Psychotherapists in their traumatic work for as long as the war lasts. We are standing beside them in their dark hour.


“It is so valuable to belong to a vast group of Psychotherapists across Europe through these Symposiums. It empowers me in my work, in my life and in my being. It means so much to me.” Ukrainian Psychotherapist

 

This was a free event open to Psychotherapists. This Symposium was built on the World Council for Psychotherapy Statement regarding the invasion of Ukraine, which was adopted by EAP.


All participants of the Symposium unequivocally supported the statement of the World Council of Psychotherapy.


Pavel Fischer, Senator and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense and Security has decided to give official patronage of the Fourth Symposium. Senator Fischer visited Ukraine many times during the war, and stands firmly behind its support. He is honored to be the patron of the Symposium.


The Fourth Symposium reached more than 600 participants from 31 countries.

 
 
 
Video recordings of the FOURTH Symposium








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