Humanitarian ConcernsPractice

Ukrainian Relief Initiative

Read in Ukrainian: Українська Гуманітарна Ініціатива

In response to the tragic and unjust attacks on Ukraine, the Foundation for Self Leadership is spearheading the Ukrainian Relief Initiative by way of the Healing Corps, a multifaceted endeavor to inspire collective healing through a variety of IFS-based interventions.

Through the Ukrainian Relief Initiative, the Foundation aims to inspire continued hope and sustained resilience, albeit modestly, to those affected by the war on Ukraine.

To do so, the Foundation is working with a trusted advisory team that includes five Ukrainian therapists, three of whom are currently in Ukraine, two Russian-speaking therapists who steadfastly support their Ukrainian colleagues (one of whom also serves as an IFS Assistant Trainer), and two American therapists with connections to Ukraine.

With input from the advisory team, the initiative is to provide trauma-informed, IFS-oriented therapy to Ukrainian psychotherapists and caregivers (psychotherapists in this first launch), who are serving others during this dire time.

The needs of caregivers are so often left unmet while they serve others. This occurs even in ordinary times, and during a national emergency, even more so. And so, as caregivers navigate the ongoing ravages of war and provide treatment for others, the Foundation is offering no-cost trauma-informed, IFS-oriented therapy to caregivers.

A group of highly skilled volunteer therapists has been identified and vetted. Before engaging, they will complete an extensive, well-rounded preparedness program. The intent is for them to explore, with the guidance of knowledgeable and skilled practitioners, compassionate witnessing and how to use IFS in times of war to promote safety, resiliency and Self-energy. Through the program, participants will be introduced to Ukrainian history and culture, learn about emotional triggers relating to the current war conditions, and receive guidance on how to help their service recipients face imminent physical danger and war trauma.

This group of intentional volunteer therapists will then be matched with those Ukrainian caregivers in need. Furthermore, the Foundation has organized skilled translators/interpreters in order to offer these sessions to the caregivers in their primary language. These translators/interpreters will also complete the engagement preparedness program.

The hope is to create safe spaces for caregivers to express themselves, through which therapists can listen and provide meaningful counseling. The intention through this trauma-informed, IFS-oriented therapy is to help sustain these caregivers, personally and professionally, as they navigate such a horrific catastrophe and continue to help others.

This emergency initiative is the first of its kind for the Foundation and sets a precedent for future just-in-time IFS-focused services to address global distress and injustices. Eventually, such a pilot program could be scaled to help communities in crisis, especially first responders, whether in the United States or elsewhere, during natural and man-made crises.

Efforts like these are significant all on their own,

said Toufic Hakim, PhD, Executive Director of the Foundation. He added:

Yet, in the not-so-distant future, applying lessons learned from the current experience can help us assemble and prepare a team of skilled, compassionate IFS-trained therapists and practitioners  for deployment on short notice with relief organizations operating on the ground to provide emotional support.

A bold, critical and honest endeavor, the Ukrainian Relief Initiative will launch its 16-week program within 2022. You can support this effort with a donation to the “IFS Healing Corp for Humanitarian Crises” fund. Make a gift


Alana Saab is an NYC-based literary writer and award-winning screenwriter.

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