The full-scale war by Russia against Ukraine has had an extremely negative impact on the psyche of Ukrainians. The international psychological community is actively working to assist military personnel, war veterans, the families of fallen heroes, in their psychological adaptation to life beyond the front lines.
Psychologists from the Community Center for Psychological Support, founded by the international charity organization ChiRaj, have been actively engaged in the psychological rehabilitation of Ukrainians affected by the war since June 2022. In addition to individual and group consultations, they have been conducting active psychological rehabilitation work using art therapy methods. International psychological rehabilitation projects are also being implemented in collaboration with psychologists from leading educational institutions in the United States, namely Columbia University Teachers College and The Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana.
One of these projects is the "Colours of Life" project, during which psychologists from the Community Center for Psychological Support conducted art therapy sessions and psychological consultations for veterans, military personnel, and their relatives over a period of 2 months. As part of the art therapy process, patients created artworks that were presented on August 23 at an international symposium on the psychological rehabilitation of military personnel and their families, held in Kyiv at the Veteran Hub.
The Community Center for Psychological Support, led by Alexander Zharkov, organized this project with financial support from the international humanitarian organization ChiRaj and Heal-Corp, led by Dr. Rajeev Fernando, a Disaster Medicine and Infectious Diseases physician. The event was also attended by the Kyiv City Center for Social, Professional and Labor Rehabilitation of the Disabled, Columbia University Teachers College, and The Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana.
"The idea of conducting art therapy for military personnel and their families is not new. Such projects exist in various regions of the country and have been implemented multiple times in Kyiv. However, the need for such initiatives remains relevant. We are in talks with our international partners to organize exhibitions and auctions of our clients' works for charitable purposes," says Dr. Rajeev Fernando, founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support.
"During the period of full-scale war, the number of projects involving psychological rehabilitation using art therapy methods has significantly increased. However, they still do not fully satisfy the existing demand for such assistance. We are observing positive results from our work - changes in the psychological state of our clients that occur after just a few sessions. They begin to smile, joke, and open up in new ways, their condition stabilizes," says Oleksandr Zharkov, head of the group of psychologists and co-founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support.
Dr. Rajeev Fernando with the Ukrainian Team: psychologist Oleksandr Zharkov, psychologist Iryna Zhevelieva, and art therapist Dmytro Tytula. Photo by Aristova Anna.
The international humanitarian organization "Chiraj," led by Dr. Rajeev Fernando, provided funds for the purchase of materials such as canvases, paints, and brushes. Significant support was also provided by the international charity organization HealCorp, which offers international civilian support.
"Art therapy is an essential part of comprehensive psychological rehabilitation and effective adaptation of veterans to civilian life beyond the combat zone. Art heals the psychoemotional state," adds psychologist Dmytro Tytula from the Community Center for Psychological Support.
Many American and international specialists also participated in the charity event on August 24. This included psychology professors and graduate students, neurological and clinical psychologists, as well as representatives from the UN and World Council for Psychotherapy. During the symposium, Dr. Judy Kuriansky (Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University Teachers College; United Nations representative of the International Association of Applied Psychology and World Council for Psychotherapy), Dr. Darlyne Nemeth (Ph.D. Clinical, Medical & Neuropsychologist, Founder of The Neuropsychology Center of Louisiana, and Secretary-General of the World Council for Psychotherapy); Carl Tauberman, Co-Manager, Resilience Center for Veterans and Families, Colombia University Teachers College; Oleksandr Zharkov, (Master of Psychology, Practical Psychologist, Psychotherapist, Сhief and Co-founder of the Community Center for Psychological Support), Dmytro Tytula, and Iryna Zhevelieva (Psychologists of the Community Center for Psychological Support) shared training techniques that will aid in the rehabilitation of the victims.
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