The Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature held two-day workshops on first aid for children in crisis in Tehran and Isfahan in October 2015. The aim of these workshops, which were held by Zahra Ghaeni, linguistic and psychotherapist, was to primarily increase the total social sensitivity and encourage all citizens to help and support the children and young adults in critical situation so that they would be able to live a normal life or decrease their pain and distress in natural and social disasters.
These two-day workshops were set in five turns: on 16-17 October in Child Foundation office in Tehran, on 20-21 October in Molavi Working Children Center office, on 23-24 October and 27-28 October in Society for Protecting the Rights of the Child Assembly Hall and on 30 October and 1 November in the Association of children and adolescence literature lovers office in Isfahan. Totally more than 100 social workers, teachers, psychologists, tutors of labor & Street Children and those interested in children domain were trained to support and help children and young adults in critical situation.
Each of these two-day workshops consisted of practical and theoretical parts. On the first day of each workshop which was dedicated to theoretical part, a definition of Trauma or Crisis and its difference with hard situation was given. Traumatic situation definition, effective factors in causing trauma and its intensity, brain and nervous system function in a trauma, detachment from trauma memory and emotional memory of trauma in brain, child reactions, trauma reminders or triggers, post traumatic outcomes or permanent tensions and their complications, traumatic complications divided upon age-groups, mental complications of trauma, solutions and methods of encountering a trauma and psychotherapy methods to confront it were the theoretical subjects which were taught on the first day.
On the second day, Ghaeni introduced and discussed some cases of traumatized children with whom she had already worked and clarified the symptoms, reactions, background, diagnosis method and how to face the problem in each case for the trainees. Then the trainees relying on the first day’s learnings discussed the situation of cases of children in crisis which they had experienced themselves in groups. In this workshop besides insisting on referring the children and young adults in crisis to psychotherapists for professional treatment of trauma, they discussed the first aid which can be given to these children by social workers, teachers or any other individual accompanying the child in crisis. In this workshop after introduction and studying of each case in a scheduled timing, the trainees expressed their comments, feelings and opinions in groups, avoiding any advices so that they can obtain a more comprehensive recognition of reasons and methods of helping the children in crisis.
The feedback of all the participants in these workshops was positive. In these workshops trainees learned that how the society, in a wide range from media to schools, can cause crises itself and there can be problems in a child environment such as family, kindergarten, school and etc. which can cause trauma for children in different ways. It was insisted in these workshops that first aid for children in crisis can prevent deeper mental problems for children and hence always prevention is better than cure, the role of parents, social workers, tutors and teachers in giving first aid to children in crisis is extremely important. Since children in crisis also affect their environment this aid would be effective also for all the children in the environment. It was also clarified for the trainees to know their limits and boundaries in confronting the children in crisis to decrease their grief and distress.
Holding these workshops was in the framework of Read with Me workshops for empowering tutors and teachers who work constantly with children in crisis. The Institute for Research on the History of Children’s Literature hopes to empower tutors in confronting the children in crisis and in difficult situations by holding such workshops and also at the same time sharing quality literature with children which has an important role in mental health of children in crisis.
Zahra Ghaeni has studied Linguistics, German Literature and Psychology in the University of Frankfurt. She has also graduated from professional courses of psychology and psychotherapy from University of Giessen and Zurich Professional Psychology Clinic (Switzerland). She also founded the Intercultural Communication Center(Cico) in Frankfurt in 1989 and managed it till 2004. She worked as a professor in Frankfurt, Marburg and Mainz Universities between 1994-2006. After years of working in German hospitals in the field of intercultural communication she wrote the book “Krank in der Fremde” in 1997. At the moment she works in Psychology Center in Offenbach, Germany and helps children and adolescents in crisis and at the same time she works in the field of group analytic psychotherapy and Family Therapy in her personal clinic.
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