International Conference on "Psychological techniques for helping children - for use by psychosocial workers and parents in Europe"

The international conference in Prague focusing on psychological help for children was held on the occasion of the two years of the full-scale war in Ukraine. The main objective of the conference was to map professional opportunities and share best practices to support the mental health of children, their families and other vulnerable groups of people who have been forced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine to resettle in Czechia and other European countries.

The conference was held with the support of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the psychological department of the Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic and under the auspices of the Government Commissioner for Human Rights, Klára Šimáčková Laurenčíková.

Programme organizer was Mgr. Pihur Natalia, psychologist of People in Need, art therapist, coordinator of Hibuki therapy in Czechia. Her role as the main initiator, who gathered all the speakers and participants, was instrumental in the conference's success.

A significant contribution also belongs to the public organization Dům Dobra in Prague, which facilitated the event.

"I was impressed by the method presented by Israeli colleagues - HIBUKI THERAPY, which is used in work with children who had traumatic experiences. Hibuki, which means "my hug" in Hebrew, is a plush dog that was created in Israel in 2006 during the Second Lebanon War,“ says Olga Sydoruk IOM psychologist.

The idea is to transfer the child’s emotions to the toy and give the child a certain degree of control. A psychologist enters the therapy with the child and uses a specially developed technique based on play.

"I am glad that new approaches are available now to help Ukrainian children cope with their trauma. More than, an Israeli team under the supervision of Daphne Sharon-Maksimov - author of the Hibuki therapy method, and head of the HIBUKI THERAPY project, personally had the opportunity to transfer their skills to other professionals during our European conference,“ Sydoruk adds.

Olga Sydoruk - IOM psychologist

The two-day event was participated by around 100 participants, most of them professionals in mental health. This is the first conference of this magnitude in Czechia, which brought together specialists from Ukraine, Israel, Poland, Belgium and Slovakia.

The side of main speakers were Štěpán Vymětal – psychologist, expert in the psychology of crises, disasters and trauma, Department of Security Policy, Ministry of the Interior of the Czech Republic; Olga Sydoruk – IOM psychologist, expert in support of war veteran families; Zuzana Ramajyliva - Head of refugee support programs in Czechia, social and educational programs of People in Need; Yuriy Danylyuk - head of the Ukrainian NGO National Genofund, volunteer, war veteran, ambassador of the mental health program "Children of Ukraine" and other representatives of NUDZ, Sofa, United Goals Association (FR), Nazarevič ART, UkrHelp Foundation (USA), Hibukiterapia (IL), SOFA, Strong (ČR), GoGlobal, META (ČR), AMIGA.

SDG 3 - Good Health and Well Being