Since the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence from Ukraine last March, thousands of people have been killed in the ensuing conflict and close to a million have been displaced or have fled to neighboring countries.
Psychologists in Ukraine find themselves practicing and teaching in the midst of armed conflict accompanied by mass traumatization of civilians, where some mental health facilities have been completely destroyed, and no one has money to pay for their services.
To help mental health professionals rebuild the psychological health and stability of their communities, Elena Cherepanov, PhD, an expert in global mental health and community trauma, has conducted psychological first aid training via Skype for mental health professionals and students in Ukraine.
It’s no secret that psychotherapy has had an image problem in the media. Real and fictional clinicians on TV and in the movies are regularly portrayed as jargon-spouting caricatures, or are often shown to break ethical codes without blinking, displaying more personal problems than their clients. But a bigger part of the problem may be that, on the whole, therapists haven’t done a particularly good job explaining what we do or how it works. So when The New York Times Magazine asked trauma expert Bessel van der Kolk if it could have a journalist follow him around for a month to observe his work, it seemed like a golden opportunity to present the latest advances in trauma treatment in one of mainstream journalism’s most highly respected forums.
We know about them from “Dateline” stories on kidnappings and from gory shows such as “Game of Thrones.” But trigger warnings — the messages that alert viewers of disturbing material such as rape or violence — may now have a place in the classroom.
The University of California, Santa Barbara, student government has issued a guideline asking faculty to include warnings in syllabi. The goal is to allow students who may have experienced traumas to miss classes that have emotionally upsetting material without affecting their grades. Other students, including those at Rutgers University and Oberlin College have raised similar concerns over content.
But trigger warnings are controversial. As soon as Santa Barbara students issued their guideline, free speech groups and the media criticized them as a generation that needed to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. They also raised the question of where to draw the line. Would a professor teaching “The Great Gatsby” now need to warn students about violent content, as recommended by one Rutgers University student? Read More