“Psychological First Aid for Youth Workers” | Project Overview

By E.Bournaka, one of the 3 members of AID that participated in the project

We are glad that we participated with AID in a training course called, “Psychological First Aid for Youth Workers”. The project’s goal was to equip youth work professionals and youth leaders with a basic knowledge and set of skills in psychology. Three participants traveled to Székesfehérvár, Hungary from 19/04/2019 to 27/04/2019. There were around 31 participants (including the trainers) from Hungary, the United Kingdom, Italy, Estonia, Bulgaria, FYR Macedonia, Greece, Malta and Germany).

At the beginning people who participated got to know each other by playing trust games. We practiced to active listening and set needs, goals, expectations and fears. From the very first day all of us became comfortable with each other and shared our feelings about the project.

We focused on relaxation technics (breathing, stretching, drawing, making the sound of rain etc.) Next, we discussed what stress is and how to deal with it, especially how young people deal with stress (smoking, eating, exercise, deep breaths etc.). Usually, when people are stressed turn to some actions/activities to deal with this stress. It is important to be aware of your stress coping mechanism. This opens the way to greater freedom and well-being, enabling you to see the root cause of your stress and make profound changes in your life that are in line with your innermost feelings.

Also, we organized a role play game which was about the language of youth. Some of us had the role of the children in a classroom and some others had the role of the teacher. All children had a background story and the teachers tried to adjust with this situation.

Another thing we learnt about was mindfulness. We can’t force others to listen, but we can improve our own listening, and perhaps inspire others by doing so. Good listening means mindful listening. Like mindfulness itself, listening takes a combination of intention and attention. The intention part is having a genuine interest in the other person—their experiences, views, feelings, and needs. The attention part is being able to stay present, open, and unbiased as we receive the other’s words—even when they don’t line up with our own ideas or desires. Paradoxically, being good at listening to others requires the ability to listen to yourself. If you can’t recognize your own beliefs and opinions, needs and fears, you won’t have enough inner space to really hear anyone else. So the foundation for mindful listening is self-awareness.

We also discussed what skills, responsibilities, limitations and expectations a youth worker has.

Moreover, we talked about drugs and alcohol what they are, what can cause to a human being, how to deal with it and how to get away from it.

We learnt about communicational skills by Gordon who is recognized as a pioneer in teaching communication skills and conflict resolution methods to parents, teachers, youth, organization managers and employees, Dr. Thomas Gordon was the founder of Gordon Training International. Also, we used creativity, imagination and arts as a helping tool.

Divided in groups we draw something related to the word SUPPORT. The results were unexpectedly meaningful. There an so many you can do by even hearing one word.

The group had some free time to do hiking to a beautiful place with a great lake and loads of green and also explore the city.

Furthermore, we discussed how to deal with conflicts. We heard the story in the picture below once with not all the information. Every one of us had a different opinion about the story at first. At the end, we heard the whole story and everything changed. We realized that we should not judge at first sight and run into conclusions without knowing the situation.

We also did a workshop with Roma youngsters in Pátka, a small village in Hungary. We played games (football, ping pong, games with balloons) with young children, socialized with them and tried to get to know them.

It is important to add that another subject of the project was people in crisis. We analyzed what a crisis is, how to deal with it, what people should do and shouldn’t when they are dealing with a crisis.

In general, the program was amazing and all the participants shared and listened to each other’s thoughts and feelings. Between the workshops we did plenty of activities, games, dances and relaxation techniques, outside in the nature. We interacted with other people, learnt about their cultures and their way of thinking. We made a great group and we are thankful to all the people who participated and expressed themselves and shared their stories.

In the following image, there are the steps of Psychological First Aid.

These steps are important and really helpful for someone who is dealing with a difficult situation.

Overall, it was a great learning experience and we now feel more confident about ourselves. We left with our hearts full of love and we are grateful for that. We had the chance to widen our horizons and gain new skills. A great thanks to Mária Gulyás, Richárd Kiss and and Danielle Osajivbe-Williams, the trainers, who helped us to reach the goals of this project, learn and overcome our fears.