Our Programs WHO WE ARE We are an online organization that strengthens the social, emotional, health, gender, & educational competencies of marginalized young women, aged 15-25 in the Persian-speaking world, providing them with opportunities to experience a full range of life options through self-empowerment, therapeutic intervention, and education, so that they are able to overcome the traumas of their past and rebuild their lives. We are driven by a deep purpose and a powerful mission to provide skills and transformative knowledge that promote equity, life skills, emotional intelligence, and community engagement, to help our target community. We believe that no one deserves to suffer violence, abuse or trauma. Our vision is to stop the cycle of trauma, and to empower individuals to overcome the impact of trauma and promote personal growth. WHY WE NEED TO EXIST Most marginalized young women have experienced profound trauma. Traumatic experiences account for around half of all mental health problems worldwide, yet trauma-informed treatments are rarely available. Indeed, most survivors of trauma never get the specialized help that they need to recover and heal. The survivors of trauma experience effects that can last a lifetime. The repercussions of trauma on survivors can also harm the lives of those around them for generations to come. Effective trauma-informed treatment can stop this generational cycle. However, for that to happen, we need to find ways to get that effective treatment to more people. WHAT WE DO We aim to empower young women survivors of trauma to recover from the impact of their experiences. In addition, we provide skills to the people who help survivors on their journey to healing. The individuals we empower therefore include not only the survivors of trauma themselves, but also practitioners working therapeutically with people impacted by trauma, such as mental health professionals, educators, and the general public (particularly members of the survivors’ families and their communities). By building trauma-informed communities that understand the nature of trauma, its impacts and possibilities for recovery, we not only support and empower survivors, but also those who work or have contact with them. HOW DO WE DO IT We believe that the best way to achieve large-scale improvements in trauma treatment, and to deliver treatment effectively, is by working in partnership with practitioners and educators, with local communities, and with organizations that support those affected by trauma. We therefore help and empower young marginalized women directly and indirectly: we not only work with the young women directly, but we also help them indirectly, by working with their closest influencers. Close influencers are typically parents, educators, caring adults, mental health professionals and the community at large. Engaging both directly and indirectly has a multiplier effect that increases exponentially the impact and effectiveness of our work. Our approach Profound trauma can permeate all dimensions of an individual’s reality. It can fundamentally shake, or even shatter, previously secure positive beliefs and replace them with debilitating and damaging negative beliefs and fragmented perceptions of reality that colour all aspects of the individual’s day-to-day life. If unhealed, the underlying meaning an individual attaches to their experience can develop into a system of beliefs about themselves, others, the world and their place in it that perpetuates their wounding and a victim narrative for their future, and all too often also for the futures of their children. We have accordingly adopted a multi-faceted, pyramid structure approach. Through this approach, we plan to establish a broad base of self-help and peer support capabilities across the community, as well as building more in-depth capacity for expertise in psychosocial and trauma-informed treatment and recovery services. The objectives of our approach are: Empowering young, marginalized women to move from a “victim script” to a “survivor script” and to develop a sense of identity and self-worth through skills building, peer counselling groups, and individual counselling. Establishing a broad foundation within the wider community of mental health education, along with self-help and peer support skills. Supporting community service providers, such as mental health and human service practitioners, and educators, with state-of-the-art intervention skills and knowledge of trauma-related symptoms and behaviours. This will enable them to better understand, respond to, and support the survivors of trauma whom they encounter. Progressively building an expanding number of increasingly skilled para-professionals and professionals with expertise in trauma treatment and post-traumatic growth. Our programs Our programs are designed to target the survivors of trauma and their influencers in ways that create the best possible futures for them. Overwhelming traumatic experiences deregulate the nervous system and change brain structure, leading to physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural symptoms. Unhealed trauma compromises the ability to cope with stress. It typically leads to the breakdown of communication with others; inflexibility in interpersonal relationships; substance abuse; health issues; and to violence at the individual and collective levels. The consequences tend to be a legacy of traumatic physical, emotional, cognitive and behavioural dysfunction that is all too often passed from generation to generation. It is therefore vital to equip survivors of trauma with coping skills to strengthen and build resiliency emotionally, psychologically, and behaviourally. These coping skills will enable them to more effectively manage their day-to-day lives and to take a more central role in their own growth and recovery, resulting in increased self-control and confidence. WHAT WE PROVIDE FOR SURVIVORS OF TRAUMA Coping capacity and empowerment We help survivors to learn and how to utilise skills to decrease feeling helpless, overwhelmed, or out of control, and increase resiliency and a sense of self-control, tolerance to stress, empowerment, and confidence. Peer counselling groups We facilitate on an ongoing basis peer groups offering support, safety, and acceptance to further augment and maintain coping skills and support trauma treatment. Life skills Life skills training empowers the young women for: Developing conceptual understanding their rights and gender is Developing the ability to take initiatives, solve problems, manage conflict, and find employment and access. Learning interpersonal skills, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, conflict resolution, communication skills, money management, CV writing. Education We provide education classes to our cohorts who are denied access to education, or on subjects which are not part of public education curriculum. Trauma-informed individual counselling We provide trauma-informed individual counselling with expert practitioners. WHAT WE PROVIDE FOR PARENTS We provide support, education and resources for the families and communities of adult survivors of childhood trauma, including: Parenting skills support for mothers to help combat psycho-social challenges. Trauma recovery treatment to heal the effects of psycho-emotional trauma related to childcare and protecting adolescents. Building self-esteem, empowerment, and resilience, along with mental and physical strength through: Supportive counselling. Coping and personal empowerment skills training. Educational and vocational skills support. Education and materials on women’s health issues. Through the combination of these support our programs: Reduce stress, depression, fear, and despair, and aid in healing trauma and loss. Reduce trauma symptoms. Reduce incidences of exploitation and abuse. Reduce high rates of, exhaustion, excessive stress, and poor self-care in pregnant women and new mothers, and ensure good health for them and their babies. Build self-esteem, personal empowerment, dignity, and resilience among women and girls. OUR GOALS FOR COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH EDUCATION Increase mental health awareness and promote good health practices in support of community wellbeing. Provide public education on mental health issues and symptoms, to reduce stigma, increase mental health understanding and knowledge of available treatment resources, and promote good health practices. Provide self-help, coping, and personal development skills to increase the ability for self-care in management of stress, mood, and behaviour to build emotional stability, self-control, confidence, and self-esteem. Increase capacity for underserved communities and victims of trauma by the ability to offer mutual emotional support and reassurance to family, neighbours, and other community members using learned self-care and supportive listening skills. OUR GOALS FOR TRAINING EDUCATORS To overcome adversity, build resilience and prepare to succeed in the future, young people need to develop the ability to take initiative, solve problems creatively, overcome difficulties, manage conflict and to interact with each other with empathy. Adversity affects the ability of young people to engage with the world, make healthy life choices and more significantly, to “thrive”. Education therefore has to be about more than merely delivering knowledge. It needs to also build capabilities and life skills. The roles of teachers need to become increasingly those of being facilitators of skills and abilities to use knowledge to make the right choices, rather than only those of providers of knowledge and information. Our training aims to engage educators to deepen their impact on and unlock the potential of young people. We use a life skills approach to nurture empathy, to expand their creativity, and to develop listening and validation skills. Adversity also has the potential to invade the lives of young people and to destroy their chance for a better future. Trauma and adversity compromise clear thinking and objective judgment. School under-performance, attention deficit, behaviour problems, the use of drugs, and school violence are typical results of unrecognized and unhealed trauma. The effects of trauma can also mimic and easily be mistaken for learning disorders, with the consequence that too many children are wrongly diagnosed. Trauma-informed trained educators will also be better placed to recognize symptoms of trauma in school children, to take more effective measures to relieve these symptoms and to make the appropriate referral, thus providing traumatised young people with a better chance to succeed. OUR GOALS FOR TRAINING MENTAL HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE PROVIDERS We aim to develop and disseminate best practice and research evidence around trauma and trauma-informed care to those working in the field of mental health and human services. We also seek to build workforce capacity around trauma treatment and trauma-informed practice, with particular focus on managing trauma in the Farsi-speaking world Pervasive individual and communal trauma, and the prospect of trans-generational trauma, can pose significant and mounting challenges to the field of mental health. We believe that these challenges can be more effectively addressed by supporting local mental health professionals and equipping them with the state-of-the art knowledge and skills in trauma treatment through certification programs and workshops. Specific goals of mental health and human service trainings Creating core groups of local trainees and professionals with advanced abilities, to form a highly skilled, interdisciplinary mentor pool for eventually conducting on-going locally based trainings and supervision, and in this way to multiply the pace and breadth of the development of available services provided by the community itself to the most people. Contributing to advancing and developing the infrastructure of the local human services systems and to develop on-going links to a supportive and collaborative global network of professional training and treatment organizations. In this way we hope to contribute to expanding the availability and quality of future human services within the community at large. An expected outcome is that the service system developed through the project, and the trainees themselves, will also contribute to steadily creating a growing local market for their professional employment. Providing remotely on-going clinical consultation, training team support, and mentoring to local trainees and trainers by telephone, e-mail, and through our website to augment continued training, provide case reviews and studies, and advice on treatment methods and approaches. Targeted trainees Professionals: psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, medical professionals, special education teachers, and NGO staff, committed to working with young women in underserved communities as well as with victims of violence. Students: local university and other students in mental health related fields.