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Counselling and Psychological First Aid

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Open Briefing provides counselling and Psychological First Aid (PFA) for individuals and retained service agreements and PFA training for organisations.

PTSD, trauma and chronic stress are very real risks for human rights defenders and humanitarians working in violent, repressive or high-stress environments.

In 2013, the UNHCR found that 47% of its staff experienced difficulty sleeping and 57% reported symptoms of sadness, unhappiness or emptiness. In another study, the Antares Foundation found that 46-80% of staff working in high-stress situations in their home country experience symptoms of distress. A recent study on human rights defenders found that 89% of the study were exposed to secondary and primary trauma through interviewing witnesses and 19% had significant symptoms associated with PTSD.

These numbers demonstrate the urgent need to better support civil society organisations and activists placing themselves in harms way to protect others. However, all too often discussions about mental health are taboo, and staff worry that their career will be impacted if they reveal how they are truly feeling. Open Briefing is committed to working with organisations to change this narrative and improve staff wellbeing and resilience.

As part of this commitment, we have recently expanded our specialist counselling team. We now have two highly-experienced counsellors, Karen Abbs and Lynn Keane, providing counselling and psychotherapy to human rights defenders and humanitarians working in violent, repressive or high-stress environments.

Following an initial consultation, we usually offer counselling in blocks of 6 or 12 hour-long sessions. We can provide support on a private basis or as part of an organisation’s duty of care procedures; in either case, the sessions are kept confidential. Counselling is delivered remotely via encrypted video link or face-to-face in London. Civil society organisations can sign a retained service agreement with us to provide pre-authorised support to their staff when required.

We also provide Psychological First Aid (PFA) in the aftermath of critical or traumatic incidents. Through one or more PFA sessions, our counsellors will provide information on common responses to difficult experiences and assess if additional professional support is required. We also deliver one-day Psychological First Aid training for wellbeing focal points, HR managers and others concerned with staff welfare or responding to critical incidents.

Counselling and wellbeing and resilience support for civil society organisations and activists working in violent, repressive or high-stress environmentsClick To Tweet

Open Briefing is a member of the Mental Health Innovation Network and a signatory to the Charter for Employers who are Positive About Mental Health. All our counsellors are accredited by the British Association for Counsellors and Psychotherapists (BACP) and other relevant governing bodies.

Please contact us to discuss how we can help you or your team.