Essex trauma expert giving ongoing support to Ukrainian health and education professionals

  • Date

    Wed 18 May 22

Renos Papadopoulos

More than 1,500 mental health professionals and teachers still in Ukraine, as well as professionals working with Ukrainians who have had to flee the country, are being supported to deal with the psychological impact of the Russian invasion by Professor Renos Papadopoulos.

Founder and Director of the Centre for Trauma, Asylum and Refugees at the University of Essex, Professor Papadopoulos was approached by Ukrainian colleagues for guidance to assist those involved in education in all parts of Ukraine with the daily difficulties they face. He has delivered online sessions providing professional guidance on working with students, patients, and colleagues impacted by the war.

Professor Papadopoulos is a consultant to the United Nations and helps governments and aid organisations across the world improve the plight of refugees by revolutionising the way support services are provided. A crucial part of his work is providing training and support to those working on the frontline of disaster areas and war-torn countries.

Attendees at his online training sessions, which now total more than 1,500, sought guidance on how to deal with a range of reactions from their pupils (for example, frozenness, aggression, apathy and hatred), how to deal with their own reactions (as educators) as well as with their own feelings and losses whilst attending to their pupils' needs.

Professor Papadopoulos said: “At the start of the conflict we were expecting to run a session for a dozen or so mental health professionals. In fact, we have gone much further, including supervision of more therapists and other mental health professionals working with war survivors in various contexts, inside and outside Ukraine. These sessions have been both interactive and emotional. Having this space to work through the issues is essential for the professionals working with displaced people and those remaining in the war-torn region.”

In the UK, Professor Papadopoulos has been approached for support by individual families who have offered to host Ukrainian refugees, and he has already started engaging with them.

In addition to these sessions, following agreement between the 'International Orthodox Christian Charities' (IOCC) and Routledge, the translation into Ukrainian, Romanian and Russian has now began of Professor Papadopoulos' book on “Involuntary Dislocation”, an internationally acclaimed text used by professionals across the world. Renos heads the IOCC psychosocial team that works with the Ukrainian Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs, inside Ukraine) and Ukrainian refugees in Poland and Romania.

A recent webinar hosted by, Uprooted: Working with Refugees and other Involuntarily Dislocated People led by Dr Renos Papadopoulos, is available to all those who need it. Fees for the online workshop are being donated to DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal | Disasters Emergency Committee. Donations have now reached more than £5,000.

This webinar was recorded in January 2022, some weeks before the escalation of the war in Ukraine and presents highly relevant perspectives on working psychotherapeutically with anyone facing severe adversity due to involuntary dislocation.

Drawing upon years of experience in the consulting room, humanitarian field work, international projects and academic research, Professor Papadopoulos details how meaningful support to people who have lost the entire fabric of their lives can be offered.

Professor Papadopoulos said: “This therapeutic work demands a new and radical approach with in-depth examination of epistemological traps that commonly skew conceptualisations of this type of work. The concept of trauma has been beneficial in throwing light on the suffering of many people. However, it has also contributed to the unprecedented proliferation of theories, methods, and techniques, leaving the practitioner uneasy as to where to turn for solid answers.

“This workshop revisits the basics of working with those who have been involuntarily dislocated by offering a sound and innovative epistemological framework. I address how to support the processing of overwhelming experiences without pathologizing or minimising the negative consequences. The emphasis in this particular work is how to ‘be therapeutic’ as opposed to offering a traditional therapeutic approach. My work focuses on the integration of experience and moving towards adversity-activated development.”

For more information on Professor Papadopoulos’ work follow this link.

For more information on the webinar follow this link.