The Stress and Anxiety Research Society (STAR) is a multidisciplinary international organisation of researches dealing with the issues of stress, coping and anxiety. This year, the annual STAR Conference was held in Zagreb, from 6 to 8 July and was organised by the STAR, The Faculty of Philosophy of Zagreb and the Centre for Clinical Psychology from Zagreb.
Director of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, held a two-day training concerning working with traumatized children and highly conflicting divorces. The education was organized by the CPRC – Criminal Policy Research Centre and Bosnian and Herzegovinian Integrative Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Association (BHIDAPA), in Sarajevo from June 27-28, 2018. It was realized within the project “Justice for every child – the basics of therapeutic skills in the recovery of children”, intended for professionals from mental health centers in Bosnia and Herzegovina and school psychologists.
This two-day training completed the forementioned project which was based on the experiences and knowledge of integrative psychotherapy of developmental age which includes multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment of child and adolescent emotional problems and behavioral problems, (traumatized, abused and neglected children), in line with European standards, by example good practice in working with children and young people, code of ethics and the Convention on the rights of the Child. The series of lectures aimed to introduce participants to the basics of working with children, challenges and differences in approach when it comes to psychotherapy for children and why it is important for experts to be adequately educated. Special attention was devoted to emphasizing the importance of interdisciplinary approach and intersectoral cooperation in protecting the best interests of the child.
First day of training, Professor Gordana Buljan Flander, spoke about the importance of personal commitment of professionals to work with children, especially when it comes to children with traumatic experiences, what could be a traumatic experience, as well as the causes and consequences of traumatic experiences for the child and their environment. She was also talkeing about the specifics of trauma in childhood, what role has the attachment of a child, what kind of child abuse exists, how to recognize a child who is exposed to abuse, and on how to approach them and help to the child, how to do multidisciplinary and that is a series of steps which should be done if a child is entrusted. The importance of the empathy of people who are in contact with children was emphasized, also. A special part of the lecture was dedicated to the topic of sexual abuse of children.
During the second day, the lectures were focused on highly conflicting divorces, the problem of manipulation and alienation of the child. There was discussion on the impact of divorce on a child, how parents’ conflicts affect the child, what are needs of the child in a situation when parents are divorced, how to recognize the syndrome of alienated child and the manipulations used by parents on divorce.
The participants were very active in the entire two-day training with a lot of questions, but also their own experiences they face in their daily work. All participants expressed the wish that in the future would be organized similar education. In the closing part of the lectures, professor Buljan Flander emphasized the responsibility of each individual to protect children, and how choosing to be silent and close our eyes on the problems of abuse support abusers. She urged all present not to run away from a conversation with the abused children, to be their support and help, always putting the best interest of a child on the first place.