The experience of loss, destruction, violence and flight often has detrimental consequences for one’s mental, emotional, physical and existential well being. In worst cases this can lead to suicide, destructive behavior, burn-out, PTSD, depression or illness, while in less severe cases individuals demonstrate the inability to function, decreased motivation and agency, and increased risk of illness and substance abuse. Traumas associated with conflict related violence create barriers for, among other peacebuilding objectives, the reintegration of ex-combatants and conflict survivors, the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between warring parties, the de-escalation of radicalisation in youth populations, and even effective governance.
Furthermore, international humanitarian organisations often lack the resources to offer trauma-and stress-relief programs on a scale that is required in the face of mass atrocities and societal breakdown. The magnitude of affected populations and the destruction of social systems and infrastructure often render standard psychopharmacological and psychotherapeutic services, including one-on-one interventions like EMDR and TFT, inefficient and, in some cases, ineffective.
In these contexts it is crucial to offer the best relief possible to address acute psychological and psycho-somatic needs, and also to prevent and reduce long-term consequences, with the goal of encouraging a peaceful and enabled citizenry during and after violent outbreaks.
IAHV delivers measurable, effective and scalable trauma relief and resilience programs, attending to the clear link between trauma relief, resilience and sustainable peacebuilding.
Providing affordable and accessible trauma- and stress-relief tools to large populations and small groups alike in complex emergencies, IAHV’s 8-12 hour programs produce measurable results, including rapidly and significantly reducing the symptoms of PTS, depression and anxiety, and improving the quality of life for individuals and communities. (For short-term, emergency relief to large populations, IAHV offers a one-hour programme, delivering stress management skills.)
New research suggests our approach – a breathing-based stress reduction program (SK&P®) – results in a 60-90% reduction rate in scores across indices for PTSD, major clinical depression, and generalized anxiety disorder.
In addition, rather than fostering humanitarian dependency and creating long-term resource dilemmas, IAHV trained participants are able to sustain integrative improvements with continued practice and skills application.
IAHV’s integrative tools and breathing based techniques not only reduce stress-induced symptoms, but also increase resilience, fostering critical thinking, empowerment and capacity to cope with conflict. Participants leave the workshop with keys to stress and trauma management, healthy coping strategies and empowerment and stronger community bonds. A key aspect of the program is ensuring that people do not react out of anger or turn violent and divisive during conflict or in postwar periods, but instead learn to contribute towards the betterment of society, thus reducing the likelihood of a return to violence.
With proven tools and techniques, we contribute to relieving trauma and other stress related issues inside peacebuilding programming, to building resilience and creating a healthy and strong psycho-social foundation for necessary institutional, political and economic efforts to become sustainable.
IAHV trauma-relief programs are often complemented by longer-term rehabilitation and empowerment programs and material aid, including food, clothes, medicine and shelter.
“There is a critical need for alternative approaches to the anxiety, trauma, rage, sleeplessness, and other side-effects of war.”
Dr. Emma Seppala, Associate Director Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University
“I observed many victims of war suffering from PTS in serious post-conflict circumstances in Kosovo. IAHV trainings have significantly helped them in their recovery.” Vehbi Rafuni, Director, Association for Disabled Kosovo Liberation Army Veterans
“I wholeheartedly endorse the IAHV Peacebuilding Program that you are launching. I firmly believe that IAHV has the promise of bringing something unique and impactful to traditional peacebuilding efforts.”
Sanjay Pradhan, Vice-President World Bank Institute
“You send people to a workshop for a week and you figure they’re going to feel better. But to see something one year after is pretty amazing.” Dr. Emma Seppala, Associate Director Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford