SEED continuously strives to strengthen its services to meet the needs of the communities it serves. One of the gaps that was identified was the need for a specialized group response to benefit from support of peers with similar challenges. This need could be addressed by launching an adapted version of group therapy for camp settings. Group therapy is a psychotherapeutic intervention that brings individuals together who have similar difficulties, challenges, and mental health symptoms. The purpose of group therapy is to help individuals who share common experiences to relate and connect with one another, to gain perspective on their problems, to receive support and positive feedback, learn new and better coping skills, and to build a social network and support system. The ultimate aim of group therapy is to reduce the intensity, frequency and duration of symptoms. It consists of five sessions that include psychoeducation on symptoms, group discussions, practicing coping mechanisms such as deep breathing, grounding exercises, meditation, and learning tools to help clients. To ensure its effectiveness and provide the utmost form of care, SEED psychologists focus on providing a supportive and safe environment for group members to share their personal experiences and process their emotions. SEED provides group therapy for those with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and trauma.
SEED launched its initial group therapy for adults on February 25 in Chamishko IDP camp with eight women who struggle with symptoms of depression and anxiety. During the first hour-long session,the women in the group shared that they feel hopeless at times, and disconnected from others in their family and from others with similar experiences. They mentioned that they struggle on a daily basis to manage their symptoms. The women engaged with the group about their difficulties and were able to provide each other support by validating one other’s feelings and sharing experiences. The first group therapy session was a huge success, and the participants made the following comments afterwards: “My husband doesn’t understand. I am glad these women can understand me“, “Thank you for caring for us“, “This is the most I have laughed all week” and “Bringing us together and being here for us is all we need.” Additionally, these eight women were invited the same week to engage in SEED’s PSS activities at the center to come together to socialize and make sweets, further strengthening their relationship and support.
The group therapy sessions were planned to take place once a week for the duration of five weeks. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 group therapy was halted in March after the first session in order to reduce the risk of spreading, in line with government and camp management recommendations. Group members shared concerns regarding the risk of spreading the virus, but stated that they are looking forward to rejoining the group once the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. SEED intends to continue providing group therapy once it is able to do so again and will continue with these eight women while also starting up groups in the other locations, including Bersive I and later Bardarash camps. SEED recognizes the need to provide group therapy for men, and therefore hopes to begin providing group sessions for them as well as continuing sessions for women under a US State Department Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) grant.