Our new psychologist helps partners in Ukraine prevent burnout

Irishman Eoin O’Shea works with DIGNITY’s partners in Ukraine and Moldova

»I thrive on variety, enjoy project-based work, and I like to think outside the box«, says Irish psychologist Eoin O’Shea – the newest staff member within DIGNITY’s International Programmes.

Eoin (pronounced ‘Owen’) took up his work at DIGNITY in mid-May and is currently focusing on two projects: One is targeted at assisting DIGNITY’s three partners in Ukraine, which have all within a short time had to switch from anti-torture work to humanitarian assistance for victims of war. Here, Eoin’s focus is on the staff of the three Ukrainian organisations: What kind of training do they need and how might we help them to prevent staff burnout?

The second main project involving Eoin is based in Moldova where DIGNITY’s partner RCTV Memoria has also changed its focus from torture rehabilitation to helping the 70-80.000 Ukrainian refugees in the small country in South-Eastern Europe.

»Moldova is a poor country and does not have the necessary number of mental health professionals to help all the refugees. In this situation, we can train members of the Moldovan community – or even refugees themselves – to deliver what we call a ‘scalable’ mental health intervention. Of course, they can’t deliver the same kind of intervention as a professional psychologist – and it is not the same thing as therapy. However, the results are quite promising – support can be provided to distressed people who might not otherwise require the level of specialized services offered by psychologists and psychiatrists«, explains Eoin, who will be part of a Training-of-Trainers programme in Moldova in order to build capacities for mental health intervention.

Trauma specialist

Until two years ago, Eoin worked as a psychologist in Ireland. He has, among other things, worked for the Irish Red Cross providing psychological help for Syrian refugees and also staff-care. Additionally, he provides input on mental health strategy for the Irish Defence Forces, in which he still serves as a uniformed reservist. His specialty as a psychologist concerns psychological trauma, both in terms of assessment and therapy – but also in providing rapid assistance to people in the more immediate wake of a ‘critical incident’.

Having previously been married to a Dane (with whom they share a son, Emil), Eoin agreed to »give life in Denmark a go« for one year to see if their son would settle well here. That was two years ago – and with Emil thriving, Eoin spent the last two years offering psychological therapy online to clients in Britain.

»But it’s only since starting at DIGNITY that I have been able to fully connect with my career again. I am still struggling with the Danish language so I am happy to have found a psychologist job where I can work in English as I can at DIGNITY’s International Programmes«, says Eoin and adds:

»I must say that DIGNITY is in line with the things I would like to do professionally. The format of my work at DIGNITY suits my personality as well as my professional interests. It’s an amazing organisation in which to have found this opportunity«.

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