Background: Care for migrants and refugees often becomes more and more stressful over time. Volunteers frequently experience symptoms of secondary and vicarious trauma when working with people exposed to violence and exploitation. Common symptoms of vicarious trauma include exhaustion, irritability, compassion fatigue, difficulties with sleep, problems with concentration, social withdrawal and cynicism. Many programmes exist to address the needs of refugees and migrants; this one aims to address the needs of those who serve them, which in turn helps to ensure that services to migrants are sustainable and of good quality.

It is important to note that this is not a project to train lay therapists but rather a psychosocial skills support project centred on self-care for people providing a range of services to migrants around Europe. It is hoped that participants will learn to address their own trauma and will also gain skills which will enable them not only to avoid re-traumatization but also to help others to address their trauma. As an integral part of the project we will work toward establishing a network of trained individuals who can support each other in ongoing service. This project will draw on lessons learned from previous work done with volunteers who worked in refugee camps.

Trainers and Supervisors: The course leaders are qualified psychotherapists who are trained in trauma support.

Approach: This project is a holistic, integrative model encompassing biological, bodily, psychological, and social factors. The model used in this project focuses on understanding the interactions between environmental, social, psychological and biological factors that affect mental health and human reactions to traumatic experiences. Our approach grows out of a frame of reference that encourages balancing individual and communal factors in fostering wellbeing and wholeness.

Participants: 8-12 individuals who serve migrants (some may be migrants themselves), willing to commit to a year of training and support. They must be working with migrants at the time of the training, and it is understood that participants will be serving migrants throughout the project. Participant selection and interviews will take place during May and June 2018. For a participant role description and application, click here.

Project cost: The organisers are all donating their time to develop and deliver this project. To make the training affordable for participants who work without pay, there will be no course fee charged – all accommodation and travel costs will be paid. Possible participant help with fundraising will be appreciated but not required.




1. Initial Training Residential Institute: Sept 26 – Oct 2 2018

This initial training will take place at a retreat location in Brussels, and will bring together the participants for the first time. This session will last 5 days (dates above include possible travel time). Objectives of this meeting will be to:

  • – Introduce the project, its structure and follow up
  • – Connect the participants to the trainers and to each other
  • – Introduce a philosophy of sustainable service and the concept of community based trauma informed care using Quaker principles.
  • – Begin the development of a sense of network/community
  • – Pretest ProQual completed before the training by all participants (This is a test that is available on line that we will ask participants to complete. ProQual allows us to monitor the experience of our trainees and look at the outcomes of the training itself in relation to a worldwide sample of service workers. The test will be administered 3 times: first, before the training begins; second, after the final institute; and third, six months after the project concludes.)
  • – Begin the training using the module list to guide selection of topic areas for daily study.


2. Ongoing Supervision

Between face-to-face meetings, the work will continue with regular biweekly meetings of the group over the internet using an online platform like Zoom or WebEx.

  • – Internet video group supervision format
  • – Co-led supervision group model
  • – Weekly or bi-monthly meetings
  • – Approximately 90 minutes per session


3. Mid-Year Residential Institute: March 5 – 13 2019

Mid-year, we will return to the retreat location for 5 days to provide additional training and sustainable support with a self-care focus. Elements will include:

  • – Mind body emphasis
  • – Preventing secondary and vicarious trauma
  • – Invited content experts to provide additional perspectives


4. Ongoing Supervision Continues

  • – Internet video group supervision format
    – Co-led supervision group model
    – Weekly or bi-monthly meetings
    – Approximately 90 minutes per session


5. Third Residential Institute: Sept 17-25 2019

At the end of 12 months we will return to the retreat location for 5 days to bring our project full circle, reinforcing the emphasis on prevention of recurring trauma and the network that has been built over the time of our work together. At this point it is possible that the ongoing supervision will continue for up to 6 months more, depending on the needs of the participants. Elements will include:

  • – Continued emphasis on prevention of secondary and vicarious trauma
  • – Support for ongoing network building
  • – Planning for ongoing supervision and integration with local communities
  • – Invite sponsors to share feedback.
  • – Evaluation of the training with ProQual and our own form


Possible extension of Ongoing Supervision if necessary might include:

  • – Internet video group supervision format
  • – Co-led supervision group model
  • – Weekly or bi-monthly meetings for up to another 6 months
  • – Approximately 90 minutes per session
  • – Conclude six months post- training with another ProQual evaluation
  • – Provide regular ongoing residential institutes
  • – Expand the network


Is this for you? Click here for a description of our ideal participant, or to apply.