Since January 2017, 53 professional female and male psychosocial Counselors trained by Ipso provide counseling and mediation services at 22 Women Protection Centers and 21 Family Guidance Centers in 18 Afghan provinces and at the Ministry of Women Affairs to improve the psychosocial well-being of sheltered women, girls and their families. The counselors also raise awareness among direct beneficiaries (women and their families) and their communities for issues related to violence against women and girls, psychosocial stressors, possible coping strategies and existing care services.

The counselors assist the direct beneficiaries at the Women Protection Centers in coping with their experiences and current life-circumstances, improving their interaction with their families and exploring ways to reunite families. The male counselors, who are placed in the Family Guidance Centers, counsel family members of sheltered women and mediate between the women and male family members and explore if a safe reintegration of the women into their families is possible. This approach makes a safe reintegration of the women into their families and communities more likely.

In 2017 and 2018, the counselors held individual counseling sessions for more than 10,000 women, conducted mediation sessions with more than 7,000 family members and held awareness-raising sessions for more than 17,400 government employees and community members. About 90% of the women individually counseled reported an improvement in their psychosocial well-being, showing the success of the counseling approach.

In order to extend the psychosocial services within the shelter facilities, we intend to add counseling for children under mental strain seeking help at the Women Protection Centers and Family Guidance Centers. Most of them experienced violence, abuse and neglect by family members or their social environment. These children are in need of a sensitive and culturally adapted psychosocial counseling, which empowers them to regain self-esteem and to reintegrate socially.

Finally, we want to increase psychosocial support to staff working in the institutions we are cooperating with by offering weekly support groups. Such meetings would not only empower and support staff to better cope with their challenging work environment, but also enable them to better assist children, women and their families seeking their professional help.

Partner: Colombo Plan