Iraq: Capacity Building in Value Based Counselling for Non-specialized Health Workers and Workers in (Psycho) Social Care / Protection

In cooperation with Caritas Iraq and Iraq’s Local Government, Ipso introduces in Iraq a solid one-year in-service counselling training for governmental and non-governmental health and (psycho-) social care workers. The training in Value Based Counselling (VBC) is part of an integrated MHPSS (Mental Health and Psychosocial Support) and livelihoods support project of Caritas Iraq, funded by Caritas Germany with support of the German Government (BMZ), implemented in the Governorates of Ninewa and Duhok from 2021-2023. This pilot project prepares and supervises 24 in-service health and social workers of Government and of Caritas to become qualified counsellors through 12 weeks classroom training (six 2-week courses) followed by 9 months weekly supervised practical work.

In Iraq, non-specialist mental health services are currently available in limited scope, for which the concerned helpers received a training of some days up to two weeks. For many individuals, this type of mental health support is a welcome and sufficient support. However, many others need further and deeper support, which is not sufficiently available. The Iraq national mental health strategy therefore puts development of human resources for quality community mental health services and quality control on these services among its strategic objectives, in order to be able to provide comprehensive, integrated and responsive mental health services.

This project contributes to this national mental health strategic objective of capacity building for non-specialized mental health workers and workers in care / social protection. Ipso trains 24 health and (psycho-) social workers to obtain solid VBC counselling skills through a longer, deeper and more solid training of 12 weeks (6 times two weeks) full-time classroom training and 9 months intensively supervised practical work. This VBC counselling training therefore results in better internalising the very specific attitude towards clients and to develop behavioural patterns, which are the basis of successful counselling. Value Based Counsellors can handle more complex cases than persons who attended only a very short training, leading therefore to fewer needed referrals to psychotherapists and psychiatrists, who are very short in supply. Furthermore, Value-based Counselling facilitates not only an increased resilience in persons, but also leads to transformational post-traumatic growth. Value Based Counselling thus contributes not only to the recovery, but also to the further development of the individual, the household (s)he belongs to, and the community (s)he is part of.

In an additional small component of this project; Ipso helps Caritas Iraq to bring sustainability to mutual support groups. Instead of Caritas Iraq’s psychosocial workers leading these support groups; interested and capable volunteers from the community are trained to be “Community Care Givers”, who lead support groups in which people share experiences and learn from each other’s ways of coping with daily stressors. Ipso trains 18 Caritas Iraq MHPSS staff in how to train and support some 40 Community Care Givers, so that support groups can function in a sustainable way, without being led by Caritas staff.