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Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

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Mental Health and Psychosocial Support

Trauma-Sensitive Approach for Rehabilitation

The term “mental health and psychosocial support” (MHPSS) is used to describe any type of local or outside support that aims to protect or promote psychosocial well-being and/or prevent or treat mental disorder through providing services and support to reduce psychological and social suffering, and to enhance mental health and psychosocial well-being of people affected by disasters and other distressing events such as GBV.

Emma Organization for Human Development (Emma) has the mission to offer treatment, counselling, and rehabilitation to survivors of (S)GBV and domestic violence, torture, and rape.

We focus on the displaced population and refugee girls and women through our outreach mobile team, especially targeting women of Yazidi and Christian descent who escaped ISIS and those who have been referred to us from other organizations.
The survivors had frightening experiences of violence during their captivity and their escape. Most of them have experienced the traumatic events of torture and enslavement, and some have suffered from severe torture and sexual violence.

They have faced tremendous losses and extreme pressures in their lives. The survivors that we help suffer from trauma-related problems such as anxiety, compulsion, panic, depression, dissociation, impulsive disorder, addiction and suicidal ideation and PTSD.

Emma has a holistic and trauma-sensitive approach to heal and empower survivors to rebuild their life. Our treatment, counselling and rehabilitation program is designed to provide the best trauma healing process within their familiar surroundings by a trained team through the empowerment model. The initial task of our program is to stabilize the survivor by providing a routine and a sense of security. Recognizing and accepting their vulnerabilities makes them capable to find new opportunities in rebuilding and regaining control of their lives. Trauma counselling focuses on restoring their sense of humanity and reawakening their hopes for the future.

Our team provides services in a social-medical treatment centre. We provide a safe environment, family assistance and treat psychological and physical injuries caused by the extreme violence of war.

Our trauma healing services cover somatic, psychological and psychosomatic disorders and acute trauma to prevent PTSD and other psychosomatic symptoms and diseases in the future.

We are currently increasing our rehabilitation and social therapy services for the survivors so that they can engage and come in contact with others. Our psychosocial support is provided as much as possible in the survivor’s environment with close cooperation with their relatives and other organizations in the area to ensure that our survivors get the right help at the right time when they need it.
Our services are not only focused on the treatment of survivors but also on all kinds of aspects that are difficult in a normal lifestyle like day-care, housing, work, finances, and lifestyle.
We hope that the combination of these services will restore the survivors’ dignity and help them to start their lives again free from physical and psychological after-effects.

Emma established its first Rehabilitation Centre in Duhok on the 1st of June 2015. Now we have six centres and four mobile teams providing community-based services to Gender-Based Violence survivors.


Emma provides a holistic medical, psycho-social care approach providing education, medical, psychiatric and psychotherapeutic services. The healing process is supported by vocational and art activities. Emma focuses on a multi-component intervention delivered to GBV survivors who had recently escaped ISIS captivity.

The intervention is comprised of individual support and support to their family members through empowerment model with a focus on trauma healing interventions which include psychosocial support, medical, legal and financial aid delivered to the survivors to ensure strengthening their self-esteem and enhancing socialization to ensure reintegration into their society. The trauma healing process starts with treating acute trauma to prevent PTSD and other psychosomatic symptoms and complications.

The emotional ties and the feeling of belonging to the family or community is very important.
Helping each other is the basis to use everybody’s creative powers to learn cope better with individual life situations. Hence, our service is combined of close cooperation with the relatives and other organizations in the area to ensure that the survivors receive the right help at the right time when they need it

Victims to Victors Program
Emma organization provides mental health services which is focused on survivors of violence particularly sexual violence and it also provides medical and psycho-therapy care, in cooperation with the therapists, the social workers. Likewise, it supports survivors through the entire process from the initial contact to therapy planning and intervention. we offer social work services and legal support while dealing with authorities to ensure the survivors’ recovery from trauma and learning mechanism.
1. Educational assistance to continue their school or learning new language
2. Leadership program to empower them to raise their voice and advocate for their rights
3. Recreational activities
Artistic expression can be very helpful as a therapy to survivors of vio-lence, because it offers a non-verbal medium in which conscious or un-conscious feelings can be expressed in a symbolic manner; it is a creative form of expression. Also, sport activities have a positive effect on the mental health of survivors who cannot give a voice to their traumatic ex-periences.
Type of activities:
• Drawing pictures and painting
• Debriefing (Story telling)
• Writing essays (if they are able to do that)
• Singing & Dancing
• Social therapy and leisure activities
Story telling through art activities
Artistic expression can be very helpful to survivors of violence, in the context of therapy, because it offers a non-verbal medium through which conscious or unconscious feelings can be expressed in a symbolic manner; survivor who cannot voice their traumatic experiences can do so as a creative form of expression.
The main goal of the therapy is to stabilize the Survivor, to help her find inner resources, as well as positive images or shapes, which can be used to help the Survivor to cope with her experiences.

“Healing” is to experience oneself as an active member of society, to leave a mark where one has been, and to have an impact on one’s environment.
By preserving their works of art, survivors who were forced to flee from their homes and have lost everything learn that what they have created earns respect and belongs to them.

Non-verbal images present a good communication opportunity between therapist and survivors, especially when verbal expression is impossible due to severe trauma. A picture can also explain the survivor’s feelings without having to resort to translation because it is perceived directly.

4. Vocational trainings
Emma trains survivors and enhances their skills to find work opportunity and have sustainable work income such as:
• Sewing activity course
• Handcraft activities course
• Cooking and self-care activities
5. Legal assistance
Survivors often require support while dealing with authorities or request-ing ID documents if needed. Hence, Emma helps the survivor in terms of contacting medical doctors or lawyers and also provide survivor with in-formation about schooling and training opportunities.

Emma Organization for Human Development was founded in 2013 by three female activists with a vision to advance the role of women in society, promote gender equality and empower women in Kurdistan. “Emma” is a Kurdish term meaning (WE) and is the concept by which this organization functions as a unit working together as "One Team" from different cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs to achieve goals and rebuild lives.

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