21 Apr 2021
Cultural partnership blooms between RESTART and Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands

A partnership has formed between two IRCT members: RESTART in Lebanon and Psychotraumacenter in South-Netherlands. The collaboration started with a fact-finding mission in 2020 to uncover how a partnership could foster good outcomes for staff training on cultural sensitivities and awareness when working with torture survivors from, for example,  refugee backgrounds. Training sessions will be provided from both centers to each others staff on Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the second training supporting clinicians in how to apply EMDR/IE with specific target groups (e.g., children, deaf people and people with intellectual disabilities).

RESTART and Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands reflect on what this partnership means for their work and centres and what they hope will develop in the coming months.

Cultural partnership blooms between RESTART and Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands

Jorin Blokland (Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands) and Sana Hamzeh (Restart Lebanon)

What are your expectations to this partnership?

When passion meets innovation, one may presume that something interesting is about to happen. When this combination is reflected through another organization’s professional work and renowned reputation in working with trauma survivors, one would firmly believe that a partnership should happen.

The collaboration that Restart Center has recently established with Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands stems from an intention to find meaning together. Delving on a journey to learn, share knowledge, and build upon best practices, it is difficult to see a “stop” sign for a partnership that can only be seen as a “green” sign to keep going.  

Moving forward from the date in which our agreement was signed, on April 8th, 2021, we knew that this was a starting point to a long-lasting and fulfilling journey. With both organizations being heavily invested in the rehabilitation of torture and trauma survivors, not only do we seek to learn from each other, but we also hope to share our best practices with other organizations who serve people with passion, dignity and cultural sensitivity.


What can RESTART contribute to the center in the Netherlands?

Our partnership will act as a catalyst for change to both organizations. More specifically, Restart Center will seek to train key staff at Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands on how to develop a culturally-sensitive approach for working with refugees and asylum seekers. Knowing that a significant proportion of the refugee population that Psycotraumacenter South-Netherlands’ sees comes from the Middle East region, and knowing that Restart is situated in Lebanon – a country that is host to more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees (in addition to refugees from other nationalities) – Restart will help seal the cultural barrier that practitioners in Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands may potentially face. With Restart’s 25 years of experience working with torture, trauma and refugee populations, this collaboration will help bridge the gap between clinical practice and cultural relevance.

In addition, with staff from Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands traveling to Lebanon to receive trainings and to visit our center, both a professional and cultural exchange could occur. After all, as Mohandas Gandhi once said, “A nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people”.  Therefore, one cannot learn how to practice without seeing, and one cannot implement what he/she has learnt without learning.


What can RESTART gain from the center in the Netherlands?

 Thursday, April 15th marks the first kickoff session for the EMDR/IE training that Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands will provide to our team. A highly intensive training program will be provided to around 35 psychologists and psychotherapists, with the first (more basic) training being focused on adults with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and the second (more advanced) training supporting clinicians in how to apply EMDR/IE with specific target groups (e.g., children, deaf people and people with intellectual disabilities). Supervision and follow-up will be provided throughout this process, in accordance with the “do no harm” principles that both centers strictly abide by.

Our collaboration moves beyond teaching skills and facts. It is a steppingstone in a learning journey, where we can gain insight into one another’s rich and diverse cultures. By having our team travel to/from Lebanon and the Netherlands, we hope to build a bridge between knowledge, culture and best practices, offsetting any geographical barriers that may come in the way of serving others.

Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands reflects:

The first contact between Restart Center and Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands in October 2020 was followed by an already exciting process of collaborating together. Our collaboration focusses on equality and partnership, building something together that will last. We don’t want to take over the care, but to bring it there. Both Restart Center and Psychotraumacenter South-Netherlands have knowledge that could benefit the other center. Both centers have experienced and motivated staff who want to look further than their own experience and culture. Both centers are willing to invest in knowledge and research to make a bigger impact in the lives of torture and trauma survivors. And both centers want to expand their knowledge and share this with other professionals and organizations. Even though we work and live in different cultures, the warm heart for our clients and desire to expand our knowledge unites us. We want to stand strong together. With this desire as starting point of our collaboration, we are happy to announce that we will start providing trainings for each other’s center with the first training already starting this May 2021! We are excited to move forward in our collaboration together and hope to bring an inspiration to other professionals and centers worldwide.   

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