Psychiatrist Imma van Galen
Psychiatrist Imma van Galen

Support for Ukrainian care providers

Interview with psychiatrist Imma van Galen

Imma van Galen works at ARQ Centrum'45 and trained two groups of Ukrainian care providers on behalf of ARQ International, together with fellow psychiatrist Fieke Felix and systemic therapist Kees Toet. 

One group came from a region near Hungary, the other from the Odessa region. In the summer the training was given online, but during this training it turned out that in-person was really preferable. Imma: “In December we gave a three-day training course in a hotel in Hungary, just across the border with Ukraine. Russia was bombing power plants in Ukraine at that time. The contrast was enormous: from the uncertainty, cold and power outages, to the warmth and light in the hotel, which was extra lit up for Christmas. Being outside their country-at-war allowed them to catch their breath and there was room for reflection, self-care and learning new skills.”

Training Ukrainian care providers in 2022
Training Ukrainian care providers in 2022

No time for self-care

“You hardly have time for self-care when you are under as much pressure as they are. They themselves experience the stress of the war, of lost loved ones, of relatives at the front. Meanwhile, normal work continues, with clients experiencing more shocking things than before. Plus all the refugees who come to their relatively safe regions. However, self-care is essential. We did body-oriented exercises. We talked about how to deal with very anxious or angry patients. We discussed priorities; sometimes you have to say no. Like sponges, they soaked up what we shared about the knowledge and experiences gained with refugees with PTSD at ARQ. And finally they came to mutual exchange. I have been impressed by the resilience of these hard-pressed care providers and their motivation to expand their skills and knowledge to provide much-needed care.”

"I have been impressed by the resilience of these hard-pressed care providers."


“A three-day training course like this feels like a droplet in the ocean. A consolation is that they are strengthened to train their own teams. I hope that ARQ will go that way more often to be there for these colleagues. Just think of all those people who are going to come back from the frontlines and who have experienced terrible things. From our experience with veterans and refugees with PTSD, we can support our Ukrainian colleagues in providing trauma-sensitive care in these difficult circumstances.”

In addition to the activities in the Netherlands, ARQ also provides psychosocial care in Ukraine as a guest partner of the Dutch foundation Giro555.