Pragmatic Empowerment Training (PET) is one of the cornerstones of the work of the CWWPP. Its main aim is to increase capacity in mental health and peacebuilding by educating a wide variety of people, especially those who never have had training, formal or informal, in these areas before. The aim is thus to create “barefoot” therapists and peacebuilders who can work on the front line in their communities under the supervision of people with further experience and education.
Another aim is to supervise people already working in the field and to use their experience to increase their knowledge and sensitivity to the issues and the people with whom they are working.
Still another aim is to de-stigmatize work with mental health. This happens through discussions about the issues in the PET and through therapy through the back door.
An additional aim is to encourage people to exchange information and experience locally, regionally, and internationally.
The program and the methodology arose through the work of a member of the CWWPP with volunteers working with asylum seekers and refugees in The Netherlands in the late 1980s and the 1990s. He was approached by such volunteers, as well as by professionals, who found that they were not getting the support that they needed from the institutions with which they were working and that they were becoming secondarily traumatized. The work continued and developed further in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina once the CWWPP was formed starting in the mid 1990s. The program continually is being adapted to the needs of the participants.
The content of the PET varies slightly from group to group, depending on the needs and the desires of the specific participants.
The core curriculum includes:
- a general introduction to work with people;
- interpersonal and group communication;
- basic psychology and counseling, particularly adapted to trauma and traumatized areas;
- non-violent conflict transformation;
- civil society;
- an introduction to human rights.
Conclusion and Epilogue
We find PET a practical and relatively inexpensive way of increasing capacity in mental health and peacebuilding in areas where there is little access to more formalized care. This methodology also encourages people to get together to exchange information, skills, and experience.
The CWWPP wishes to expand the methodology and to develop it further.