UCF faculty member offers Ukrainian counselors group trauma therapy via Zoom – Central Florida News – Health
UCF’s Gulnora Hundley also worked with volunteers and refugees at an emergency shelter in Slovakia. Photo: Courtesy of Gulnora Hundley
In the midst of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Gulnora Hundley, a consultant and lecturer at the University of Central Florida, found a unique way to help the Ukrainian people.
She offers free trauma therapy via Zoom to groups of psychologists working amidst war and displacement.
Hundley says she has helped 70 so far.
She spoke to WMFE on Monday.
“I’m a core faculty member of the University of Central Florida’s Counselor Education program. I also have a small private practice in Winter Park, Florida and I provide services to people experiencing trauma. When I became aware of the war, I thought that I had to help somehow and I posted a very small announcement in Russian on Facebook and said: ‘Helpers help. If you are interested, please contact me.” In a few hours I had around 150 inquiries.”
Reducing the effects of trauma
Hundley says she realized counselors could handle the online group sessions better than most refugees, although she still hopes to be able to offer trauma therapy to refugees with the help of volunteers in refugee centers in Slovakia.
“All these psychologists are active. This means (is) that they help other Ukrainians in different capacities. Some of them may be in the hospitals in person. Some of them offer telephone advice. Again, the goal is to help volunteers and help them practice a little self-care in my groups so they can be effective in the field.
“The amount of stress and trauma in wartime is unique and enormous, and my favorite word is resilience. And that’s what I’m just discovering. Working with a Ukrainian psychologist requires courage, resilience and strength. But of course the damage is there, because that’s the nature of the human brain at some point, the effects of being under stress for a long time. It comes in the form of various symptoms.”
Symptoms include anxiety, depression, numbness, apathy, and lack of energy. Hundley says trauma therapy can reduce the effects of trauma and stress, at least for a moment.
Find their own ways to deal with it
Hundley says that while the psychologists do not downplay the traumatic effects of war, they often want to talk about everyday experiences.
“They have an opportunity to process something they could never process. For example, one psychologist spoke about the fact that her sister, who lives in Russia, didn’t believe that war was going on. It didn’t matter that this psychologist sent her pictures and her videos. Her sister in Russia said it was all made up and stopped speaking to her. So she processed that.
“There is a lot of grief and loss. There is a lot of uncertainty in everyone’s life and there is no stability. Many people uprooted. And for me it was fascinating to watch. How Ukrainian psychologists, so resilient, found their own ways of dealing with it. Some of them said that God will help us. Some of them said, ‘I have hope.’ As a group, they all said together, ‘We have hope together, and that will get us through.’”