Psycho-Social Care and Support





Prepared by

Stephen wori

TPO Uganda

August 2004


In 2003, UNICEF conducted a comprehensive study on the situation of children victim of violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination in Somalia (“From Perception to Reality: Child Protection in Somalia”. Based on one of the key findings of the Study, which shows that there is a need to support the capacity of local actors in the field of psychosocial care and support to victims of abuse and exploitation, UNICEF requested the Ugandan-based NGO Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) to conduct a three weeks training for partners working on these issues from throughout Somalia. The first stage of preparing for this training was to develop training module that are appropriate for the Somali situation

The first phases of developing these training modules was for TPO consultants to carry out a desk review and in-depth consultations with key stakeholders involved in psychosocial work in Somalia, with the aim of identifying lessons learned, experiences, capacity gaps and needs. The organizations met included UNICEF, NOVIB, UNDP, CARE, KAPC, UNHCR, and CONCERN. The consultative meetings were followed by a review and adoption of training materials in the field of psychosocial work, to ensure friendly use by key organizations and individuals in Somalia.

TPO trainers used the information from the consultative meetings and the review of training materials to build a three-weeks curriculum within the context of the Somalia situation. The modules were built from this curriculum.


These modules are designed to provide basic psychosocial knowledge and skills to child protection workers in Somalia. The term psychosocial refers to the dynamic relationship between psychological and social effects of experiences, recognizing that each continually influences the other. Psychological effects are those that affect emotions, behaviour, thoughts, memory, learning ability, perceptions and understanding. Social effects are those that affect relationships, family and community structures, social values and customary structures. This dynamic also takes into consideration how an individual constructs a sense of meaning or purpose in his/her world, and other spiritual dimensions of life.

Psychosocial problems emerge when the effects of this dynamic relationship are strong enough to severely affect one’s normal functioning in regard to the accomplishment of age- and gender-appropriate roles in a given cultural context.

The manual provides content and the process of facilitating the content. Though key psychosocial issues are discussed under each module, the manual is only a guide. The trainer needs to present more detailed information when facilitating. This means that he/she needs to consult other literature to increase his/her understanding of the issues under discussion.

It is advisable that the facilitator reads the entire manual before using it. Based on the specific needs and conditions of the training group the trainer needs to add or change some of the information. The trainer needs to especially modify or prepare case examples to make them more appropriate to the context of the training group

SMALL GROUP DISCUSSIONS refers to discussions carried out in small groups of 4 – 6 participants. The class under training the class is usually divided into small working groups,

BIG GROUP DISCUSSIONS refers to discussions in one big group. They are also referred to as BRAINSTORMING


Participation in this manual refers to many short participatory lectures given by the trainer on a specific topic to the whole class. In the manual they are briefer than when actually presented.


The trainer gives a lecture about a specific issue to the whole class the trainer


Specially designed dramatic exercises


Special classroom exercise done on individual basis to teach new skills




1.  Personal introduction



2.  Expectations and fears


Trainer provides each participant with two VIPP cards of different colours. One colour is for expectations the other is for fears.

The cards are then collected and displayed on the wall and reviewed

3.  Goal and objectives of the training


The trainer explains the goals and gives an overview of the training (HANDOUT)


Trainer chooses one person (preferably the focal person in the training group schedule of sessions). A selection of a few members from the participants to take care of the training needs e.g. TIMEKEEPER and COURSE LEADER

4.  Pre-test


You are going to do an exercise, which will help us determine some of the things you already know. The exercise is not meant to measure how intelligent you are, but simply to help the trainers plan better for this training. Please read the following case story (HANDOUT) and answer the questions that follow:

Salad is 14 years old and lives in an orphanage in one of the towns in Somalia. Eight years ago before he came to live in the orphanage he was living happily with his parents, three brothers and sisters until one night his village was attacked by some gunmen and two of his brothers were killed. Salad and the remaining members of his family had to go to live in another village that was safer. Some months after the incident his parents decided that he and his sister must go to live with his uncle in the town. For a while Salad lived happily in his new home. But things started changing for him. His uncle made him work all day fetching water, washing the family clothing and buying things from the market. He did not have enough to eat. One night salad decides to run away from home. He tried to look for the way to his own parents, but could not find the way. He ended up in the orphanage. Presently the orphanage authorities are saying Salad will be sent back to his parents at the end of the year.

  1. List the possible problems that Salad could have experienced as a result of the death of his siblings, overworking at his uncle’s house and living at the orphanage
  1. Does Salad need any psychosocial support at all?

3.  You are supposed to provide help to Salad, describe step by step how you will do this him

4.  Team Building


Divide participants into small groups according to their organizations they represent. In the discussion they come up with the following information:

  1. What is the name of your organization?
  2. Where is located?
  3. What are its objectives
  4. What are the major interventions it implements
  5. What is your personal role in the organization
  6. What are the special things you would like us to know about yourself?


Each group spends 15 minutes to talk about their organization

The rest of the class can ask questions



1.  Normal components of the human system


Asks: What is psychosocial? What is bio-psycho-social? Note down participant’s answers.

The normal human system is made up of three components

·  Bio refers to the biological or physical aspects of the person. These include health and biological needs

·  Psycho refers to the mind that include thoughts, feelings, emotions, understanding, attitudes and beliefs

·  Social refers to relationships and the environment. It includes interpersonal relationship with family, friends and community in the context of environment, tradition, culture and spirituality

The three components of the system are interconnected and have a dynamic relationship. Bio-psycho-social therefore refers to the dynamic relationship between the three parts. For example if a person is happy he relates well with others and experiences physical well-being. If there is a problem with any of the parts of the system the other two are affected. For example if a woman is raped, it has physical or biological consequences e.g. disease, physical injury etc. it has also social consequences e.g. the way of life with family or friends is affected. This in turn causes psychological responses in the victim and the family….

Psychosocial refers to the dynamic relationship between psychological and social effects each continually influencing the other.


Ask participants: What is psychosocial in the Somali culture?

2.  Bio-psycho-social and development

Bio-psycho-social components are essential to the normal developmental process. These components evolve with physical growth and maturation and thereby keep changing through our development process. As we mature our biology changes, our psychological and social interactions change

In helping children we need to use a holistic approach where we consider the entire person’s parts including physical, psychological, social, spiritual, economic. Understanding a person requires understanding of all the parts in the context of CULTURE, ENVIRONMENT and DEVELOPMENTAL STAGE.

3.  Personal Growth in Psychosocial Support


Each participant individually answers the following questions. Participants are encouraged to be honest with them.

1.  Why did you choose to be a helper?

2.  What do you get for yourself in helping others?

3.  What strengths do you have that will enhance effective helping?

4.  What weakness/challenges do you have that might affect your helping?

5.  How would you overcome these challenges?


After each participant has answered the questions, in smaller groups they combine their lists that are then presented to the larger group.


Helpers need to truly understand why they choose to become helpers. Sometimes people choose to be helpers for their own selfish gains. They do things in their interest, but not in the interest of the client. Other people want to be helpers because one time they were helped so they would like to pay the past kindness back. Still others want to help out of genuine compassion for people suffering. Whatever reason a helper has for wanting to help others it is important to understand its future consequences both for the helper and the people being helped.

Personal growth is not a one-time achievement, but rather an ongoing process. Helpers should continually have personal awareness and work towards overcoming the weaknesses and challenges they may meet or identify along the way. Throughout this training the trainees will continually evaluate themselves and develop strategies to deal with any personal weaknesses.

Evaluation of the day

What is the most important thing you learnt today?

What was the least important thing discussed today? Why

What things did you not understand? Why?




Trainer leads a discussion about:

·  Welfare of participants

·  Important things taught the previous day

·  Improvement needed in facilitation skills

·  Clarification of issues not understood the previous day





·  Recognize the universal definition of a child

·  What child growth and development is.

·  List the various stages of child development and the needs at each stage

·  Detect developmental difficulties in Orphans and other vulnerable Children.

·  Be able to communicate with children at various stages of development.

·  Advocate for unmet children needs

1.  Who is a child?


Who is a child according to your community?

What is child growth and development?


Different communities and cultures have different definitions of a child. Among the Somali people for example the definition of a child is derived from the Quraan. The quraan states, “When a child is fifteen years old he/she is responsible for its own actions.” The interpretation here is that a person who is responsible for his/her own actions is no longer a child, but an adult. The Somali people therefore define a child as any person below the age of 15 years of age.

International standards however have a different definition of a child, which is based on physical, social and psychological maturity.

·  The convention on the Rights of the Child (article 1) states that a child means every human being below the age of 18 years, unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier

·  The African Charter for the Rights of the Child definition of a child conforms CRC definition

Child growth and development

This the process through which a child develops or progresses physically, emotionally, socially and mentally. This development is achieved step by step as the child advances in age. A child also grows spiritually as well as culturally, though these spheres are not usually fully recognised as part of child development.

While growth is the actual increase in size height, weight and in the ability of different physical parts of the body to function, development on the other hand is the way different parts of the body improve with time in physical, emotional, mental (cognitive), social performance. The needs of a child are dependent on the stage at which the child is.

2.  Why discuss child growth and development?


What is growth and development?

Why is it important to talk about child growth and development?


Growth and development entails changing from one form to another in the various aspects of a human being (Social, Physical, emotional and spiritual). It is important to learn about and understand child growth and development because:

·  Helpers need to in know the psychosocial needs of a child at different stages.

·  It helps social workers to identify abnormal development and help families deal or cope with it.

·  Knowledge about child development enables social workers to communicate appropriately when helping children in need. Children communicate through play, body and spoken word.

·  Helps understand how emotional issues influence the way a child views him/herself and the world.

·  Helps us appreciate the effect of losing care at early stage.

3.  Stages and aspects of growth and development


What are different stages of growth according to your culture?

What are the changes that take place at each stage (i.e. the physical, cognitive, emotional and social changes?)?


Stages of child growth may be culture specific but for our purposes the following stages might be ideal.