Ipso Context

Inge Missmahl (Afghanistan-Germany)



THE HUMAN IMPACT: Refugees have frequently fled difficult circumstances and carry significant trauma, exacerbated by the stress of a new country. IPSO offers a new method of mother-tongue counseling that helps effectively process these tragedies and integrate culturally.

THE NUMBERS: IPSO operates in Afghanistan, Haiti, Ukraine and Germany, supporting thousands of people suffering from trauma. Since 2008, IPSO has been engaged in Afghanistan, where in the last year alone it has provided more than 50,000 people with psychosocial support. Originally developed in Afghanistan, now IPSO Context has been established in Germany to improve psychological support to refugees and other newcomers who have recently made this country their home.

HOW DOES IT WORK? Inge Missmahl and her team at IPSO are providing thousands of refugees with sound and culture-specific psycho-social counseling – helping refugees and those who fought in wars to work through their experiences and enable them to engage in their new communities openly and actively. IPSO Context created a new methodology which places high value on the person’s context, family and cultural background, in order to provide support without stigmatizing or requiring the person to first adapt to new cultural norms. In order to avoid shame and to reach more people, Inge developed IPSO e-care which provides online video face to face counseling for people on the move. Another key strategy has been training refugees themselves as peer counselors to reach more people more effectively, without needing to provide additional language and cultural training.

WHO LEADS IT? From dancer to humanitarian by way of analytical psychology, Inge Missmahl’s unusual life trajectory led her to Kabul in 2004, where she saw that more than 60 percent of the population were suffering from symptoms of depression and trauma. In response, Missmahl founded the psychosocial Project Kabul for Caritas Germany, a project that trained Afghan men and women to offer psychosocial counseling in 15 centers throughout the city. The project has offered free treatment to 12,000 clients to date. Psychosocial counseling is now integrated in the Afghan health system thanks to Missmahl’s efforts.

HOW HELLO EUROPE IS HELPING: People with traumatic experiences can, through a resource-oriented psychosocial counseling, see themselves as effective, capable, and psychologically stable. With this, they can engage actively and openly with the situation in Germany and sha¬pe it positively. Mother-tongue psychosocial counseling and fast, uncomplicated and low-threshold accessibility are crucial. Hello Europe has helped IPSO begin in Germany and connect with key organisms to provide cultural training to counselors and help influence the way psychological assistance is given to newcomers in order to more quickly and effectively help newcomers feel at home, break cycles of violence caused by trauma, avoid radicalization and relieve overburdened health systems. Already, over 100 counselors have been trained in Hamburg, Berlin and Erfurt, in addition to new training materials and growing influence in shaping policy and public services to enable better care for refugees and migrants.

WHAT THEY NEED NOW: IPSO wishes to connect to decision-makers from politics, business, health care systems, foundations, and NGOs that look after refugees to help shape the way care is given to consider mother-tongue, culture, and the need to empower refugees as counselors. They are also hoping to spread to other European countries with large migrant and refugee populations.