How to build bridges between people with the help of psychology: Andrii Bortov's experience

One of the participants The first closed charity auction "Volunteer Amulet", and as a result, and the winner of the online voting for the best social project, the public organization "Association of psychologists, psychotherapists, doctors, teachers and scientists "Psychological place "CDC" became the winner.

Today, ElitExpert spoke with the founder of this organization, psychologist Andrii Bortov, to find outwhat is the difference between a professional approach and the so-called "infogypsy"; is it true that PTSD is observed only in the military; how to help children with special educational needs, and in general to get answers to dozens of questions related to psychology and society's attitude to it.

— Andrei, tell us a little about your education and professional path...

By my first education, I am a technological engineer of port transshipment equipment. But in fact, I worked in my profession only during practice and summer vacations. As soon as I graduated from the university, I went into creativity almost immediately. Participated in the KVK, then worked for 8 years on radio and television. He worked both on local TV and on the national TV channel "Inter". I have my own project "School of Scientific Miracles": it has been in existence for 12 years and has visited 13 countries of the world - from Europe to Arab countries

- What kind of project is this?

- My daughter was two years old, and I wanted her to get acquainted not only with entertaining, but also educational things. Currently, our project is aimed at school audiences aged 6-14, because this is a format they are interested in. In the West, there is a concept of "edutainment" - a combination of education and entertainment. It is important to find a balance between these components in order to stay in your niche. I've always called the School of Scientific Wonders a magic pendulum for those kids who want to learn something but lack the motivation.

At the same time, since the beginning of the "School" we have been engaged in charitable activities, giving away part of the tickets for these purposes. Tickets are not cheap, but it was important to us to give the opportunity to attend the show to those children who could not afford it. We cooperated with various departments of the city council dealing with family and youth affairs, gave them tickets and organized charity concerts ourselves.

- Has your project changed over time?

— Yes, the project has evolved and is now a festival called "Brainfest", where the "School of Scientific Miracles" is a key part of the program. We found a temporary home in the Masks Theater, which makes us very happy. This allows us not to limit ourselves to rare concerts, but to hold shows every month.

  It is often said that we embody our own dreams or needs in our children. Do you agree with this?

- Absolutely. I believe that it is important to listen to the child's wishes. In this connection, I created the information product "Experienced Dad", where I held several lectures for parents. Then, when the quarantine started, I started creating videos that combined experiments with improvised means that parents had to do with their children. I even wrote the material for a whole book, even made up the title - "How to sell a child or a healthy approach to parenting". This is because many children's activities, at the request of parents, turn into an interesting form of "monetization" of the child.

— It turns out, you became an expert in child development completely by accident?

- You can say that. For parents, I have become the authority that knows how to find an approach to children. My base of practical experience of interaction with children and parents led to the acquisition of a third education - psychology. And now I am convinced that age psychology should be studied in every university, in every specialty, in order to improve communication between people. After all, knowing the peculiarities of development at different stages of age, we could avoid many conflicts.

— And what direction did you choose for further education?

· Now I have a great postgraduate course. A year ago, we opened a psychological center, which became a public organization. An association of psychologists, psychotherapists, doctors, teachers and scientists - "Psychological space of the Center for Social Development".

I will explain what it is. Just today, I was talking to a girl who specializes in a certain field of psychology, and I explained that we do not compete with different areas and schools of psychology. On the contrary, our center is able to unite them all.

In addition, an important aspect of our activity is that we provide a platform for practical training of students from many Odessa universities. They come to us at the "Psychological space of the Center for Industrial Development" for industrial, introductory or pre-diploma practice, getting the opportunity to get acquainted with the work of a psychologist in its various formats. We organize meetings for them at the mental health center and invite famous (and not so) psychologists, as well as interesting people who have found themselves in a certain field. This opens up new opportunities for students. Last week we integrated the students into our online group for kids where they could observe and participate in the process. I aim to involve them in various aspects of the work of a psychologist, demonstrating that the profession can include not only individual sessions, but also group work, which is especially relevant today.

Where do you see the main application of the psychologist's work?

- In general, the work of a psychologist can be very diverse. For example, you can work in a school, or implement corporate culture in companies where there are even separate psychological services, or engage in consultations in the psychological services of state institutions. There are psychologist positions in call centers, as well as specialists who work without being tied to a specific direction, providing consultations to anyone who wants to. The work of a professional psychologist, who helps teenagers choose a future profession, and a psychologist-mediator, who resolves conflicts between people or organizations without the involvement of lawyers, is separate. You can also be a psychologist-addictologist who specializes in helping people with addictions.

We strive to be a kind of guide, showing students the diversity of areas in psychology. And in this aspect, we also want to develop, creating new courses and projects in cooperation with universities. Our goal is for these programs to be certified and of high quality, not just invented without any structure or purpose.

What is the difference between a professional approach, consulting, training, etc. "infogypsies"?

— The main aspect of professionalism is work within the framework of established standards and forms. The difference between the professional approach and the "infogypsy" is in the certification and systematicity of the proposals. "Infogypsies" can offer something interesting and useful for personal growth, but most often these are uncertified and separate projects that do not fit into the generally accepted framework. In a professional environment, responsibility is important: if we invite a speaker, his contribution should bring real benefit, not "cut money" and leave. By the way, this concerns not only the maintenance of educational standards, but also the issue of motivation and goals. This, by the way, is the answer to the question. why do we work in Ukraine? Already during the war, I was offered to open a branch in the Arab Emirates - they said: "Andrei, this is a great opportunity to leave here, we will help you." Aleya feels that my role and contribution here in Ukraine is much more important. I want to be useful and useful not only as a psychologist, but also as a person who contributes to learning and development processes. This realization and the desire to bring benefit here and now became defining for me.

Is psychology a business, public service or volunteering for you? How would you describe it now?

— Psychology permeates everything: relationships, business, helping people. This is the science of the soul. And of course, in the modern world, it is impossible to conduct activities in this area without thinking about the material side, regardless of whether it is a private center or work within the framework of grants...

At the same time, our activities also include volunteer projects, for example, psychological support for children with diabetes, which we provide free of charge. We invest our own funds to support such programs, striving to be useful. In addition, we work with groups of women and children affected by war, and many of our programs are implemented on both a free and paid basis. Despite the financial costs, we strive to do more than psychology. Our center serves as a platform for practical training of students, motivating them to professional growth and offering opportunities for further development and employment. We see our role not only in education, but also in creating a community of professionals who are ready to support and develop each other.

How does the current situation in the country affect the development of your projects, especially those related to rehabilitation?

— Of course, now, more than ever, there is an acute need for rehabilitation — not only as military personnel, but also for their families, wives, and children. We are faced with the category of children from families of internally displaced persons and those who live in difficult life circumstances. They all need help, as many families are forced to build a new life "from scratch". In addition, there is the challenge of trauma rehabilitation, grief and PTSD, not only among military personnel, but also broadly in a national context. After all, although PTSD is now associated with the military, it can occur not only in the military. They simply have the constitution of this disorder more often.

We strive to improve the qualifications of specialists, create certified courses and offer the services of the best specialists. It is important to understand that psychologists sometimes need the support of other psychologists.

- Many people say that it is worth contacting a psychologist to "put your brain in its place." So what does psychological support and counseling actually provide?

-Psychology helps to better understand one's feelings and reactions, especially in difficult life situations. Roughly speaking, a psychologist is primarily needed so that a person learns a little more about himself. This applies not only to personal growth, but also to the ability to find "resources" in oneself when there are serious challenges around, for example, war, as now. The second important area of ​​the psychologist's work is group sessions, where people with similar problems can support each other. Such meetings help to realize that you are not alone in your experiences.

In addition, a psychologist helps parents better understand their children and their age characteristics. In general, now a psychologist is becoming an integral part of any field - from education to health care.

What do you see as the role of a psychologist for a person and society in general? Do you think that a psychologist helps to look at the situation more objectively?

— Of course, psychology adds adequacy and objectivity to a person's perception of the world. Often, due to worries or low self-esteem, we perceive ourselves and the surrounding reality differently than it really is. A psychologist helps to see reality more clearly, which simplifies the interaction of the Cosmos with others and makes existence more harmonious.

That is, psychological help is a kind of "magic kick"?

-Exactly. But it is important to understand that in the end all the work on oneself is done by the person himself. The psychologist only guides and supports on this path.

— What tasks and projects are a priority for you now?

First of all, I want our Psychological Help Center to become a powerful multidisciplinary center that will effectively help people according to the current challenges. This is the first, the second - we have a number of specialized directions, even within the framework of our public organization. We have a center for psychological assistance for children with special educational needs. These are special children, and they and their parents need a special approach. We are currently looking for various opportunities, take an active part in various events, and are talking about opening a children's inclusive resource center. Although this has to do with psychology in part, I believe it is absolutely necessary for our society right now.

One of the most important directions for me is personnel training. That's why we opened a unit within our organization called the Center for Professional Development and Training of Psychologists.

In our activities, we cooperate with several educational institutions: Pedagogical University named after Ushinsky, Water University, Higher Maritime Academy, International Humanitarian University. The plans include a partnership with the Communications Academy, the Polytechnic and Military University, and the Law Academy.

  There is also such a moment that when few people know you, you are not recommended. But the students were like other practitioners who were recommended to them by others and came to us. I see that they are interested and students choose us, finding interesting opportunities for development here. For example, they can organize and conduct psychological events with professional support: using presentation equipment, quality sound and comfortable conditions for online and offline participation. This experience allows them to feel confident and professional while working in a supportive environment. This is important not only for their personal growth, but also for preparation for the future career of a psychologist.

Can you tell us more about the inclusive center? What tasks will it solve and what specialists will work in it?

  Our inclusive center is designed to work with children with special educational needs. Its primary mission is to provide quality support and specialized services, which will include individual and group sessions designed to take into account the unique needs of each child.

 At the same time, for the full-fledged operation of the center, funding is needed, first of all, for the rent of the premises and the payment of highly qualified specialists - speech therapists, teachers, neuropsychologists and physical therapy instructors. Our goal is to create an environment where every child can receive the necessary help and development in a comfortable and supportive environment.

During the year, we implemented a program together with the Family Plus charitable foundation, aimed at improving the psycho-emotional state of children with special educational needs, speech disorders, and disorders of language functions aged 3 to 9 years. And we noticed that the main need of parents was the socialization of their children and receiving quality help from specialists. Therefore, we organized small groups of two to four people, where parents also took an active part in the process, working directly with the children. This brought good results: children began to communicate more with others, getting used to the new environment, and parents gained more knowledge and confidence in the development and upbringing of their children.

What can you tell us about your team?

- We have done a lot of work on forming a team that will be able to cooperate with us. It was important to ensure that all techniques were certified and the entire process followed the logic of the right approach. We aim to keep the cost of services affordable even if we are unable to find additional funding. Thus, the cost of services will be lower than the market average, which will allow us to work more efficiently.

At the moment, we are ready to temporarily give up the profit in order to have enough funds to pay employees, rent premises and purchases necessary for the development of the project. This is a combination of social initiative and commercial activity, because we cannot yet afford to work on the project completely free of charge. But this is a very important and necessary step.

· Have you calculated how much the project will cost to run for, say, a year?

- Actually, the cost is not very high. If we talk about rent, then it is approximately 8-10 thousand dollars per year for the premises. We get such lease terms on the condition that the center will carry out social initiatives, so the lease rate is reduced. Thus, we can rent a larger area at a lower cost per square meter. Business comes to meet us, offering, for example, annual rent at a discounted price, if such programs are implemented. In the end, it is about 350-400 thousand hryvnias. Plus, the salary fund for specialists is approximately 100 hryvnias per month. With such expenses, the project can work almost on its own, and all children will be able to attend it for free.

In general, we see that many people and organizations are now willing to help, but sometimes businesses lack an understanding of how the support system works. The problem of many charitable organizations and public foundations is that they cannot clearly and clearly communicate the essence of their activities to potential grant donors. It is important not only to say that the organization conducts classes for children, but also to show what criteria and indicators of success are used to evaluate the effectiveness of these classes. Donors need to see not only the financial statements, but also the tangible results of the program to ensure its value and impact.

      That is, the project will require about two million hryvnias per year?

Yes, in hryvnias it seems like a large amount, but it is only 50 thousand dollars a year. And the exemplary number of children who will be able to regularly participate in the programs and undergo rehabilitation with a noticeable result is at least 350-400 people per year. This is quite a significant amount, so it is really worth the investment.

We cooperate with a representative of one of the inclusive resource centers of the Odesa region, who is very active and progressive, and developed a special protocol for a child's entry into the program. That is, the child must attend classes for approximately 1,5-2 months, during which the specialist fills in various points of this seven-page document, which is a form of diagnosis. After that, a plan is developed for the child for the next six months to eight months, according to which he will attend classes according to a certain schedule. Thus, the first couple of months of classes are also diagnostic, allowing us to pinpoint the problems that the child came with. Changes in such children do not occur immediately, therefore, a minimum of 8-9 months of training within the framework of the developed plan is necessary.

— And how much will the amount parents have to pay be?

 Our idea is to provide all children with the opportunity to study, regardless of the financial status of their parents. Parents who cannot afford to pay for their child's participation will be able to contribute a certain amount, pay hourly... This payment will support the system in such a way that it is also accessible to those children whose parents cannot afford to pay for these classes. This creates a balanced system that works for the benefit of all participating children, allowing every child to have equal access to educational and developmental programs, regardless of their families' financial means.

All parents who participate in the program apply and we have a database of these families. We actively organize events for children with special educational needs, which not only give parents a chance to relax, but also give them new tools and knowledge to better understand and support their children. In general, I am sure that everything will work out for us!

Olena Ovchinnikova spoke.


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