In-person [Final] Capacity Strengthening Training – Project “Acting Through Art”

As part of the “Acting through Art” – sponsored by the Swedish Institute, we, together with Prevention for Progress, have organised several online capacity-strengthening training since September 2022. During these online trainings, we have addressed the following topics:

  • Science of Prevention by Giovanna Campello (UNODC)
  • Media, Recovery, and Photovoice by Mulka Nisic (University of Derby)
  • Reintegration – best practice example from the Democratic Republic of Congo by Dandy Yela (WFAD DRC)
  • Mental health and substance use among adolescents by Monica Barzanti (San Patrignano)
  • Motivational Interviewing by Asia Ashraf (Peace Inn)

Finalising the project and the capacity-strengthening training series, we organised an in-person two-day workshop on November 21st and 22nd in Telavi, Georgia. The workshop welcomed a total of 31 participants, including the speakers. The participants were representing the Recourse Officer’s Office, Probation Agency, and the Referal Centre as well as various non-governmental organisations working in the field.

Over two days, we delved into various topics presented by our speakers, including practical tools:

  • Strengthening Protective Factors of Youth, including a Children’s Rights Approach by Regina Mattsson, WFAD
  • Gender Differences in Treatment and Recovery, Importance of Peer Support, and Destigmatisation by Mulka Nisic, PhD Researcher and Project Manager at the University of Derby, UK
  • Interactive Workshop on Addiction Severity Index by Janita Vallius, City of Gothenburg
  • Opening Remarks and Presentation on [the progress of] “Acting Through Art” and Way Forward Natalia Tsagareli, Prevention for Progress
  • Sharing of personal experience by a beneficiary of the Project Acting through Art
  • The theory, design, and implementation of art therapy for adolescents – outcomes and challenges by Meri Gelashvili, KAMARA

On the first day, the presentation on Prevention showcased the current drug situation in the World and the need for more preventive measures as it has a mediating factor and adheres to the child’s right to be protected from the use and trafficking of illicit substances. While developing prevention methods, it is essential to look at the protective [and risk] factors and enhance the protective factors. Together with the science behind prevention, the presentation also shared some practical tools and best-practice examples which have been implemented by other nations and have proven to be successful.

Secondly, the presentation on Recovery shared that recovery is possible and that the length of the recovery process, on average, is eight years. It also highlighted that Recovery Capital is essential to define protective and risk factors and should be looked at when supporting a person in recovery. CHIME is another method with which one can ‘measure’ whether something is effective and whether the services provided are helpful. The presentation also shared outcomes of the research, Life in Recovery, in which the positive changes were clearly visible. Nevertheless, the research did showcase that, especially among women, 60% of those in recovery have not treated their emotional and mental health problems. Adding to the fact that women reported a higher perceived stigma and barriers related to family, relationships, and mental health, this is concerning and can become a risk factor.

Third, the interactive workshop on ASI dived into the Addiction Severity Index – which is a standardised method and procedure with questions for all. The main goal of ASI is to make a good assessment to offer further support while gathering data as an additional benefit. ASI aims to understand how often the problem appears and how big it is. The workshop involved the participants by having them participate in two different exercises, discussing the considerations in treatment and practising with the ASI questionnaire.

After the programme on the first day, we were invited to visit the treatment centre of the organisation of one of the participants. The treatment centre does currently not have any clients due to a lack of funding but will be restarted again in January 2024. We were shown around the facility, while the staff elaborated on the offered activities, and the routines, as well as showed the products produced by former residents.

The second day highlighted an overview of the project activities of the “Acting through Art” Project (a therapy module of 16 sessions including art therapy – 8*2h – and clay sessions), including statistics and outcomes. The group was joined by one beneficiary who shared her experiences with Art Therapy. Overall, she expressed that she was happy to have participated and to have gained positive experiences from it. We were also joined by the main psychologist of the programme who had conducted the therapy sessions. She elaborated on the therapy method while also sharing her observations and challenges convening the sessions. She also shared some of the artwork made by the youth and their thoughts behind it.

The day was finalised by a discussion round among the participants. They were able to share their experience partaking in the project while also sharing their feedback and ideas for a potential follow-up programme.

Overall, the feedback was positive and the workshop was considered a success. We hope to continue collaborating and allowing more youth to join the sessions while strengthening the capacities of the agencies.

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