Junger Mann sitzt am Boden und hat seine Hände auf dem Kopf, er wirkt verzweifelt. Ein etwas älterer Mann sitzt auf einer Couch neben ihm und redet auf den jungen Mann ein.

The war in Ukraine and its effects on counseling sessions

Counseling centers are reporting increasing levels of discussion of the current war during counseling sessions.

Susanne Schweiger tells us that “it is individuals in particular who are worried about the topic. They have various concerns, but they mainly worry that they will no longer be able to afford things in life as the prices rise, particularly for fuel and power.” The stress and the psychological strain caused by external circumstances continue to increase. Covid is also very present and now there’s the war, and those coming in for counseling still need to work through the personal issue that is the reason why they came to the counseling session in the first place.

“Experiences are now being triggered in elderly relatives – some of them have experienced war for themselves.” A frequent concern of many of those who come for counseling is wanting to take in and support refugees. “That’s essentially great, but you always need to look at whether it’s a distraction from the person’s own misery. Some people are also not aware that you need financial resources to support a family,” explains Schweiger. “To really be able to help others properly, you need to be in a stable situation yourself.”

The counselors have a range of specific tips for handling times like these:

  • Read the news once a day, but don’t have the news running constantly – it has a significant negative impact
  • Focus on your own everyday life
  • You need to treat yourself to nice things even in times like these – do it!
  • Be realistic when working out how you can help and don’t overstrain yourself.
  • If you are already at your limits, always think about everything you’ve already achieved in life. This will empower you.

In terms of talking to children, Schweiger recommends using a globe to show them where the war is happening. Speak factually about the current events and take the children’s concerns seriously. Don’t worry too much if the children reconstruct war scenes when they play. Experts say this is a sign that they are processing events.

You are welcome to talk through your concerns about the war at one of the Austrian family counseling centers at a free appointment.

Our interview partner

Susanne Schweiger is a psychotherapist and counselor at the "Das Zentrum" family counseling center in Vienna.

Das Zentrum- Beratung für Familien, Paare und Einzelpersonen
35/ Door 6/ Office 2
1120 Vienna
Website Das Zentrum

The interview was conducted in March 2022.

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