The Coalition for Work with Psychotrauma and Peace was founded informally in 1994 as a non-profit organization by volunteer doctors, social workers, and psychologists involved in working with refugees and asylum seekers in the Netherlands. Our official headquarters is in Nieuwe Pekela, The Netherlands and our field office is in Vukovar, Croatia.
In 1995, the CWWPP became directly involved in giving assistance in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. At that time, there were many volunteers with good will but with little or no medical or psychological training. The organization found that there was – and, as of this writing, still is – an extreme shortage of persons with skills in communication, mental health, non-violent conflict transformation, and human rights. Since that time, the organization has given courses for barefoot therapists and peacebuilders to lay people, physicians, social workers, nurses, people working in non-governmental organizations, and many others.
Dealing not only with psychological aftermath of the war but the underlying conflicts, prejudice, that preceded them is an essential part of social reconstruction. Thus, through training, group interaction and supervision, the barefoot therapist learns to confront these underlying conflicts and thereby becomes an essential vehicle of the war-to-peace transitional justice fabric. In essence, the barefoot therapist serves as a mediator of restorative justice, an essential component of all post-conflict social reconstruction. As citizen activists, barefoot therapists are not only supervise providers of psychological aid, they themselves become an intrinsic part of the durable peacebuilding initiative itself. In essence, psychological aid, social reconstruction and peacebuilding become one.
Multiple other features make such a “barefoot therapist” intervention program more desirable than a traditional professional mental health approach. Incorporating all of these considerations, the core elements of the concept of a “barefoot therapist” we began to apply as a pragmatic model for selected non-war populations (e.g. victims of floods, work with offenders, peer counseling for youth, psychology in community model, social inclusion of mentally challenged people in a process of de institutionalization, work with refugees and asylum seekers, etc.). The CWWPP began to foresee a comprehensive multi-level civilian “barefoot therapist” training program.
In the context of the CWWPP’s contacts in similar regions in other parts of the world, we are aware that similar shortages of capacity are virtually universal. Such shortages, obviously, are burdens to social reconstruction and social inclusion.
Using modern IT technology, CWWPP have been providing trainings in other regions.
In Croatia, we have been registered as a foreign nonprofit association since 1998 with headquarters in Vukovar.
We are also registered in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the branch of a foreign organization.
The organization has 501(c)(3) status in the USA.
The organization has consultative status with the UN (ECOSOC).
Further, the CWWPP is engaged with the Croatian Ministry of Justice on a program of probation and rehabilitation.
We have been closely associated with the Conflict Resolution Center International of Pittsburgh, PA, USA.
The CWWPP is associated with InterChange, which is a group of similar individuals and organizations based at the Transitional Learning Center of the University of Toronto. Our Head of Mission, Charles David Tauber, M.D. is a member of its Board.
Our Head of Mission, Charles David Tauber, M.D., also is a member of the Global Practitioner Network, which is associated with Psychologists for Social Responsibility which, in turn, is associated with the American Psychological Association.