Emotional ‘first aid’: how we can be a safe haven
Besides physical care, providing emotional support is one of the most important things we focus on in our work. We always try to make our doctor's offices a safe haven.
Our interpreters play an important role here. As the link between doctors and patients, they are often the ones who provide the first reassurance and comfort to emotional patients. Our interpreter team in Poland therefore recently received training in ‘psychological first aid’ from one of our doctors.
“During the consultations, patients sometimes become very emotional. Sometimes people get upset or start crying,” says our field coordinator Tuva from Krakow. “To help our interpreters, who generally have no medical background, deal with this, we offered them this training.”
The training covered different ways to provide emotional support to patients. Tuva: “Think of creating a safe environment where a patient feels understood, or helping a patient who is hyperventilating to calm down. You can do this, for example, by breathing together and speaking to someone as calmly as possible.”
Providing this emotional support is hugely important. “We work in a context where many people have recently experienced trauma. They have often been separated from their families and have more or less lost everything that was dear to them. In the midst of these intense situations, we are allowed to be there for people. That is a unique position.
People come to us to be in a place where they can find peace and quiet. By offering them support and help in their traumas, worries and sadness, we want to offer that safe haven they need.”