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Gewiss e.V.

Trauma Helpers – a new concept to make trauma-oriented psychotherapeutic work available to many


As of now, approximately 400,000 refugee children have arrived in Germany and will most likely stay for some years, as well as attend the school system – as they should. This is for their own good and, ideally, should not have a detrimental effect on native pupils.

We know that children that cannot concentrate – for whatever reason – can potentially encumber the learning experience of the other fellow students. What are the reasons? Hunger, stress in the family, e.g. also due to chronic illnesses or trauma.

As far as we can tell by first impressions, about every 40 th refugee child is severely traumatized and will need extensive professional help in the mid-term. We estimate that every 10 th child is impacted profoundly as to show symptoms of trauma that we have to take seriously. Symptoms are restlessness, attention deficit, uncooperative behavior, aggressiveness, sleep disorders or day dreaming.

Our approximately 3000 child and youth psychotherapists and 700 child and youth psychiatrists can potentially help the most severely traumatized, but cannot help the larger mass of inflicted refugees.

This is our program’s starting point: The large number of volunteers has encouraged us to bring this model of trained lay people to Germany. This model has been known to be successfully practiced abroad, and is known here in Germany in anamnestic groups or with the AAs, and has been initiated and supported by German psychotherapists.

What is a trauma helper?

1.      A caring person that can stomach bad stories, is willing to get trained in a 2-day workshop and accompany a child for a half day per week for 10-12 units.

2.      Ideally someone who by their profession, is experienced with psychiatric illnesses and who can deal with children, such as students of medicine, psychology, pedagogy, teaching and nursing, healthcare, parents, etc.)

3.      A person who has participated in our course and continues educating themselves independently (by reading the relevant literature) and who proceeds to take care of children in the trauma-therapeutic supervision according to our program.

How do we see “trauma help”?

A child psychotherapist experienced in trauma therapy examines the child and the family in the case of the observed symptoms above. To make sure their story can be well understood and documented, a translator may be asked to join if language skills are limited. This examination will be done by a child psychotherapist or psychiatrist authorized by the health insurances.

So far (in Germany) we have been able to regionally negotiate the following ways to finance this process:

a)     insurance card

b)     authorization through the social security

c)      department of youth welfare

d)     donations

It is upon you to find your own creative way to financially support this work on a local basis. Therefore we recommend collaboration with a certified child psychotherapist or psychiatrist, depending on your country’s social welfare system.

What does the treatment entail?

If the child is able to, he or she will be joining a weekly after-school group of up to 10 children for a determined time period of ideally 10 weeks. Alternatively, if the child is in a transitional integration class in school, this may happen right in school during class time-- provided the school cooperates and there is a room available and enough other children to form a group. In any case, it is essential that each child be accompanied and supported by a “trauma helper” while an experienced child psychotherapist supervises the group and is on sight.

The group begins with a therapeutic song that, in and of itself, conveys self-stabilizing techniques like slow breathing, patting techniques, SURE, functional relaxation.

After this, there will be a 10-15 min period of play, guidance through and documentation of possibly challenging emotions, followed by a second phase of emotional stabilization, a second play period and then a final gathering to end the session.

After the children leave, the trauma helpers and supervisor hold a 45 min debriefing meeting.

The duration of the treatment is 10 weeks. Older children work on age-specific techniques derived from the narrative exposition therapy in a separate group. Sometimes we literally give the children something to hold in their hands, not only in the shape of an object that helps stabilize their emotional state but that also works on multiple levels, e.g. we utilize the breathing-pace maker bear.

These above mentioned trauma specific techniques are being taught during the 2 day training workshop, as well as

·         tested and scientifically proven self stabilizing techniques for immediate de-stressing and psycho hygiene

·         Internet-supported anonymous pre-post self examination via questionnaires to evaluate the level of stress for the trauma helpers themselves during this work.

Special materials for Teachers and Schools

We have prepared special trauma help packages for teachers of all types of schools for their continued education.

1-hour orientation program with three topics to choose from:

1.      Trauma in children - a scientific explanation

2.      Traumatized children in school – simple interventions to help concentration

3.      Self-regulation with functional relaxation

2-hour program with two of the above topics

4 –hour program with exercises

Additionally, we offer a project day for all types of schools, also for schools over 1000 students, designed with evaluation as well as proof of efficiency.

Special programs for support of organizational well-being

These techniques for self-stabilizing can also make things easier at work. Similarly to the seminars for teachers, we offer different one-hour orientation programs with these topics to choose from:

1)     Understanding and recognizing burn-out

2)     Simple intervention for the prevention of burn-out

3)     Self-regulation with functional relaxation

2-hour program with two of the above topics

4 –hour program with exercises

Additionally, we offer a day seminar designed with integrated evaluation as well as proof of efficiency. There is also the possibility of interactive webinars.

Please contact us for more information. Send your name and request to 0172 8136545.

What is SURE?

SURE is an acronym and stands for

S hort or Somatic

U niversal

R egulative

E xercise

-          SURE is a psychological self-regulation technique to lower stress

-          SURE is a body-centered relaxation technique

-          SURE is based on the repetitive practice of monotonous movements that become automated and that are supposed to induce a state of relaxation

-          SURE’s success can be validated with the so-called Carpenter Effect.

Carpenter first described a phenomenon wherein only the imagination of a body movement creates unconscious slight activation of the muscles, called ideomotric movements. The phenomenon came scientifically in discussion to explane for example the table turning in spiritistic sessions in the 19 th century, but also in the context of hypnosis, outside of the awareness of the hypnotized person or caused by pain.


What are the advantages of SURE?

-          Fast and simple to learn

-          Ready and quick to use

-          Possibility of training large collectives

-          Possibility of un-noticed use


How has SURE been used so far?

-          combined with theoretical and practical teaching contents in introductory mental training programs

-          in the context of crisis intervention

-          by the Moscow ambulance


Presentation for the German Psychosomatic Congress 2015:

A dissociation self-relaxation techique that is quick to learn, self-directed and body-oriented (SURE) without preparation in critical situations is as effective as PMR

Kutz P. 1, Loew T.H. 2

1 Asklepios Klinik, Hamburg St. Georg, Klinik für Anästhesie, Hamburg, Deutschland,

2 Universitätsklinikum Regensburg, Regensburg, Deutschland

(dieser Text ist etwas „messy“.... ich habe gerafft...)

PR and AT (Erklaeren?!) are stress-reducing. Their disadvantage is  that they take weeks of practicing as well as a quiet setting and also the opportunity of laying down. Traumatherapy includes stress alleviation techniques, albeit with the same limitations. What was missing is a universal physical approach that works on somatic and psychological symptoms through easy exercises. We show that SURE can close these gaps. It is derived from the Sufi teachings and therefore also interesting for Eastern cultures.

46 ambulance staff participated in a ramdomized, controlled study. Using a recovery-stress-questionaire we compared pre and post data after 8 weeks of treatment. We found significant advantages for SURE in the areas of well-being, emotional irritability and fear.

SURE is able to efficiently lower the impact of stress with ambulance staff, but it is not more efficient than the already established relaxation technique of PMR. With one advantage over PMR: it is much faster and easier to learn!

If you are interested in hosting a workshop in your town, please feel free to contact us.


The Organization

GewiSS e.V. was fouded 2012 to help people with health problems. The founders were Beate Leinberger and Prof. Dr. Thomas Loew.

(Die Abkuerzung/innerer Schweinehund funktioniert ueberhaupt nicht im Englischen



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Refugee Aid

We are training volunteers in order to support traumatized refugee children as effectively as possible in processing their horrible experiences. Interested volunteers attend a one week-end trauma therapy workshop to acquire skills to enable them to work with stressed refugee children while being supervised by child and youth psychotherapists as well as trauma therapists in small groups.

Since our program is not sponsored by any official institution, we are  dependent on donations to sustain this project.

We also gladly accept donations in form of therapeutic materials. You can see the necessary props for the dramatic sand play and for the drawing therapy in the photo galery


Ways to donate:


For small children that participate in the dramatic sand play with a lay helper, we require 50 E per child to assemble the therapy materials.

The older children prefer to work through their trauma issues with traumaspecific art therapy. To cover their needs, we need 20 E per child.

To ensure identical materials, we regretfully cannot accept toy donations.





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