May 28, 2020 | Bucharest, Romania |
During these very difficult times, the work of Respiro has grown a lot on the counseling side of things. So many people have contacted the Bucharest-based association asking for help, that in addition to the psychologists they already had on the team, they have added five pastors to the ranks who handle the spiritually focused cases.
“We are hard at work, but we enjoy great results,” said Gabriel Iarca, Respiro Association president. “Our plan for the future is to extend our counseling platform, and to be able to offer even more complex psychological and spiritual counseling services.”
CD-EUDNews interviewed Iarca to gain a better understanding of the association’s work.
What has been Respiro’s strategy to handle the current crisis?
In order to be effective, we organized our work from home and a project team member is in charge of keeping in touch with our team of volunteers. We created a registration system through which individuals affected by anxiety or depression due to the pandemic, can request psychological and spiritual counseling. Each counseling session is provided by Christian counselors/psychotherapists or pastors specialized in cognitive behavioral therapy. Clients are able to take advantage of at least six hour-long counseling sessions, during which they work with their counsellor on developing skills for coping with things like anxiety and panic attacks, and to restore hope.
How has Respiro continued to offer services to its clients through the quarantine situation?
Because of the current restrictions, we moved all our activity online, as our team is working from home. All of our efforts have been focused on providing special assistance to everyone who requested our help. In order to organize our work, we have three weekly online meetings with our internal team.
How do people find and connect with Respiro?
We now have all of our services on our website and social media–Facebook and Instagram–and during the pandemic our number of followers increased significantly, as did the number of counseling requests, online registration for our online courses, and downloads of ebooks.
Psychological counseling is now the most followed service. We have a team of professional counselors and psychotherapists who are trained to provide psychological interventions in different situations; they also have a Christian background and they provide Christian-principle-based counseling using science-based methods.
Do you have a notable anecdote to share?
One of our counselors worked for a couple of sessions with a young lady who came to us in a psychotic episode. She was incoherent; she thought that someone was after her, and she called the police and said that she was a terrorist. After the initial episode, she followed up with a series of counseling sessions in our free counseling program. At the same time, she followed a treatment indicated by a psychiatrist.
As much as possible we tried to help her reintegrate into her environment. She was living by herself because her mother was in Italy; during her crisis, we contacted her mother and she was able to come back to Romania to take care of the girl. After a couple of sessions, she was prepared to get back to college and finalize her studies and work on her thesis.
After a while, the girl decided to move from Bucharest to Iași where her school is, and to make a fresh start there. She is now working with her first psychotherapist from Iasi.
Recently, she sent us a thank you message expressing how much the therapy she got at Respiro helped her to restart her life. She said, “You are doing wonderful work for young people.”
How do you feel about reopening your physical location? Do you think that will happen again soon?
We hope that face-to-face interaction will not be restricted after the pandemic ends and we hope to get back to our headquarters. We think that face-to-face interaction is better, but we will be prepared in case things change again and we must return to online-only services.