Paul Sterk

Consultancy, trainingen en advies








I developed a training for intermediars, working with asylum seekers, refurgees or returnees. This training will coach workers in finding the right attitude:
“How can I support someone as a professional but also keep empathic distance?”
To do so you must learn more on mental health an psycho social problems and how to deal with that. Not as a mental health worker or counselor but to be able to distinguish if someone needs professional mental support or referral.

The training will learn professionals and voluntairs the special developped Mind-Spring tools to work with this special targetgroups.

The content of the training:

How to motivate refugees and give realistic view of own possibilities and situation. What are my (best) chances?
How do I (as a worker) deal with hopelessness, blackmail and how can I evaluate the (mental) health status of a refugee?
The training I developed proved that workers from COA and refugee council in the Netherlands felt better equipped to work with refugees, asylum seekers and returnees.
Professionals of IOM workers from: Austria, Ireland, Holland, Spain, Germany evaluated he training also as " very valuable for our work"

The themes witch are addressed:

Day one:
Negative self-image and regaining your positive identity.
How can you support people who feel hopeless to rediscover their own resilience? In this session we learn to use the “Identity circles” a Mind-Spring methodology to refind a positive identity.

Preventing development of a victim identity.

There are three sorts of returnees in a support/peer group:

-      Returnees who manage to build up their lives and reintegrate quite easily (it will be a challenge to keep these people involved in a peer group)

-      Returnees who need some encouragement and support to start off again (they will feel motivated by the first group)

-      Returnees who have complex psychological issues that hinder their reintegration and will need additional support (identification and reference will be needed)

"How are you today?"
This module follows the RET approach and is a practical method from the Mind-Spring method to help people to develop an more realistic expectation of situation and possibilities.
If you have been in an abnormal situation such as war, disaster, refugee situation or as a returnee it is normal to feel overstressed, depressed or in panic. It is helpful to recognise those are only temporary overwhelming emotions. If you recognise them as a “normal reaction on an abnormal situation” you can learn to control your emotions again.

Rational Emotive Training
"Are your emotions in control, or do you take back control of your emotions”?
RET Rational emotive training, a methodology to support each other and empower people.
participants will learn to work with individuals and groups on “helping people to learn to help themself”. RET is the base we used in Mind-Spring and found that to be a very strong tool which can be used on different professional levels:

-        RET as rational emotive tool, for helping yourself and or  friends (returnees)

-        RET as rational emotive training, for helping yourself, family, friends and communities. (community (health) workers etc)

-        RET as rational emotive therapy for professionals to use in counseling groups or individuals. (Nurses, doctors and psychologists)

In the Mind-Spring methodology, we use the RET to help people re-finding a positive identity.

It proved to be a very strong method for people in a situation as refugee, asylum seeker or returnee situation.

Day two
Part 1:

"Diagnostics on grassroots level", how you t difference between psychiatry and psychological symptoms. And how do you deal with suspicion? And when do you refer, to whom?

The normal reaction to an abnormal situation. What is normal and when is it abnormal
Explain the normal reactions to abnormal situations on four levels:

  • Physical: back pain, headaches, sweating etc..
  • Emotional: crying, anger, joy, sadness
  • Cognitive: oblivion, inconsistency, loss of concentration, repetition, stuttering etc.
  • Social: isolation, selfishness, aggression, conflicts here and there etc.

Other differentiation:

  1. 1.Social problems (loneliness, stigma, conflicts, marital problems,…)
  2. 2.Emotional problems (fear, feeling unsafe, worries, sadness, feeling humiliated, anger,…)
  3. 3.Behavioural problems (sleep difficulties, passivity, aggressive behaviour,…)

Grief and loss:
Grief is a very strong emotion which can be very overwhelming or fearfully. By explaining and understanding the process, you feel less stressed about your overwhelming emotions. (psycho education)

Part 2
Interview Training:
This is an interview model called "four ways of asking". This model is developed and is comparable with the rose of Leary. However this methodology simplified the rose of Leary to four ways of helping; questioning or listening to clients, each with a different outcome. I use this technique to coach workers in "helping conversation." This methodology proved to be very helpful for workers in their interviews with clients but also for coaching workers.

"Whose problem is it?"
Learning to redefine problems. There is often confusion about whose problem it really is. (who is the owner of the problem and who’s responsible for the solution)
Workers often feel the claim from clients that they “have to solve the problem”, sometimes even feel emotional blackmailed.
In this exercise we will try to recognize those situations and will train to use the techniques we just learned, to redefine the problem. Who is (can be responsible) for solving the problem.
In this exercise we make use of a realistic casus.

Day 3:

Objective is to have a workshop to make an outline for the booklets your organization wants to develop.
Some of the themes where subject of the training in the first two days. Other themes will be outlined in workshops during the day, which will result in an outline for the booklets.

1. Pre migration aspect:

  • Identity and Self –Awareness, Socio and Cultural determinants;
  • How did others perceive me before I left my country?
  • Conditions in Home Country
  • Family ties and relations with local community
  • Access to services , integration and happiness levels in home country
  • Status in Home Country (social / financial etc?)
  • Working/professional experience in Home Country
  • Reasons for Leaving Home Country
  • Leaving with family or unaccompanied
  • What was expected of me by leaving? ( from family/friends i.e. earn money, study etc.) Has this been achieved and if not how do I learn to accept or cope with this fact?

2. Process of migration:

  • Potential questions which relate to the en-route process?

3. Experience in country(ies) of transit and destination:

  • Do you feel your identity as an individual changed as a result of being a migrant?
  • Response to the Immigration Process and legal status– Irregular vs. Asylum status
  • Positive and negative adjustments/reactions to the destination country's lifestyle and culture including indigenous population’s response to me (experiences of racism, not integrating due to language barriers, work experience – underpaid? Low skilled jobs? etc)
  • Increased skills as a result of employment experience in destination country

4. Return and post return aspect

  • Factors influencing my decision to return – facing dilemmas?
  • Conditions surrounding return
  • Economic self-sufficiency and asset building –do I feel sense of loss? Do I feel stronger as a person with new acquired experiences in life?
  • Expectations- What are the expectations-from myself, family, and local community? How does my family view return if they are returning with me. How do my relatives back home see my return? What do I expect on return? Coping mechanisms/strategies.? How has my experience changed me and my perceptions of my home, local community and family?
  • Empowerment : I have changed; I discovered a new me.. Changes in self perception
  • Experiences and events during the migration cycle- How did experience and events during my migration process change my expectations on my return?