Volunteers “Smile for Ukraine”: Proper psychological rehabilitation of ATO servicemen is a prerequisite for Ukraine’s future


Kyiv, July 7, 2015. “You can be a winner of a battle, but lose the war because the winner is unable to revive his country. This is why the psychological rehabilitation of servicemen is vital,” said French expert on neuropsychology and psychosomatics Nicolas Tacusell during a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. Tacussel is also a specialist on the theory of leadership, in addition to founding of the NGO Smile for Ukraine.

Yuliya Savchuk, Project Manager for Smile for Ukraine, laid emphasis on the importance of rehabilitation. “Our heroes can become our enemies, and it will be like a gangrene burning the country from the inside,” she added.

So far, Smile for Ukraine is working purely on a volunteer basis and needs support from the Ukrainian community as well as the Ukrainian government. “It is important for us to come into contact with the largest possible number of psychologists from all over Ukraine,” added Diana Prokopyshyn, Project Manager of the organization.

Nicolas Tacusell, who has significant experience working with the top level management of large French companies in the areas of the psychology of leadership and conduct, said that he decided to found a non-governmental organization in Ukraine dedicated to providing psychological aid because the level of the culture of psychological help in the country is quite low. “Unfortunately, consulting a psychiatrist is not popular in Ukraine and it has to be changed,” said Tacusell.

The program designed by Nicolas Tacusell, who has worked with leading sportsmen on developing techniques for optimization of their potential, differs considerably from other rehabilitation programs currently existing in Ukraine. “It is important to understand that the mentality of a military man in eastern Ukraine is a full program that must be realized. It is surely impossible to do with the help of art-therapy – for instance, with the help of drawing. A psychologist’s work should be task-specific and properly scheduled,” explained Tacusell. Rehabilitation programs planning to condition servicemen to return to civilian life must differ considerably from those for soldiers planning to go back to war, as they pursue opposite goals,” the expert is convinced.

According to the volunteers, the main goals of the NGO are the following:

To conduct special rehabilitation programs for Ukrainian servicemen;

To conduct special rehabilitation programs for children from the east of Ukraine, IDPs and children who lost their parents;

To conduct trainings for Ukrainian psychologists and to cooperate with other Ukrainian NGOs, providing them with a specially developed set of Smile for Ukraine rehabilitation programs;

To conduct trainings for volunteers to introduce them to Smile for Ukraine programs in psychological rehabilitation so that these volunteers can use these programs in their work.

Tacusell said that he managed to personally provide consultations to more than 60 Ukrainian servicemen, while around 300 to 400 servicemen received psychological help from other Ukrainian psychologists who based their method on Smile for Ukraine techniques.