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Dear readers, We present you with the second edition of the War Trauma Center Bulletin. After numerous reactions to the first Bulletin, we have made an effort to include as many possible people from our multiple programs in the writing of this edition. We thank all those that sent us suggestions, praise, and critiques. We would again like to invite all feedback on this edition as well. We especially thank those who sent texts and photographs, helping to inform us of the latest updates in your work. This demonstrates our improved communication between the people in our multiple programs, which was set as a goal in the first edition. Awaiting us next year is much work, studies, and plans. For 2010, we wish you good health in order to maintain enthusiasm and motivation for your future work. We will be following and highlighting your successes in the pages of your bulletin. Editorial Staff of the War Trauma Center Bulletin

january/february 2010


Impressum waR TRaUMa CeNTeR BULLeTIN, Edition 2, January/February 2010. FoUNDeR aND PUBLIsHeR: War Trauma Center Kosovska 7, 21000 Novi Sad e-mail: web: eDIToRIaL sTaFF editor: Slađana Ljubičić ( sub-editor: Vladan Beara ( Designer: Zoran Dragić ( tel: + 381 64 153 54 62 Language editor: Dušica Kokotović Translators: Lane Stopher and Milica Jakšić Contributors: Branislava Vajagić, Brana Nevajdić, Milica Jakšić, Jelena Matković, Dragan Žuljević, Lane Stopher, Milan Colić, Ljudevit Kolar, Vladan Beara, Predrag Miljanović Photographers: Goran Petrović, Ilija Petrović, Narcis Mišanović (Sarajevo) Slavoljub Staletović (Vranje) Correspondents: Vranje: Marija Jovanović, Miodrag Tasić, Ivan Lazić, Goran Manasijević Vlasotince: Snežana Popović PRINTING: PrintXpress, ( Ćirpanova 20, 21000 Novi Sad




News From the programs of the War Trauma Center


Regional Meetings in Novi sad and Tuzla

E vEn t s

Support groups - a program expanding in the region

More Knowledge - Better Results

Additional Education for Facilitators of Support Groups in Serbia

The First Contact is the Most Important

The Counseling Center promoting communication with beneficiaries


E vEn t s

experience and Knowledge Lecture by Vladan Beara for young professional in Banja Luka and Sarajevo

Catch Up

Agency Team conference on new concepts for personal development

6 8

In t Er n at Ion a l vol u n tE E r D ay

”when I’m good I want to help others be good too”

Volunteers of the War Trauma Center Celebrating the 5th of December vol u n tE Er ’ s W orD s

Volunteerism and/or Professionalism? by: Milica Jakšić r u f f lIng s omE f E at hEr s

Behaviorist’s Recipe for Tradition by: Dragan Žuljević


s pa cE for ED u c atIon

something Bad is Going to Happen by: Jelena Matković f r om m y c or nE r

Lane, what are you doing? by: Lane Stopher

10 11 12

E vEn t s

santa Claus in Vranje

Children and Adults - a well organized team in preparation for the humanitarian gift exchange ceremony In t Er vIE W

My friend, can I speak with you a little?

Interview with Nenad Milanović, a war veteran from Vranje p hoto stor y

Dialouges in 2009 JAN/FEB 2010

(news) JAN/FEB2010 A PresentAtion of the Center during MilitAry MediCAl ACAdeMy syMPosiuM Vladan Beara and Predrag Miljanović on the 29th of January presented the work of the War Trauma Center during the symposium “Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: contemporary trends in research and treatment.” The symposium was organized by the Department of Psychiatry and the Center for Continuing Medical Education, Military Medical Academy in Belgrade, and in cooperation with the Serbian Psychiatric Association and the Psychiatric Section SLD. In front of 400 psychiatrists and mental health professionals from all institutions throughout the state, the representatives of WTC presented the professional volunteer work of the Psychological Counseling Center, the growing popularity of the program Support Groups for people with war experience in Serbia and the region, and the significance of Dialogue Groups between veterans and youth. The WTC and the IAN Center for rehabilitation of torture and trauma victims were the only two NGO’s asked to present in the symposium.

PArtners of the WAr trAuMA Center Representing the Dutch Center “Kontakt der Kontinenten” Marian Rameyer, Henk Bekker and Bert van Der Linde were on a three day working visit to the War Trauma Center over the 1820 of January. By referring back to the results from the beginning of the project “Wake up Veterans!” the Management Team of the WTC along with the Dutch partners worked on an operational plan till May 2010. Also during this visit the representatives of these two organizations discussed ideas regarding their further cooperation in the future. Ineke A. A. Hogenkamp (Senior Policy Advisor for Southeast and Eastern Europe and MATRA Program Department) and Mark A Rutgers van Der Loeff, (Second Secretary of Royal Netherlands Embassy, Belgrade) on December 8, visited the WTC. During their brief visit they meet with Miloš Antić, Vladan Beara and Predrag Miljanović. In the meeting the guests, supporting the goals of the WTC, articulated their satisfaction with the activities of the three programs of WTC, and also expressed their willingness for future joint work.

PsyChologiCAl Counseling Center in novi sAd: The Counseling Center of the WTC on February 25 hosted more than 20 masters students who are currently enrolled in the course “Practicum in psychological counseling”. The students were presented with the goals of the organization and the principles of counseling work. Dragana Brdarić and Branislava Vajagić provided information for them regarding the practicum portion of the course, as most of the masters students in the future will be carrying out their counseling practicum in the Counseling Center. The Counseling Center is entering into March with the shortest waiting list of counseling recipients to date. Currently there are no more than 5 people on the list. From the beginning of 2010, the Counseling Center’s twenty active counselors have held at least 200 counseling sessions. Four

counselors have met 16 times with war veterans for individual counseling.

continue to gather once a month in the facilities of the association “Veterans for Peace.”

In January and February the CC held 3 regular supervisions. The Supervisors were Boris Popov and Predrag Miljanović. It has been noted that supervisions have been better attended, and that counselors have been participating more actively in the process of supervision by exchanging with one another about their experiences from their work.


suPPort grouPs for PeoPle With WAr exPerienCe:

novi sad The support groups for war veterans, facilitated by Ljudevit Kolar and Goran Petrović, met four times during the period of January and February during their regular time every other Monday. The facilitators estimated that during this time period all 6 group members attended all the meetings, which often lasted more than twice as long as normal. “I am surprised at the activity of the members. This year the groups have started well with high levels of participation and because of their willingness to help one another find solutions to their current problems. They share their experiences and opinions amongst themselves; sometimes I think that they don’t even need us facilitators” said Ljudevit Kolar. Support Group for veteran’s partners and women with war experience gained a new member for the start of 2010. According to one of the group’s facilitators Brana Nevajdić, the old members were informed that she would be joining the group, they accepted her from the very first meeting supporting her in order for her to feel welcome. There are now 6 members in the group. In the last 2 months the meetings were held every other Wednesday. The group’s facilitators Brana Nevajdić and Tanja Nikšić pointed out their excellent cooperation, and that they are functioning well together in their facilitators team. Ivan Kralj, leader of the intervision group and counselor in the Counseling Center, visited a support group for war veterans, in December. As a psychologist Kralj was a guest in the group in order to help both group members and facilitators in solving specific problems. Ivan Kralj was well accepted by the group because of his expertise, but also because members of the groups saw him as a person who has war experience. In the January meeting of the intervison group, Ivan Kralj gathered the facilitators of veteran’s groups, Lj. Kolara, G. Petrovića, and the facilitators of the women’s group B. Nevajdić and T. Nikšić. With mutual support and the exchange of experiences, these people were able to help one another in solving problems that they experience in their work.

vlasotince Facilitators for the support group for war veterans in Vlasotince are continuing to work on expanding their program in the Jablanica county. They are supporting the beginning facilitator work of Boban Gorčić from the village Badince. There are plans for active work groups in this small village that has a few more than 100 households. Besides this work, the other 4 local groups will

On February 16, Miodrag Tasić, Ivica Stevanović, Ivan Lazić, and Dalibor Trajković, all war veterans from the association War Veterans of Serbia for Peace(WVSP), participated in a blood drive. The action was organized by the basic Red Cross unit of the Police Administration Vranje, and marked its fourth year of existence with collecting 265 units of blood. In addition to the war veterans, other participants included many members of police and military, and citizens from Vranje and from the Pčinja county. Bojana and Ivan Lazić, from the association WVSP recently received public recognition from the city of Vranje for their humanitarian work. They received an award and prize money on January 30, at a Conference of academia on the celebration day for the liberation of Vranje from the Turks. In the full room of the theater “Bora Stanković”, the couple couldn’t hide their excitement as their foster home and humanitarian work were recognized by the local community. Ivan Lazić shared this regarding the special moment: “I am surprised and very happy that the city finally sees the useful things ordinary people and their families do. At this moment a veteran’s family is in the spotlight and I am proud that it is mine.” The war veterans association WVSP on January 29, attended the celebration day of the 4th Brigade of Land troops of the Serbian Army, and garrison in Vranje, held in the barracks “First Infantry Regiment of Prince Miloš Veliki.” According to the members of the association WVSP, this is important because for some time the initiative of the Commander of the 4th Brigade of Land troops of the Serbian Army, Brigadier General Milosav Simović, called for the festive events, inviting associations of veterans, veterans with disabilities, and citizens of Vranje. Regarding the New Years and Christmas holidays, members of the group veteran bikers cooperated with the humanitarian organization “Životna pomoć” (Life Help), by raising material help for those most vulnerable in the village Donji Stajevac, municipality Trgovište. The help consisted of 500 kg of food and 20 packages of clothing, which was distributed to the children of the elementary school “Vuk Karadžić” on January 13, 2010. The group facilitator, Goran Manasijević, graded this activity as a success and harked back to activities of the past. “Last year the group of veteran bikers participated in a blood drive, and raised support for children attending the school for children with disabilities in Vranje. As a group we are proud of our work in the local community and plan to participate in similar activities in the future.”

Cuve: On December 17, 2009 the year’s final dialogue “Veterans and youth” was held in the Novi Sad Center for Social Work. War veterans Goran Petrović, Ivan Kralj, and Ljudevit Kolar spoke with 6 at risk youth. The dialogue was lead by Milan Colić, along with a local associate Aleksandra Birta, a psychologist in the Center for Social Work. The next dialogue is planed to be held on March 1 with a new group of at risk youth.



Regional Meetings in Novi Sad and Tuzla SUppoRT GRoUpS - A pRoGRAM ExpANdING IN ThE REGIoN


he program Support Groups in december support groups. Milan Colić presented the program Constructive 2009 and January 2010 held 2 regional meetings which Utilization of Veterans Experience, which currently is conducted

gathered representatives of Veterans Associations from the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska, and Serbia. In the meetings one subject discussed was the possibilities for regional cooperation in the period of 2010-2012. These discussions took place following the War Trauma Center’s conference in September 2009, when the initial discussion about regional cooperation took place. The War Trauma Center (WTC) organized the first meeting in Novi Sad on December 9th and 10th. This meeting was attended by representative from: The Association of Veterans from the 90’s from Serbia, The Association of Veterans Treated for PTSD from the Federation of BiH, The Association of Demobilized Fighters from the municipality Novi Grad, Sarajevo, facilitator groups from six municipalities in Republika Srpska - BiH, Pax Christi from Derventa, and The Association of War Invalids from Travnik. The representatives had the opportunity to present the agreements from their respective organizations regarding their readiness to enter into regional cooperation with the WTC. Participants were also able to hear experiences of implementing the Support Groups program from people who have been facilitating

through Dialogues “Veterans and Youth”. The second regional meeting was organized by the Association of Veterans Treated for PTSD - Stećak, and was held in Tuzla over the 23rd and 24th of January, 2010. Besides the event’s organizers, representatives from the WTC were present as well as Spasoje Kulaga, on behalf of support groups from Republika Srpska, BiH and Pax Christi. Participants left the meeting with the decision that further cooperation will be developed on both bilateral and multilateral levels. After returning from Tuzla Predrag Miljanović, the coordinator of the program Support Groups for people with war experience said to the Bulletin, “The meeting was very constructive because the members recognized the need in their communities and associations as they are looking for possibilities for implementation through the program Support Groups. The WTC can contribute to this process primarily through education programs for potential groups of facilitators and for people supporting those facilitators. Additionally, we also opened the possibility for using our experience working with youth. These meetings are important because they are the building blocks for solid partnerships in the work of building peace in the Balkans.”



More Knowledge The first Contact is Better Results the Most Important AddITIoNAL EdUCATIoN foR fACILITAToRS of SUppoRT GRoUpS






he War Trauma Center (WTC) organized

a seminar for facilitators of support groups from Novi Sad, Vlasotince, and Vranje. The education was given by Branislava Vajagić, Predrag Miljanović, Vladan Beara, and Miloš Antić in Novi Sad from the 25th -27th of December 2009. The seminar provided the participants with specific knowledge related to facilitating support groups, and in order to improve the efficiency of their work. This education was designed on the specific topics which were identified to be needed by the 15 participating facilitators. The focus of this three day training was on: dynamic processes and group structures, systems of facilitators’ support, and personal development for individuals in the groups. In the beginning of the seminar, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the basic rules of facilitating support groups. This questionnaire was intended to show which information should be emphasized in the education process. Based on the results of this initial questionnaire and the evaluation form collected at the end of the seminar, topics were revealed which still needed further work, specifically regarding the facilitators’ group and future planning for educations. The participants stated that the three working days satisfied their expectations and their goals for the seminar, and that their new found knowledge would be helpful in their work. According to the members of the education team, Branislave Vajagić’s education was successful because all participants were interested, highly motivated, and active throughout the entire process.



n december 18th Branislava Vajagić, the coordi-

nator of volunteers in the Counseling Center, held a two-hour workshop for the volunteers of the administrative support program. The goal of the workshop was to: introduce the volunteers with guidelines for communicating with beneficiaries, counselors, and for the process for discussing counseling agreements. As beginners in this work, Vedrana Miljanović, Dušica Kokotović, and Milica Jakšić had the opportunity to hear from the program team of the Counseling Center (T. Boškić, B. Vajagić i S. Ljubičić) regarding the problems they may encounter in this work, what are the most frequent questions beneficiaries ask when they call the Counseling Center, and suggestions on how to work in accordance with ethical principles. When citizens for the first time turn to psychological support, it is very important that they receive relative information about the services provided in the Counseling Center. Those people who are providing them with that information need to be adequately trained because the first contact is an important preparatory step for beneficiaries entering into the counseling process.


JAN/FEB 2010

experience & Knowledge leCTUre By vlADAN BeArA For yoUNg proFeSSIoNAl IN BANJA lUKA AND SArAJevo Dr. reMZIJA ŠeTIĆ wITH UNDergrAD AND poSTgrADUATe STUDeNTS, AND yoUNg ColleAgUeS AT THe FACUlTy oF pHIloSopHy IN THe UNIverSITy oF SArAJevo

vlADAN BeArA, progrAM ADvISor For THe wTC


n the 5th and 6th of December in Banja Luka, Vladan Beara, program advisor in the War Trauma Center, was a guest lecture as part of an education on Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The education was organized by the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Association for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy from Banja Luka. In the first day Beara spoke with the second-year students on the topic of war trauma and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The following day the third-year students had the opportunity to learn about therapists and client’s constructive and destructive beliefs from Beara. The director for these young professionals’ education in Banja Luka is Mr. Igor Krnetić. Mr. Igor Krnetić, is a psychologist, the president of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Association for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and an Associate Fellow in the Albert Ellis Institute in New York, USA. Mr. Krnetić is also an accredited international supervisor for Rational Emotive and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. On October 23, 2009, psychologist, masters, and doctors of science

had the opportunity to hear Beara present in a seminar that was held by the Psychology Association of Bosnia Herzegovina, at the Faculty of Philosophy in the University of Sarajevo. - When experts in this region open discussions about war, frequently they are surprised by the strength of their emotions and the weight of their memories, as each one of them felt war on their own skin. Some of these experts were children of veterans, some were refugees, and others were active participants. Young therapist from the beginning should know that psychotherapist’s work with war trauma and PTSD has its own specific qualities. The qualities specific to working with war trauma and PTSD, differ greatly compared to those inherent in working with anxiety and depression problems of neurotic forms. Because of these differences it is necessary to explicitly cover the specificities of working with PTSD during psychotherapy education. Regarding the future experts in the region. These people have experience and now they are gaining the knowledge - Vladan Beara says.

Catch Up AgeNCy TeAM CoNFereNCe oN New CoNCepTS For perSoNAl DevelopMeNT


ecember 16, 2009 in the Novi Sad Fair Masters Center, the organization Agency Team held a conference “Uhvati Korak” (Catch up). This conference provided an opportunity for approximately 100 experts and students of the social sciences to be introduced to the newest psychological achievements in the area of personal development. During the eight-hour enriching


program, our distinguished experts with extensive theoretical and practical experience informed those present about the latest empirically based knowledge. Vladan Beara, program advisor for WTC, held and interesting lecture about the potential psychotherapy value of Native American spirituality. Participants intently listened to the lecture about the prehistoric culture of this nation of people that predated modern society. The participants were introduced to the Native American’s concept of spirituality and its relevance for today’s psychotherapy. Beara, during his lecture drew a nice parallel between the Native American’s philosophy and modern man’s experience of existential loneliness

and lack of meaning in life. PhD Mikloš Biro, a professor in the Department of Psychology in the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, gave a presentation that pushed participants to reconsider the effect of psychotherapy through questioning how influential the placebo effect is on the therapy process. The professor’s colleague, also from the Department of Psychology, PhD Ljiljana Mihić informed the young experts about “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) - third wave Cognitive Behavioral Treatment, which is defined as a therapy that uses the process of acceptance, mindfulness, committed engagement, and behavioral change with the goal of achieving psychological flexibility. PhD Mihić’s lecture was full of information about the historical context of the inception of ACT, her scientific founding, and comparisons of similar therapeutic orientations. Through the straight forward and interesting theme “Can you learn confidence and if so how?” MSc Snežana Tovilović, of the Department of Psychology, spoke about the experience of applying these programs for personal development and creating healthy interpersonal relationships. PhD Milenko Vlajkov, from the Institute for Cognitive Management Stuttgart, Germany and an international supervisor in the Albert Ellis Institute, New York, USA, also presented during this conference. He displayed the newest results from neuropsychological research about the physiological basis for cognition as well as preserving and improving factors of cognitive functions. The participants were able to listen to the data Vlajkov observed through his work regarding abilities of improving logical cognition as well as improving and preserving one’s fluid and crystallized intelligence. The Agency Team did an outstanding job of organizing this event and invited excellent lecturers which helped the participants to catch up and achieve great strides in the area of personal development.

lJIlJANA MIHIĆ, phD, DepArTMeNT oF pSyCHology IN THe FACUlTy oF pHIloSopHy, UNIverSITy oF NovI SAD




By: sLAđANA LJuBIčIć photos: ILIJA pEtroVIć

VoLuNtEErIsM Volunteerism is the mobilization and involvement of individuals and groups who voluntarily agree to provide services to a specific population, through an adequate selection and preparations process. Volunteerism is based on the idea of self-help, mutual aid, and philanthropy. Most frequently volunteerism is implemented in religious, humanitarian, social, and nongovernmental organizations. Volunteers often are rarely professionals but through good selection, preparations, supervisions, and feedback they can achieve a significant degree of professionalism. Definition from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

”When I’m good I want to help others be good too” VOLUNTEERs Of ThE WAR TRAUMA CENTER CELEBRATE ThEIR DAy


The resulTs of The global survey

VoICE oF thE pEopLE (Vop)

from 2008. In total 56 countries surveyed 60,000 people, which represented a population of 1.5 million people Volunteers in the World North America 46% Latin America 29% Western Europe 28% Central and Eastern Europe 12% Africa 27% Asia 25% World 28%

n December 5, 2009 the War Trauma Center (WTC) brought together 40 of its volunteers for a collective celebration of International Volunteer Day. In order to recognize this international day of gratitude, the WTC wanted to give recognition and thanks to all of the individuals who invested their time and involvement in the WTC’s program activities. This event was a “meet and great” opportunity for counselors from the psychology Counseling Center, facilitators of support groups, and participants of the dialogues “Veterans and Youth” to meet and interact together. Even though all the volunteers have been working for a similar goal in the same organization some never had the opportunity to meet until the 5th of December. Finally the volunteers were able to meet and discuss with one another what they are doing as part of the broader mission of the WTC. Even though it was pouring rain the entire day, volunteers travelled from Zrenjanin, Vranje, Vlasotince, and Leskovac in order to gather together in Novi Sad. When the guests arrived, the lobby of Hotel Sajam was full of people ready to celebrate the special day with their colleagues. The atmosphere was excellent, the program was very dynamic and easy going, and the organizers were pleased to see all of the motivation for this work. The program was festive, but still structured. Facilitating the program was Miloš Antić, Melanija Kološnjai – Nenin, and Milan Colić. For an opening Miloš Antić, Executive Director of the WTC and coordinator of the project “Wake up Veterans!”, gave a speech emphasizing the importance of the volunteers’ work, highlighting that without the volunteers’ contributions, the organization could have never developed its programs as quickly as it has in the past 10 years time. Melanija Kološnjai - Nenin, WTC office manager, gave an interactive presentation defining volunteerism as a social action that is voluntary, without pay, organized and time bound. With her many years of experience in working with volunteers

“Regardless of personal motivation if I volunteer in one organization and someone else in another, we change the world together”, Vedrana Miljanović, a volunteer in the Counseling Center.

VoLuNtEErs IN sErBIA ANd thE rEgIoN In Bosnia and herzegovina more than 20% of the population volunteers, this is the highest percentage in the countries of the region. serbia with a volunteer rate of 16% occupies second place. Bulgaria is the country with the lowest percentage of volunteers in the region; this places it in the last place on the European list and the World list.





JAN/FEB 2010


in the civil sector, Melanija K. Nenin very clearly explained the distinctions between internship and volunteer status. “Trainees are not volunteers because the law requires them to work in order to receive the right to take the professional examination. Real volunteers do not work because of the state, but rather because of themselves and other people. They volunteer with a conscious decision to contribute to the resolution of some problem, thus affecting social change. We don’t know when there will be laws to regulate the status of volunteers in our country, like in developed countries where large sums of money are saved through volunteer work, but it will not stop us from continuing to volunteer”, said Melanija K. Nenin. The coordinator of the program Constructive Usage of Veteran Experience, Milan Colić presented a dynamic and interesting workshop encouraging participants to think about their volunteer roles in the WTC. Working in small groups the participants discussed their work, about their motivations and the personal benefits from volunteer work, and how they see themselves contributing to changes in society. Miodraga Tasić, a war veteran from Vranje and facilitator of a support group, responded to these questions with this statement, “When I am good, I want to help other people to be good too. In working with youth through the dialogue groups, primarily I’m trying to reduce violence amongst youth. If I couldn’t help my own children because I was in war, let’s get working now to help someone else’s children. I think this is how I can contribute to a better fu-



Sorry you don’t have any work experience Volunteering helps the unemployed as it includes them in the community, and reduces the negative consequences of unemployment. People without work volunteer to gain experience, to maintain their previously acquired skills, and to strengthen their business contacts which can quickly lead to a job. Volunteer work builds an individual’s value in the labor market. according to the World bank’s study on the assessment of the labor market, half of all young people in Serbia are unemployed. one of the reasons for this high rate of unemployment is that the majority of employers require previous work experience, which causes large problems for young people applying for jobs. because of this, there is a need for legislation regarding volunteering, which would clearly define volunteerism and that can introduce young volunteers into firms and corporations as a form of practice. through this employers will save money and the state will more easily resolve the problem of unemployment amongst youth.


ture for the youth in Serbia and in the region. For me the biggest benefits are doing something that I love, associating with pleasant people, and learning every day.” After the working portion of the program the volunteers were surprised with two unexpected arrivals. First Slađana Ljubičić, the coordinator for communication and volunteer in the program Counseling Center, unveiled the first edition of the WTC Bulletin. The unveiling of the first edition of the Bulletin was specifically coordinated with this day of celebration. Participants were interested in thumbing through their copies until Slađana presented the roles of people in the Bulletin.“On the pages of the Bulletin your work is presented, and everything that you have achieved. The bulletin will help to improve our communication, through making visible to everyone the achievements of the programs in the Center”, said Slađana Ljubičić. The second surprise for the participants was volunteer booklets that were designed and made by Melanija and Milana Nenin. Passing out the booklets was especially enjoyable as the volunteers received each other’s booklets and needed to find the correct owner. Dinner and socializing concluded the day for the volunteers. Approaching the end of the year and with the spirit of the coming New Year the Center’s successful work was concluded in this, the last joint meeting of 2009. The WTC also wanted to acknowledge the volunteers that weren’t able to join the celebration, and to wish them the best of luck in their work in the coming year of 2010.




volunteer’s words

Volunteerism and/or Professionalism? By: MilicA JAkšić


first came to the Counseling Center for war trauma in May 2009. At that time I was a student in my final year of a psychology degree. I had a decent level of academic knowledge regarding psychology but I had very little practical knowledge in the field. Frequently it comes up in conversations with colleagues from the Center, and I would like to repeat it here, but before I was involved in the work of this organization I was very skeptical about the whole idea of volunteerism. Until now volunteer work was a gray area in which I knew something was occurring but I was never clear exactly what.  It appeared to me that volunteers were people working on something together and usually they were drawn to this specific work based on similar ideas and convictions. My perspective regarding volunteerism was based on the abusive concept of volunteerism, rather than on the usage of volunteerism. To be honest I never doubted the value or importance of truly dedicated volunteer work. This was one of several motives that led me to jump into the volunteer story. Another reason I began volunteering, although no less influential, was because I wanted to see what I knew and what I didn’t know, and to learn about those things that I was not familiar with. I didn’t start volunteering in the Center as a counselor randomly or without reason, but why at this specific point? The answer to this question is that I simply didn’t feel that I had enough knowledge and skills to begin counseling until I was close to completing my degree. The process of choosing which organization to volunteer in was also not random. Even from the very beginning when I started to think about where and how I wanted to be involved, the War Trauma Center was one of the main options. The reason for this was because of the serious issues people were dealing with in the WTC. My thinking at that moment looked something like this: “So they have been engaged in this subject for a long time, considering the difficulty of this subject it requires a serious commitment, they must be a legitimate organization that is seriously committed to their work. That’s where I want to be.” An additional reason was because of the WTC’s collaboration with the Psychology Department of the Faculty of Philosophy. This for me was yet another favorable argument for the Center’s competence and seriousness. For these reasons I became a counselor in the Counseling Center for WTC.  It would be untrue if I said that I came with no expectations. I expected a certain level of seriousness and commitment to the work, and I found this. Additionally I also found a good structure of communication and a strong support network among the counselors.  To me this way of communicating, at the Counseling Center level, provided stability, and all new counselors entering the Counseling Center accepted this style of communication as a necessity. Also the experienced counselors and supervisors were respectful and patient with all of us new counselors. Because of these things I felt that the Counseling Center was functioning very well.  According to my impressions there is a strong focus and commitment to professionalism and ethics in the Counseling Center. A large majority of the volunteers carry out their engagement in a consciously dedicated manner. This is just one more reason for the overall success of the Counseling Center. Another key reason for this success is the fact that all sides in this story receive something important and useful. Clients receive free psychological counseling and the volunteers have the opportunity to gain relevant knowledge and experience.  Through that the Counseling Center provides a system of support for war veterans and civilians through the help of young professionals. In this situation everyone has an opportunity for growth and development; through professional volunteer engagement, and volunteers are able provide a useful service to their community. The reward for well done volunteer work is the pleasure that follows 45 minutes in counseling rooms 1 and 2. 



Ruffling some feathers dear readers, welcome to the corner where we will deal with alternative views on classical and traditional themes of philosophy and society. Wanting from time to time to shake up the everyday understandings of relatively important things, we will try to ruffle some feathers of everyone and everything. Why? only in order to inform you that there are opinions about important things that could be characterized as different and exotic. We have no intention to alter your opinion, but rather to “ruffle some feathers” regarding tradition views, and naturally the first subject is tradition itself.

Behaviorist’s Recipe for Tradition By: drAgAN žulJEvić


n addressing the problems of mental health, whether from the perspective of preventative counseling, clinical diagnosis, psychotherapy, or others, psychologists and practitioners notice that most epithets of psychopathology are to some extent implicitly or explicitly linked to the cultural determinants of the environment in which the phenomenon occurs. Clusters of symptoms that indicate dysfunction in a specific period of life or during social development are at times culturally appropriate, such as the appearance of depression symptoms following the sudden death of a beloved one or an increase in the incidences of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a post-war period. The community’s acceptance of these symptoms is mostly defined by culturally or traditionally expressed symptoms. As an example, pedophilia was commonly known and even considered a desirable activity in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, but in scholastic Europe it was secretly being carried out while at the same time was being addressed more or less as a public sin by church clergy and aristocracy. Today pedophilia is considered a mental disorder defined as paraphilic, and it is severely punishable to act in the same way as a medieval philosopher of antiquity. Given that every mental disorder has its own causes or manifestations in a client’s social spheres, thinking or rethinking about the position of certain disorders in the context of current traditions can only be of use. So, what is tradition? RECIPE foR TRAdITIoN The development of a phenomenon labeled as tradition has been in touch with psychology as early as this science was founded as an independent and relevant discipline of scientific explanation. In a number of both successful and unsuccessful attempts to analyze the development of tradition, we found most interesting the one made by an unknown author which was circulating through mailing lists. Though it tends to be a parody we can see from it how it can viewed by a witty theoretician of learning in orthodox behaviorism. So here is the recipe for how to make a tradition with help from ten chimpanzees, one banana, and a water hydrant. INGREDIANTS: 1 large cage with ladders, 10 starving chimpanzees, 1 banana, and 1 hydrant. First capture 5 chimpanzees in the cage. Within this cage hang the banana on a rope and place the ladder beneath it. It is most certain that at least one of the apes will climb towards the banana. However when he begins to climb, spray all of them with cold water from the hydrant. After some time when the second ape tries to grab the banana, repeat the procedure so that all the apes are sprayed with cold water again. It would be obvious that in no time, when the next ape tries to reach for the banana, others will jump on him to prevent from being sprayed again by the cold water. Now you can stop with the spraying. Remove one of the chimpanzees from the cage and replace him with a new hungry chimp that will see the banana and try to get it. To his surprise, when he reaches for the banana the other chimps attack him, for a reason that is unknown to the new chimp. In turn the new chimp most likely thinks this behavior is crazy. After another attempt and attack, the chimp will understand that he will be attacked only if he tries to climb the ladder towards the banana. Now again replace one of the chimps in the cage with a new chimp. The new chimp will climb the ladder towards the banana and will be attacked. The previous newcomer will enthusiastically join into the attack policy on the hungry newcomer. In the same way gradually replace all the old chimps with new chimps. The new apes are attacked every time they try to climb the ladder. Most of the chimps have no idea why it is forbidden to climb the ladder, so why not participate in the thrashing of strangers. After all of the original team of chimps has been replaced with new chimps you can conclude that none of the chimps in the cage have ever been sprayed with the cold water. However not even one chimp tries to climb the ladder towards the banana even though all the chimpanzees have and irresistible desire for the forbidden fruit. Why? How do they know, it has just always been done that way. And why? Who cares. And now we have made tradition. JAN/FEB 2010



nxiety is a condition that is characterized by the sense of arousal and fear that something terrible will happen, with psychomotor tension and inner turmoil. Some people often have the sense that they will “explode” and that they will lose control of themselves. Anxiety is not connected to a concrete object or person, more so it is a feeling that certainly something terrible will happen. People also worry that they will not have the personal capacity to deal with the situation. Physical changes occur in the body due to the release of adrenalin as a result of fear. While these changes are occurring within the body suggesting that there is danger, the surrounding environment doesn’t send a corresponding message of danger. This natural defense mechanism is desirable in certain situations when a person is in real danger. However, why is this taking place when there is no real danger, but the body is still preparing for flight or fight? A person experiencing anxiety is always on alert, thinking that there is some danger that is coming. These people’s automated nervous system is more easily activated than others. Because of this it is no wonder that these people can be frightened from a surprising sound, which can cause a variety of symptoms. Anxiety and panic attacks are a result of the compounding stress in life. These people constantly believe that something or someone is threatening them. They doubt that they can get adequate outside help, or that they will have enough strength and abilities to deal with the difficulties. This experience can be extremely difficult for intelligent, self-reliant, rational individuals who tend to keep things in their life under control. Anxiety is a very uncomfortable feeling, in which a person literally loses their entire grounding which is not at all enjoyable. It can become so intense that a person can think that they will lose control of themselves and the situation (that they will go mad or die, that they will become sick, or that something will attack them or someone will threaten them, and they fear that in any one of these situations they will not have the capacity to deal with the problem). Symptoms (the longer this condition lasts the greater in variety and intensity the symptoms will become) including: accelerated and irregular heart rate, palpitations, chest pains, exhaustion, pain in neck and shoulders, loss of appetite, nausea, diarrhea, derealization phenomena ( a feeling of being alone with all surroundings appearing unreal, as if in a dream where everything is in a fog as if seen through a filter)depersonalization (a feeling of being outside your body, viewing it from a different angle), trembling, dizziness, headaches, hormonal imbalance, Globus Hystericus (lump of in your throat), difficulties swallowing, improper breathing,

somnia, nightmares, gasping and feeling of suffocation, rash, shivers, obsessive thoughts, generally increased sensitivity, weakness tingling in legs and arms, flu like symptoms, fear of madness, fear of death, and fear of loss of control, dry mouth, and sweating. Of course each person might be able to add others to this list from their own personal experience. WORRy- A HEALTHy ALTERNATIvE Anxiety is always bad and unhealthy; however, there is a healthier alternative and that is worry and concern. It is both normal and desirable for a person to sometimes worry about themselves, loved ones, and the future. However, when it becomes a burden and the person begins to intensively think about it then, worry develops into anxiety. So a person in their own thinking, more specifically in the way of their thinking, contributes to how they feel! When they fall into the vicious cycle of excessive negative thinking, every problem seems more intense and realistic as the potential dangers seem to multiply. From reality a person finds themselves in the area of “projection and fantasy” where there exist no adequate means of fighting because it’s impossible to know exactly what they are fighting against. How often do you start sentences with “And what if…?” There is always some theoretical situation in the future to fear in which it is unclear what will happen and for which maybe you won’t find a solution. As a part of this it also happens rather frequently that people will impose thoughts that are unsightly and offensive. These thoughts then become obsessive and no matter what the person does to escape them they only return to their consciousness stronger and more unpleasant. The person can interpret the irrational and dysfunctional thoughts as a strong indicator that something is terribly wrong with him and that the madness will come as a logical consequence. However, the “mad” person is never aware of the process! Therefore it should be bore in mind that there are some thoughts that are prohibited and permitted! Thoughts can only be pleasant or unpleasant. HOW TO SOLvE THE PROBLEM? It is necessary for a person to be aware of all that happens to them and to understand how and why they contribute to it. And then it is necessary to work at accepting this unpleasant state of uncertainty. What is certainly the most important point though is for people to work on unconditionally accepting themselves and learning how to love and not condemn themselves. At the moment a person finally accepts that it is possible that their greatest fears might come true, but it is only a small probability, they experience a huge sense of release from the suffering of anxiety.



Lane, What Are you Doing?

by: lane StoPHeR


hen I talk to people no matter where they are, usually one of the most frequent questions I am asked is “What are you doing?” This is a question

that was difficult to answer before I left the United States and in many ways hasn’t become any easier here in Serbia. Some people describe me as a Missionary, Peacebuilder, or Volunteer. Different people in different contexts refer to me and my work in a variety of ways, but how do I view my work here in Serbia? In August 2008, I received the official request from MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) and WTC (The War Trauma Center) for me to come to Serbia to work and live for 3 years. Finally I had something specific that I could tell people regarding my plans after college. This was fairly significant for me as in the United States it is expected that college graduates will have a plan for their lives following graduation, whether that plan is a job, further education, travel, or service work it doesn’t matter just as long as graduates have something. So with the news of my official invitation to Serbia I began to tell people about my plans for working with MCC in Serbia. The community that I come from is predominately made up of Mennonites, and because of this most of them are familiar with the work of MCC, or so I thought. Mennonites are a specific group of Anabaptist Christians that first formed during the reformation in the 16th century. A foundational belief of the Anabaptist theology is the commitment to peace, justice, and nonviolence. MCC is a relief and peacebuilding organization that was founded by Mennonites in order to demonstrate and carry out this commitment to peace and justice in the world. One of the first remarks I would usually get when I told people of my plans to go to Serbia and work for MCC was, “Oh, you are going to Serbia to be a Missionary.” To this day I get cards and emails in which people refer to my “missionary work”. Personally this was and continues to be troublesome for me for two main reasons. First because these are people that should be well aware of the fact that MCC is a relief and peacebuilding organization, and has nothing to do with prostalatizing in the way that missionaries do. Secondly this is a problem for me because I personally have strong emotions against the idea of missionaries and their mission of converting or pushing a religion on another population. Even though this was and still is frustrating for me, in the context of my local community it is the frame in which people often view me and my work. This forced and continues to force me to be more deliberate and strategic with the way I frame my work when speaking with people from my local community. In Serbia, after people learn that I am an American undoubtedly the next question is “what are you doing here?” No matter if I try to answer this question in my limited Serbian or in English the word volunteer always surfaces in the conversation. The word volunteer often enters the conversation on its own, or immediately following the questions “how do you make money… who pays you?” In the context and culture of Serbia and the Balkans perhaps the term volunteer is the best word to describe me and my work; however personally I don’t consider myself to be a volunteer. From my American context volunteers are people who donate their time or the use of their resources for some goal or project, but they do so at their own expense. While there certainly are some large sacrifices that I have made to come to live and work in Serbia, I have little if any financial liabilities. So according to these criteria I could be described as a volunteer however it still doesn’t fit very well. When I take the time to really explain my work here in Serbia with those people who are genuinely interested, I usually describe it as this. I am working as a peacebuilder in post-war Serbia. I work for MCC by working directly with one of their partner organizations the WTC. My position is not salaried however MCC pays for all of my basic needs. However, my commitment of time and energy to this position is just as strong and serious as a commitment to a salaried position. I am still not sure if there is any specific title that best fits me and my work here in Serbia. But perhaps it’s not all that important to be able to name my work with a single title. Whatever it is that I am doing here I hope that it can contribute to the objective of MCC and WTC, to build a lasting peace in the Balkan region. WAR TRAUMA CENTER BULLETIN






A dAy foR yoUNgsTERs



n the 5th of January in Vranje, a New year’s gift exchange was organized for the members of the children’s group in the facility of the association “War Veterans of Serbia for Peace”. The ceremony had a humanitarian aspect because the members of the association jointly raised money for gifts for the children in the Children’s Shelter, Local Social Welfare Services Development Center (LSWSDC) in Vranje. Together with the children from the association and in agreement with their parents and other members we prepared the space, and all other necessities in order to make this day special for the children and the adults. The gifts given to the children of the Children’s Shelter, consisted of clothing, snacks, candy, and toys. All of the gifts were made by the children from the association. The youngsters received the gifts from Santa, who was played by a member of the association. Besides the presents, the members of the women’s group also prepared food for the event so that the children could eat cookies and special local snacks. Following the exchange of gifts, 25 children danced and sang in the joyful and festively decorated room. They were happy and that happiness could be seen on their faces. On the other side of the room parents and other members mingled, danced, and sang. Although the ceremony was organized for the children it was also appreciated by the adults as they were quite content and enjoyed the children’s happiness. Besides the director of the LSWSDC, also present for the event were representatives of the local media who recorded the ceremony. The War Trauma Center from Novi Sad supported the organization of this event. This day was unique and special as it represented a coordinated action of all members in our association and their children. Also the children’s group of War Veterans from Serbia for Peace, showed willingness and openness for new experiences and activities with other children, but also the capability to actively participate in everything that adults do.



Interview interview BY: Slađana ljuBičić

”My friend, can I speak with you a little?” NeNad MIlaNovIć (41) Is a polIceMaN from Vranje with war experience. he is currently a facilitator of a support group in the Center for War Veterans of serbia for peace. his biggest support comes from his family, his wife dubravke, son Nikola (13) and daughter dragana (11) WhEN ANd hoW dId yoU fIRsT LEARN ABoUT ThE WoRk of ThE WAR TRAUMA CENTER? With the initiative from Dr. Boban Stamenkovića from Vranja in 2003, I went to a seminar which was organized by the Center in Vranjska Banja. There for the first time, I heard that there are people who are willing to work with war participants. I hadn’t been involved in any veterans’ organizations; this was my first encounter with any such organization. For me they seemed untrustworthy, particularly as rumors circulated about them being a spy organization. Because of this we only went to Dr. Stamenkovića for help. He told us that in these seminars we could say whatever is bothering us, but also that we didn’t have to say anything if we didn’t want to. He assured us that nothing we say would be held against us or misused. hoW dId IT go IN ThAT sEMINAR IN VRANjskA BANjA? To be honest, us veterans really went there as if we were on vacation. However it became quite serious when Vladan Beara and Predrag Miljanović insisted on sticking to the goals of the seminar. I am sure it wasn’t easy for them when they watched and listened to us. Imagine; you return home from war and they say that you have war trauma and various consequences of war. You replay to them that’s just nonsense and that you’re doing just fine. Then they explained that a man can live with war trauma even though it leaves its mark. Slowly and systematically we were introduced with the story and began identifying those people that would continue to work with the Center. Whenever I was called I went because I saw that I needed it. Later I saw that these people were correct. Like one of my veteran friends used to say, “This is a doctor who seems to sleep every night with me in bed so he knows everything about me and what is going on.” WhAT ChANgEd AfTER ThIs? Immediately afterwards we began to gather. From one support group, which had 15 members, the Association for War Veterans of Serbia for Peace, formed and was registered in 2006. Today we have a main facility, support groups for veterans who are policemen, fisherman, and bikers; we also have a women’s and children’s group. I was in the Center from its beginning; I first started as a beneficiary, and now I facilitate a support group for policemen. It was easier for me when I was just a beneficiary, you come to the group, you talk about what is bothering you, and then you leave for home. But when you facilitate a group you first need to convince people that it is beneficial for them to come to the group and reassure them that they will be able speak openly about their problems. A variety of people come to the group with different expectations and as a facilitator it is not always possible to fulfill all of them. A man can’t do a good job facilitating alone. For me it would be helpful to work with another colleague. Sometimes the process depends on the group, and sometimes it depends on the facilitator. WhICh pRoBLEMs do yoU REpEATEdLy CoME ACRoss As A fACILITAToR? Currently there are four of us in the group, and a frequent problem is what to do when someone comes into the group drunk. They say that they don’t have any problems, but obviously they do. Another problem is that sometimes people speak incoherently and disconnected and we find it difficult to understand what exactly they want to say and what they are thinking.

A CoLLEAgUE AppRoAChEd ME ANd AskEd: “My friend can I speak with you a little? I don’t feel good.” people have problems and I can’t solve all of them: lack of money, poor living conditions in rural areas, being married but not being able to find their soul mate. They know that I can’t solve all of their problems, yet it is easier for them when they have someone to share them with. however when I call them to join the support group they say it is still too early and that they need to think more about it. I suppose they are afraid to share their problems in front of other people, not being aware that the other members feel pretty much the same.

Often I wait to see what they will say once they arrive, and if they don’t know how to start I try to put forward some kind of theme. Sometimes it just happens that we put on a pot of coffee and start a conversation spontaneously. After a while when a silent moment comes, I begin looking around to find someone else that I can start a new conversation with. I ask him what’s new. When are we going fishing or something else, just to not impose a heavy topic immediately. I allow them to open conversations about their own problems when they feel ready. If someone doesn’t say what is troubling him today that is ok, he can talk about it another time. Previously I didn’t know this; it was something that I learned at a seminar. WhAT kINd of sUppoRT do yoU NEEd IN yoUR WoRk? Something that I need is professional support, for example psychiatrists. In the group which I facilitate there are members that I think need a combination of both group work and individual counseling. In our association we have the physical space for this kind of work but we don’t have people who can provide this kind of work. Or perhaps psychiatrist can teach me how to speak with them. Also everyone can benefit from filtering through to see who and what works with beneficiaries. There is a lot of work needed for working with facilitators. These people are trying to do the best they can. WhAT MoTIVATEs yoU To WoRk As A VoLUNTEER hELpINg oThERs? That reminds me of a question my child once asked me, “Dad, do they pay you there?” and I answered, “No my son they don’t pay me, but there I have good friends who can help us when we are in trouble, and friends to walk along with us.” Quite simply I am one of those people that like to help. Believe it or not, not a year passes that I don’t save someone’s life, literally. This is my calling and I am completely dedicated to it; this volunteer work in this association is completely logical for me. For me helping others is emotionally rewarding, and I enjoying the people that I work with. I know that every time I meet with these people I will learn something new. My wish is to be trained enough to stand in front of people and tell them about my war experience and to share my knowledge. If I ever get the opportunity to be paid for my work, this wouldn’t be a problem for me. But I don’t think

much about that now. For now I believe that we will accomplish something and show that our work is not in vain, and that it is needed. I hope that these accomplishments will be visible for those that have been skeptical of us and our mission. Who ARE yoU REfERRINg To WhEN yoU sAy ThosE Who ARE skEpTICAL? I am thinking about the people around us, those people in the wider community. For at least a starting point the State should recognize us. However at this point we have not received any recognition. It doesn’t matter what we say, as long as people who were in the service are afraid to look for help, they must do what they have to in order to keep their jobs. The state doesn’t ask “where is this domestic violence and divorce coming from?” Individuals are afraid to talk about war for a variety of reasons, most commonly because they don’t want to evoke memories. They think that they suppressed the memories, not aware that they will eventually emerge and come to haunt them. Because of this I am trying to begin actively working with a group of policemen, because people will be worse later. I called a social worker from Vranje to visit us as a representative of the state institutions, in order to hear what we have to say. Then I guess we can expect the state to notice and accept that problems exist for those people who were in war. I really don’t know and the things that I do know are not really mine to be said aloud. WhAT hAppENs WhEN A MAN RETURNs fRoM WAR? You can’t sleep for days and then when you sleep it is only for short periods of time and not quality sleep. When it gets dark outside I can hardly wait till the sun comes up again. It’s easier for me to sleep during the day than it is for me to sleep at night. I can’t tolerate being awakened suddenly by someone. You become short fused; you become quickly agitated by every little thing. You are thinking about everything and anything. No one would believe the kind of things that can go through a man’s mind. With time I learned to carry some of these problems, and I try to pass on this knowledge to other veterans who have not passed through the educations. However my knowledge is not adequate. We need psychological counseling, because sometimes I feel I can’t bear that burden anymore. It’s often annoying to me when I can’t finish everything that I have planned. CoMpAREd To EARLIER hoW do yoU REACT NoW WhEN yoU ARE AgITATEd? I still get annoyed and agitated but now am able to calm down and gather myself more quickly. First I ask myself if I have done something wrong and then I look for an offender amongst others. I try to not show any signs of anger, and to control what I can. Sometimes I am able to do this and other times I fail. In the house I am very careful with this. If I am getting upset over basic trivialities, I calm myself down and apologize to my wife and children. Previously I was more aggressive, I had the need to get into fights, but now it would never cross my mind. yoU hELp oThERs, ANd Who hELps yoU? We give each other strength; we are each other’s comrades. Sometimes I isolate myself and go fishing to think and to be alone. Intervissions are good and useful for everyone. In intervissions I am able to see that others have some of the same problems as me. Also I am lucky and have the most supportive family possible. hoW do yoU VIEW ThE fUTURE of ThE sUppoRT gRoUps IN sERBIA? Regardless of who we will work with, we all have a lot to do in the future. In Serbia, problems will continue to develop for those people that participated in war. I feel that some things are only just now coming after 10 years. It would be good to expand support groups in other cities. I hope that one day our country will help with this. Until then we will continue to give our best effort in this work. It is necessary that we believe in our work and the results will come eventually. WAR TRAUMA CENTER BULLETIN



Center for War Trauma magazine No.2. English language. A4