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CBT in Ukraine: past, present and future
by Oleh Romancuk, president and representative of EABCT

Ukrainian history over last century was full of traumatic events (two wars, famine, communist repressions, Chornobyl). This has left not only traumatic scars on people and society`s soul, but also led to phenomenon of post-traumatic growth, developing culture of appreciation of life, valuing of relationships, respect of human dignity. This two opposite phenomena of pathology and growth, stagnation and resilience were expressed over last twenty five years also in political and societies struggle to move toward democracy, human rights, humanism – and revolution of dignity was culmination of this fight and real “psychotherapy” on society`s soul.

During communist time there was abuse of psychiatry for persecution of free thinking persons, development of psychotherapy was separated as all other areas of society`s life from the rest of the world by “iron wall”. Methods of psychotherapy that were of major interest to soviet scientists were those that gave promise to “changing minds” of people – hypnotherapy and so called “therapy by conviction” first of all. CBT was not present in mental health care that was mostly based on biomedical and approach.

Only after Ukraine became independent and “iron wall” disappeared professional contacts started to establish with western world and first knowledge about CBT started to get into Ukraine.

Yet it was only on 2011 that first professional CBT associated was established  in Lviv (Western Ukraine). On that time we were trying to improve mental health care in Ukraine by creating new biopsychosocial programs (like Early Intervention for depressed adolescents) and we were aware of the need of implementation of evidence-based therapies. Unfortunately on that time there were no training programs in CBT in Ukraine, no accredited professionals. So we created our professional association and gave name to it “Ukrainian institute of CBT” with the intention of creating training programs in CBT and developing professional community.

These last five years were really years of flourishing of CBT in Ukraine. Our association became member and was really warmly welcomed by EABCT community.  With generous support of colleges from western countries (the Netherlands, the UK, Israel etc.) we succeeded to accredit training standards of our association, established training program in CBT, trained and brought to accreditation number of professionals from all over Ukraine (25 accredited at the moment), to translate few professional and self-help  CBT books, to organize three national conferences on CBT, number of seminars with international experts on specialized topic and third-wave approaches (mindfulness, schema therapy etc.), training program for supervisors.

And this year our Ukrainian professional association – considering growing membership of our association and uniting more members from different regions of Ukraine – voted change in the name of our professional association – from “Ukrainian institute of CBT” to “Ukrainian association of CBT”. New board also was elected  – and we have now very enthusiastic updated team with new people from all over Ukraine and new strategy of expanding national influence on spreading CBT and uniting interested in CBT groups of professionals from different regions of Ukraine. Another important success of this year – that we established at Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv first time in Ukraine masters program in clinical psychology based on CBT and this program got state recognition/accreditation. And actually we delegated further development of the training programs that we started as association to Ukrainian Catholic University in partnership with which training educational institution was established in Lviv – and we passed to it our former name of “Ukrainian Institute of CBT” that we do not want to die but to have new life as training institution.

Our hope for the future is to have larger and larger community of CBT professionals, we hope that this community will be really filled with enthusiasm and creative ideas, it will inspire people for new projects, for professional development, for research and development of CBT. Our national system of mental health care needs to be reformed – and we hope that our professionals will bring their knowledge to this reforms and will make CBT to become important part of service programs – for the wellbeing of Ukrainian people. Our hope is for the establishing of national school of CBT integrated into our culture. We hope for growing community of trainers and supervisors – so this will permit to train more professionals. We hope for interesting research program. And for the place of CBT in development of resilience-oriented preventive programs. And for the growing connection and cooperation with international community… Oh, dreams – let they come true… 🙂

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