Meet the Group Helping Soldiers, Veterans, Families and Children in Ukraine Get Relief from Trauma through Art Therapy
In this week’s podcast, we sat down with Courtney Robson of DTCare to discuss their art therapy program in Ukraine. DTCare was founded years ago by Marco Gruelle, Managing Director of DTGruelle, an international shipping and logistics company. Through business operations, specifically, the ability to transport things into difficult regions, Marco began humanitarian work and DTCare was born. The sole mission it to help some of the world’s most vulnerable communities.
Courtney points out, DTCare doesn’t just respond to immediate crisis needs, they plant roots and help with long term solutions to multiple problems in the areas they serve. Ukraine is the perfect example. “The invasion happened on Feb 24, there was a collective OMG moment in the office. Marco, at the time was in Bosnia and called us on that evening and said come up with a plan, we need to get involved. Everyone in the office was on it, ordering hygiene supplies, organizing an assembly event to build as many hygiene kits as we could. They were sent over to Poland and distributed within two weeks.”
Those assembly events continued but Courtney tells me, then came the question, what next, what else can we help with? “We were sending those kits, what we were hearing is we need support for refugees so we focused there. Then we started sending medical supplies, first aid kits, hospital beds, wheelchairs. When Marco was over there, he spoke to the Ukrainian Navy, and asked, what are you going to need in a month, in three months. Their response was, we need additional support for mental health. That is where he came back from that trip and said how are we going to plan a mental health program. We can send supplies to keep them alive but what is our long-term goal here? We need to make sure these people are being healed not just physically, but emotionally and mentally.”
DTCare then sought advice from mental health experts from universities across the U.S. to ensure they had the tools and knowledge to properly establish a mental health program. They hired five therapists in Ukraine and the art therapy program kicked off in November. “When you’re experiencing massive trauma, your brain wants to shut down. You’re just sort of in reactive mode, getting through, surviving. When you work with art therapists, you’re activating parts of brain that have been shut down. Rebuilding those parts of the brain that have been closed down.” It’s a way people can get help, outside of traditional talk therapy.
The program is already seeing success and generating increased interest. Courtney reiterates that it’s not just for soldiers and veterans, it’s for anyone living in the unfortunate situation of being in a war-torn area. She actually got to experience a new normal during her visit to Odesa, while sitting in a meeting when cellphones started to vibrate in unison. “I said, what is it? They said, oh missiles. I said what do we do? They said, there’s nothing we can do, let’s just hope it’s not for us. I was looking out the window and they said, if you see it, it’s too late. There’s nothing you can do, because it’s so constant.”
Courtney says her visit and experiences just solidified why DTCare is in Ukraine and other parts of the world, trying to empower and better lives. If you would like to know more about DTCare or offer assistance, contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org.