Masterclass: Fostering Resilience in Aid Workers

The potential of mindfulness and acceptance-based approaches.
How can we foster resilience in aid workers in the field? What are the main stressors and preferred coping mechanisms? And how can we reduce the mismatch between what organisations offer and the frontline realities.

Professor Pakenham will present recently collected qualitative data on aid worker stressors and preferred coping mechanisms, and the mismatch between their initial motivations and expectations and frontline realities. He will also present data on contextual risk factors and psychological protective factors for aid worker mental health. An innovative online Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) based resilience intervention for aid workers will be discussed, including an introduction to ACT principals and techniques. To see how this data relates to the reality of our aid workers, War Child will give a reflection from the field together with the Antares Foundation.


When: Wednesday 6 June
Where: Playground War Child
Helmholtzstraat 61-G
1098 LE Amsterdam


03:00 PM Welcome
03:30 PM Masterclass
03:30 PM Introduction by Felicity Brown, PhD
03:45 PM Masterclass Professor Kenneth Pakenham
04:30 PM Reflection by Mirna Kassar (War Child Lebanon) and Antares Foundation
05:00 PM Discussion
05:30 PM Drinks

Kenneth Pakenham, PhD, is a Professor of clinical and health psychology in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland, Australia. His research and clinical practice in psychology spans 35 years.
Inspired by the resilience of people with serious mental and physical health conditions, he has committed much of his career to investigating the processes that foster personal growth in the context of health adversities, and to translating his findings into interventions that help people thrive. This passion has driven his empirical, theoretical and translational research, curriculum development, and clinical training and supervision. Importantly, his work has included not only the person with a serious condition, but also their carers.

Through his 130 publications, >3,000 Scopus citations of his work, over 70 conference presentations, three research awards, and more than 2 million dollars of competitive grant funding, he has become a leader in the application of resilience frameworks to several health conditions, and to caregiving in these contexts. His research has informed government carer policies, and interventions and assessment protocols within government and community services.

The “living fully with adversity” theme integrates his early research in stress/coping theory, his mid-career shift to incorporate the rise of positive psychology, and his current focus on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). Using ACT to extend his research on living fully with adversity has also invigorated his teaching. He developed the first ACT university course in Australia. This course integrates training in therapist competencies and self-care skills, and shows published evidence of fostering competent and resilient clinicians.
Through peer reviewed publications, conference and keynote presentations, and five teaching awards, he has become a leader in integrating training in therapist and self-care competencies using the ACT framework. He has supervised the postgraduate research of 53 students. He has served in many influential professional roles including: Chair of the Registration Committee of the Psychologists Board of Queensland for over 10 years, Director of The University of Queensland Psychology Clinic for 7 years, Honours Convenor for 3 years, and member of the editorial boards for six international journals.

The War Child Masterclasses are free of charge. Do you want to join the War Child Masterclass? Please sign up here.

CategoryNB-Mei18, Nieuwsbrief
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