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Table 2 Practical recommendations

From: The impact of emergency aid work on personal relationships: a psychodynamic study

Arising from the narratives, the following practical recommendations for the sector are offered:
1. Structured training and psycho-education during induction of expatriate aid workers on the relational challenges of international humanitarian work, including opportunities for workers to assess areas of potential vulnerability and explore creative coping strategies.
2. Annual psychological assessments designed to review levels of resilience and coping, with a particular focus on the maintenance of relational resources.
3. Assessment with senior management of deployment rosters to allow workers enough time out of the field to build and maintain secure relational support structures.
4. Regular facilitated workshops/retreats both at headquarters and in the field, where workers can reflect in a secure and protected space on the impact of the work, share relational dilemmas, explore possible ways forward, and create robust peer support networks.
5. Funding permitted, access to longer-term counselling support that allows individuals to maintain contact with the same therapist over time in order to promote a sense of relational reliability and continuity.
6. A follow-up project is recommended to monitor and evaluate the impact of this kind of enhanced support on levels of engagement, productivity and staff retention. Inviting a larger sample of aid workers to complete attachment style questionnaires as part of the study could also provide a much clearer picture of relational needs, which could then be used to tailor training programmes.