„YMCA Europe is a working fellowship to strengthen movements where people grow in body, mind and spirit.“


14th June 2022

Book-guide in the topic of the psychology of migration.

The project is called "Psychological first aid kit for migrants" because it contains materials on the topic of migration psychology, practical techniques and recommendations, but it is definitely not an exhaustive resource.

This project is an invitation to observe oneself, an illustration of how some mechanisms work. Book emphasize the importance of paying attention to our emotions, needs and physical condition.

No matter how much we want to change and save the world, to achieve ambitious goals, no matter how hard we try, we are still human.

With our limitations, weaknesses and personal difficulties, but still with the capacity to feel, to show compassion and care,to recover and to move on.


“For tens of thousands of people, moving has become an opportunity to escape. "Betrayed, surrendered, shunned" are comments one could hear even from closest. What is behind these words? Resentment, anger, disappointment? Did the person have a choice? What were the internal feelings that accompanied this decision? What do you answer to people who were forced to leave their country? To people who literally ed the fighting? By answering these questions, I want to create a space of support and acceptance of any choice – whether emigration or a desire to stay, a decision to settle in a new place or to return, to stay involved and interested in the life of the home city or not to read the news for now – in any case, we have much more reason to help, be considerate of each other and unite rather than be defensive and isolate.”

With these words begins the book “Psychological first aid kit for migrants”, the main topic of which is adaptation in the new place. The resource is available both in English and in Russian

The content reveals different psychological sides of the process, although most of the material describes universals that are true in a crisis in general.


The idea of writing came about on the one hand as a response to the personal experience of migration and on the other hand as a response to an social need, an attempt to support people in a difficult period in this way.

In the book, as in the first aid kit, you will find first aid help and general advice on the topic. For some people this will be enough, but others will need more help. It is not an exhaustive material, but rather an invitation to explore oneself, a space for sharing thoughts and experiences; it is an attentive friend who reminds you of simple but important points, for example to take care of your feeling and body, or that you should give yourself time to recover, because often in the flow of events, news and automatic reactions, we forget to stop and reflect. What is happening to me now? How am I feeling? Why am I behaving this way and not that way?

“The idea was that the book creates a sense of the process that is migration: first we experience stress and loss, trying, getting angry and frustrated, struggling with reality. After that comes a rethinking of what happened, and we integrate these events into our picture of the world. Eventually, we accept the fact of change, finding the resources to act and move on.”

When the idea for the project first came to mind, I doubted whether it was worth starting and whether I had the time and energy to do it. However, the more I thought about it, the clearer I understood what the structure and chapters would be, what messages and ideas I wanted to say. A key role in the decision to start writing was played by friends Jana and Anna, who agreed to take on the design and proofreading/editing of the text – thank them very much for that, it's a valuable support.

The book is interactive, with lots of illustrations and questions, to which I'm more than sure the answers will change over time. It is divided into six chapters, each with a different emphasis:

  1. The concept and types of migration; stress and post-traumatic growth; principles of first psychological aid.
  2. Stages of adaptation in a new place (concepts of adaptation and culture shock, destructive adaptation strategies, what can support in the process).
  3. Losses and gains in migration (stages of grieving, new "home").
  4. Identity and the question "who am I?" in new circumstances.
  5. Migration through the eyes of a parent and a child.
  6. Exercises and self-help techniques (practices aimed at the body, emotional and cognitive spheres, books on the topic). 

“In moments of crisis, our personality manifest and changes. This does not happen without our efforts, external events are only a trigger for change. Living through a difficult experience will take time – not a month or even a year. What matters is what we do with that time. Healing comes in the process (living through the stages of loss, adapting to a new place, processing traumatic events) – these become a valuable part of the life experience. You regain lost control over your own life, repair broken social bonds and give personal meaning to what has happened. Yes, it's not easy, but it's definitely worth the effort.”

vVolha - the author of the project. She has a Master of Psychology Scienceis and is a graduate of Leadership Academy of YMCA Europe

The content of the book mimics the journey that is migration: at first we experience stress and loss, we try, we get angry and frustrated, we struggle with reality. Afterwards, a rethinking of what has happened comes and we integrate these events into our picture of the world. Eventually, we accept the fact of change, finding the resources to act and move on.

Psychological first aid kit for migrants in English

Psychological first aid kit for migrants in Russian


Author/Source: Volha Saroka, Author of the project, Master of Psychology Science

917,818 €

Funds received up to June 23rd in response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.

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