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Webinar on 23 February I Transgenerational Trauma and How it Affects the Work in Humanitarian Aid

Many of us get involved in working in development and humanitarian aid or peacebuilding, not greatly questioning one's own motivation to go and work in crisis zones. Some years later we may have a burn-out, may get seriously ill, may experience some traumatic experiences or may be triggered by the reactions of colleagues and the people we work with.

It may be then or along the way that we start asking some big questions about ourselves and why we became the persons we are. We may start self-critically reflecting upon our motivation for our work. We may find that being in an extreme and stressful situation makes us feel alive and needed. Working in extreme, dangerous and stressful situations may satisfy a deep need of connection and belonging. It may give a (strange) sense of peace, reconciliation and even closure. Unpacking this dynamic, we may understand how transgenerational transmission of patterns and trauma may inform our current private and professional lives.

This webinar will discuss how the transgenerational transmission of traumata works and how this may affect the work we do. Taking their own biographies as an analytical starting point, Katharina Bosse and Dr. Cordula Reimann will shed a light on how unpacking one’s own past will help to create a better understanding for one's own (current) patterns, triggers, and boundaries, and may prevent re-traumatization and burn-out. While there will be short inputs, the seminar will be highly interactive and participatory.

We will discuss the following key topics:

- What is transgenerational trauma?

- How can transgenerational trauma be explained?

- Why is it relevant for aid, development and peacebuilding professionals?

- How can I address transgenerational trauma in my private life and professional work?

To receive the Zoom link, please send us an email at:

The webinar will take place on Tuesday 23 February from 5pm to 7pm (CET - Geneva time). The session will be held in English and will be recorded.

Dr. Cordula Reimann has worked for more than twenty-five years as consultant, facilitator, coach, trainer, researcher and lecturer in peacebuilding and conflict and peace studies.

She has worked for different international and Swiss governmental agencies and non-governmental organisations like: Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), Amnesty International in London, the Institute for Multi-track Diplomacy (IMTD) in Washington DC, the Berghof Research Center for Constructive Conflict Management in Berlin, and for the last seven years, for the Centre for Peacebuilding (KOFF) in Bern at the Swiss peace foundation Swisspeace, where she was head of analysis and impact of peacebuilding.

Cordula is a trained mediator and conducted field work in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and in the Middle East. With a doctorate in “Peace Studies” from the University of Bradford, she was a senior lecturer at different European and Swiss universities and visiting professor at the University of Graz, Austria.

Her main areas of expertise are conflict sensitivity, strategic conflict analysis, impact assessment, gender, transgenerational trauma, conflict and conflict transformation.

Cordula has published widely on gender, conflict and peace building and conflict transformation theory. In July 2011, she set up her own consultancy, coaching and training business called Core.

« I believe that “life issues” are pressing issues for us, until they are worked through and transformed. I like people, their contradictions and stories – especially from other cultures. They have helped me to find myself and to become even more aware of my own values and needs. »

Katharina Bosse is doing psychological counselling to experts in Humanitarian Aid and Development Cooperation in the field.

Aid and development workers face specific issues while working in the Global South that employees in other sectors do not face – it is the thrill of the expat life.

Some of those issues, she has come across as well – the quest for an intense life abroad, the longing for deep experience, the fascination by diverse environments and the hope to make a difference and generate impact. And she has also been confronted with some challenges that an expat life entails for partnership, family and career plans. Her knowledge, her competencies and her experience lay exactly at the intersection between psychology and development cooperation. She supports experts in the field in private and professional crises and she consults with their employers regarding Duty of Care and Mental Health at the workplace. Her work attitude is based both on the knowledge gained from her formal education and her work experience in Germany and from numerous field studies to the Global South. She has been pursuing continuous Buddhist mind training since 2017, practicing mindfulness and meditation every day.

« To witness how people grow out of times of crisis, to see people transform by dealing with challenges fulfill me – it is the driving force of my job life. »

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