TRAUMA
THERAPY
FOR
REFUGEES




A language independently designed psychoeducation manual to provide multilingual refugees in Germany with trauma therapy.








Year
2016

Partner
Dipl. Psych. Eike Leidgens
Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum

Published
Page Magazine Online Novum World of Graphic Design
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Participatory Design
Human-centered Design
Design-led Research
Research Synthesis
Strategic Planning
Creative Problem-solving
Strategy
︎

Visual Perception
Learning
Behavioral Science
Psychoeducation
PTSD
Psychopathology
Cultural Psychology
Social Psychology
Reinforcement Theory

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Layout
Illustration
Information Design
Iconography
Concept Creation









INTRO



It’s 2016. The European migrant crisis, also known as the refugee crisis, had just been at its peak and Germany is working hard on integrating the huge amount of refugees that had entered the country.

As a designer, I wondered how I might be of help with the integration process and began inquiring about possible points of intervention within this system. 






︎︎︎ How might we aid the inclusion of refugees in Germany?








︎

RESEARCH



My research led me to talk to Eike Leidgens, a psychologist at the ︎︎︎Medizinische Flüchtlingshilfe Bochum, a place that offers psychotherapy to traumatized refugees.

Through him I learned about the problem that due to lack of funding many traumatized refugees can’t get treatment. They try to bridge this problem through psychoeducation, which is help for self-help through educating refugees about trauma-related symptoms accompanied by practical ideas on how to deal with these.

However, the education material that supplements these sessions is not translated into every language, which makes it useless most of the time.

This led me to identify a specific problem space in which I wanted to intervene through design.






︎︎︎ How might we make the trauma education material  language-independently understandable?







︎

Mapping with participation of the psychologists and refugees



︎︎

INSIGHTS




My research led me to dive deep into theories around visual perception such as gestalt psychology and how it relates to visual communication.

I particularly inquired about Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, its causes, symptoms and implications in daily life.

I further conducted interviews and sent out questionnaires to learn more about the experiences of stakeholders.






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PERSONA





The patients are refugees who originated mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Their traumatic experiences were diverse and either experienced in their home countries, during their way to Europe or even later in Europe.





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PRINCIPLES


Based on my research I developed principles that my design should follow





Respect

Consideration of the enormous and individually experienced suffering of each patient

Culture Neutrality

The visualizations should speak to people with various cultural backgrounds

Impartiality

Free of racial, religious or gender discrimination

Education Independent

Accessible for people with all levels of education









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DESIGN PROCESS





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Sketches







PROBLEM



Visual languages, such as icons, make sense to us and therefore are effective at communicating because they have been learned or resemble a previously learned image that was stored in a person’s mind. In order to understand an image, it has to match a previously learned image and infer the meaning of it into the image at hand. This is also called top-down perception

The task at hand requires to develop an image that is intuitively understandable without knowing it yet, hence without previously stored imagery. Furthermore, the content that needs to be communicated consists of psychological phenomena that don’t have a visual gestalt per se.

Here, the individual and horrifying experiences each patient has seem to be impossible to translate into universal images while still being respectful.






︎︎︎ How might we develop a visual language to describe unknown and invisible phenomena that is intuitively understandable?








︎︎︎

IDEA 1

Abstraction

advantage
The images leave room for inference of individual experiences.

disadvantage
These images are not intuitively understandable and too complicated to learn.









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IDEA 2

Story Board

advantage
These images are more intuitively understandable.

disadvantage
These images are too literal and therefore don’t leave room for  inference of individual experience. They might also not be respectful enough.










︎︎︎

IDEA 3

Iconography

advantage
Images are familiar and intuitively understandable.
The visual communication concept is familiar.
The images are neutral and therefore respectful. They leave room for inference of individual experiences.

disadvantage
The images still have to be learned with regard to their connection to the psychological phenomenon that they describe.











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RESULT












PICTOGRAMS





Self-help Strategies



Symptoms





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EXAMPLE








BOOK



EXERCISES