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Afghanistan Psychosocial Wellness/Women’s Project


A Collaborative Project of The Focusing Institute and the American Friends Service Committee

Focusing in Afghanistan is providing highly effective psychosocial wellness services at very low cost. This project teaches local leaders the skills of Focusing, which they then teach to their own communities. The project has been successfully piloted in a number of community settings, with outcomes demonstrating both cost-effectiveness and local sustainability. UNIFEM has now requested Focusing training in eight women’s centers and has approved funds for the project director and for training indigenous women to become Focusing Trainers. We are seeking funding of $22,400 to send two US-based Focusing Trainers with the expertise to help design and do direct training at the UNIFEM centers and for other local agencies for six months. The TFI trainers will also help document the projects and develop a model that can be replicated in other areas of Afghanistan and in other countries. Part of the funds will be used to pay one local intern for 12 months of intensive Focusing training, to assist the country director on a regular basis.  

Focusing Training in Developing Countries and Transitional Nations 

The Focusing Institute (TFI) is a 501(c)(3) NGO founded in 1986, with a mission to work with other international organizations towards reducing human suffering and increasing peaceful co-existence across ethnic, gender and culture divisions. We teach a process known as “Focusing.” Focusing has developed out of a 30-year research and practice history in psychotherapy founded upon “The Philosophy of the Implicit.” Focusing has been acknowledged in five awards from The American Psychological Association. 

Focusing has been proved to effectively reduce collective and individual psychological suffering in globally diverse cultures and nations. It facilitates community building and helps shape a more coherent, fair and just society across ethnic, cultural and gender lines. It does this by teaching people how to:

  • Find small new next steps of positive action as individuals and as groups.
  • Make decisions that “sit right” for them, rather than simply obeying leaders.
  • Resolve personal and collective trauma from war, poverty, illness and abuse.
  • Speak from a level of individual specificity that undercuts ethnic and cultural divisions and mediates diversity.
  • Form a wider bodily sense of their whole present situation so that they are not re-traumatized by strong emotions.

The Focusing process is designed to be simple to teach, inexpensive, adaptable to different cultures and locally sustainable. When a proper “link” person is supported with resources she is able to teach Focusing in a short time to local psychosocial aid workers, who in turn teach their next level field workers, who then teach local people these skills.

Focusing Training in Afghanistan

Our link person in Afghanistan is Dr. Patricia Omidian, the country director for American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and a certified Focusing trainer. She has translated the Focusing steps into Dari and adapted the teaching process to fit with the culture. Dr. Omidian has taught numerous workshops to Afghan NGO and government workers with the help of a US-based certified Focusing teacher. Dr. Omidian lives with an indigenous family, and is well connected to government and NGOs in Kabul and surrounding regions. The project has received the support of the Deputy Minister of Finance, and the curriculum has recently been included in a government-training manual. Numerous NGOs and governmental agencies have requested further trainings, overwhelming the available resources.

We are requesting funding to expand and institutionalize the project in several ways:

  • Support two Certified Focusing Trainers in Kabul for three months each to teach alongside Dr. Omidian and further design protocols for teaching indigenous aid workers.
  • Work with UNIFEM and other NGOs training staff as Focusing trainers to build local capacity in targeted areas: psychosocial wellness, women’s role, domestic violence, community mobilization and capacity building.
  • Train at Kabul Orthopedic Center to develop a group of peer counselors/ wellness workers. Those trained, also disabled, will work in the Center and elsewhere around the country with mine victims and disabled.
  • Resource the AFSC Wellness Center in Kabul with a development library, including sets of materials for lending to spin-off projects as leaders are trained.
  • Support the translation of additional materials for dissemination to both professionals and local aid workers for use in their training of other local people.
  • Work with key government leaders and agencies to insure political support. 

TFI Contributions

  • Assist the project director in designing and teaching Focusing to local workers in the UNIFEM centers and in other community and NGO settings.
  • Plan and document the program to create a replicable model. Make field reports, evaluations, workshop and teaching protocols available on our website.
  • Institute basic outcome/program evaluation procedures.
  • Adapt Focusing protocols to particular local situations and document in manuals, which can be used by other agencies/organizations.
  • Write and translate articles for local magazines and actualities for radio/TV.

AFSC Contributions

  • Provide safe housing
  • Arrange for visa for TFI Trainer
  • Provide Translator for TFI Trainer
  • Provide in country transportation
  • Provide on the ground support in case of medical or evacuation emergency


Project Budget - Summary, Phase 1 (Six Months)

US $



Output 1: Two training & project development support visits (3 mo. each)


Output 2: Local capacity building and project impact


Output 3: Documentation & dissemination of project details.





Last Modified: 15 August 2005