The Society for Psychological Assistance, (SPA) is a non-profit, non-governmental mental health organization based in Zagreb, Croatia. Founded in 1993, it has extensive expertise in providing community-based psycho-social services and in training professional and non-professional care providers. The SPA has developed many different programs in the field of community-oriented psycho-social services, training and capacity building of psycho-social professionals. The main tasks of SPA are:
- providing assistance to individuals, families and communities in distress and exposed to traumatic experiences;
- research and training in the areas of psycho-social assistance;
- program development and evaluation..
SPA serves people in need without regard to gender, race, ethnicity or religious affiliation.
SPA is a membership organization whose 36 members are professionals with extensive experience in providing comprehensive psycho-social assistance to individuals, families, groups and communities in distress. The SPA has a staff of six full-time employees. This includes the executive director, a project coordinator, three psychologists working in the SPA’s Child, Adolescent and Family Community Centre Modus and an accountant. They provide full logistical support to the international and local consultants, maintain records, provide reports, organize finances and communicate with partners.
Since 2003, SPA operates the “Modus”- Child, Adolescent and Family Community Center in Zagreb serving about 700 clients per year. SPA has pioneered several innovative services that became integrated in governmental services as a standard. These include: psychological crisis interventions after major incidents affecting community (since 1995), clinical supervision in the national social services (since 2003), psychosocial treatment of perpetrators of domestic violence (since 2004).
Based on own and international experiences, SPA has developed a range of training courses in the past 20 years that have been completed by over 5,000 care-providers from a large number of communities from Croatia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Russia. SPA has published 11 professional books and a number of brochures in Croatian, English, Macedonian and Albanian languages. All these efforts are targeted to foster development of civil society, systemic change in delivery of community-oriented services, prevent and curb gender based inequality, promote tolerance and empowerment of local resources, and thus increase the quality of human services and promote self-reliance of the people and communities.
This is how we achieved change:
“SPA, through its projects and programs, contributing to systemic changes in Croatia (in the social welfare and mental health areas) by introducing new programs and approaches (e.g. psychological crisis interventions; Child, Adolescents and Family Community Center “MODUS” in Zagreb; domestic violence educational programs and the treatment of adult and juvenile perpetrators of violence, etc.).
In the scope of our activities we are promoting humanistic values (e.g. gender equality, gender-sensitive psychosocial work, zero tolerance for domestic violence and treatment of perpetrators of violence, not just their punishment) as well as systemic, multi-dimensional and multi-treatment approaches to clients, arguing for non-authoritarian relationships between the counselor and the client (i.e. empowering clients in the counseling process) and the expansion and introduction to the public and third sector of such programs. Psychological crisis interventions, treatment of family violence perpetrators, supervision for psychosocial professionals are some of SPA’s programs already accepted within the education and social welfare sectors in Croatia.”
Dragan Jusupović, Executive Director