Session 6 C

Psychological Barriers to Mediation: Dealing with the Traumatizing Effects of Workplace Conflicts

Time: Wednesday 12:40 PM –1:50 PM

Presenter(s): Balint Balissa, Assistant University Ombudsperson United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees – Learn more about this presenter by visiting the presenter page.

Level: Established


Research conducted in 2019 in the UNHCR Ombudsman Office showed that 87% of the visitors displayed symptoms of traumatization ranging from low to high levels. 62% of them reached moderate and high levels. The research results showed that the more escalated a conflict is, the higher the traumatic effect is and the more traumatizing a conflict is, the higher its likelihood to have a wider negative impact, namely on private life. From the ombuds’ work perspective, the psychological state of traumatization of the visitor or, in more precise clinical terms, the acute stress disorder hinders the possibility to engage in mediation or even to objectively assess one’s options regarding possible actions. Low intensity psychological interventions are getting wider recognition and are now used by non-psychologist professionals (teachers, doctors and, possibly, ombuds). Such clearly outlined interventions may help visitors to overcome the cognitive psychological barriers that block brain processes, specifically those relating to the capacity to understand others’ perspectives, to plan, to monitor relevant actions, to make decisions, to flexibly adjust actions while in conflict, to inhibit instinctive but false responses, and to control emotions.

Learning Objectives

  1. Reflect on working with psychologically affected visitors.
  2. Be able to identify symptoms of acute stress on visitors.
  3. Assess ways of dealing with visitors psychologically affected by conflicts.
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