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Online training with Artsakh State University faculty, staff, students
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AUA Open Education Builds Counseling Capacity for Artsakh

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STEPANAKERT, Artsakh — The American University of Armenia (AUA) Open Education continues providing capacity-building opportunities in Artsakh this time focusing on counseling services. On May 25, 2021, AUA Senior Counselor Yelena Sardaryan (MPH ‘13) and Counselors Elena Barteneva and Ruth Kupeian were invited to conduct online training for Artsakh State University (ASU) professors of psychology, psychology center staff, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. The central topics discussed covered approaches to addressing the mental health needs of the population impacted by the Artsakh war. 

ASU Deputy Rector Associate Professor Vitya Yaramishyan welcomed the attendees, especially recognizing the AUA counselors’ participation and emphasizing the importance of such collaborations that stimulate academic discussion and provide students with up-to-date knowledge on mental health.

“It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to work with our colleagues from Artsakh State University who are facing unique challenges in the post-war period. Moving forward the agenda of advocating for more support for the mental health and well-being of various segments of the population, AUA Counseling Services aspires to reach out to other higher education institutions in support of their efforts toward establishing and expanding counseling services, thus increasing access to mental health services. This is in line with AUA’s vision to expand support services beyond AUA and better serve the nation as a whole,” noted Sardaryan. 

Over 30 participants participated in the event and had the unique opportunity to raise questions of concern related to the work that needs to be carried out and deliberating different approaches to providing counseling in a systematic manner. This event was welcomed with great enthusiasm and laid the groundwork for further collaboration in providing local specialists with continuous professional development opportunities. In the immediate future, AUA counselors will organize a three-day online course to deliver topical lectures on overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, overcoming loss and bereavement, self-help, and other topics of interest to the participants. Additionally, AUA counselors will provide guidance to a select group of seasoned professionals at ASU through periodic consultations on issues of case management. 

“This is a much-needed collaboration that draws support from the AUA Counselling Services department in order to carry out a series of online and face-to-face workshops to develop sustainable assets for Artaskh. It is also an excellent example of a reality lab realized in partnership with AGBU, AUA, Artsakh State University, and the local community to address vital problems and provide systemic solutions,” remarked Director of AUA Open Education Loucine Hayes.

The meeting was part of a series of capacity-building events organized by AUA Open Education within the scope of the Learn to Earn Artsakh Program (LEAP) of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). After the successful completion of the first in the series, the Basic Computer and Soft Skills training course tailored for employees of the Ministry of Labor, Social and Resettlement Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh, a needs assessment was performed, which had revealed that counseling services and workshops in mental health care are needed to boost resilience in the post-war reality of Artsakh. Consequently, AUA Open Education partnered with ASU to provide the faculty and students of ASU with the knowledge and tools necessary for delivering counseling services to the affected people in Artsakh.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia, affiliated with the University of California, and accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission in the United States. AUA provides local and international students with Western-style education through top-quality undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs, promotes research and innovation, encourages civic engagement and community service, and fosters democratic values. 

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