A conversation I had this morning with one of my Ukrainian students about her experience of being in the midst of a revolution prompted me to write this. What is happening in Ukraine could, I believe, inspire the whole world.
Those of you who have read our books know we talk about how individuals, couples and families go through similar stages of development. We think that groups, nations and the human species also go through these same developmental stages.
Ukraine, an Interesting Social Laboratory
The correlation between personal developmental and national development has been part of my fascination with the country of Ukraine. It is now in the midst of individuating from Russian influence and domination.
In December of 2013, Ukrainians began demonstrating—first it was against Putin and for membership in the European Union. Now my friends and colleagues in Kiev tell me that the national mood has shifted into a deeper psychological process, one that asks “who are we as Ukrainians?” and “what do WE want?”
Their struggle for national identity mirrors what I have seen there in my work counseling individuals, couples and families. It’s obvious to me that every level of Ukrainian society is now in the midst of a psychological birth. And it totally fascinates my mind, captivates my spirit, tugs at my heart and nourishes my soul. I’m not sure why I feel this way, but I do and I cannot help myself.
I’ve been going to Ukraine since 1990 when Barry and I visited the USSR. Our citizen diplomat tour took us first to first Leningrad, then Moscow, and ended in Kiev. Here were spent a week on a riverboat, going down the Dnieper River to the Black Sea.
On this trip we met a Ukrainian psychologist, Dr. Valentina Bondarovskaya, who helped us understand Ukrainians’ post-Chernobyl challenges. We understood very well these challenges, as we were radiated while living in Zurich, Switzerland when Chernobyl exploded and changed the world forever.
Between 1992 –1994, I visited Kiev several times as the guest of Dr. Bondarovskaya. Initially the focus of my work was humanitarian efforts related to Chernobyl. After the fall of Communism in 1991 and Ukraine’s emancipation from Soviet control, the focus changed to post-Soviet support for coping with life in a market economy.
Dr. Bondarovskaya understood that Ukraine lacked trained mental health professionals who had practical skills to help people adjust to the rapid and often traumatic changes in their personal and collective lives. So in 1994 our non-profit institute, the Carolina Institute for Conflict Resolution & Creative Leadership (CICRCL), formed a joint venture with Dr. Bondarovsksya. She founded ROZRADA, a humanitarian center in Kiev that is legally tied our CICRCL’s Colorado corporate status. You can find more information about our joint project in Ukraine on our website:
In the summer of 1994 I spent two weeks with a dozen members of ROZRADA’s founding staff in Bratislava, Slovakia. Here I provided them with their first training in “practical psychology.” I’ve returned to Kiev several times since then to offer these and others mental health professionals additional training, clinical supervision and mentoring. The mental health profession has grown immensely since 1991, and many other trainers have brought their theories and practices to Ukraine to help professionals develop their clinical skills.
ROZRADA is now well established in Kiev. Dr. Bondarovskaya had our codependency and counterdependency books translated and published. The proceeds from the sale of the books have supported ROZRADA’s efforts to help the people of Ukraine advance psychologically. It has been a very interesting and rewarding process for me, I can say!
Ukraine Process Work Center Opens!
I regularly Skype and email with the students and colleagues in Ukraine that I’ve been working with for many years. Because I feel so connected to them, sometimes I feel as though I have a “self” who has another life there! I provide ongoing consultation and support for colleagues in Kiev that I’ve trained in Developmental Process Work. They recently founded their own Process Center in Ukraine: Process Work Ukraine.
The people in Ukraine are so passionate about their future, about their desire to be a free country. And working on my own deep individuation process, I totally understand how they are feeling.
Ukraine’s Psychological Birth
And now comes an article that validates our theory, titled, Birth of A Nation, posted on the English language news site, kyivpost.com.
Here’s an excerpt:
No amount of live video feeds or news stories can convey the essence of EuroMaidan.
But what was even more striking (last night) is how quickly Kyiv mobilized and moved into the city center, turning a crowd of a few hundred into a mass of tens of thousands of people in a matter of several hours. There was a lot of dignity in it, and a lot of pride.
This was the massive proof that EuroMaidan is not about its leaders, that it’s truly the will of the people.
Every person taking part in it was a leader and a hero. I am talking (for example) about all those drivers who tweeted in the crazy hours of the morning that they will be ready to pick up and drive to Maidan anyone for free.
In a way, this is a war. It is a war for a new civilization in Ukraine. Based on values such as solidarity, dignity, respect for an individual and clear and equal rules of the game for all. This is no longer about Europe or integration – it’s about who we are and where we want to go.
This is about a nation being born. Mutilated by years of misrule, impoverished by looting, it emerges slowly from the ruin. This process is massive and we don’t know how well this birth is going to go. But it’s happening now and here, in Kyiv, and it’s both painful and awesome. The only place to truly feel the pain and grandeur of this national awakening is to stand there right on Maidan.
If you are interested in following the Birth of Ukraine, visit this website for updates and articles.