BECICI, Montenegro, 23 September 2011 – Keeping families together and ensuring children have a secure and loving environment is a key aspect of Social Welfare reform in Montenegro. Family counselling services are essential to prevention of abandonment and relatively new to Montenegro. Thanks to the training of experts on family counselling, organized with the support of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, UNICEF and the EU, families at risk will have an opportunity to receive professional support and assistance in most centres for social work in Montenegro. Nineteen professionals primarily from centres for social work took part in the third session of the “Family Counselling Training” held at the Hotel Queen of Montenegro in Becici between 22nd and 24th September. The training is led by two internationally recognized experts in family therapy, Dr. Zorka Lopicic, Doctor of Medical Sciences in Psychotherapy and Dr. Nevena Calovska Hercog, Doctor of Medical Sciences in Clinical Psychiatry. “The length of the training is equivalent to two school semesters, where the group as a whole convenes with the educators 4 times, for 3 days each time, and there is a final workshop that is both a recapitulation and review of what has been learned. The goal of the training is to enhance knowledge and develop skills to work with clients, and to establish a better expert network in the community, so that the professionals are more efficient in the exchange and acquisition of information,'' said Dr Nevena Calovska Hercog, Doctor of Medical Sciences in Clinical Psychiatry. The participants were very enthusiastic about the opportunity to become family counsellors and apply the knowledge gained during the training in their future work with clients.
Senana Bahovic, Psychologist in Centre for Social Work in Podgorica
''This training, the goal of which is professional preparation for counseling work, will be of great benefit for my future work, both for my institution, and for me. In fact, Montenegro has neither marriage or family counseling nor a child psychiatrist. Until these conditions are created i.e. capacities, this training will greatly help us to solve some very difficult and complicated issues where children are in a way endangered, since my institution primarily deals with children – the protection of their rights and best interests,” said Senana Bahovic, Psychologist in Centre for Social Work in Podgorica. “The eminent experts who assisted in the training and capacity building have indeed provided us with practical knowledge, above all, and now we have – so to speak - completely clear concepts on how to approach mediation in family disputes and how to fully contribute to the organization and functionality of a family in our Montenegrin society,” said Slavko Milic, Police Officer in Police Department of Municipality of Niksic. After the final, forth workshop which is expected to be held in November, final examinations will be scheduled. Those who pass the exam will receive certificates and are expected to be granted License in Family Counselling. ‘’All families are different so it is essential to provide good, quality training on family consulting for social workers which enables them to respond to situation and individual needs of specific families. This kind of flexibility in approach is essential for social workers to be able to prevent family breakdown and child abandonment,’’ said UNICEF Representative Benjamin Perks, explaining the benefits of the training for social welfare professionals in Montenegro. Strengthening capacity of professionals at centres for social work to support vulnerable families is one of the main objectives the IPA 2010 “Social Welfare and Child Care System Reform: Enhancing Social Inclusion” Project implemented jointly by the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Ministry of Education and Sport, in partnership with UNICEF and UNDP and with financial support of the European Union in the amount of 3 million euros.