SENA PUHOVSKI, Clinical psychologist and psychotherapist

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I was born in Zagreb in 1978 and started studying psychology in 1996 at the Department of Psychology at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Zagreb. I didn’t have any dilemmas about choosing a study because I always had a desire to understand people better and learn how to be their support when they are having a hard time. I finished my studies with thesis on emotional abuse of children in 2002 and immediately after graduation started working as a psychologist at the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb - again exactly what I wanted. At the same time as a started working, I enrolled in and attended training in gestalt psychotherapy (Klaus Engel IGW Institute and Jasenka Pregrad, HOMA, 2002 - 2006). As a psychologist clinician, I continued to work at the Center for the next 16 years primarily with children who were exposed to some form of particularly severe and traumatic event such as abuse and neglect, peer violence, (traumatic) losses, etc. By working in the healthcare system, I gained experience in treatment work with many other children who didn’t necessarily go through such events but came with problems such as aggressive and inappropriate behavior, ADHD, learning disabilities, self-destructive and self-harming behavior, emotional difficulties such as severe anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and bad self-image.

Awareness of the great responsibility that such job brings, as well as the variety of issues and the uniqueness of each individual child and their family, led me to learning a variety of psychotherapy techniques. I consider it an adult's task to make an effort to understand the language spoken by children and to adapt the communication modality to their communication which is often symbolic. My research and learning of psychotherapy language have taken me primarily into three directions: treatment and psychotherapy techniques specific to working with children - I completed two stages of play therapy (Lorri Yasenik and Ken Gardner, Rocky mountain play therapy institutes, 2012 and 2013) and was educated in using expressive techniques in working with children. Specific treatment interventions in working with traumatized children and families: trauma focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (A. Manarino 2005, APSAC, L. Bonner and Susan R. Schmidt, 2013, Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb), crisis interventions (Jasenka Pregrad Society for Psychological Assistance and Bruna Profaca Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb, 2004) and the first stage of EMDR (Vesna Bogdanović, IPSA, 2017). Finally, in the area of working with families: one-year education in systematic approach in working with families (Jasenka Pregrad, HOMA, Zagreb 2007-2008) and an education in working with alienated children (Karen and Nick Woodall, Family Separation Clinic, Zagreb, 2016 and 2017).

Since the first step in solving problems is to be able to recognize it properly, in addition to the treatment- oriented educations, I have completed educations oriented on the use of psychodiagnostic instruments which allow me to perform comprehensive psychological evaluations and assessments of children and young people of different ages.

In addition to formal education, a significant place in my personal and professional development hold many years of working in a multidisciplinary team of five different professions, which has provided me with priceless opportunities to observe and learn different perspectives and treatment approaches in working with children, young people and their families.

The above mentioned continuous and long-term training in treatment and psychodiagnostic area, led me to being recognized as a clinician by the Croatian Psychological Chamber (2013). In 2017, I received a certificate in multimodal psychotherapy (ECP) by the European Association for Psychotherapy (EAP).

For the past few years, I have been very interested and focused on working with children whose parents are in the process of divorce and on providing professional support to them and their families. The divorce process is difficult for everyone involved and can be a great source of stress, including a crisis for the entire family, but it can also be a chance to rethink about relationships, parenting, and an opportunity for personal growth and development for all family members. In 2019, I enrolled in a specialist study on family mediation at the University of Zagreb, due to my desire for gaining a better insight, knowledge and skills in this field.

In addition to working with children and families and encouraged, among other things, by my own experience of working in the helping profession, I am extremely committed to working with expert helpers: psychologists, social workers, doctors, nurses and others whose daily work poses a marked risk to (mental) health. With my colleague Ćosić Pregrad I develop programs of individual and group educations and consultative support in order to prevent and overcome the symptoms of secondary traumatization and burnout at work.

In addition to clinical and psychotherapy work with children and families, I have also participated in designing and implementing numerous trainings for professionals in various fields of treatment and psychotherapy work with children (especially those experiencing severe and traumatic events in the family), parenting and prevention of secondary traumatization and burnout. I am a mentor and supervisor to young professionals and students in the helping professions.

Članica sam Hrvatske psihološke komore(HPK) Hrvatske komore psihoterapeuta (HKPT), Hrvatskog psihološkog društva (HPD), Europskog udruženja za traumatski stres (ECTSS) te suosnivačica i predsjednica Zagrebačkog psihološkog društva (ZPD). Objavljivala sam radove u stručnim časopisima i izlagala na stručno-znanstvenim skupovima, a kontinuirano pišem stručne tekstove na temu psihologije općenito, a pogotovo na teme dječjeg razvoja i potreba, roditeljstva te odnosa između djece i roditelja. S kolegicom Brunom Profaca napisala sam priručnik “Kako pomoći tugujućem djetetu”, a u koatorstvu sa Jadrankom Luca Mrđen, priručnik “Hiperaktivno dijete”.

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