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Eye-opening counselling

Psychologist Suzy Lotfy counsels at the Egyptian-German Center for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration

Eye-opening counselling

Dr Suzy Lotfy is a psychologist with almost 25 years of professional experience. In this interview, she tells us what kind of psychosocial support people can get at the Egyptian-German Center for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (EGC).

Ms Lotfy, what kind of psychosocial support does the EGC offer and who benefits from it?

Our team offers psychosocial support to people in different life situations. One group we counsel are returnees who come back to Egypt after years abroad. Many have problems reintegrating into society here. They are often disappointed and frustrated that their stay abroad was not as successful as they had hoped. They want someone who shows understanding for their emotions and stands by them.

Who else seeks your advice?

For example, people who have difficulties finding their way in the workplace. They may have already tried one or more jobs, but keep failing. In counselling, we try to find out what the problem is. We help people understand the patterns they follow in professional situations. Together we develop a plan for positive change: we find out what skills and behaviours they can work on. The goal is to find a new job with new skills and a new attitude.

Counselling is free of charge

Is there a charge for psychosocial counselling?

Psychosocial counselling at the centre is free of charge. The EGC offers this service to all Egyptians – regardless of age or gender, religion or skin colour. Everyone is welcome at the EGC.

How long does the psychosocial support last and how does it work?

There is no fixed duration – we work together until our goal is reached. If a person finds a new job, we can continue counselling for as long as necessary during the transition phase. Once the person has settled into their new job, we can end the support. We tailor our support to the individual.

Talking in the group makes people confident

What does the group counselling process look like?

Group meetings play a special role in psychosocial counselling. By talking with others, people become more self-confident. Women in particular often have problems setting boundaries and saying "no". This can lead to them feeling hurt and frustrated. They are also often unaware of their rights and do not recognise when they experience abuse at work. These are all issues that we deal with during group counselling. We create a safe space to share difficult issues.

What is the most common problem that people bring to the centre?

One problem is often low self-esteem. Many feel like they are not good enough and inadequate. This leads to a lack of self-assertion in professional life.

Practicing situations in role play

How do you motivate people who are in crisis?

Every person has something in life without which they cannot go on if it is missing. In the counselling process we find this "gap" together. I support people in reconnecting with their life goals so that they are able to make good decisions for themselves.

Listening and developing perspectives is part of Dr Lotfy's work.

What methods do you use to do this?

I don't like to give ready-made solutions. I look at each individual person at eye level. One of the methods I use is role play. I ask my counterpart to play the employee while I take on the role of the boss. We swap roles until the person feels confident enough. This way he or she learns how to behave in a similar situation at work.

Does your approach differ for women and men?

In our team we usually distribute ourselves in such a way that the groups for women are led by a female psychologist and the groups for men by a male psychologist. Our observation is that people feel more comfortable this way and talk more openly about what is bothering them.

We create a safe space to share difficult issues.
Suzy Lotfy