The German Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health speaks of the "challenge of work-related trauma" in this context. In the second edition of its 2006 publication, the federal institute notes that "images of human suffering are imprinted on the human memory and have a lasting effect. Intense mental reactions, up to and including post-traumatic stress disorder, can occur and may be accompanied by psychosomatic symptoms, anxiety or depression." The need for effective prevention is therefore great.
Psychosocial Support System
CHARLY provides an innovative multimedia training platform for the psychosocial support of military personnel and rescue workers. It supplements existing supervisory and pedagogical units and helps to efficiently and sustainably increase the ability of military personnel and rescue workers to cope with psychosocial stress. With the help of CHARLY, training course participants learn about the connections between traumatic situations and their own stress reactions.
They come to recognise the typical symptoms and effects of stress and can practise skills and self-management methods for coping with high levels of mental stress. The platform helps participants to accept their own limits and promotes leaders' understanding of work-related trauma. Participants are guided through the system by a virtual coach that encourages them to actively participate from the start.
They experience their own stress reactions during an experiment. They participate in case studies that clearly present the cause and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorders. In the psycho education unit, participants expand their knowledge of stress and trauma. They practise selected methods for coping with stress and put them to the test by confronting stress scenarios that are realistically demonstrated. The biofeedback interface enables participants to objectively verify their effectiveness.
Participants train their self-perception, expand their communication skills and become aware of the need for mutual social support. All participant activities are evaluated using a point system. CHARLY was commissioned by the German Armed Forces and successfully tested. CHARLY will be integrated into the training and mission preparation process at the German Armed Forces Centre for Explosive Ordnance Disposal.
- Trains communication skills among comrades (social support)
- Confronts participants with realistic stress situations, customised to individual target groups
- Puts methods for coping with stress to the test
Integrated Virtual Coach
- Accompanies participants
- Creates a supportive framework
- Explains and introduces
- Makes comments
Benefits of CHARLY
- Holistic development of abilities through self-awareness, psycho education and the systematic training of self-monitoring and self-efficacy.
- Reduces stress levels and the risk of traumatisation during missions
- Increases the ability to cope with mental stress
- Improves the ability to act and self-management for coping with acute reactions to stress situations
- Initial value measurement
- Induces stress with the stress game and confronts participants with a stress scenario
- Self-calming by applying a method for coping with stress
- Motivation is crucial for the success of a training course.
- CHARLY combines intrinsic and extrinsic motivational elements:
- Point system (high score)
- Computer game elements
- Concrete benefits for real missions
Training Course Experience
The training course consists of group talks and exercises on the computer using highly interactive, multimedia software. Participants comment:
- “... customised to me and my job, and very realistic."
- “Very good methods for practising stress reduction!"
- “Biofeedback is fantastic!"
- “... this programme was the best learning software I've ever experienced, great!"
CHARLY - Key Features
- CHARLY is based on current neuropsychological research on post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) and their prevention, and is didactically well-founded.
- The specific stress area is compiled for each target group and presented to participants by means of sequential multimedia scenes.
- CHARLY has a biofeedback interface: skin conductance is the index of subjective tension. It is measured and used as feedback for self-efficacy.
- An integrated video coach supports participants by moderating and explaining the course content. Being spoken to directly motivates participants and supports their concentration.
- CHARLY uses a whole range of multimedia capabilities such as video, animated comic illustrations and various methods of interaction. This vitalises the training course and ensures a sustainable effect.
- CHARLY is an integrative training package. As a training unit, the multimedia software is embedded in a blended training concept.
- Checklist cards for participants to take away with them support the transfer from a training situation to the reality of a mission.
- Windows multimedia PC
- Serial port for the biofeedback sensor
- Server-client network (LAN)
Systematic structure in training units
- Skin conductance comparison during states of relaxation, concentration and stress (interactive experiment)
2. Professionalisation (psycho education)
- Phenomenology of pyschotraumaticstress disorders
- Stress and trauma (phenomena, internal psychological processes)
- Potential stress factors during missions
3. Training in areas of stress
- Protective mindsets
- Self-calming techniques
- Finding social support in conversation
- Social perception and providing
- social support
The more successfully a training unit is completed, the higher the number of points (high score). Individual feedback by means of biofeedback trains self-perception.
5. Mission kit
Each participant who successfully completes the training course receives a „mission kit" in the form of brief instructions and check lists.