In 2014, professor doctor Jan Ilhan Kizilhan gave an interview to Germany’s largest newspaper Bild about the situation of the Yezidi in Northern Iraq under ISIS. ‘Step by step, Isis carries out genocide’. What followed was a unique humanitarian project. 1100 Yazidi women and children who escaped ISIS were welcomed to Germany for trauma treatment with Jan Kizilhan. In this programme we speak with Jan Kizilhan on the psychological impact of genocide, transcultural trauma, cultural-sensitive therapy and the way forward.

Kizilhan has now treated more than a thousand women and children that were held captive and used as sex-slaves by ISIS in Germany, but many more are still in Iraq and Syria. Kizilhan is therefore also setting up local treatment centres in Iraq and Syria, training people how to treat trauma in their own language and within their own cultural setting.

In this programme Kizilhan’s explains his three-way approach of trans-generational trauma, collective trauma and individual trauma, why that is important and what motivates him to keep going.

“we know from history, many times, ethnic groups, different kinds of groups, have faced major catastrophes – wars, conflicts. And somehow they find a way to cope with this conflict and grow with it. So we have to look at the resources of the people – and they have resources. We have to use these cultural resources to adapt the modern ways of medicine and psychotherapy. This is how we are working.” – Jan Kizilhan in Al Jazeera


Jan Ilhan Kizilhan is a psychologist, author and publisher. He holds a Doctorate in psychology from the University of Konstanz (Germany) and Doctorate in New Iranian Science from the University Göttingen. He is currently Dean at the Institute of Psychotherapy and Psychotraumatology at University of Duhok and Director of the Institute for Transcultural Health Science, State University Baden-Württemberg.

Ruth Feigenbaum is a Dutch psychotherapist specialised in treatment of trauma. She is supervisor of the NVPP (Nederlandse Vereniging voor Psychoanalytische Psychotherapie) and the VPeP (Vereniging Persoonsgerichte experiëntiële Psychotherapie).

Philip Veerman is a Psychologist and expert of children’s rights. Veerman holds degrees in psychology, education, social work and human rights. He is an expert in children’s rights, child protection, forensic psychology, history of education, international human rights, and international cooperation. He wrote a doctoral dissertation in the field on the rights of the child.

Aktas Erdogan will have a short music performance with his band Ararat.


Soon, the livestream record of this programme will be available on this page. Stay tuned!