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Palestinian commitment impressed trainers

16 September, 2009


© UNICEF/NYHQ2009-0168/Giacomo Pirozzi

Clinical Psychologists Patrick Smith and Unni Heltne were impressed with the participants’ commitment at the three-day training workshop they conducted on behalf of the Foundation in Palestine in August.

They have summed up the training in a report which was sent to the Centre for Applied Research in Education (CARE) Palestine on Monday, and made available to you below.

CARE Palestine was successful in their recent application for project grant from the Children and War Foundation. Read more about the West Bank project.

The three-day training workshop in the Teaching Recovery Techniques was carried out 17th to 19th of August.

The workshop was organised by Dr Ghassan Abdullah, Director of CARE Palestine, and held at the Centre for Social Work in Nablus City, West Bank.  Twenty-seven trainees attended, including social workers, school counsellors, and clinical psychologists, all working directly with children and young people in schools across the region.  Trainees had travelled from a wide geographical area, including locally in Nablus City and surrounding areas, and from southern cantons such as Bethlehem and Hebron.

The first 2½ days of the workshop comprised training in implementing the manualised group intervention.  The Children and War Foundation Recovery Manual and Workbook for group leaders had both previously been translated into Arabic, and distributed to all trainees.  The workshop covered the following topics:  group-work with children; post traumatic stress reactions in children; coping strategies (safe place techniques, imagery techniques; dual attention tasks; dream-work); physiological reactions to stress; relaxation techniques; the role of avoidance in anxiety and trauma; imaginal exposure (drawing, writing, talking); in-vivo exposure; working with triggers and reminders; grief reactions and interventions; working with parents; and burnout prevention among workers.  The workshop included didactic teaching, small group exercises; and group discussion.

All trainees attended consistently and worked very hard throughout the intensive training, with an impressive level of commitment and energy.  There was a range of experience among the group, with all trainees sharing their experiences and making very valuable contributions to the workshop.  Trainees clearly demonstrated their dedication to helping children and young people in their work in schools, under circumstances which continue to be difficult and challenging.

The final afternoon of the workshop was devoted to explaining the implementation and evaluation of the project, and was led by Dr Ghassan Abdullah and Dr Ian Barron, Educational Psychologist, University of Dundee.  A battery of standard questionnaires to be completed by children, carers, and teachers, pre- and post- intervention had been translated into Arabic, and were distributed to the trainees.  The process of carrying out the evaluation of the project (including participant screening and selection; administering the battery of measures; randomisation to intervention/control groups; delivering the group intervention; and collecting post–intervention and follow-up measures) was explained.

We would like to express our thanks to Dr Ghassan Abdullah and the staff of CARE Palestine for their generosity and exceptional skills in organising and implementing the workshop under difficult circumstances, and to the counsellors who attended the workshop for their commitment and dedication to the project.

Implementation of the project is due to begin in September 2009.  Patrick Smith and Unni Heltne will be able to offer remote supervision as the pilot groups are running, and have offered to consult on the evaluation process as necessary.