hope . . . strength, resiliency, even power
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Washington, DC (PRWEB) March 20, 2009
James S. Gordon, M.D., the distinguished psychiatrist who leads the Washington D.C.-based Center for Mind-Body Medicine (CMBM), just returned from Gaza and Israel, where he heard first-hand testimony from people and institutions who were targeted by the Israeli army--contradictory to the IDF's statements. Working in nearby Sderot, he also heard firsthand Israeli reactions to what has happened, and their difficulty accepting Israel's role in the conflict. Both sides are wounded and grieving from the violence, and now is the time to bring this testimony to light, and begin healing.
Dr. Gordon lead an international team of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish mental health professionals into Gaza in a groundbreaking effort to relieve population-wide psychological trauma in Gaza and nearby Israeli towns. He and his colleagues supervised their Gaza faculty in a poignant, powerful, life-affirming, and life-changing 5-day training of 150 of Gaza's most gifted and committed health and mental health professionals.
Dr. Gordon also spent several days in Israel with counselors in Sderot, Israel, which has been shelled from Gaza for eight years, and with CMBM's Israeli faculty, before he entered Gaza on March 4th. He returned March 15th.
For the last seven years, Dr. Gordon and his CMBM team have been working intensively with the traumatized population in Gaza and Israel separately and jointly--they are the only organization doing so. During this time, they trained 300 Israeli professionals and 90 in Gaza to develop comprehensive, scientifically based programs that are effectively treating widespread posttraumatic stress disorder, major depression, anxiety, violence, and despair.
CMBM's program is a powerful force for hope for those living in Gaza. Before the recent Israeli invasion, CMBM's Gaza team, which has treated 15-20,000 children and adults, was providing up to 75 ten-week long mind-body groups every three months. In the aftermath of the devastation, the number of groups has tripled. The CMBM approach is currently also being offered to hundreds of families that lost members in the conflict and to the seriously injured, to orphaned children, abused women, mothers with 'failure to thrive' infants, and the depressed, suicidal, and violent.
CMBM's pioneering program, which recently received a research award from the US Department of Defense, combines mind-body techniques of meditation, guided imagery, biofeedback, and yoga with self-expression in words, drawings, and movement in a supportive small group setting.
During his eight days in Gaza, Dr. Gordon spoke with dozens of men and women who suffered loss of children and spouses, and with children disoriented and distraught from the deaths of parents, and the destruction of their homes, neighborhoods, and schools, He learned how families used mind-body techniques--meditation while bombs fell, shaking their bodies to relieve tension after a nearby battle, and family "check-ins" to share pain and sorrow--to find "hope . . . strength, resiliency, even power" (as one CMBM school psychologist put it) in the midst of despair.
A wealth of data supports CMBM's unique, highly effective model, which has been used to help traumatized populations in postwar Kosovo, post-Katrina New Orleans, as well as Israel and Gaza, and is now being implemented on an increasingly large scale with US military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and their families. "This model is," as Dr. Gordon says, "welcomed by people of all ages and races around the world because it is educational, non-stigmatizing, and demonstrably beneficial. It can be easily taught and can be used by all people of all ages on their own." Dr. Gordon describes this groundbreaking approach in his newest book, Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression (Penguin Press; June 2008).
The results of CMBM's program are well-documented and remarkable. A randomized controlled trial (RCT) on the use of the model with war-traumatized children in Kosovo -- the first RCT of any intervention with war-traumatized children -- was published in the prestigious Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2008; it showed an 80% decrease in symptoms following 12 sessions of mind-body skills groups. Also, data collected on children and adults in the CMBM Gaza program revealed significant decreases in symptoms of PTSD and depression and anger and increased hopefulness in those who participated in CMBM groups, gains which were largely maintained even during the ongoing siege of Gaza at six months' follow-up.
With 15 trips to Gaza as well as Israel, and hundreds of in-depth interviews, Dr. Gordon has an intimate knowledge and authoritative understanding of Gazans' remarkable capacity for resiliency, faith, and trust, as well as profound suffering. He is also deeply knowledgeable about the ongoing emotional devastation experienced by Israelis. Remarkably, in this stubborn conflict, he is capable of discussing similarities and differences between the Israeli and Palestinian experience of the situation. He is available for immediate comment and interview.