Hadassah medical Organization is pleased to present its third progress report to World Vision for the Bi National School of Psychotherapy (BSPT). It includes the summary of the activities that have been taking place during the second part of the first semester and the whole second semester of the first academic year (January 1st, 2017 to July 31st, 2017).

Progress Report on the BINational School of Psychotherapy
Prepared for Word Vision, by Dr. Esti Galili Weisstaub, BSPT director and Francis Gharfeh, Program BSPT Coordinator
Reporting Period: January 1st to July 31st, 2017

First semester. Last teaching day of the first semester was March 5th, 2017. The 14 trainees from Israel, West bank and Gaza have concluded a 4-month program, during which 25 lectures and 42 group supervision sessions were conducted. Each week, 2 lectures and 2 group supervision sessions were held. In addition to the roles of Dr. Esti Galili -Weisstub and Dr. Shafiq Masalha in leading the clinical supervision sessions, 7 highly specialized professionals contributed to the weekly seminars. The students had a unique chance to experience an international exposure with Dr. James Leckmann, Neison Harris Professor of Child Psychiatry, Psychiatry, Psychology and Pediatrics at Yale University.  He presented a theoretical seminar on pathways towards peace and violence prevention through an analysis of the transformative power of children and families. His second lecture was clinical: Tourette syndromes through a multi-dimensional domain covered by research, training and clinical care.

Dr. Iyad Hallaq, an academic at Al Quds University, focused in his lectures on developmental theories and psychotherapy practices during childhood and adolescence. Dr. Itamar Lurie, a psychoanalyst and experienced supervising educational psychologist, has significantly inspired the students with various clinical presentations to help them conceptualizing the therapeutic process with children and with their parents. Dr. Miri Keren, the president of the International Association of Infant Psychiatry and allied professions, Assistant Clinical Professor Tel Aviv University Medical School and Director of Geha Infant Mental Health Outpatient Clinic enlightened the students on some roles of attachment theories and synergies during normal and abnormal development of the person. Dr. Ruth Feldman, Professor in the Department of Psychology and in the Brain Research Center at Bar-Ilan University, lectured on Intervention program for Israeli and Palestinian Youth and its Effect on Brain and Behavior, and on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Infants and Young Children Exposed to War-Related Trauma.

Apart from the academic part of the program Dr. Shafiq Masalha and Dr.  Itamar Lurie have facilitated jointly 3 group working sessions. The goal of those sessions is to encourage open interaction among the students and strengthen team work and mutual studies. Group dynamics matters a lot. Hence, building a dynamical and multi-cultural group process through inner and   interchanging exposures is very essential and central to the uniqueness of the BSPT.

Group attendance. During first semester was good, realizing the challenges in getting permits (to enter into Israel – for the Palestinians). This is a critical issue which undermined the attempts to bring more trainees from the Gaza strip.

Mid-term break (February 5, 2017 to March 19, 2017) During the break the training activities were halted to enable the students have a spacy break, and the steering and management body of the program continue their efforts in planning the next steps for the second semester and the rest of the program. The steering committee has met 3 times to discuss and finalize the topics and decide on the appropriate lecturers for the second semester. Dr. Tawfiq Salman from Bethlehem and Dr. Shafiq Masalha were delegated to establish and implement the training plan for that semester. Meanwhile, to strengthen the naturally forming intimacy in the group, an additional (unplanned) session of group dynamics was held at a different venue. Dr. Itamar Lurie hosted the team (Students and teachers) at his home to watch the movie ‘’ Arna’s Children” and to discuss the thoughts and feelings that the film triggered.

Second Semester. From March 19, 2017 to July 2, 2017, the training plan during the second semester was synchronized and implemented in the same weekly scheduling rhythm:  2 lectures plus 2 clinical supervision sessions delivered every Sunday in Hadassah Mt. of Scopus. The objectives of the training at this phase was to increase the knowledge of the students in applied topics such as psychopathology and psychiatric disorders and discuss the philosophical underpinnings in psychopathology. It aimed to help the students in realizing the cultural and transcultural issues that are involved in psychopathology. Fourteen locals (Israelis and Palestinians) and one international highly specialized professionals contributed in delivering a wide coverage of theories, practices and researches, each according to his or her main in-depth field of expertise. The detailed and implemented academic plan for both semesters is described in annex 1 which shows that the students have attended 26 lectures and experienced 25 group supervision sessions in the second semester. All year literature collections, articles, voice recordings, power point presentations and related references have been provided to each student as CD copies.

Students attendances. There are records for every participation and attendances. One student (Israeli psychologist) has dropped out due to a personal reasons and at this point moved to Europe. Two other students have demonstrated frequent absences due to specific family situation and workloads. Though there are no signs of dropping out, two members of the steering committee are following the cases of albescence with an evaluative judgement.

A positive addition is a new trainee form Gaza who joined the team after getting an approval for a permit, thus, the number of trainees stayed fixed at 14 (2 from Gaza, 5 Israeli Jews, 2 Arab Israelis, 1 from WB and 4 from East Jerusalem). It is worth mentioning that in spite of his permit’s rejection, Omer Shahin pursued most of the training sessions from Gaza through on-line connection.

Basic Tools. In addition to the formal lectures, the training program incorporates extra powerful tools, such as:

  • Group dynamics: the program has maintained a minimum number of group dynamics sessions. We believe that this helps understanding and later managing behavioral processes and decision making mechanism that effect the students. These processes are formed and influenced by transcultural experiences, cross border exchanges, racism, sexism, and other forms of social/political prejudice and discrimination.
  • Grouped Supervision – consists of 1.5 hours’ grouped weekly supervision. The supervision focuses on the practical psychotherapeutic work that is done by the students and the intrapsychic and inter psychic process that students go through. The supervision was divided to two parallel groups, led and organized by Dr. Esti Galili-Wesstaub and Dr. Shafiq Masalha.

International Conference on Trauma and Mental Health. The psychotherapist students showed high enthusiasm and interest to participate in a two-day international conference on Trauma and Mental health in Jerusalem.  9 students successfully participated in the 2-day conference, while one was disallowed to access Jerusalem due to military closure imposed on the residents of the West Bank. The conference team accepted a research paper submitted by Omer Shahin (the skype student) from Gaza who could not participate due to lack of permit. However, a colleague from Gaza, a member of the group, was able to present his paper.

A plenary closing session was held at the end of the training year to understand their feedbacks and hear their suggestions for the upcoming activities.

Looking Forward. The steering committee will continue their meetings to plan for the second (full year) and third (one semester) year of training. The plans will consider all the lessons learned and feedbacks from the students to bring about a flexible training that will combine high academic standards and the aspirations and needs of the students.

During the summer break, there are three activities to be planned. We will share the content of the summer work shop in our next progress report.