|Dr. Jennings talks with Red Crescent ambulance driver in Bethlehem,
where many residents are refugees.
A two-day mental health counseling workshop designed to support and train those who serve in the helping professions to better handle cases of trauma brought on by wars and natural disasters, is planned for May 19-20 in Bethlehem, Palestine. The program is sponsored by Conscience International and its cooperating organizations.
The workshop will provide tools for recognizing symptoms, organizing group therapy, and conducting individual counseling with persons who have experienced severe trauma or who are facing ongoing traumatic events. Emphasis will be placed on aiding women and children who are among those suffering the most from continuous emotional stress.
Dr. Kenyon Knapp, Associate Professor of Counseling at Mercer University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA will lead the workshop. Joining him will be a number of Palestinian mental health associates who will lead sessions and oversee group discussions to better equip aid workers, pastors, teachers, theological students, and medical personnel to help families and individuals in crisis.
"Bethlehem is known around the world as the city of ‘Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men,’ but the reality is far different. Many of the city's inhabitants are long-term refugees who have experienced grinding poverty, frequent street battles, and intermittent warfare," says Conscience International President Dr. James Jennings. “Mental health in the aftermath of ongoing conflicts and natural disasters has been termed the greatest unmet need among those injured or economically deprived, including refugees and the internally displaced. The long-term social cost for individuals, organizations, and governments is enormous.”
Professionals will engage in an interactive get-acquainted session followed by presentations on diagnosing symptoms and designing group and individual therapies. Other sessions will be focused on women’s issues and techniques of successfully engaging children while at the same time avoiding exploitation and honoring child protection guidelines.
The goal is to come away with workable strategies for organizing aid to victims of war, dispossession, dislocation, economic deprivation, and loss of family members.