In 2010, the Palestine Trauma Centre UK (PTC UK), a British-based group with contacts in Ireland, the Netherlands, USA and Italy, was set up in Hertfordshire, UK to support mental health and community workers in Gaza who are dealing every day with a traumatized population. A Focusing team in the UK introduced this technique to psychologists in Gaza. The programme is based on Focusing as identified by Eugene Gendlin, which was adapted for troubled communities by Pat Omidian and Nina Joy Lawrence through their work in Afghanistan.
The Community Wellness Focusing Programme was developed with the Palestine Trauma Centre for use in Gaza and adapted for use with other Arabic speaking groups including refugees. This is a community-based programme giving people a methodology to support each other to recover from difficult times and promote mutual wellness. Focusing offers a way of stepping back from the feelings to get a felt sense of the situation. This enables them to tap into the body wisdom and so get a broader understanding of the situation including their own innate sense of wellness. The Palestine Trauma Centre found that the best way of achieving this was the use of multi-sensory exercises like drawing, touching objects, drama and physical movement in a group setting. The intention is to use the adapted material developed in Gaza for use with other Arabic speaking communities who have experienced trauma, conflict or displacement.
This programme is designed to be used by community workers to provide psycho social support. It teaches people self-help skills to develop their own resilience and can be used in low resourced communities. It can be useful in reaching large numbers of people in communities which have limited access to mental health services, although it is not a substitute for professional therapy or mental health interventions.
In 2020, IQFA provided €3000 to support the extension of the Gaza Focusing Project for up to 5 years and to continue the employment of a co-ordinator and 2 project workers for this time. The IQFA funds will also support the training of people in Gaza in this approach.
A gallery of photos relayed to activities of the Gaza Focusing Project can be found at the link: