Emotional Healing, Training and Research Project for Continued Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Recovery, Resilience, and Meaning-Making in Palestine, Israel with Palestinians and Jordan

14 May – 25 May 2015

SPECIFIC AIMS: The Mental Health Outreach Program (MHOP), organized by the Association for Trauma Outreach and Prevention (ATOP) Meaningfulworld, a not-for-profit (501(c)3) organization, affiliated with the United Nations, spearheaded by trauma expert Dr. Ani Kalayjian, is a disaster relief project that trains local counselors/psychologists, students in trauma relief and provide psychosocial aid to Lebanese survivors of ongoing conflict, as well as the new influx of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This is especially important in the areas bordering Israel, where there is constant shelling, trauma, and conflict. The model of the MHOP has been utilized to aide disasters in over 45 calamities, such as Sri Lanka, Armenia, Turkey, Japan, the United States, Sierra Leone, DR Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, etc. Dr. Kalayjian has also worked with veterans of Gulf War, Vietnam War, Kosovo conflict, as well as Rwandan Genocide. The program is revised and modified to be effective across cultures, gender and age. ATOP Meaningfulworld promotes the advancement of knowledge about the immediate and long-term human consequences of traumatic events and promotes effective methods of prevention, relief and restoration to those treating traumatized populations. In Lebanon, the MHOP will disseminate the knowledge it gained from helping survivors to the international community. This knowledge will be shared through research, discussion, education, training, networking, support of professionals, healing workshops, and collaboration with other trauma organizations in the area, and the use of knowledge transfer media. We have worked in the Middle East since 1997, the most recent humanitarian relief work was in May 2014.

The program has a four-pronged approach:

Phase One: This phase involves sending a team of volunteer mental health professionals to Lebanon to set up the initial logistics of the base camp, pilot the treatment model, and identify local translators and psychosocial resources for training. Deliver psychosocial support and psycho education to the surviving community, in collaboration with the local authorities. This phase was conducted in 2007 and 2013.

Phase Two: This part focuses on the long term rehabilitation and empowerment of the surviving community through strengthening the mental health first aide system. This will be carried out in collaboration with local authorities, state, academia (Bir Zeit University, Bethlehem University, Al Quds University, University of Jordan, Jordan River Foundation, etc).

Phase Three: This part focuses on training the local psychosocial counselors and other professionals and paraprofessionals in order to equip them to best mental health delivery system, through evidence based integrative healing, and sharing research from 2007, 2012, 2013 & 2014.

Phase Four: Emphasis will be placed on compiling data on the trauma suffered in this region. Exploratory and descriptive research will be conducted in collaboration with the local professionals.


Description of services included in the training: The Meaningfulworld Humanitarian Outreach Program developed by Dr. Kalayjian has focused upon national & international mediation, spiritual activism, psychoeducation and rehabilitation of those who are suffering human and natural disasters around the globe as well as to transform generational trauma and achieve ancestral healing. Through conflict transformation workshops conducted in over 45 calamities, national and international conferences, healing circles, interfaith programs, mind-body-spirit health fairs, youth empowerment programs ATOP Meaningfulworld is dedicated to fostering a meaningful, peaceful, and just world in which every individual enjoys physical, mental, ecological, and spiritual health. A sense of meaning, peace, and justice, although unique to each individual, is achieved through a transformative journey that integrates knowledge and experience with a sense of responsibility, activism, mindfulness, and reflection. At the core of all programs is the 7-step Biopsychosocial and Eco-Spiritual Model, through which various aspects of trauma, dispute, conflict, or disagreements are assessed, identified, explored, processed, worked through, released, and a new meaning achieved. This innovative model incorporates various theories including: psychodynamic (Freud, 1910), interpersonal (Sullivan, 1953), existential and humanistic (Viktor Frankl, 1962), Electromagnetic Field Balancing (EMF, Dubro & Lapierre, 2002), Learning Theory, Forgiveness (Kalayjian & Paloutzian, 2010), Flower Essences (Bach & other flower remedies), Essential Oils, physical release (Yoga, Marshal Arts), and mind-body-spirit chakra balancing, prayers and meditation. This model is used successfully in over 45 calamities around the globe. The MHOP will provide daily group therapies and individual therapy for adults, art and play therapy with children, family therapy, as well as desensitization groups for those with fears.Background: MHOP will bring a Team of trauma experts joined with Dr. Kalayjian and trained by her before their departure and debriefed after. The seven-step Bio-Psychosocial and Eco- Spiritual model (7-Step Integrative Healing Model) will be used. This model is comprised of a series of seven consecutive steps through which various aspects of traumatic exposure are assessed, identified, explored, and worked through. The program consists of 7- steps: (1) Assessment: Levels of post-traumatic stress are assessed using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire, (2) Expression of feelings: Participants are encouraged to express what they were feeling in relation to the conflict; (3) Empathy and validation: This step is focused on Interpersonal Theory, H. S. Sullivan (1953). As described by Eagan (1982), in “accurate empathy”, the team is aware of the individual’s circumstance, understands both the content and the affect the individual expresses, and engages the individual in dialogue which leads to movement through the phases toward recovery and acceptance; (4) Discovery and expression of meaning: Each member of the group is invited to focus on the strengths and meanings that naturally arise out of any disaster situation. This step is based on Humanistic Psychology and Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy, Meaning-Centered Therapy; (5) Information dissemination: The team provides information to the survivors and community mental health professionals; (6) Eco- Centered Healing, focusing on how we can connect with mother nature, respect and love her. And (7) Physical Release, chakra balancing, yoga, meditation: Diaphragmatic breathing and other physical exercises to release fear and shock is utilized. The program concludes with an experiential, therapeutic, mindful breathing exercise, stretching, visualization, meditation and prayer.

Value of training for local groups: The resources in the local area need to be increased, and training provided in order to service the surviving community. Support staff also needs psychological support, as is proven by the Red Cross and other relief models. Support team members can become overwhelmed as they hear survivors, one after the other tell their stories of courage, creativity, survival, and loss, and multiple losses that they could not endure. When trauma ruptures the individual’s connection with the group, a strong sense of isolation, disarray and helplessness occurs. As a result, survivors will be encouraged to tell their stories, establishing catharsis. Several techniques will be used to release fear, sadness and guilt. Therapeutic use of breath will be incorporated for intentional cleansing exercises. Special breathing techniques will be taught in order to help the survivors establish an inner peace and inner strength, as well as generalized relaxation techniques. Visualization and positive affirmations will also be utilized and integrated. More specific benefits will be: Catharsis, Mindfulness, post trauma healing, resilience, meaning-making, transforming trauma into positive lessons, conscious leadership, Empowerment & Forgiveness. Survivors will be assisted in asking empowering questions, rather than the victimizing question of “Why did this happen to us?”

PROGRAM METHODS PHASE I: Recruitment of participants for training by the MHOP team is based on outreach and referrals by local authorities and collaborators. Recruitment of survivors at refugee camps: Professional volunteers will visit schools, tents, shelters, etc., and encouraged individuals to join the groups. We expect that some survivors will also be referred by past participants, and community agencies. There will be a variety of groups offered each day: Men’s group, women’s group and children’s art and play therapy groups. PHASE II: 1. Research and Assessment: The assessment protocol includes several measurements integrated: Participants will be asked to complete the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire as well as a short forgiveness and meaning centered questionnaire. 2. Training: Training involves mental health providers, survivors, Ministries, faculty, and students. MHOP team members will select local professionals who would like to receive further training in trauma interventions, treatment, and research. 3. Assisting establishment of Peace and Forgiveness Gardens, near each university, camp, hospitals, and office buildings. These gardens will serve to remind everyone of the value of peace, forgiveness, and emotional intelligence (EQ). 4. Professional conferences: The program director as well as team members intend to present results of the project at professional conferences such as the American Psychological Association Convention, the Eastern Psychological Association, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, Conference at Fordham University, Columbia University, at the United Nations, etc.


An email detailing this relief effort was disseminated widely with a call for volunteers, and an announcement was placed on ATOP Meaningfulworld website: Prospective volunteers submitted applications. Lead volunteers must have a masters’ degree, as well as experience in group therapy and trauma therapy. Support volunteers must have a proven track record of service in conflict areas. All volunteers are trained extensively on the MHOP model. There are nine trainings annually in NYC; the next training is scheduled for April 25 & 30 May, 2015.

Team 2015: Dr. Ani Kalayjian, Susan Smith and Yasmine Qaddoumi in Palestine, Israel and Jordan

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Dr. Ani Kalayjian is a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University with Masters and Doctor of Education degrees, and now she is on the faculty of

Columbia University. As a pioneering therapist, educator, director and author, she has devoted her life to bringing healing to those who have survived the devastation of disaster, whether human-made or natural. Her 7-step Biopsychosocial and Eco Spiritual Model has been used in over twenty-five countries globally to transform the trauma into healing, through mindfulness, forgiveness and meaning- making. She is the author of an internationally acclaimed book on Disaster & Mass Trauma, Chief Editor of an international book on Forgiveness & Reconciliation: Psychological pathways to conflict transformation and peace building (Springer Publishing, 2009, paperback 2010), and Chief Editor of II Volumes on Emotional Healing around the World: Rituals and practices for resilience and meaning-making (Greenwood, ABC- CLIO, 2009). Dr. Kalayjian Founded Meaningfulworld which is a consortium of several not-for- profit NGO’s dedicated to fostering a meaningful, peaceful, and just world in which every individual and their family enjoy physical, mental, ecological & spiritual health.

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Susan Smith is a manager at Stony Point Center, a conference and retreat facility in Rockland County, NY, operated by the Presbyterian Church USA with the assistance of an intentional residential community of Jews, Muslims and Christians engaged in peace and social justice work. She is former Islamic school principal and has also worked at the United Nations in various capacities including information officer with the Department of Public Information, voter registration officer with the Department of Peace- keeping Operations in the Western Sahara, liaison for Islamic Relief USA, and special assistant to the Ambassador of Lebanon. She has lived, worked, studied and traveled extensively in the Middle East, and is the author of Biblical Children’s Stories As Told in the Qur’an. She holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Counseling and Development from Long Island University and a Masters in Middle East Studies from the American University in Cairo.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 7.28.20 PMYasmine Qaddoumi is a student at the State University of New York in Rockland County, where she is studying human rights and gender studies. She is an activist for social justice who, dispatched by the Stony Point Center Community of Living Traditions in Stony Point, NY, participated in two multi-faith delegations to Ferguson, MO to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. In Ferguson, she engaged in militant nonviolent civil disobedience trainings provided by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the oldest human rights organization in the United States, which is based in Nyack, NY. In addition, she received training and volunteered in the provision of jail support. In December 2014, she organized a “die in” at SUNY-Rockland to protest police brutality targeting people of color.

SUPPORT AND COLLABORATION ATOP Meaningfulworld is nurturing collaboration with universities, NGO’s both local and international, as well as the government through the Ministers of Health, Education, & Social Welfare. During its 2015 Mission it will be working with a number of academic institutions including the University of Jenin, Bethlehem University, Tel Aviv University and University of Jordan. In addition, it will partner with a number of NGOs including the Palestine Museum of Natural History, various Palestinian refugee camps, and the Jordan River Foundation.

The schedule of trainings and workshops for the Middle East Mission 2015 are:

May 16th – Museum of Natural History, Bethlehem, workshop with community members

May 17th and 18th – University of Jenin, training with faculty and students

May 19th and 20th education service providers – Workshops with female and male youth, and training with mental health and

May 21st – in Palestine, to be determined

May 22 – 26th – Jordan, to be determined

Contact President ATOP Meaningfulworld

Dr. Ani Kalayjian E-mail:

Phone: 201 941-2266, Mobile: 201 723-9578


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Good intentions are no longer enough. I wanted to support humanity in my own way. Meaningful World was a natural way for me to help the victims of tsunami.

So many systems have failed us and as we transition from failed models, attitudes and behaviors that are polarizing, destructive and failing all around us I could not just sit back, be overwhelmed and do nothing… I am doing something with Meaningful World.

Meaningful World cultivates well-being, relatedness, a deep awareness and understanding how to elevate some of the world's suffering. Our choices impact all living systems and I choose to be an agent of good.