Over the past year, the four of us have had the honor to intern at NATAL as part of the International Development Department. We are all graduate students in the International Masters of Crisis and Trauma in the School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University.
Our cohort has come from all over the world to study in Israel from some of the world’s experts in trauma. We chose NATAL since for 20 years now, it has exemplified transforming an unfortunate reality into a fruitful opportunity by using this acquired knowledge to foster resilience not only in Israeli citizens, but for diverse communities all over the world.
The past few months, we have been collaborating to send NATAL experts and knowledge to communities in crisis worldwide. Currently, we are building bridges with California Firefighters in hopes of supporting their day-to-day functioning and decreasing their burn-out in light of the recent devastating wildfires. We find that the strive for resilience is what bonds us across geographies, languages, cultures and identities.
We have learned about various interventions NATAL implements with various populations at risk for trauma such as first responders, emergency room nurses and teachers, as well as how the Clinical Unit supports vulnerable populations through trauma sensitive yoga, safe touch therapy, art therapy, and more. Working with NATAL has provided us with both theoretical and practical tools to provide relief to those with the unseen scars of trauma.
During our time here, we have been given an alternative perspective on addressing issues of PTSD within communities. Facilitating support through community networks and leaders can provide services otherwise not available to those who are suffering from constant threat. Providing psychoeducation and tools for such issues can dramatically increase an individual’s long-term ability to cope and heal. Building these connections can aid the individual and community at large through increased awareness, support, and resources.
The most important thing we learned at NATAL was how to think about trauma from all sides, all points of time, and for all affected communities. Working hard during routine to ensure preparedness during emergency. And that with enough resources and talented people, the dream of building resilience in a society is an achievable reality.
Being part of NATAL makes us proud to study trauma, and proud to be doing it in Israel.
In deep gratitude,
Sam Halpern, Brussels
Renee Hansen, Chicago
Rebecca Cohen Bar-Lev, Los Angeles
Hannah Elbaz, San Diego