Last May suicide bomber Salman Abedi, in Manchester, England murdered 22 people and wounded over 100, at a pop concert packed with children and teens. Anyone called upon to help victims, whether professionally or not, at any other of the terror attacks the world over, would most likely instinctually reach out to hug or offer other soothing and comforting support.
But in the aftermath of this horrific mass murder, a new kind of Israeli trauma treatment was being implemented, one that is just beginning to be used in a few countries in Europe, South America, and South Asia.
An Israeli social worker has discovered a unique way to treat trauma and a surprising approach to preventing PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder.) Of course, Israel has been the victim of a shocking number of terror attacks, even before it became a modern nation. The entire Middle East has had a long history of violent atrocities and warfare. Trauma has been the cost.
Moshe Farchi, a social worker and the director of the Tel-Hai College Stress, Trauma and Resilience Studies program, has, like many in the region, had decades of experience dealing with trauma. When he was a mental health officer in the Israeli army, he began to notice that the standard trauma treatments simply didn’t work. Trauma victims still struggled with anxiety and other symptoms.
In an interview with AFP, Farchi said his long experience dealing with trauma has helped him come up with “effective and science-based models” of treatment, working through much trial and error. The method, which he brought to the U.K. in the aftermath of Manchester, is not what you would expect, and certainly goes against every instinct.
Farchi has discovered that providing emotional support actually slows down the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and making decisions. But thinking and making decisions lead to “effective action”, which is exactly what’s needed to stop a victim of trauma from feeling helpless. And Farchi doesn’t want this approach to be limited to professionals, everyone has the basic skills needed to effectively help someone who is the victim of terror or other trauma.
Begin by asking the person simple questions which require simple decisions: Are you warm enough–do you need another jacket or blanket? Would you like a hot drink?
Farchi says this is like “resetting” the individual and helps them become more functional. It relieves confusion and offers the person some control. It can also help prevent PTSD, and is so effective, the Israeli army has been using it, successfully, for a few years.
More About the Tel-Hai Trauma and Resilience Studies Program
”The Stress, Trauma and Resiliency Studies Program in the Department of Social Work prepares future social workers to act as first responders in emergency situations. The program is based on research from the field, demonstrating that immediate and efficient mental health intervention at the site of disaster or emergency situations, significantly reduces the risk of post-traumatic symptoms, and greatly aids victims’ speedy return to their regular level of daily functioning.” Tel-Hai College
Source material: The Sun Daily