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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Free psychological care in Israel for Sandy's victims

This morning in my Talmud class, the Israeli who sits next to me asked me why suddenly one hears that so many Jews from the New York area are thinking of making aliya (moving to Israel). I told him that one of the things that holds back otherwise well-intentioned American Jews is the thought of having to start over again by coming here. Now that many of them have lost their homes anyway, they figure they may as well start over again here rather than there.

For those of you who are Sandy victims and are thinking of coming, Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem is standing by to help you with free psychological care.
Realizing that people in Israel were also stressed by the storm, Guedalia contacted the heads of the Jerusalem EMDR Institute, Drs. Gary Quinn and Dani Kahn, and clinical psychologist Dr. Phyllis Strauss, who agreed to hold a call-in service to set up appointments to help persons who were themselves affected by Sandy and its aftermath, either because they were there or their families still are.

“I think there are a lot of people who are without water and electricity for weeks already. We have in our unit a social work student from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, and she told me she was also traumatized. The farther away you are from your home, the more terrible things you imagine. Some have returned to destroyed homes,” said Guedalia.

Volunteer Israeli-licensed and certified EMDR therapists will see them. “We are making appointments for people who call the neuropsychology units at (02) 666- 6682. We already have the volunteer therapists lined up,” said Guedalia, who is also a certified EMDR therapist.

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a proven psychological intervention for trauma and stress reduction. It was developed 30 years ago by Dr. Francine Shapiro to deal with trauma-related disorders caused by exposure to distressing, traumatizing and negative life events. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process these distressing memories, reduce their lingering influence and allow clients to develop more adaptive coping mechanisms. In recent years, it has been expanded to bilateral stimulation by touch, in addition to eye movements.

The American Psychiatric Association has recognized EMDR as effective for treating symptoms of acute and chronic Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the APA, EMDR may be particularly useful for people who have trouble talking about the traumatic events they have experienced. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, enabling patients to better take control of their upsetting thoughts. It has been approved by the National Insurance Institute for treatment of acute stress and trauma.
I know at least two people in my synagogue who were staying in Brooklyn to raise money when the storm hit.... 

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