Psychological support for Palestinian children and adults: an analysis of data from people referred to the Médecins Sans Frontières programme for behavioural and emotional disorders in the occupied Palestinian Territory...

Since the beginning of Al Aqsa Intifada, Palestinian children and adults living in the occupied Palestinian territory have been exposed to stressful events on a daily basis. As a result, some individuals develop severe and chronic reactive psychological syndromes. The nongovernmental organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provides medical and psychological support to them, using psychodynamic psychotherapy adapted to the Palestinian culture and to the low intensity conflict context. This article presents data from 1773 children and adults who received treatment by psychotherapists between November 2000 and January 2006, in the Gaza strip and the West Bank. Nearly half of the patients were children between 4 and 14 years. The three main diagnoses were a) anxiety disorder other than posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or acute stress, b) mood disorder, and c) PTSD. The psychotherapy included a median of six sessions over a period of around 11 weeks. At the evaluation at the end of therapy almost 80% of all patients had improved. These observations suggest that brief psychodynamic psychotherapy could have positive effects on the psychological wellbeing of Palestinians, even in difficult circumstances (war context) and within an Arab culture. The authors argue that this type of individual psychological support can be a useful complement to a psychosocial approach at the community level.

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Authors: 
Gaboulaud, Valérie; Reynaud, Claire; Moro, Marie-Rose; Roptin, Jacky; Lachal, Christian; Brown, Vincent; Baubet, Thierry