Common Bond Institute

More About the Social Health Care Program

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The SHC program helps those affected by the trauma of war and violence through grassroots, sustainable humanitarian assistance services. These services are focused on healing through direct treatment and by equipping members of displaced, traumatized communities in regions of conflict with the skills and resources needed for restore personal and community health, balance, dignity, and self-determination.


The SHC Program Focuses on the Following:

1) Direct Social/Mental Health Care Services

Based on a community mental health service model that focuses on addressing comprehensive psycho-social needs, the program provides a broad range of critically needed crisis intervention, coping skills training, trauma recovery, and rehabilitation services to the massive and increasing number of individuals and families suffering from psychological and emotional trauma across the region due to war and violence, and who currently go untreated. The psychosocial program is designed to address immediate and long term treatment needs, build close working relationships to support local practitioners and aid organizations, conduct public education regarding psychosocial services, and provide training in self-help skills to victim populations and their community to instill self-empowerment and promote mutual support. An added benefit is the invaluable investment in the future health service system for the region through building a permanent and growing local pool of skilled psychosocial health care workers and the capacity for providing extensive professional disaster health care services to victims of trauma where huge portions of the population have been impacted.

– A detailed description of the treatment model and specific direct services can be viewed at: Catastrophic Trauma Recovery (CTR).
– A detailed description of the progressive levels of treatment and process for entry into the service system can be viewed at: Service Delivery Model.


2) Professional Training

An integrated and progressive psychosocial skills curriculum providing multiple areas and levels of expert training and proficiency in practical mental health and crisis intervention skills to hundreds of students, current professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteer relief workers immediately enabling them to function as a broad and expanding pool of skilled psychosocial service providers in refugees camps and their society in general.

By intent, members of the refugee communities are sought out to include within the core pool of trainees – to model self-empowerment and to provide them with the effective skills needed to assist in both healing their societies and training others to do so when they eventually return to their countries.

Training is also offered to local humanitarian NGO staff in need of specialized experience in practical treatment and assessment skills.
Interdisciplinary Team: Training includes and integrates several mental health related disciplines, and is fundamentally committed to a strong interdisciplinary team model that includes psychology, psychiatry, social work, psychiatric nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, and special education. The interdisciplinary team concept forms the center of all treatment planning, implementation, and supervision. In addition on-going training, direct clinical case consultation, guidance, and mentoring is provided on a permanent basis by Common Bond Institute’s international expert pool of practitioners.

Training of Trainers: Creating a core group of selected local trainees and professionals with advanced abilities who form a highly skilled, interdisciplinary mentor pool for eventually joining the expert training team to conduct on-going locally-based training groups.
A description of the Professional Training model and levels of professional and paraprofessional training available can be viewed at:
Training and Direct Services.


3) Formal Internship, Vocational Experience, and Job Creation

Working closely with academic departments within local universities and colleges, supporting and augmenting their terminal degree programs by providing the formal practical training, field experience, and internship components for graduate students in mental health related disciplines that is currently missing within their formal curriculum. Current department degrees include: psychology, psychiatry, social work, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, special education, and psychiatric nursing.

Training provides professional certification of training, experience, and proficiency that allows a significantly increased number of graduate students to meet national standards and requirements for licensing to practice. The intent is to produce a growing number of deeply needed local practitioners in these services, and to grow and develop an effective human service infrastructure that is increasingly better capable of meeting the needs of their society in the future. At the same time, it promotes the creation of skilled professional positions in the social health care field and a growing job market for those vital services within the society that can help provide stable vocational employment and a benefit to the economy in general.

Internships and practicums are supervised by expert professionals and certified with endorsements by accredited US universities and professional training institutes. The end goal is to create a local mentor pool of qualified practitioners who will eventually become the official field instructors and supervisors into the future, and to establish formal membership relationships with our international network of professional associations in each discipline for on-going support and cooperation.


4) Assessment, Evaluation, and Monitoring


Needs Assessment for Recipient Communities
Utilizing effective, standardized, and culturally adapted assessment and evaluation tools, identifying the type and amount of needs within communities.

On-going Service Monitoring and Reporting
Ensuring accountability, quality control, uniformity, responsiveness, and internal integrity through regular monitoring.

Program and Service Delivery Evaluation
Regular evaluations conducted by assessment teams to determine overall effectiveness and success toward meeting program goals and mission, need for further improvement and development, and opportunities for creative innovation and expanding on the overall mission.

Program Development
Continual focus on program visioning and practical development for further applications and scaling in support of the overall human service infrastructure, as well as replicating in other societies exhibiting similar critical needs and systemic challenges.


5) Research and Analysis

Collaborating with two major research and development initiatives organized by Common Bond Institute that study communal trauma and it’s transfer into future generations, as well as the development of new models and methodologies for healing trauma on the large group, societal level:

[a] The Global Network for the Study of Transgenerational Trauma – a professional network of permanent working study groups researching the dynamics of unresolved communal trauma, it’s inheritance into future generations, and implications for violent relationships within and between communities.

[b] Annual International Conference on Transgenerational Trauma: Communal Wounds and Victim Identities – an annual meeting place for Network members to share knowledge, explore critical issues and applications, and explore the development of new models and methodologies for treating communal trauma.


Service Recipients

Children and families in refugees camps and communities within Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria as well as residents of these countries who are in need of assistance, but who have limited or no access to scarce existing services.

Immediate Need:

On-the-ground needs assessments reveal a critical level of serious, debilitating trauma symptoms and disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), pervasive throughout the entire refugee population in the region. Due to continuing and growing level of violence, traumatic experiences, and extreme deprivation in daily life, including violence done to them and viewing the violence and death of others – many of who are family members and neighbors, victims are re-traumatized on a regular basis. This is particularly devastating for children who have less ability and psychological resources to cope with this heightened level of danger, stress, and loss.


Long-term Need

Profound psychological and emotional injuries may be the most enduring effects of war and violence, yet historically, they are the least addressed in terms of rebuilding a community or society, and preventing future violence within and between communities. Large-scale recovery efforts commonly focus on more visible needs such as food, shelter, clothing, physical health, security, and economic aid.
However, the effects of deep psychological trauma on individuals, their families, and ultimately their communities is typically overlooked, minimized, and seldomly truly resolved. This invariably leads to transgenerational trauma becoming imbedded as part of the psyche of a society that extends the wounds into future generations where it too often plays out in further violence and the creation of new victims. In this way the cycle of violence and the cycle of trauma directly contribute to each other.

The pervasive presence of such a large segment of traumatized members in all areas of these societies poses perhaps the most formidable barrier to recovery and peace. Without these urgently needed services it is expected the trauma of violent physical and emotional abuse, loss of loved ones and neighbors, loss of homes and community, and dramatic decline in basic daily life, will continue. It is imperative to not only the present but to the future that victims on all sides are assisted in healing and recovering from their tragic experiences. True healing and recovery can then better lead to lasting peace.

Whether in the Middle East, Europe, Caucuses, Balkans, Africa, or elsewhere, in modern times or the past, regardless of the original motivation of conflict, unresolved communal psychological wounds, often inherited from one generation to the other, are one of the most powerful fuels of war and violence. The chronicle of hostilities and conflict throughout our human story is heavily woven with narratives of revenge, retribution, and righting past wrongs, with often competing narratives on both sides of the same conflicts. No society or age is immune to these toxic dynamics, as is painfully evidenced by just the wars and bloodshed over the last century. Efforts at maintaining peace and avoiding war are seriously handicapped if they do not directly address such current and historical wounds to create the means for preventing future traumas by preventing unresolved communal wounds from bleeding into subsequent generations.

Treating large civilian populations, experiencing catastrophic psychological trauma pervasive at all levels of a society due to war and violence, poses unique challenges not typically focused on in the therapeutic literature or conventional clinical practice, where the historical application is with individuals or small groups. When the society is one where human services are seriously underdeveloped or absent, and where the integrity of the existing social support system itself is critically compromised by a catastrophic situation, this challenge can be overwhelming. Although needs assessments conducted in the region over the years by various international aid organizations have consistently identified this critical, pervasive, and relatively unmet need, and although NGO coordinating agencies and relief organizations confirm this as a present and growing condition, there has been far too little provided in the way of adequate direct treatment services or local training in trauma treatment.

This lack of action has been primarily due to the lack of workable models and methodologies in the field of mental health for undertaking such an immense, long-term task of treating at the large scale and societal level, and particularly where the local human service infrastructure is significantly lacking. What is required are concerted efforts at developing new models and methods oriented toward treating large populations in societies where trauma has become systemic and available resources are extremely limited, to both heal the current trauma and prevent it’s transfer into future generations where it can erupt at any given flashpoint within and between communities.

Local capacity building: These approaches must incorporate an integrated and multi-level flow of services and supports designed to respond to both immediate and long-term effects of trauma. A key feature is that the capacity to provide and quickly expand these services on an ongoing basis is designed to be instilled within the local community itself by tapping into the available skills and human resources within it. The deep symbolism of a community healing itself is vital to regaining the sense of empowerment, value, dignity, and balance with the world that is threatened and undermined by the trauma experience. It is noteworthy that these qualities within a community also support compassion and tolerance toward others that can help defuse impulses toward revenge and retribution.

It is imperative that any model also be sensitive and appropriate to the cultural context of both the trauma experience and treatment. Thus, in addition to adaptations of highly effective mental health treatment methods, it is important to enlist traditional healing aspects of the society, including its cultural and spiritual resources.


Existing Services

In general there is a seriously limited amount of mental health service, expertise, or resources in the region. What little does exist in neighboring countries hosting refugees and in Syria itself is completely overwhelmed, with only a small percent of the population capable of paying significant fees to access them, while the critical need for such services is continually and rapidly growing by the tens of thousands as a massive stream of new refugees enters these countries each day to swell the millions languishing in camps and communities spread across the region. Direct psychosocial services of any kind from aid organizations are extremely limited and stretched, or in most cases nonexistent, with the emphasis and efforts of national and international relief organizations to date primarily directed toward addressing the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and security, or simply assessing the need for health services.

The fields of practical clinical psychology, psychiatry, psychotherapy, clinical social work, and related services are also profoundly limited in the region.

At universities, departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, Clinical Social Work, Psychiatric Nursing, and Special Education lack practical training and experience in psychosocial treatment and assessment skills, or such departments are nonexistent. As a result graduate students are required to seek access to practical training programs outside their countries – programs that are only limitedly available and unaffordable to most – to acquire necessary skills before being able to function as practitioners within their societies. To compound things further, due to the very poor local job market, those who acquire specialty training outside of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria too often do not return so that their skills can benefit their society, resulting in a continual talent drain that further diminishes local capacity.

As a result entire communities made up of millions are in a state of profound need, deprivation, and crisis, with a serious deficiency or complete lack of effective services to meet their needs.


Back to the SHC page.