U of Haifa Course Prepares Students to Assist Evacuated Families from Border Communities

Residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza who were relocated to Kibbutz Shefayim in central Israel December 24 2023. 696x464 1
Residents of Kibbutz Kfar Aza who were relocated to Kibbutz Shefayim in central Israel, December 24, 2023.

By: David Israel  Published: January 21, 2024

In the wake of the Iron Swords War, a unique course is now being offered at the Department of Education of the University of Haifa, preparing graduate students in the fields of counseling and therapy to provide mental first aid in trauma and emergencies.

The course will involve students applying with the families of evacuees the practices and knowledge they learned from the course.

As many as 125,000 Israelis from the Gaza envelope and Lebanese border communities have been evacuated and are currently living in hotels and vacation spots. As a result, Israel’s national mental health system has been in dire straits over its insufficient manpower.

“Course graduates will be able to take part in the mental assistance efforts needed by the victims of the massacre, the families of the hostages, the evacuees, and many others who are suffering from mental distress against the background of the situation we are in these days,” said Dr. Yael Meir and Dr. Yael Enav, clinical psychology specialists, and faculty members of the Department of Counseling and Human Development at the University of Haifa, who initiated the course and are running it voluntarily.

The idea to launch the course arose from the voluntary activity of Dr. Meir and Dr. Enav among the families of the evacuees. Based on their research and clinical knowledge, the two initiated a project they called “Home in the Heart,” which aims to strengthen family resilience among displaced children and parents through experiential meetings to strengthen the relationship within the family in a situation of uncertainty and crisis.

“The main idea of the program is that the family is the anchor and the factor of resilience for the children and the parents, precisely in a situation where everything seems to be shaky and uncertain,” the two researchers said. “Even when we are far from our physical home, the feeling of home can be kept inside the heart, together with the family,” they explained.

Drs. Meir and Enav reported a great response to their new course, as many students registered within a few days after it had been announced.