In Israel, the younger generation, aged 15-18, comprises a large percentage of the population. Due to the ongoing security threats in Israel and continued conflicts, this generation endures significant threat to trauma.
Youth who live under such traumatic circumstances frequently develop symptoms of acute and post traumatic stress. Symptoms include bed wetting, aggressive behavior, and social isolation, refusing to leave the shelter even after danger passes, inability to concentrate in school, physical problems, and a host of other problems with daily functioning. Without attention, these symptoms can persist and develop into Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that can be emotionally debilitating and have devastating consequences for a child’s future.
As a result, NATAL has developed several unique and impactful therapeutic activities and tools for children and youth in Israel.
Playback Theatre is unique in its techniques for working with children and adolescents. It is a unique tool that allows participants to partake in an empowering process, reflecting significant stories during crisis. The process is based on collaboration between the participants and the actors, through a live and spontaneous relationship. The team includes an actor, an instructor from NATAL and a musician. The instructor begins by presenting the workshops concept and invites participants to share their experiences from the past few days. After these stories are told, the actor and children who were chosen by the staff dramatize the story through improvisation. The playback exercises allow participants to discuss issues that may be difficult to approach otherwise. The instructor guides the process. It is amazing to see how within a few minutes a personal story can come alive, as various aspects and depths are revealed and tend to form a containing but effective stance. The response from these playbacks are strong and positive by all who partake.
Therapeutic Intervention Puppet Show workshops for children aged 5-10. Studies have shown that younger children respond positively to visual enactments of psychological concepts and challenges. NATAL’s original and innovative therapeutic intervention puppet show. “Princess Kuntz and the Mirror or Miracles” teaches children about overcoming challenges associated with trauma and how to cope during emergency situations. It also teaches them that asking for help is normal and encouraged.
Safe Place is an educational platform designed to provide resiliency, prevention, and empowerment skills for students living in Israel and are at risk for developing PTSD. Safe Place was developed in 2014, in collaboration with Israel’s Center for Educational Technology and Ministry of Education with the support of Boeing International Inc. This program helps to manage and cope with stress in all of its forms, including bullying, school participation and other stressors. By providing psycho-education tools, it can help them understand the underlying causes of PTSD and the identification of symptoms. Safe Place provides a support systems to cope with acute anxiety and stress.
People in the south of Israel have lived under threat of rockets for over a decade. Israel is now facing a new wave of terror, with random attacks across the country, and each new threat is re-traumatizing for the Jewish and Arab sectors. These children often refuse to go to school due to fear or have difficulty concentrating. Moreover, children have anxiety from avenues unrelated to fear and trauma. In a world where children are facing trauma out their windows, a need exists to provide constant positive messaging and assistance in their lives. While the internet can unfortunately be used as a tool for weaponry and brainwashing, Safe Place seeks to offer a portal filled with positive massaging, tools for resiliency, and in turn provide strength, and ultimately, hope. Techniques are first learned in a classroom setting, to be later replicated during emergencies and high-stress environments, as a means to strengthen resiliency and trauma prevention on the national level.
The goal is to be fully integrated into every school, training teachers to be “in-house experts”, including counselors and educational staff who serve as emergency response coordinators, able to adapt to emergency situations.