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Year : 2010  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 131-142

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

1 medical doctor and epidemiologist, attached to research projects at the Service de Psychopathologie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, of Hôpital Avicenne, Bobigny, France. She was coordinating the departement for mental health research projects at Epicentre/MSF in Paris between 2002 and 2007
2 psychotherapist, was attached to the medical departement for mental health project at MSF in Paris, France., France
3 psychiatrist and transcultural expert, is the head of Service de Psychopathologie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, of Hôpital Avicenne, Bobigny and director of the Maison des Adolescents at the Hôpital Cochin, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux de Paris, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France. She is professor of Psychiatry at the University of Paris 13 and Paris 5 (France). She is attached to MSF for mental health projects in Paris, France., France
4 psychotherapist, and was the field coordinator for MSF Palestine project and is coordinating an MSF-F programme for migrants in Paris, France., France
5 child psychiatrist and trans-cultural expert. He is supervising the Palestine project for MSF, and he is attached to the Service de Psychopathologie de l'enfant et de l'adolescent, of Hôpital Avicenne, Bobigny, France
6 epidemiologist and public health expert, working for MSF in Paris, France. He was the director of Epicentre

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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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